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New industrial park home to three mining suppliers

November 25, 2013
by Norm Tollinsky
In: News

North Bay airport park ends shortage of fully serviced land

Dan Howe, president of Mine Hoists International, in the company’s new 14,000-square foot building in North Bay’s Airport Industrial Park.

The new 600-acre Airport Industrial Park in North Bay has put an end to the chronic shortage of fully- serviced industrial land in the city and attracted three mining suppliers in search of new and larger premises: Mine Hoists International, Barrie Hard Chrome Plating and Drillers Edge.

“North Bay is the only city in Canada that will sell airside land on or beside an airport,” said mayor Al McDonald. It’s also one of only four airports in Ontario that boasts a 10,000-foot runway capable of accommodating the largest aircraft in the world, the Antonov 225, which has carried payloads of up to 189 tonnes and made several stops in North Bay over the years.

“It’s very difficult finding industrial land beside an airport, said McDonald. “Mining supply firms need access worldwide, so it makes sense that there’s a lot of interest in the park.”

Mine Hoists International, a wholly owned subsidiary of Mining Equipment Ltd. of Colorado, refurbishes, rents and sells mine hoists and shaft sinking winches from its new 14,000-square foot building in the park.

“We buy used hoists when they become available, we store them in our yard, and when they find a new home, we refurbish and upgrade them with new electrical controls, PLC controls and brake controls to meet modern standards,” said Dan Howe, president.

Prior to moving into the park, the company subcontracted work to other shops in the city. Bringing the work in-house, he said, “helps us with scheduling and gives us more capacity.”

The building is equipped with 80-tonne and 12.5-tonne cranes for lifting hoists and winches off a trailer and moving them into work areas.

Customers include mine contractors Dumas, Cementation and former co-owner J.S. Redpath. “We’ve also sold equipment into Tanzania, Mexico, Chile and Peru,” said Howe.

Barrie Hard Chrome Plating chromes inner tubes and outer tubes for diamond drilling from a state-of- he-art 12,000-square foot building in the park.

In business in North Bay since 1965, the company has twice as much space as it had in its former location and has invested in new chrome plating tanks, hoists and scrubber systems to meet strict environmental standards.

Chrome applications of between two and four one thousandths of an inch resist wear and corrosion, prolonging the life of the tubes.

“It doesn’t sound like a lot, but the chrome is so hard, it makes everything last longer,” said owner Jamie Corbeil. Barrie Hard Chrome customers include Boart Longyear, Atlas Copco and Drillers Edge, an immediate neighbour at both its former and current locations.

Founded in 2010 by a trio of former Boart Longyear employees, Drillers Edge moved into its new, 28,000-square foot building in November.

Starting off as a manufacturer of drill bits and core retrieval tools, the company recently broadened its product line to include rods and casings. In September, it completed a strategic merger with Edmonton- based Di-Corp, which has focused until recently on supplying drilling fluids to the oil patch in Western Canada and is now aggressively diversifying into mining exploration.

“Despite the slowdown in the exploration industry, we’ve seen growth every year – even this year with the addition of rods and casings to our product line,” said operations manager Lori Leblond.

Drillers Edge has focused more on export markets such as South America, Turkey and Russia. Now, as a subsidiary of Di-Corp, which has also acquired Drilling Depot and West Coast Drilling Supplies, Driller Edge will also have a stronger presence in the Canadian market, said Leblond.

The idea of building an airport industrial park dates back to 1988, but it took until 2010 for the three levels of governments to fund it.

“The province and the feds each contributed $2 million and we contributed $2 million,” said McDonald. “That was the final hurdle allowing us to go ahead.”

The city will sell or lease land, and connect prospective tenants with local investors and developers who will build to suit.

“The inventory of serviced industrial land in North Bay was very tight, if not non-existent before we opened this park,” said McDonald. “We’re finding that local companies that were hindered by not being able to expand on their footprint are looking to the airport park for expansion, and that’s opening up space for smaller companies and startups.”

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