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Suppliers share export successes and experiences

August 18, 2015
by Norm Tollinsky
In: News

Export forum wins rave reviews

One hundred and ten attendees representing 50 Northern Ontario mining supply and service companies packed Bryson’s on the Park in Sudbury June 17th to sharpen their sales and marketing efforts in international and other Canadian domestic markets.

Organized as part of the Mining Supply and Service Export Assistance Program, the Northern Ontario Export Forum featured presentations by Mike Mayhew of Stantec, Callum Pitout, head of supply chain for DeBeers Canada, Jurgen Beier, national consulting energy and resources leader with Deloitte, and Fred Stanford, president and CEO of Torex Gold Resources.

Stanford, former president of Vale’s Ontario Operations from 2006 to 2009, spoke about Torex Gold’s El Limon-Guajes project in the Guerrero Gold Belt 180 kilometres southwest of Mexico City, while Callum Pitout offered a series of tips for responding to RFPs and provided an overview of De Beers’ three operating mines: the Victor Mine in Ontario’s James Bay Lowlands, and the Gahcho Kué and Snap Lake diamond mines in the Northwest Territories.

Baier’s presentation focused on current mining trends, while Mayhew provided an overview of current Stantec projects in Saskatchewan, Sudbury, Mongolia, Indonesia and Russia.

There were also several presentations by Export Development Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, and the Canadian Association of Mining Equipment and Services for Export (CAMESE).

“The whole point of the event was to bring together the companies that have participated in the Export Assistance Program these last four years and to really focus on mining sector opportunities outside Ontario,” said project manager Scott Rennie.

One of the highlights of the day was the opportunity to participate in market specific breakout sessions focusing on Chile, Peru, Brazil, Mexico, Australia and Indonesia, as well as several Canadian domestic markets, including Quebec, Alberta and Saskatchewan.

“Delegates were able to choose three of the nine sessions they felt they could contribute to or learn from,” said Rennie.

The breakout sessions allowed for more informal discussions about the markets, and a sharing of successes and experiences.

“A lot of the delegates came with a pre-conceived impression that it was going to be like a lot of events they have attended in the past and the feedback I got was that it was different and very valuable, so if our program continues beyond this Fall, it’s definitely something we’ll look to do again,” said Rennie. “I have talked to a number of mining companies and engineering firms that have indicated an interest in participating in a future event like this.”

Depressed commodity prices are having an impact on spending by mining companies, but suppliers that are aggressively diversifying their customer base and making inroads into other markets are still doing well, said Rennie.

“They’re either busy going after other markets or they’re bringing something really innovative to the game.

“I’m actually surprised by how many companies I speak to who are doing quite well, given the state of the mining industry. Our program can’t take credit for everything, but I’m sure it’s a factor.”

The Mining Supply and Services Export Assistance Program through which the event was made possible had two components: a strategic export marketing program that linked participating companies with an export marketing advisor, and a marketing assistance fund that subsidizes marketing initiatives such as trade show attendance, translation of marketing materials and website development.

The first phase of the program began in 2011 and ended in 2013. The second phase, made possible by funding from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund and Fednor, ends this Fall. A total of 59 companies participated in the first phase of the strategic marketing program, and another 25 participated in the second phase.

Rennie and his colleagues in ONEDC, an organization encompassing the economic development agencies of Northern Ontario’s five major cities, are investigating what a Phase 3 of the program could look like, but have no assurance that the program will continue.

One final, full-day workshop on establishing, training and leading a domestic and international network of sales agents will be held August 27th at the Pinewood Park conference centre in North Bay. The workshop will be led by Mel Sauvé, president of Global Growth. To register, contact Scott Rennie at [email protected] or call 705-674-4455 x4403.

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