Northern Ontario’s mining supply and service sector was given a boost this past week when the federal government announced a $1.6 million investment that will allow the Northern Ontario Exports Program (NOEP) to continue for another three years.
The money is provided by FedNor to the Ontario’s North Economic Development Corporation (ONEDC) which began several years ago as an economic collaboration between Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie, Timmins, Thunder Bay and North Bay
The announcement was made by Sudbury MP Paul Lefebvre on the shop floor at Rock-Tech, a well-known mining equipment manufacturer based in Sudbury.
Lefebvre praised the mining industry in Sudbury and Northern Ontario, which he said is setting “the gold standard” for innovation, technology and mining success. He said the world is watching the Canadian mining business, specifically in Northern Ontario.
“This program has been ongoing since 2012 and we keep renewing it. Why? Because we are seeing the fruits of that,” said Lefebvre.
“The Sudbury brand is strong. The Northern Ontario brand is strong. There are tonnes of potential around the world. And so this program will help continue to leverage those investments,” he continued.
In the last three-year run of the project NOEP has helped maintain or create roughly 435 jobs and has assisted 75 companies to modernize or expand.
Lefebvre said the Northern Ontario export program creates the ideal situation for the jobs to be created in Canada, producing goods and services that can be exported around the world. He said the jobs are well paid and also offer numerous opportunities for young people seeking employment.
Further praise for the program came from Greater Sudbury Mayor Brian Bigger, who said his city was pleased to be collaborating with the ONEDC program.
“This important funding announcement will go a long way in supporting mining supply and service companies, not only in Greater Sudbury, but across all of Northern Ontario,” said Bigger.
He said the funding could be used for training, for marketing, as well as for trade shows such as the upcoming MINExpo 2020 occurring in Las Vegas in the fall.
Bigger said the recent PDAC event was successful for promoting Sudbury as a world-class mining centre as well as for the mining supply and service sector.
“The support offered by the Northern Ontario Exports Program has undeniably assisted in increasing the growing amount of overall attention that Northern Ontario-based SMEs (small to mid-sized enterprises) have been receiving recently.”
Bigger also mentioned that Sudbury alone had 11 international delegations visit the city in 2019.
He also congratulated the newly re-branded MineConnect organization for its continued support of the mining supply and service sector and for bringing those businesses together across the North.
“Really, we are a Northern powerhouse with MineConnect,” said Bigger.
He added that Sudbury’s best secret is the immense wealth of knowledge and expertise.
“In Sudbury you’re only a 10-minute drive from a face-to-face meeting with a global expert on any mining related challenges and technology you want to learn about,” said the mayor.
“That is our exceptional advantage. It’s the advantage we have here in Greater Sudbury and in Northern Ontario that makes us leaders and poised to continue that positive momentum felt through the industry right now,” he added.
Also speaking at the event was Ricky Lemieux, president of CEO of Rock-Tech, which Lemieux said was one of the first recipients for the export program. He said it was “an extreme success” for Rock-Tech.
He said his business was not alone. As chair of the new MineConnect organization, Lemieux said there were many other businesses which he called hidden gems in the mining business that also stand to benefit from the federally sponsored export program.