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Study conducted to prove industry's contribution to the province's economy.

Will mining continue to play a significant role in the economy of Ontario?

"Absolutely," says Patrick Reid, president of the Ontario Mining Association. "We are just in the process of having a study done to investigate the industry's contribution to Ontario."

The study is being conducted by consultants Ernst and Young with assistance from the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines.

"As an industry, it (mining) is a large area of the economy," says Reid. "Ontario has good geology and, if we don't mess it up, mining will continue to play a key role."

Andrew Caddell, the public affairs director for the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum, believes the question is one of return on investment.

"You (mining companies) are better off staying in a place like Canada where you have a more stable political environment and greater infrastructure," he says.

However, members of the Timmins-based Save Our North campaign say both the federal and provincial governments must do more to encourage mining exploration in Ontario.

"It (exploration) looks very bleak today," charges provincial Progressive Conservative leader Mike Harris, who lent his support to Save Our North last month. "What we are doing is just milking what is there."

Harris says the uncertainty caused by Native land claims and environmental legislation such as Bill 220 must be addressed to encourage investment in exploration.

"We shouldn't have everything come to a standstill," he adds.

Northern Development and Mines Minister Shelley Martel insists that her government places a high degree of value on the mining industry.

"The resource and mining industry provides significant employment to a whole lot of economies in the north. I recognize this, and the government does," says Martel.

"We are looking at some ways we can amend that legislation (Bill 220). We are looking for recommendations from the groups concerned," she adds.

A lack of government incentives to attract investors to mining is another sore point with industry members.

Martel reports that her government is reviewing the effectiveness of its current incentive programs - the Ontario Prospectors Assistance Program (OPAP) and Ontario Mining Incentive Program (OMIP).

"We have asked the industry how we can keep our data bases up to snuff," adds the minister.

Martel reports that one of her government's Scan North task forces is presently searching for opportunities for the manufacture of value-added products in the mining sector.

"There is a major restructuring going on in the country. Part of it is free trade and part of it is the creation of the global economy. Companies will be much stronger once they come out of the recession because they will have new product lines," says Martel.

However, Harris counters that the government must show a stronger commitment to the mining industry first before looking for opportunities for value-added secondary manufacturing.

"If there isn't going to be a mining industry, you can't have a secondary industry," he argues. "We need to take all the loans and grants and have an industrial strategy."

Timiskaming MP John MacDougall, the junior minister for Energy, Mines and Resources, says one of his greatest concerns is the pressure put on the industry and governments by interest groups.

"We are going to be pressured to a point where we stop our companies from getting on the land and being competitive," MacDougall says.

"We have got to have an atmosphere for investment and be educating Canadians that mining only puts a small hole in the ground..."
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Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Mining Report; Ontario's mining business
Author:Brown, Stewart
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:Jun 1, 1992
Words:573
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