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Province commits $10M to mining centre: a mining centre of excellence for Sudbury is a step closer to reality.

Greater Sudbury's vision to create a world class mining research centre received a huge financial shot in the arm from the province in late March with a $10-million investment to help launch their Centre of Excellence in Mining Innovation (CEMI).

John Gammon, director of mining initiatives for the proposed $30-million CEMI initiative, said he was "breathing a big sigh of relief" on the morning after the Liberal government's funding pledge.

"This has always been a vision of mine," said the former deputy minister of Northern Development and Mines soon after the March 23 provincial budget's release. "After I left the Ministry I was 90-per-cent certain it was going to happen. This morning for the first time, I know I'm 100-per-cent certain."

The money is part of a larger $1.7-billion investment dedicated to research and commercialization opportunities in Ontario over the next five years.

"Last year, the value of Ontario's mineral production was $7.2 billion and once again ranked in the top 10 of the world's most favourable mining jurisdictions," Northern Development and Mines Minister Rick Bartolucci said in a March 23 press release. "Our government supports the vision for a new research and development centre in Sudbury, the heart of the world's largest mining area, to keep our province at the forefront of this highly competitive, technology-driven industry."

CEMI will be headquartered on the Laurentian University campus and will focus on key areas of research in mineral exploration, mining tele-robotics, mine process engineering, deep mining and environmental reclamation.

Laurentian president Dr. Judith Woodsworth also welcomed the news.

"We are very grateful to the Ontario government for this significant investment and endorsement of our role as an internationally recognized leader in mining and exploration research," she said in a press release. "In 2004, we adopted a mining vision to become a national centre for excellence in mining innovation. The provincial government ... has continuously supported this initiative."

Woodsworth also praised the "tireless efforts" of Bartolucci toward the initiative.

Gammon says the $10 million will be used as project-specific leverage dollars in conjunction with contributions from industry and the federal government.

"When industry comes forward with a project under (one of) the five research themes, that will be part of the resources that industry will lever to make their investment go further."

He anticipates the federal government will be a funding partner shortly. FedNor, Ottawa's regional development agency, and its director general Louise Paquette are strong drivers behind CEMI.

"I certainly anticipate they will be supporting this in some way. They haven't confirmed how they would do that."

Parry Sound-Muskoka MP Tony Clement, the new Minister responsible for FedNor, has been extended an invitation to visit Laurentian University and discuss the CEMI proposal.

Gammon also expects key industry players to make their investments fairly soon.

"The whole concept is based on the ideas they want to see research on and nothing's going to happen without industry money coming to the table first." Laurentian University has already contributed $200,000 and the City of Greater Sudbury has chipped in $50,000. Mining giants Inco and Falcon-bridge have already pledged their support along with Teck Cominco, FNX Mining and AMIRA International, an Australian mining industry association involved in global collaborative research. Their managing director serves on CEMI's board of directors.

Gammon says AMIRA officials were visiting Sudbury and Laurentian in March "because they know it's one of the places in the world where relevant mining research is being carried out." They are working in a consortium with the Mining Innovation, Rehabilitation and Applied Research Corporation (MIRARCO), Laurentian's not-for-profit research and development company.

CEMI has developed a five-year operating plan and in early April its board of directors will be discussing how to spend this newfound money on projects already identified by industry.


Northern Ontario Business
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Author:Ross, Ian
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:Apr 1, 2006
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