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Timmins building upon its solid base in mining.

Unlike some Northern Ontario cities, Timmins is not ashamed of its economic dependence on resource-based industries.

While some communities downplay their historical dependence on the mining industry, Timmins appears to relish its relationship with the sector.

Children play ball and adults play golf in the shadow of the headframe of the Hollinger Mine. The city's major tourist attraction is one of the mine's former stopes. Headframes are visible throughout the area, and old ore cars dot a number of the thoroughfares.

Timmins has embraced its past and it looks to mining as a major player in its future.

"Timmins has been a mining community for close to 100 years," points out Bruce Strapp, the city's economic development officer. "Eventually the ore will be played out, but there is still a lot of unexplored areas out there.

"And there is still speculation that we are sitting on a large ore body that is undiscovered."

Rick Gutcher, executive director of the Timmins Chamber of Commerce, advocates increasing exploration spending to find new ore bodies in the area.

"As mining goes, so goes Timmins," Gutcher comments.

Like many other mining communities, Timmins has seen a number of its mining operations close up during the past few years. However, Strapp is quick to point out that market conditions, not depleted ore reserves, are the reason for the closures.

During the past year Timmins witnessed a lengthy and sometimes bitter strike involving the Placer Dome operation. The strike was eventually settled, but half the mine's workforce was cut in order to reduce production costs.

Meanwhile, the Pamour Group of Companies changed hands and also started reducing production costs under the ownership of Vancouver-based Royal Oak Resources.

However, the mining news out of Timmins has not been all bad. Late this summer Timmins Nickel declared a 73-per-cent increase in its profits.

"Timmins Nickel is a new company that is creating a lot of excitement in the community," Strapp points out.

Also, during the past year Falconbridge opened a $28-million indium processing plant at its Kidd Creek metallurgical site. Work is expected to begin in the coming weeks on a liquid |SO.sub.2~ (sulphur dioxide) facility which will recover the compound from gases created during the copper smelting process.

Both processes will provide Falconbridge with products from something that until recently had been considered a waste product.

In the forestry sector, Mallette Inc. leads the way in Timmins. The family-run company has woodlands operations and a waferboard/dimensional lumber mill in Timmins, a paper mill in Smooth Rock Falls, a melamine overlay operation in New Liskeard and a mill in Quebec.

E.B. Eddy Forest Products Ltd.'s McChesney Lumber division and Quebec and Ontario Paper Company Limited also operate in Timmins.

Despite closures and periodic shutdowns within the two economic pillars of mining and forestry, Timmins and the surrounding region have weathered the recession relatively well.

"We felt the pinch. You would have to be foolish not to say we've been affected by the recession," admits Mayor Dennis Welin. "There's no way we could carry on the rate of growth that we had before the recession. But we haven't slipped as far as other communities."

Strapp believes Timmins has fared well because of the increased role that education, public service and health care play in the city's economy.

The local economy has been boosted by such major projects as a waterfront development on the Mattagami River, the four-laning of Hwy. 101 through the city and the construction of the new $87-million Timmins and District General Hospital.

Located at the corner of Hwy. 655 and Ross Avenue, the 277-bed hospital is scheduled to open its doors in about two years. In the meantime, the facility's construction is creating construction-related employment and injecting funds into the local economy.

Local officials anticipate that the hospital will have a lasting effect on the economy by creating jobs and an increased demand for housing, as well as by encouraging the establishment of new health clinics in the area.

According to Leo Brunet, president of the 100-member Timmins Construction Association, there are signs that the residential construction sector is beginning to pick up. He is optimistic that construction activity will return to normal when the next building season begins.

Northern College is also likely to benefit from the new hospital because its nursing students will be able to utilize the hospital's state-of-the-art technology.

"The students are already looking forward to it," notes college president Robert Gervais.

Meanwhile, the college is in the early stages of a $5-million expansion which includes the addition of a student lounge, a learning resource centre, labs and classrooms, as well as improved facilities for the colleges faculty and administration.

Northern College's South Porcupine campus is also the site of new first-year university programs offered by Laurentian University.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Laurentian Business Publishing, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:Oct 1, 1991
Previous Article:Workers cut.
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