On October 29, 2019, the Ontario Mining Association held Meet the Miners at Queen's Park, an annual event at which industry leaders have a chance to meet with provincial policy-makers to share achievements, and to discuss issues of consequence to the industry and Ontarians. Meet the Miners gives members of the Legislative Assembly and senior mining executives a platform to exchange ideas, which help drive progress and strengthen Ontario's mining sector, while delivering real benefits to the people in this province.
"Next year, our association will be celebrating its centennial," said Peter Xavier, Vice President of Glencore's Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operations and Chair of the OMA Board of Directors. "We see the runup to this monumental anniversary as an opportunity reflect on the past and put in motion the drivers that will ensure success in the next 100 years." He added that, "Success will require collaboration and integration of diverse inputs. This is why Meet the Miners is so critical: it is a day devoted to building relationships and finding points of alignment between policy-makers' vision for this province and our industry's capacity to help make it a reality."
Fittingly, #MeetTheMiners2019 focused on hearing from the government decision-makers whose strategic approach to creating good policy and governance frameworks is critical to Ontario's global competitiveness. The day, which began with an OMA Board of Directors meeting and included a meeting of the Mining Working Group, featured a panel led by co-host of Meet the Miners, Greg Rickford, Minister of Energy, Mines, Northern Development and Indigenous Affairs. It included Jeff Yurek, Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks, and Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour.
Minister Rickford, who rose in the House to say that, "We strive to make Ontario the mining centre of the world," also noted that, "Ontario is Canada's No.1 mineral producer, generating $10.1 billion worth of minerals in the past year, while creating more than 26,000 direct and 50,000 indirect jobs across Ontario. Despite our successes, we know there is still work to do." During the panel, he stressed that, "We are aware of the challenges, but are focused on the opportunities" and expressed commitment to taking a "whole government approach" to "improving the competitiveness of Ontario's mining industry, reducing red tape and, by doing so, creating jobs and prosperity for people across this province."
Minsters Yurek and McNaughton, echoed this position, outlining the accomplishments and priorities within their mandates. Mining company representatives had an opportunity to ask questions and engage in a discussion on ways to ensure Ontario mining grows sustainably and continues to serve as an enabler of a high-tech, green economy. OMA members voiced their appreciation for competitiveness boosting government action taken to date, including reduction of WSIB rates and initial steps to eliminate inefficiencies in approvals processes, while expressing a strong desire to continue the dialogue on critical issues, such as the impact of high electricity prices on competitiveness.
On this vitally important issue, those present also heard from Chairman of the Independent Electricity System Operator, Joe Oliver. Mr. Oliver acknowledged that affordability is a key concern for the energy-intensive mining sector, and talked about what the IESO is doing to maintain Ontario's track record of reliability, while driving down prices. He thanked OMA members for their input on the IESO's Market Renewal Program and invited further engagement on shaping future conservation programs and an innovation roadmap that will leverage new technologies to create a more dynamic and efficient energy market.
Following the keynote, the topic switched from electrical power to the power of words. A presentation by Dr. Ron Brecher and Trevor Diggins of Risk Partners focused on developing a thoughtful and strategic approach to communications aimed at building trust and credibility, encouraging stakeholder involvement, validating stakeholders' concerns, and inspiring people.
In an inspiring address, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath pointed out that, "When Ontario's mining industry succeeds, that success is felt province-wide." She acknowledged OMA's upcoming 100th anniversary, saying that since the association's establishment, "you have been consistent and passionate advocates for mining, for mining safety, for mining jobs, for mining prosperity." Ms. Horwath praised the OMA's centennial campaign, #ThisIsMining, stressing that, "You need talented young people to see mining as an industry that is stable and that is growing. You need socially responsible investors to see Ontario as a province that's a safe bet. And you need a government that's committed to prosperity for all." In particular, she noted the campaign's focus on sustainability and inclusion, including efforts to showcase "the incredible contributions made by women to the mining sector." Ms. Horwath stressed that, "As leaders in the mining industry, you are the stewards of environmental sustainability, of economic development and of quality, dependable, professional jobs" and invited OMA members to provide input on the NDP's framework consultation document, The Green New Democratic Deal.
This campaign was highlighted at an afternoon reception, which attracted over 200 people. The OMA Chair introduced the assembled MPPs, civil servants, industry leaders and partners to #ThisisMining. After screening The Elements of Mining video, Mr. Xavier stressed that, "This is Mining aims to surprise and inspire, motivating people to form opinions about our industry based on curiosity, discovery and engagement." He gave the floor to Lesley Hampton, a Toronto-based fashion designer, who is featured in the campaign. She explained how her father's global career in mining shaped her approach to diversity and inclusion, informing her design philosophy. The reception guests got to pose for photos with a mining-inspired copper dress created by Lesley, which debuted to great acclaim at this year's Toronto Fashion Week.
Following greetings from Michael Gravelle, Liberal MPP for Thunder Bay-Superior North and former Minister of Northern Development and Mines, Michael Mantha, NDP MPP for Algoma-Manitoulin, Caucus Chair, and Critic - Northern Development and Mines, and Greg Rickford, who represents the riding of Kenora-Rainy River, Peter Xavier closed the official program by inviting everyone to engage with #ThisIsMining and to join the OMA in discovering everything mining in Ontario has become and all it has to offer.
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