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Mining show effort paid off for Sudbury, says economic development dept

One of the key events of the June convention was Sudbury Night at the Royal York Hotel Imperial Room

When it comes to promoting yourself at the world's largest international mining exploration convention, it's almost as if the City of Greater Sudbury has an unfair advantage over other mining municipalities in Canada.

Being a world-class mining centre, with a pool of mining experts, mining supply and technology companies, mining educators and raw mining production talent, Sudbury indeed has a lot going for it. 

It also helps that Sudbury is just a few hours' drive, or a one-hour flight, from Canada's largest city.

That's why Greater Sudbury Economic Development (GSED) is already planning to be a part of the next annual convention of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada scheduled for next March in Toronto.

Meredith Armstrong, the GSED's director of economic development, said any conversation about the state of mining in Canada has to include discussions about Sudbury. 

"So we are always thrilled to be a part of PDAC. I mean, you can't talk about mining in Canada without talking about Sudbury, and there is a ton to be proud of when it comes to how mining is done in Sudbury, the ecosystem that has flourished here, the expertise and really the innovation."

Along with "tooting our own horn," which is not something Sudbury always does, it is important for Sudbury to show off its mining expertise on the world stage such as the PDAC convention, Armstrong said.

"The key for us in terms of Sudbury's presence at PDAC is that international market. Increasingly, shareholders in these companies are acutely aware of their environmental, social and governance — ESG obligations — and that triple bottom line, and so they're looking for opportunities to mine in a way that is socially and environmentally responsible and Sudbury has that in spades."

Armstrong said Sudbury is also in the spotlight now for having access to all the right critical minerals — copper, nickel, cobalt, lithium — for the battery electric vehicle trend.

Just last week, the federal government announced more than $2 million in grant money for research and development projects in Sudbury involving battery vehicles, both for automotive and mining applications.

Merely attending the Toronto convention is not enough, Armstrong said. One of the key events was the Sudbury Night reception held at the Royal York Hotel Imperial Room.  

It brought in hundreds of invited guests who were able to learn about what Sudbury has to offer as well as connecting international delegates with Sudbury-based mining leaders. 

The event was a blue-chip affair that had Sudbury rolling out the red carpet with fancy foods, drinks, live music and three hours of networking and rubbing elbows with the big names in the mining industry.  

This included federal Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson, Finland's ambassador to Canada, Roy Eriksson, the U.S. consul general, and many others, said Armstrong. So what about the cost, and was it a worthwhile investment?

Armstrong said she did not have the exact cost figure, but added it was essentially a break-even initiative, thanks to private sector sponsors.

"Between our 21 sponsors, we had 80 different businesses and a whole bunch of tickets sold. So we pretty much break even. There is a lot of staff time that goes into it. But of course, that's why we exist: to create opportunities to connect on the economic development side," Armstrong said.  

"It's a really great venture and it is well supported by the private sector. So it's not costing a lot of taxpayer dollars," she added.

Armstrong said the important thing is to develop "the long game" and create direct connections between Sudbury businesses and mining interests in the rest of the world. 

"There's also a whole bunch of conversations that happen in those social settings that sometimes take years to come to fruition," Armstrong explained. 

She said the reception event was worthwhile for Sudbury.

"And I think the best indication of that is the fact that within hours of the closing of the 2022 Sudbury reception, we had emails coming in from existing sponsors securing their spot next year, or new sponsors coming on board, or sponsors who are upping their level of sponsorship. So that's a really good indication as well."

Another solid indicator, said Armstrong, is that many international delegates took advantage of their time in Canada to actually visit Sudbury immediately after attending PDAC in Toronto.

"This year we had about 50 delegates come right to Sudbury from Africa, France, and Peru. We have Sweden coming this fall. Those are direct results of the Sudbury investment in PDAC. They visited the NORCAT Underground Centre and  Dynamic Earth," said Armstrong. She added that PDAC delegates also met with Sudbury mining suppliers and mining educators. 

"So these delegates know that they can make best use of their time while they're in Canada, and they choose to come up with Sudbury."