MineConnect, the Sudbury-based organization that promotes Northern Ontario mining supply and service companies, is encouraging a new connection with the U.S. state of Nevada.
The campaign, which has been underway for a couple of years already, was highlighted at the recent annual convention of the Prospectors and Developers Association.
That's where former MineConnect executive director Paul Bradette of Sudbury talked about the value of Northern businesses connecting with the mining industry in Nevada.
Bradette said the idea is to take advantage of the mining products, the technical services, the expertise and innovation that have been developed in Northern Ontario over the years and to export all that to another mining jurisdiction.
Bradette said a key point in the venture is the startling similarities both regions have when it comes to mining in general.
"And if you look overall, the annual production is very similar to Ontario. Ontario will do between $10 and $11 billion a year in extraction alone. We all know that mining supply and services probably does another $8 billion a year. So very likened to Nevada; they do roughly about $8 billion a year. We're both blessed with a crazy endowment of geology," Bradette said.
Nevada is mining copper, gold, lithium and molybdenum, among other minerals — very similar to Northern Ontario, said Bradette. That means there are significant business opportunities for the Northern Ontario mining supply and mining technology sector, he added.
Another important factor he said is the method of mining.
"You know, the second part of really wanting to be in the Southwest, and particularly in Nevada, is that their (mining) methodology is starting to change. Their deposits were always primarily open pit. So now we're starting to see a transition to underground. So as everybody here knows that's key for our marketplace. We're hardrock miners. That's what we do."
Bradette added there are still several key open pit operations in Northern Ontario such as Detour Gold and IAMGOLD that further highlight the similarities between the two regions.
He said MineConnect in Sudbury has already created a sister organization that showcases the partnership with Northern Ontario mining suppliers. It's called MineConnect USA and it is located in the mining community of Elko, Nevada.
Bradette said the benefit of the Nevada location is that it provides a base of operations for Northern Ontario members who go there. He called it a soft landing for the newbies in the market.
MineConnect USA also has a local office manager to provide information on the local marketplace. Bradette said things like office space, a boardroom and even business cards with a local address provide a serious approach for sales and business calls in that location.
Bradette said he believes the initiative will pay off for Northern Ontario mining suppliers.
As the operation is set up, Bradette said two cohorts of 10 companies each will be going forward to test the Nevada market for their products or services. Each of the 10 businesses will have up to a year to establish themselves and develop new business in Nevada, at a cost of $400 per month. After the first year, a second cohort of 10 more Northern businesses will be sent in.
Bradette also said he was pleased that the initiative has the support of FedNor, the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation as well as Ontario's North Economic Development Corporation, a partnership of North Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Thunder Bay, Timmins and Sudbury.