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Putting a value on the North’s assets

Investor attraction project identifies mining service gaps
A new website is helping to promote a stretch of Northern Ontario as “Ontario’s Golden North” as part of a greater effort to attract new mining supply and service companies, like INEOS Calabrian (pictured) to the area.

A new website has cropped up promoting “Ontario’s Golden North” as the ideal region for mining supply and service companies to set up shop.

Steered by the Timmins Economic Development Corp. (TEDC), the three-year-old, Mining Supply, Trade & Investment Project is a joint initiative of the communities of Timmins, Kapuskasing, Cochrane, Iroquois Falls, Black River-Matheson, and Temiskaming Shores.

The project is designed to attract mining supply and service companies to the program’s catchment area through two avenues: foreign direct investment, and trade and expansion.

It’s jointly funded by FedNor, the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corp. (NOHFC) and the participating communities.

Tackling the goals of the project first meant pinpointing gaps in the existing value chain, said program co-ordinator Jon Belanger.

Working with an Ottawa-based consultant, the group conducted an in-depth gap analysis, consulting with mines and mining suppliers in the region.

“With that information, it helps us home in on future investment targets, and it also tells us a little bit about the community and the region in general and where we have difficulties,” Belanger said.

“You talk to a lot of business people locally and they'll be able to tell you that without a study,” he added, “but it helps put it to the page and helps formalize known problems that have been spoken about but have never really been verified by an external source.”

Some of the identified needs include everything from a comprehensive HVAC service to 3-D printing to large-scale mine remediation. Belanger said that information allowed the group to generate a number of leads, which he’s currently following up on.

The TEDC continues to work with companies like INEOS Calabrian to address areas of improvement identified in the project’s gap analysis.

The Texas-headquartered company began construction on its liquid sulphur dioxide facility in Timmins in 2015. The project was expected to create 45 construction jobs and 20 permanent positions.

The Mining Supply, Trade & Investment Project’s website brands the catchment area of the participating communities as “Ontario’s Golden North,” a nod to the area’s prolific gold-mining history.

Visitors find themselves on a landing page that then directs them to individual pages about each participating community, which details the value proposition that makes it an attractive region for investors.

“That’s a good resource when I’m going to trade shows and talking to companies that are interested in expanding into the region,” Belanger said. “It’s a helpful tool that covers the less-apparent details they’d want to know, like corporate taxes in the area and that kind of thing.”

Any of the participating communities are invited to use any of the marketing materials generated alongside the website for its own promotion. Once the three-year project is complete, the TEDC will hand over the reins of the project to the participating communities to continue marketing the region on their own.

“The idea was to make it so that the various communities involved can take it and run with it after the project is done,” Belanger said. “This project is a mining supply primer, and they can carry it on in their own communities after the project ends.”

The project is now entering the final year and will now focus its attention on industrial minerals research, Belanger said.