Mining has become a safer industry compared to both forestry and construction, which is a positive sign, but there is still work to be done, according to the former president of the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM).
“Unfortunately, fatalities are a reality and we want to continue to find ways to avoid critical injuries on the job,” Michael Winship said during a Wednesday afternoon talk in North Bay.
Winship was a guest speaker during North Bay Mining Week activities, which run May 8 to 12. Trends in the industry were the main focus of his presentation.
He said the industry is working hard to try and create more diversity in the workforce, and he believes mining is underrepresented by women, but insists the industry is becoming a leader in hiring First Nations workers.
“We need to make it easier for people other than middle-aged white people," said Winship about trying to create more hiring diversity.
While the industry has seen some improvement, there are still many challenges ahead.
“You see that taxes and royalties increase, while commodity prices and exploration success has dropped,” admitted Winship.
“There have not been many big discoveries in Canada recently and productivity is down.”
That’s why the Ring of Fire project — thought of as the next big Canadian mining project — is so important for the industry.
The Ring of Fire is the name given to a massive chromite deposit in the James Bay Lowlands of Ontario’s Far North. Before development can even start, debate continues about how to respectfully engage with First Nations communities, in addition to creating an effective transportation corridor for hauling ore out of the area.
The Ring of Fire will be a hot topic on Friday as mining leaders and politicians will discuss the future of the controversial mineral deposit.