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Making connections

THUNDER BAY -- A new committee is aiming to connect the mining industry with service and supply businesses in the northwest.
NOACC president Nathan Lawrence says committee will focus on networking and programming. (Jodi Lundmark,

THUNDER BAY -- A new committee is aiming to connect the mining industry with service and supply businesses in the northwest.

The Northwestern Ontario Association of Chambers of Commerce released a mining supply and a service association prefeasibility study Wednesday outlining options for creating a mining supply and service association.

But NOACC president Nathan Lawrence said the organization decided to create an activity-based mining supply and service sub-committee that would focus on programming and networking between businesses and the industry.

“We didn’t want to put ourselves, like the report outlines, in the position where we’re taking on a very large association that doesn’t have the mass to be able to sustain itself for the long-term,” he said.

“When we looked at the needs that the businesses were telling us they wanted, it really focused on the events and programming and connection between themselves and the industry players,” added Lawrence, noting the sub-committee route will also minimize costs.

Mines like New Gold in Rainy River and Rubicon in Red Lake are in the construction phase and are starting to look at where they will be getting their supplies from.

“It’s the perfect time to be creating and connecting some of these dots so that the businesses that are looking for opportunities to get into supplying these industries can do so as these mines are getting to the phase where they are ready to spend the money,” said Lawrence.

Community Economic Development Commission mining services project manager John Mason said with five new gold producers coming online in the region, the potential for the supply and service industry is monumental.

“The existing four mines in the northwest, they engage thousands of businesses literally in that supply chain business,” said Mason.

The exploration slowdown in the last three years has had an impact on supply services like fuel, drill and helicopter companies, but there are several early entry projects on the horizon.

“There will be a cascade of other projects to follow,” Mason said.

The sub-committee will administer events and activities related to mining and they will be hosting the first Procurement Power Hour at the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce’s Prosperity Northwest on Sept. 24.

New Gold and Rubicon will be participating in the event, outlining their supply and service needs.


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