ith the bulk of Ontario's industrial activity concentrated along the Windsor-Toronto corridor, it's easy to overlook the rest of the province. But there's plenty of investment at work to the north in an increasingly diverse range of industries.
Northern Ontario's economy has long been dominated by mining and forestry. While high energy costs have pummeled the forestry sector, mining is experiencing a new boom, thanks in part to surging Chinese demand for metals and a massive gemstone endeavor poised to begin operation.
The region produced nearly US$4.3 billion in minerals in 2004, with the majority coming from metals. Mining accounts for about 13,500 jobs in the region. Ontario yields 64 percent of Canada's nickel production, 64 percent of its gold production, 33 percent of its copper production and 90 percent of the country's platinum group metals production.
Ontario mining will soon take on added luster as South African diamond producer De Beers ramps up its $842 million open-pit mine in a remote area of the James Bay Lowlands, about 56 miles (90 km.) west of the coastal community of Attawapiskat.
Sudbury Mines New BusinessesSudbury, with a population of 155,000, is Northern Ontario's largest city, and it embraces its mining heritage. With major nickel and copper mines in the area, the city has attracted numerous suppliers, such as equipment manufacturer Atlas Copco, which moved its Canadian headquarters from Montreal in 1999.
Demand for nickel, which is used in the manufacture of stainless steel, has been on the rise for several years, due largely to China's industrial growth. Falconbridge Ltd., acquired by Inco in mid-October, has been mining nickel-copper ores in the Sudbury area since 1928. Now, the company is spending $514 million on its new Nickel Rim South mine project, the first new mine in Sudbury in about 15 years.
Sudbury also is becoming a center of animation production. March Entertainment, creator of Canada's popular Chilly Beach cartoon, moved its animation division to Sudbury from Ottawa in 2002. The growing company is doubling employment this year to 70 people.
"We came back here and there was no convincing required," says Sandra MacLeod, vice president of March's Sudbury operations and a native of the city. "The schools here have a lot to offer."
Take Highway 144 north for 168 miles (270 km.) and you'll find Timmins. Approximately 25 percent of its work force is in the mining and forestry sectors with many others employed with companies that supply these industries. The area surrounding Timmins is one of the richest mineral-producing areas in the Western Hemisphere. Falconbridge is spending $548 million there to develop the deepest base metals mine in the world.
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