A Turn for the Better in Ontario
The Northern Development and Mines portfolio has been a revolving door for ministers in the last half decade, but this year it’s more than a new face: it’s a new party and platform. Sudbury native Rick Bartolucci, Liberal Member of the Provincial Parliament for Sudbury since 1995, has been the minister since October when his party won the provincial election. Lucky for him the ministry is headquartered in Sudbury.
Bartolucci has family ties to Sudbury nickel mining majors Inco and Falconbridge and a history of good relationships with them when he was a city and regional councillor. CMJ caught up with the Hon. Rick Bartolucci in Sudbury in late December and asked him how things would be changing for the mining industry in the province.
The newly-created Ontario Mineral Industry Clusters Council, led by the private sector, will encourage the creation of globally-competitive clusters of mineral-related industries and organizations. Some geographic clusters already exist, such as in the vicinity of Sudbury. But other major firms, suppliers, university and education research institutions and the financial sector are spread throughout Ontario, so the co-chairs have been asked to include all interested parties.
Bartolucci sees the ministry’s role in the council as a facilitator, to provide logistical and secretarial support to organize forums, co-ordinate meetings and develop project plans, and to keep the council abreast of federal and provincial programs, global trends and best practices around the world.
To a question about regulation of the electricity price in Ontario, Bartolucci responds that larger industrial customers were already paying the market price for electricity, so they are not affected by the new government’s price planning legislation.
In terms of supply, he says that, in 2004, there should be an additional 2,000 MW of nuclear power coming online from one generating unit at Pickering and two at Bruce A returning to service, along with another 700 MW from other sources. A report is being written on the potential 900-MW Beck III hydroelectric station in the Niagara Falls area.
As well, the Ontario government is working with Manitoba on a feasibility study for a 1,250-MW hydroelectric generating station. The study will also assess the construction of transmission lines between the Ontario and Manitoba. Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has already met with Quebec premier Jean Charest to discuss increasing the transmission links between Quebec and Ontario.
Regarding permitting delays for mining developments, Bartolucci, says, “We will be reviewing these matters in the near future to make the process clearer and less cumbersome. We will endeavour to ensure that any delays are based upon good science and not on bureaucratic issues.” However, he gives notice to companies not using best practices: “We’re going to insist that the proponents strive for state-of-the-art, forward-looking environmental management strategies. This is a part of mining if it’s going to be sustainable in Ontario.”