Annual Report 2012-2013

To support new initiatives and existing ministry programs, the government, through the
Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, projects to have invested over $1.3 billion
in the North and in Ontario’s mineral sectors in 2012-13.


The Growth Plan for Northern Ontario, 2011, released on March 4, 2011, under the Places to Grow Act, is a strategic plan that guides decision-making and investment planning over the next 25 years.  The plan aims to strengthen the economy of the north by:

  • Diversifying the region’s traditional resource-based industries;
  • Stimulating new investment and entrepreneurship;
  • Providing more education, training and career opportunities; and
  • Nurturing new and emerging sectors with high growth potential.

Implementation of the Growth Plan is a collective effort of various partners and participants including governments, industry and business, municipalities, Aboriginal communities and organizations and other public and private sector institutions.  Progress on several key Growth Plan initiatives in 2012-13 included:

  • The establishment of the Northern Policy Institute (NPI) and the appointment of its inaugural board of directors.  Supported by a $5 million investment from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund (NOHFC), the Northern Policy Institute’s first task is the preparation of a five-year business plan.
  • Continuing progress on the Northern Ontario Multimodal Transportation Strategy led by the Ministry of Transportation and supported by a $2.2 million investment by the NOHFC through a phased delivery of the study components.
  • The preparation of regional economic development planning area models for Northwestern and Northeastern Ontario by diverse multi-stakeholder teams.  The ministry will share the reports and recommendations of the planning teams with the Northern Policy Institute to apply them in a broader Northern Ontario policy context.
  • The NOHFC has enhanced its program to support regional collaboration in the development and implementation of priority economic development projects.  Through the NOHFC’s Infrastructure and Community Development Program, the Regional Economic Opportunities Partnership Initiative was launched in 2013.


As the lead ministry coordinating the economic recovery of the City of Elliot Lake following the tragic Algo Centre mall collapse in 2012, a provincial economic revitalization office was established to assist community businesses quickly re-establish their operations.  Through the NOHFC, a $2 million business continuity fund was created to help displaced businesses with temporary re-location and start-up assistance.  Sixteen of 17 affected businesses received assistance from the fund, bringing 97 employees back to work. In addition, the NOHFC provided:

  • $1 million in funding toward preparing the site for a new retail plaza to replace the Algo Centre Mall as the city’s new retail and commercial hub.
  • $740,000 to support renovations to the previously vacant White Mountain Facility to house the public library and other community services, including hosting Justice Bélanger’s inquiry into the events of the mall collapse. 
  • $50,000 to the City of Elliot Lake to develop an Economic Development and Diversification Strategy and to fund three internships to assist with revitalization efforts. The NOHFC will also  contribute $27,500 per position toward an Economic Development Intern, a Business Support Intern and a Communications Officer Intern.
  • MNDM also approved a transfer payment of $50,000 to the Serpent River First Nation to support the Environmental Review Panel project. The project will  advance the Cottage Lot Development Initiative in Elliot Lake.


The Northern Industrial Electricity Rate (NIER) Program assists Northern Ontario’s largest industrial electrical consumers (forestry, mining and manufacturing) reduce their electricity costs, create and sustain jobs, and maintain long-term global competitiveness.  The objective of the NIER Program is to assist Northern Ontario’s largest industrial electricity consumers develop and implement long-term efficiency and sustainability measures.

The program offers eligible participants a rebate of $0.02 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) – up to a maximum of $20 million per company - for companies that commit to electricity efficiency and sustainability plans.  As an incentive program, the NIER Program provides a bridge for participants to achieve greater electricity efficiency by committing to the development and implementation of an Energy Management Plan (EMP).

For 2012-13, a total of $119,911,537 was disbursed under the program. Sixteen companies, representing 25 facilities, participated in the program in 2012-13.


For 2012-13, the ministry invested close to $525 million in northern highway rehabilitation and expansion to improve road safety, quality of life for northerners and spur economic development.  Highlights include:

  • About $124.4 million for system expansion (four-laning) and safety initiative projects.
  • About $400 million for system rehabilitation.
  • Work continued on 20 kilometres of Highway 11 and 69 four-laning with the awarding of two contracts.
  • Ten contracts were completed on Highway 11 with a value of $540 million.  All of the remaining 41 kilometers of highway was opened to traffic in August 2012
  • Thirteen contracts have been initiated on Highway 69 south of Sudbury with a  total value of over $670 million

Through the Winter Roads Program, residents of 31 remote communities in the Far North have more economical and safe access to services and supplies via the 3,000 kilometre winter roads network.  The network expanded in 2012-13 by 180 kilometres with the construction of a new road from Moose Cree First Nation to Otter Rapids.  The ministry invested $4.725 million in the construction of the winter road system in 2012-13, and has invested over $35 million in construction and maintenance costs on the network since 2004-05.


The Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) continues to be an important economic development driver in the North.  The NOHFC’s ongoing partnership with communities, businesses, entrepreneurs and youth spurs job creation and economic growth across Northern Ontario.
Since October 2003, the NOHFC has approved over $820 million toward more than 5,300 projects, leveraging approximately $3.1 billion from other funding sources. This support is helping create or sustain more than 24,000 jobs and co-op placements across the North.
With a budget of $100 million in 2012-13, the NOHFC supported many key initiatives through its programs.  Since the start of its new mandate, in January 2005, significant investments have included:

  • Over $286 million to local community infrastructure development and enhancement projects, through the Infrastructure and Community Development Program;
  • Over $54 million approved through the Youth Internship and Co-Op Program, creating  over 2,900 internships and co-op placements spanning the entire North, including Far North remote communities;
  • Approximately $10.3 million invested under the Young Entrepreneur Program to over 464 businesses across the North;
  • Approximately $172 million invested through the Enterprises North Job Creation Program, aimed at creating jobs and supporting the success of small and medium-sized businesses in the North;
  • Over $170 million invested through the Emerging Technology Program to support the emerging film, animation, and biotechnology sectors and the expanding broadband and cellular service capacity in the North;
  • Over $19.2 million, to 407 new business start-ups across Northern Ontario, since May 2009, through the Northern Ontario Entrepreneur Program.

The Northern Ontario Entrepreneur Program and the enhancements to the Enterprises North Job Creation and Private Sector Emerging Technology Programs are helping Northern businesses succeed.  The Northern Ontario Entrepreneur Program and the Enterprises North and Emerging Technology Programs have seen dramatic increases in uptake and are helping to create jobs and prosperity throughout the North. In 2013-14, the NOHFC will continue to build on these achievements with a budget of $100 million.


Northern sector priorities include forestry related bio-fuels and chemicals, and mining and related supplies and services The ministry helps Northern Ontario companies to grow and expand their business globally though collaborative international marketing, sales support services and lead generation. By working closely with business sectors, the ministry increases direct trade, business expansion and foreign direct investment to the benefit of Northern Ontario. Other support services include assistive programs like the Mining Supplies and Services Export Assistance (MSSEA) Program.

By focusing on sectors that have the best opportunity to attract foreign direct investment and help Northern Ontario businesses grow and create employment, the ministry proactively identifies and promotes the benefits of growing businesses and/or establishing businesses in Northern Ontario.

Northern Ontario investment and trade opportunities continue to be serviced through targeted calls on foreign investors whose strategic direction is a “fit” with Northern Ontario. The ministry promotes the capabilities and location advantages of Northern Ontario.

The Mining Supply & Service Export Assistance (MSSEA) Program completed the final year of its three-year operations. The program helped Northern Ontario mining supply and services companies enter new global markets and increase and diversify their revenue streams.  Approximately 20 new companies benefitted from MSSEA support programs over the past year.  Close to 80 companies participated in one or all of the following programs over the three year program; the One-on-One Consultation, Private Sector Export Marketing Assistance, and Tradeshow events.  In winter 2013, over 80 companies participated in three Export Readiness Seminars held in Thunder Bay, Sudbury and North Bay.

The mining supply and services sector is now a featured sector under MEDTE’s Source Ontario web tool:  114 mining supply and services companies from Northern Ontario are represented on this site.  Information packages highlighting Ontario’s mining services and supply sector were sent to 120 international buyers located in Peru, Russia and India with the intent to attract them to the new website and connected directly to Ontario companies.  Each company featured on the website has a dedicated page outlining its products and linking to their own websites.

Twenty-seven International business development representatives have been engaged to work with ministry staff to represent Northern Ontario’s opportunities abroad. Business development representatives attended seven domestic and international trade and investment marketing events.

Ministry activities contributed to the following results in 2012-13:

  • Over 60 corporate calls completed;
  • 33 new investment/trade leads;
  • 28 Ontario companies participated in three outbound international trade missions;
  • 2 incoming international trade missions with representatives from Colombia and Mexico;
  • 169 business to business meetings in foreign markets; and
  • Over $12.4 million in closed trade sales.

The Mining Memorandum of Understanding between Ontario and India has made significant progress towards the creation of a centre of mining excellence in India with the cooperation of four Ontario universities. India and Ontario continue to work closely to increase trade and investment between the two jurisdictions.


The ministry approved over $82 million of capital and operating support in 2012-13 to the ONTC for the delivery of telecommunications and transportation services in Northeastern Ontario.

The ONTC Board continued to support government efforts to find new private sector operators for the ONTC businesses while maintaining operation of all business lines.  To eliminate duplication of service between the motor coach and passenger train, the Northlander passenger train service was cancelled as of September 28, 2012.

The Ontario government has committed to continuing key transportation services, including the Polar Bear Express train service between Cochrane and Moosonee, and motor coach services to communities served only by the ONTC.

In March 2013, the new Ontario government established the Minister’s Advisory Committee (MAC) to provide input to the Minister of Northern Development and Mines on the ONTC. The Committee is composed of members who will bring forward the perspectives of Aboriginal communities, municipalities, business and industry in the ONTC service area.  This diverse membership will provide advice on the timing and approach for moving forward, including ways to optimize new economic opportunities in partnership with new private sector investors.

Motor Coach services

ONTC’s motor coach operations successfully accommodated a transfer of passengers from the Northlander passenger train service beginning in October 2012. All communities previously served by the Northlander passenger train continue to be served by motor coach operations.

Rail Services

ONTC remains committed to ensuring the safety and integrity of its rail infrastructure. Close to $29 million was invested in 2012-13 in capital projects including: installing new and relay rail, installing new railway ties, surfacing track and maintaining and upgrading bridges, culverts and stations.


The M.S. Chi Cheemaun ferry service operates seasonally between South Baymouth, Manitoulin Island and Tobermory on the Bruce Peninsula.  In 2012-13 it transported over 178,000 passengers.  The ministry provided an operating subsidy of $1.38 million and $1.23 million in capital.


The five year Northern Ontario Grow Bonds Pilot Program raised nearly $13 million through the sale of Grow Bonds.  The proceeds from the bond issuance were used to provide loans to northern businesses.  The bonds matured on April 11, 2010.  Bonds are being repaid as they are surrendered.  

In December 2009, in preparation for the wind-up of the pilot program, and the repayment of the bonds, the Grow Bonds loan portfolio was transferred to the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation.

The Northern Ontario Grow Bonds Corporation was dissolved on May 1, 2012. The assets and liabilities of the Corporation were transferred to the Province of Ontario including the bonds that have not been surrendered by bond holders.

As the Northern Ontario Grow Bonds Program was a pilot project, an initial review was undertaken and a full evaluation of the program was completed.  The findings from the evaluation will assist in the development of other government programs.


The ministry has progressively improved relationships and engagement processes with Aboriginal peoples through enhanced information sharing and communication projects.

Since 2003, the government has invested over $ 70 million in Aboriginal communities through NOHFC programs, including Telehealth Services expansion, waterfront development and cultural attractions.

This includes investments such as $637,000 to train 120 Aboriginal youth in Red Lake for the Ontario Common Core Hard Rock Mining certificate. These investments are helping facilitate economic agreements between First Nations and the minerals sector, such as the Impact Benefit Agreement signed by DeBeers and Attawapiskat First Nation

More than 100 agreements that have been signed between First Nations and industry since 1999, from early exploration stages to the extraction phases of the mining sequence.  Many of the agreements support First Nation and Métis economic development activities and increase the level of Aboriginal participation in Ontario’s mineral sector.

In 2012-13, the ministry continued its efforts to support First Nations and Métis participation in the mineral sector through its Aboriginal Relations Branch. The ministry entered into formal funding and relationship agreements with a number of Aboriginal organizations to increase their capacity to engage with the mineral industry, including agreements with the Union of Ontario Indians, Grand Council Treaty 3, the Algonquins of Ontario, the Matawa Tribal Council, the Mushkegowuk Council, the Wabun Tribal Council and the Métis Nation of Ontario. The agreements enabled these Aboriginal organizations to develop capacity in a number of ways which include:

  • Hiring mineral advisors and coordinators;
  • Obtaining basic skill training in GIS and values mapping;
  • Developing information sharing protocols; and
  • Developing interim guidelines for community level engagement with the mineral industry. 

The ministry has also partnered with the Ministry of Natural Resources on a number of agreements that support each ministry’s mandate.

In some of the above mentioned agreements, the ministry established technical tables with Aboriginal organizations to allow for the exchange of information, the diffusion of on-the-ground issues and, in some cases, the withdrawal of Sites of Aboriginal Cultural Significance.

In addition to promoting capacity development, the ministry supported First Nations and Métis participation in numerous mineral sector educational forums, including the Canadian Aboriginal Mineral Association and the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada.


In 2011-12, the ministry continued its efforts to implement the Mineral Development Strategy, to attract new mineral investment and facilitate meaningful partnerships with Aboriginal communities and the mining sector.


Ontario continued to be Canada’s leading jurisdiction for the production of non-fuel minerals, and a major player in the world. The province’s mineral production in 2012 was valued at $9.2 billion, with its metal mines generating $6.2 billion for the economy.

Ontario led the country in exploration expenditures in 2012 with $903 million.  Active mining claim units for 2012 were 306,000 down from 2011 but comparable to 2007, which had 307,829.  The average number of active claims between 2000 and 2005 was 231,081.

Three new mines opened in 2012 and two new mines are forecast to open in 2013.

There are over 40 advanced mineral projects in Ontario and mine construction work has begun at about 8 of these.

Extensive mine expansion programs are underway at Goldcorp’s Porcupine and Red Lake mines as well as North American Palladium’s Lac des Iles mine that will increase production, extend mine life and create new jobs.

Ontario continues to grow a vibrant diamond sector.  North America’s largest diamond cutting and polishing facility, located in Sudbury, is cutting an estimated $35 million worth of rough stones derived from the DeBeers Canada’s Victor mine, located in the James Bay Lowlands, along with an additional $10 million of rough diamonds derived from other Canadian and International sources.  The facility is both viable and self-sustaining.

In February 2013, a global procurement process for a Government Diamond Royalty Valuator (GDVR) and related services was completed and new GDVR contract was signed for 3 years.  The process was overseen by a Fairness Commissioner.  The GDVR assists Ontario in determining the value of rough diamonds produced at the Victor Mine, for royalty purposes.
Ontario has negotiated access to 10 per cent, by value, of diamonds produced from the Victor mine to be allocated for cutting and polishing in the province.  The extraction of Ontario’s diamonds used to occur after rough stones were sent to London, UK.  A pilot project evolved through 2012-13 where Ontario’s allocation was extracted directly at the Victor mine site. Based on the success of the pilot project, Ontario’s first official mine site extraction was completed in April 2013. The close proximity of the extractions to the source of the diamonds will strengthen Ontario’s chain-of-custody for Victor diamonds in support of the Ontario Certificate of Origin Diamond program.


One of the most significant measures undertaken to advance Ontario’s status for mineral investment has been the modernization of the Mining Act. The new legislation, which received royal assent in October 2009, is intended to provide greater clarity and certainty to the industry by setting out a clearer framework for the responsible management and sustainable development of the province’s mineral resources.

Different sections of the amended act are being phased in as the various supporting regulations are developed.

Phase I

Phase I of the Mining Act Modernization (MAM) initiative is complete.  The Phase I regulations included a requirement to provide notification of claim staking to surface rights owners, the introduction of a map staking process in southern Ontario and the addition of further criteria for considering requests for withdrawals of Crown mining rights by surface rights owners in Northern Ontario.

Phase II

Phase II regulations, which took effect November 1, 2012, are the result of extensive consultation with stakeholders and Aboriginal representatives. A regime of exploration plans and permits sets rules that enhance notification and consultation with Aboriginal communities and private landowners potentially impacted by proposed exploration activities. New rules help protect sites of Aboriginal cultural significance, and new provisions for exploration site remediation reduce the impacts of early exploration activities. This came into effect on April 1, 2013 following a five month voluntary period.

The Aboriginal Capacity Initiative is a three-year pilot initiative (2012-2015) to assist Aboriginal communities to participate effectively in consultation on exploration plans and permits and closure plans within timeframes outlined in new Mining Act regulations.  Initially the initiative targeted support to Aboriginal communities located in areas with the highest mineral exploration activity. Forty-three communities are expected to receive 90 percent of the Exploration Plans and Exploration Permits.

MNDM provides funding for advisory services to communities expected to receive high levels of exploration so they can participate effectively in consultations. Currently 28 communities are represented by a Mineral Development Advisor.

Phase III

Phase III regulations and proclamations of Bill 173 provisions, including those related to a new, province-wide electronic map staking system, will be phased-in over the next 2-3 years.

Once fully implemented, the Mining Act Modernization initiative will help Ontario maintain its position as a world leader in mineral exploration and mining investment.

MNDM continues to consult extensively with industry stakeholders, First Nations and Métis and non-governmental groups to help develop the modernized act’s supporting regulations, programs, policies, procedures and information technology solutions. To date, MNDM has carried out more than 80 consultation and information-sharing sessions.

Over 3,000 assessment work reports were processed last year. That represents $312 million expended in exploration and in pursuit of geoscience data. This is a record for assessment filing in Ontario.


The ministry continued work under the Abandoned Mines Rehabilitation Program. This program has successfully eliminated or reduced environmental and physical safety hazards. Since 2003, approximately $103.6 million has been invested in this program.


Closure plans, with financial assurance, are required before any mine can enter into advanced exploration or production. There are currently 162 mine closure plans filed with the Mineral Development and Lands Branch with a corresponding $1.446 billion in financial assurance. Over the last two years the Rehabilitation and Compliance Section’s inspection program has been enhanced, resulting in the submission of 20 closure plan amendments and an increase in financial assurance in 2012-13 of $251 million.


The Ontario Geological Survey (OGS) collects and disseminates geoscience information to attract and guide mineral sector investment, as well as inform a broad range of government policy priorities, such as:

  • Land-use planning decisions by Aboriginal communities and MMAH, MNR, and municipalities; and
  • Decisions related to other ministry policy initiatives, such as the Far North Act, source water protection and development, public protection from natural geological hazards, and characterization of the state of the environment from a geological perspective.

The Ontario Geological Survey (OGS) delivered approximately 50 geological projects across all of Ontario.  These programs directly contribute to the economy and quality of life in Ontario.
Some highlights include surveying projects in the Far North, including the Ring of Fire region, delivering a range of geological products in support of economic and community development and First Nation community-based land-use planning.

In the Near North, the geological results contributed to local municipal economic options related to mineral development.

In southern Ontario, the geological projects focused on:

  • Aggregate potential;
  • Groundwater studies critical to define the quality, quantity, and distribution of potable groundwater sources that supply three million people;
  • Geochemical baseline characterization; and
  • Bedrock characterization relevant to mineral investment attraction, renewable and non-renewable energy, and to explain groundwater quality issues linked to natural geological features in support of public health and protection of source water inventories.

The OGS continued to work in collaboration with Aboriginal communities, conservation authorities, industry, universities, other Ontario ministries, municipalities, and the federal government to ensure that Ontario’s geoscience knowledge is current, credible, and available to inform the range of Ontario policy priorities.

In 2008, a Google Earth-based viewing tool (OGS Earth) was developed by the Ontario Geological Survey (OGS) that overlays Ontario's geological information on satellite imagery of the earth’s surface.  OGS Earth has dramatically increased access to various data sets, assessment files and OGS publications. This product increases the ease of access and use of Ontario's geoscience information via the Internet to create an effective and competitive tool for all global geoscience users. The OGS continues to add data sets to this tool. The OGS is also contributing to Ontario’s Open Data initiative, helping to put key geological data into the public’s hands.

Availability of these geoscience goods and services continues to be an important pillar in the ministry’s national and international marketing efforts. In the past year, the ministry participated in eight trade and investment events and three regional symposiums to promote Ontario’s excellent, modern and public geological knowledge, helping to   sustain the province as the premier mineral investment location of Canada.


In December 2012 MNDM launched its approved Class Environmental Assessment (EA) under Ontario’s Environmental Assessment Act. The purpose of the new Class Environmental Assessment is to ensure that the ministry continues to adequately and effectively screen, evaluate and address potential environmental effects of the discretionary activities it undertakes, and to ensure that all potential environmental effects of a project are considered. It includes a new streamlined self-assessment process to categorize the proposed activities, a project review and planning process, and provisions for ongoing administration of the Class EA. The new Class EA applies to two types of activities that were previously covered by two expired declaration orders: Discretionary tenure decisions and discretionary rehabilitation activities.


The “Ring of Fire” initiative refers to one of the most promising development opportunities in Northern Ontario in perhaps a century. Located in Ontario’s Far North, current estimates from one of the companies exploring in the area suggest the potential for decades of chromite production, as well as significant production of nickel, copper and platinum.

Development of the Ring of Fire initiative forms a key pillar of Ontario’s Open Ontario plan, and was recognized in the 2011 Ontario Speech from the Throne and Ontario’s 2011, 2012 and 2013 Budgets.  The Ring of Fire represents an unparalleled opportunity to think strategically and plan for development in an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable way.

The ministry, through the Ring of Fire Secretariat, has the overall lead in the Ring of Fire region and continues to play a coordinating role with respect to infrastructure, economic development, skills and capacity building, environmental assessment and Aboriginal engagement and consultation.

On May 9th, 2012, Cliffs Natural Resources announced their intent to locate a Ferrochrome Processing Facility in Ontario at a site near Capreol, north of Sudbury. Discussions on final agreements took place from July 2012 until February 2013.  MNDM committed at this time to establish a tripartite process involving First Nations, Ontario and Canada to advance Ring of Fire initiatives and is reaching out to First Nations to begin discussions.

On May 9, 2012, MNDM also committed to a series of initiatives intended to support socioeconomic growth and direct participation of First Nations in development within the Ring of Fire. Specifically, these initiatives include:

  • Regional environmental monitoring;
  • Regional infrastructure planning, including local access roads and transmission;
  • Social, community and economic development supports, education and skills training as well as health supports including treatment for prescription drug abuse;
  • Resource revenue sharing associated with Ring of Fire developments; and
  • The establishment of a tripartite process involving First Nations, Ontario and Canada to advance Ring of Fire initiatives.

In the past year alone, the Ontario government has contributed more than $6 million directly to First Nation communities and the Matawa Tribal Council to support:

  • Community-based training opportunities, such as the recently completed Mining Essentials and Pre-trades training program in Webequie First Nation;
  • Funding for Aboriginal children and youth mental health workers;
  • Funding for an Aboriginal Skills Advanced Pilot Program; and
  • Capacity funding directly to communities to enable their participation in Ring of Fire initiatives.

In fall 2012, the Secretariat and Matawa Chiefs discussed a framework built on the province’s commitments to address regional infrastructure, community readiness, regional long term environmental monitoring, and resource revenue sharing.

On March 6, 2013, the Premier met with the Chiefs from Matawa First Nations and received a proposal for a negotiated regional process for the Ring of Fire. The government has indicated a willingness to engage in this regional process.

The ministry remains committed to working directly with First Nation communities on their priorities related to development in the Ring of Fire.  In 2012-13, MNDM signed a Renewal of Memorandum of Cooperation with Webequie First Nation and a Memorandum of Understanding with Marten Falls First Nation. Similar work with several other communities is underway.

Proposed mining and infrastructure projects in the Ring of Fire require approvals under federal and provincial legislation. Both the Cliffs Natural Resources and Noront projects continue to undergo coordinated environmental assessments led by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment on behalf of the province, and by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency on behalf of federal authorities. In 2012-13 both companies submitted their Terms of Reference for their respective projects.

Table 1: Ministry Interim Actual Expenditures 2012-2013
 Ministry Interim Actual Expenditures ($M) 2012-2013 *
Staff Strength **
(as of March 31, 2013)

* Interim actuals reflect the numbers presented in the 2013 Ontario Budget.
** Ontario Public Service Full-Time Equivalent positions.