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Canadian mining sector could soon feel impact of rail blockades

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Global Mining Review,

The mining sector may soon feel the impact of the rail blockades and with no end in sight, industry stakeholders are worried.

Brendan Marshall, Vice President of the Mining Association of Canada, said: “The Canadian mining industry accounts for half the total rail freight volume moved within Canada. That is a massive volume of goods, and when thinking about Ontario as Canada’s largest mining jurisdiction, a significant volume of that product moves on rails.”

Marshall says a lot of product is moving from Ontario to other jurisdictions or it is moving to other sites, which means a lot of other companies may be reliant on some of the mining giants.

He adds the association supports the right to lawful protest. They are calling on the government to find a peaceful and lasting solution that will allow the trains to run again.

Bryan Welsh, the Chair of the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce, says members are concerned these rail stoppages could be allowed to continue: “If this goes on any longer, there will be a definite impact and there will most likely be layoffs associated with this. CN and Via Rail already laid off approximately 100 people. It is not long before Sudbury is going to be impacted by layoffs.”

Welsh says that if materials cannot go out on the rail, there is then storage of the product that cannot be moved and they have to stop production.

He fears that will impact suppliers and then continue down the line, creating a trickle-down effect. “The impact goes well beyond northern Ontario and its mines and suppliers… We are trying to tell everyone we are a stable economy, but then all of a sudden, the world is looking at us saying we should not be investing in Canada. The stability is not there so, all of a sudden, the mining industry […] investment might slow down because it does not look like we are a stable place to invest money if we cannot efficiently do business.”

Paul Bradette, Executive Director of Sudbury Area Mining Supply and Service Assocation, said: “Our members are impacted in two different ways. The first is their reliance, once the manufactured goods are finalised to get them to market to the end user. The second piece to that is that they rely on raw products to do the manufacturing […] and that is when it is going to impact their operations […] Long-term is certainly going to impact the employment positions and our members’ ability to continue their operations.”

Sudbury MP Paul Lefebvre is also the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and he has been meeting with mining companies to hear their concerns: “We hear what they are saying and we need to address this. We need to make sure that we are also listening to Indigenous communities and continuing our dialogue with them or else we are not going to get a better spot […] I know there is people out there that are saying ‘you know what you should just put them all in jail and it would be easy.’ That is not the way it works.”

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Canadian mining news Mining Association of Canada news