Ontario hears from mining executives about electricity prices

Some mining officials say the key to mining success in Ontario is keeping electricity prices competitive.

Consultation sessions recently held in Sudbury

A consultation session was held on Friday in Sudbury between the province and mining officials. (Erik White/CBC)

Some mining officials say the key to mining success in Ontario is keeping electricity prices competitive.

On Friday, consultation sessions were held in Sudbury between industry stakeholders and the provincial government. Markham MPP Paul Calandra and Sault Ste. Marie MPP Ross Romano, parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, met with mining officials.

"We want to hear first hand from the mining sector on how we can improve our electricity system to make businesses more competitive," Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines Greg Rickford said.

"We need to ensure our job-creating industries can thrive in Ontario with fair electricity prices."

Alan Coutts, president and CEO of Noront, says currently, electricity prices are very high in Ontario and not competitive.

"A lot of mining operations will have a third or more of their costs as electricity," he said.

"The difference we see between pricing is maybe in the order of 7 cents a kilowatt hour more expensive than jurisdictions like Quebec or Manitoba. It's a real disincentive to investment and that's what we're here to talk about."

Coutts says his developing company is looking at $2 billion in investments in Ontario, including a nickel copper mine, a chromite mine and a chromite processing facility.

Alan Coutts is the president and CEO of Noront. (Bienvenu Senga/Radio-Canada)

"Ultimately, those decisions will be based on how economically viable it is to develop mines and processing smelters in the process of Ontario," he said.

"That depends largely on the price of energy."

Vice-president of Glencore Sudbury operations, Peter Xavier, says stable energy prices are important to larger mining companies.

"For us, what's really key is having long-term certainty on electricity prices," he said.

"We are embarking on a billion dollar investment at one of our mines, several hundred million dollars of investment into our smelter and further contemplating another new mine."

With files from Bienvenu Senga


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