Mining and a Healthy Manitoba – What’s the Connection? 

Mining and a healthy Manitoba

The Manitoba provincial budget for 2023 allocates $7.9 billion for healthcare, an increase of about 9.2 per cent over last year. 

This increase highlights a growing need for new ways to support and fund what we love the most in Manitoba – our people, our environment, and our access to reliable health and social services.

That’s where the mining sector comes in. Manitoba’s mining industry currently contributes over $1 billion annually to the economy, helping fund essential services like healthcare, social programs, and education. However, with arguably more growth potential than any other business sector in Manitoba, a stronger and vibrant mining industry means the future looks healthy indeed. 

Manitoba’s health depends on critical minerals and metals

“Minerals are needed for everything,” says Stacy Kennedy, President of the Mining Association of Manitoba Inc. (MAMI) and Director of Manitoba Operations for Vale in Thompson. She points to advancements in medicine that are a result of many of the critical minerals Manitoba holds. “There’s much more to it than meets the eye.”

Zinc is used for medical interventions to boost the immune system. Titanium is used for surgical devices and implants. Lithium is a prescribed medication for mental illness and an ingredient in diabetes medications. It is also an important component for the batteries that power critical technologies like pacemakers, dialysis machines, and air purification systems. From medical tools to nutritional supplements, minerals play an important role in healthcare.

Joey Champagne, Operations Director of Tantalum Mining Corporation of Canada Ltd. (TANCO), explains how the mining sector helps fund Manitoba. “The mining industry itself brings a lot of jobs and investment and that obviously results in growth for our economy. And with every dollar that we’re spending on employees and the taxes that come back with them, ultimately that’s going into the development of roadways, funding healthcare, building new schools, you name it.” 

Champagne goes on to describe how taxation of the mining sector takes this a step further. “Mining has a very specific tax jurisdiction as well.” He is referring to the Manitoba Mining Tax, which applies to all operators engaged in mining and/or processing minerals in the province.  “All of that is bettering Manitoba,” he says. “The dollars that come back from the mining industry get used in so many different aspects of our lives.” 

Manitoba’s growth potential relies on the fact that the province is home to 29 of the 31 critical minerals Canada has identified as essential to global economic security and stability. Kennedy says the province is blessed with rich mineral deposits, many of which have yet to be explored. “We are very much positioned to be a great province to invest in and to continue contributing to the economy of the province and of the country,” she says. 

Mining directly impacts the communities where mining happens, but it’s success benefits all of us across the province. It’s through the development and growth of related industries in technology and manufacturing, job creation both inside and outside the mining camps, and the growth in communities through local businesses, housing, education, and service delivery that all contribute to the tax base and overall growth throughout the province. It’s this revenue that funds the increasing costs of healthcare, education and social services. 

A 2019 Stats Canada report stated, “Mining has the potential to create thousands of new, long-lasting, rewarding, high-quality jobs and careers for young people all over Manitoba as electricians, builders, geologists, safety officers, etc. with wages double the provincial average.”

Champagne speaks to how this contributes to the overall health and prosperity of the communities and Manitoba. “You’re seeing a lot more jobs created, not only directly at the mine sites, but indirectly with suppliers, the surrounding communities, all the way to the grocery stores and mom-and-pop shops that usually are adjacent to the mines and the township.” 

Environmental health also key

The health of the community goes one step further with Manitoba having some of the toughest regulatory standards – both environmental and safety – in the world covering all aspects of mining operations from exploration to processing, progressive waste management treatment and more. The health and safety of workers in the mines is also paramount. 

Jack Winram, Executive Director for the Manitoba Environmental Industries Association, weighs in on some of the steps the mining industry is taking to be more environmentally sustainable. “First Nation’s community involvement, where that local community is having a say in the development of the mining sector, I think is very important because they know better than anyone about the impacts on the environment. 

He adds that advances in technology are another way that the “health” of mining’s future extends to the environment. “They (the mining industry) are ahead of the curve in terms of technology for using electrification as a way to improve their carbon footprint and their sustainability in the long term. There’s also manufacturers here in Manitoba who are involved in electrification of that machinery. I think it’s a win-win for Manitoba, using our latest technology and our latest sustainability tactics and policies and procedures to make sure that it gets done right.”

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