When I started my career in exporting Canadian mining technology to world markets 40 years ago, there were challenges for exporters that are hard to imagine today. International travel and communications were, by today’s standards, difficult. Telex machines received messages at the rate of a character per second. Computers and word processors existed, but they were not the tools of business. Fax machines had not been developed. Visas were required for nearly every country that you needed to visit and airfares were very costly.
However, Scintrex, the manufacturer of geophysical equipment, and my then-employer, needed markets beyond Canada to support its specialized manufacturing and R&D capabilities. Despite the challenges, we successfully increased our shipments to an average of 50 to 60 countries over a decade.
In 1981, members of an Ontario mining trade mission to Chile and Peru realized that, by working together, they could better influence export markets. I was one of them. Around the swimming pool of our hotel in Lima, we hatched the idea to develop the export trade association I lead today. CAMESE is one of the strongest national, sectoral associations in today’s mining supply sector.
From 1995 to the present, CAMESE has organized Canadian participation at 150 international mining events, which have attracted over two million attendees and hosted 2,500 Canadian supplier booths, resulting in 12,000 business leads for Canadian suppliers. Over 50,000 CAMESE source-books, with a listing of suppliers called the Compendium of Canadian Mining Suppliers have been distributed at these events.
CAMESE has become a first-class, cost-effective provider of marketing support for Canadian mining supply firms looking to gain exposure in international markets and unites over 300 of Canada’s leading mining equipment suppliers.
Given the large domestic market and low-tariff protection since the end of World War II, Canadian mining suppliers have had to compete with imported mining goods and services. Thus, Canadian suppliers are driven to innovate and can compete with the best in the world. Domiciled in a developed country, Canadian mining suppliers have been able to develop or gain rapid access to advanced technology to ensure competitiveness. A survey revealed 13.3 per cent of employees of CAMESE members “work in Canada on the development of new products or technologies for the mining industry, from pure research to production engineering.” Further, nine per cent of the employees of the surveyed firms work on commercializing these technologies.
While many firms exist solely to cater to the domestic market, most mining-specific suppliers have an international presence. A number of such companies export far more than half of the products and services produced every year.
Today, Canada is one of the world’s leading producers of minerals and metals. We are the undisputed global leader in mineral exploration and exploration financing. With Canadian mining companies behind 5,000 projects in over 100 countries, Canadian mining supply firms naturally accompany the industry around the world, searching for new markets.
The Canadian industry’s high rate of exploration and production has prompted the development of highly competent mining supply companies in the country. In fact, nearly everything that is needed to supply an efficient, safe and environmentally responsible modern mine can be sourced in Canada.
Jon Baird, managing director of CAMESE
and the immediate past-president of PDAC, is interested in collective approaches to enhancing the Canadian brand in the world of mining.