“It's not strong growth in the mining sector,” said David Boyce, the Sudbury Chamber of Commerce's chair. “We are still hopeful we can make some progress on the Ring of Fire project in the next couple years, although that's not likely to impact employment in the near term.”
The last year turned out to be a difficult one for the Ring of Fire project, with the Nov. 20 announcement that Cliffs Natural Resources had suspended its work in the Ring of Fire deposit.
Plans for a $1.8-billion refinery near Capreol also fell to the wayside with Cliffs' announcement.
But Boyce said he is confident the provincial government will take the steps necessary to turn the project around.
“The government seems to understand the importance of that deposit in Northern Ontario,” he told Northern Life. “We still have hope that the mines will come together and we'll be able to make some progress to get things started up there.”
In Sudbury, Boyce said Vale's emission reduction project at the Copper Cliff Smelter will contribute to the local economy into 2015. The company's $814-million Copper Cliff underground nickel mine expansion is also planned to begin in 2014.
Despite a prediction for only sluggish growth in the mining sector, the Chamber of Commerce expects Sudbury to gain nearly 4,000 jobs by the end of 2015. The region lost 8,400 jobs from 2012 to 2013.
If the job gain forecasts come to pass, the Greater Sudbury region's unemployment rate will fall from a high of 7.8 per cent to 6.6 per cent in 2015.
While the Chamber of Commerce expects job gains, ythe region's population will continue to fall, Boyce said.
In the last two years the region has lost an average of more than 2,000 people a year.
“Our population is aging more rapidly than in other parts of the province because we are losing our young people,” Boyce said.
Boyce said the next two years will be positive for homeowners, with the average price of a home in Sudbury expected to grow by more than eight per cent over the next two years.
Housing prices in the region rose at an average rate of 4.3 percent over the last three years, from $200,457 in 2011 to $214,500 in 2013.