Ontario’s embattled northerners shouldn’t lose hope for prosperity amid shutdowns and layoffs in their once-mighty mining industry because there are signs the downturn is temporary, says the minister responsible for the region and its mines.

“There have been a number of companies that have suspended operations, but in each of those cases, they’ve been very, very clear about the fact that they remain confident in their operations in the province and are going to move forward,” Michael Gravelle said.

Base-metal miners were hit hard as credit markets tightened, global demand slumped and prices for everything from zinc and copper to iron ore and aluminum plummeted.

Gravelle said the fact that miners haven’t scaled back exploration is a good sign the current pain is temporary. Once commodities prices turn around, the mines have given every indication they will be back up and running, he said.