Archive | Canadian Media Resource Articles

Diamonds, Diamonds Everywhere – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn Scales - Canadian Mining JournalMarilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication. She is one of Canada’s most senior mining commentators.

Imagine finding an exceptional, gem-quality white diamond weighing 189.6 carats. ROCKWELL DIAMONDS of Vancouver has done exactly that at its Klipdam mine near Kimberley, South Africa. The company reports that the stone is “oval in shape, somewhat flattened and strongly resorbed, and shows features typical of top colour high-value Type-2 gemstones.”

That description is sure to get everyone’s attention. So will the pictures of diamonds as large as 212-ct in the Diamond Gallery at www.RockwellDiamonds.com.

No less worthy of attention are recent exploration efforts for Canadian diamonds. Teams are finding diamonds and kimberlites at an astonishing rate this summer. Here are a few of them.

Vancouver’s COMMITTEE BAY RESOURCES and INDICATOR MINERALS reported the discovery of kimberlite boulders at the Borden project in Nunavut. Indicator minerals were visually identified in the float, and samples of the boulders have been sent for analysis.

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Canadian Mineral Facts and Figures from the Mining Association of Canada – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn Scales - Canadian Mining JournalMarilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication. She is one of Canada’s most senior mining commentators.

The MINING ASSOCIATION OF CANADA (MAC) released its latest “Facts and Figures 2008” publication at the recent Mines Ministers Conference in Saskatoon. In it are details about the production, reserves, exploration, trade and investment, innovation, tax and human resource aspects of our industry. That’s a lot of ground to cover in 65 pages, but MAC is once again the most comprehensive source of such numbers.

Here are a few of them:

VALUE: The contribution that the metals and minerals industry makes to Canada’s economy by value is relatively stable at 3.5% to 4.5%. Meanwhile, the gross domestic product (GDP) grew to $1.2 trillion in 2007. Of that amount, mineral extraction contributed $9.68 billion and mineral manufacturing $32.22 billion.

TOP TEN: Canada’s top ten minerals by value in 2007 were nickel ($9.90 billion), copper ($4.53 billion), potash ($3.14 billion), coal ($3.14 billion), uranium ($2.76 billion), iron ore ($2.51 billion), gold ($2.38 billion), Continue Reading →

Mainstream Media Ignorance About Mining – Especially Waste Disposal – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn Scales - Canadian Mining JournalMarilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication. She is one of Canada’s most senior mining commentators.

I’ve let the daily press get under my skin again. Newspapers and the CBC are telling the public that mining companies are going to destroy pristine Canadian lakes by turning them into dump sites for toxic mine waste. Why does the popular press still think that everything coming from a mine operation is “toxic”? Has no one outside the mining industry ever heard of sub-aqueous deposition?

There are 16 projects for which mining companies have applied to use lakes as tailings repositories, claim the environmentalists. The list includes the following 15:

BRITISH COLUMBIA
– NORTHGATE MINERALS – Kemess North (Duncan Lake)
– SHERWOOD COPPER – Kutcho Creek (Andrea Creek)
– ADANAC MOLY – Ruby Creek (Ruby Creek)
– TASEKO MINES – Prosperity (Fish Lake)
– IMPERIAL METALS – Red Chris
– TERRANE METALS – Mount Milligan

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What Has Gone Up Will Come Down – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn Scales - Canadian Mining JournalMarilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication.

I am no economist, and I don’t have a magic formula to predict the future of commodity prices. Instead I read other people’s prognostications and watch for trends. Sadly, the trend that has is emerging involves a downturn in the cyclical high that miners have enjoyed since 2002.

For what my advice is worth, watch the US dollar get stronger. It would appear the recession caused by the sub-prime mortgage fiasco in that country was short-lived. The relative worth of the American dollar affects global commodity markets.

The price of crude oil has dropped from its US$145/bbl high in mid-July to below US$109 despite Hurricane Gustav’s trek across the Gulf of Mexico. The storm blew through the oil-producing region at a relatively mild strength of Category 2 and 1. Analysts who said only a week ago that Canadian gas prices would skyrocket to C$1.75/litre are now saying they will drop even further than the C$1.25/litre it is in Eastern Ontario today.

Everyone jumped on the bandwagon as the gold price topped US$1,000/oz in mid-March. Exploration, development and takeover activity reached a fever pitch. But the high cannot be sustained. With the exception of a brief rise to US$977/oz six weeks ago, the gold price continues to slide, closing just short of US$800/oz on Sept. 2. I would hazard a guess that no other metal price reflects such an inverse correlation to the value of the U.S. dollar.

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Canada Will Rule the North – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn Scales - Canadian Mining JournalMarilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication.

In a bid to encourage economic development and defend Canadian sovereignty throughout the North, the federal government announced a new program of geo-mapping for Canada’s Arctic.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper made the announcement on Aug. 26, 2008, noting, “As I’ve said before, ‘use it or lose it’ is the first principle of sovereignty in the Arctic. To develop the North we must know the North. To protect the North, we must control the North. And to accomplish all our goals for the North, we must be in the North.”

Sovereignty in the North may not be a concept that miners frequently consider. Yet it is essential if Canadians are going to benefit from the potential natural resources. I include fresh water along with the metallic, diamondiferous and hydrocarbon deposits of the region. The United States is offering to claim sovereignty over the Arctic landscape, but that is not in our interests.

We must as Canadians make it very clear that the North—its people and its wealth—belong to us. The new federal initiatives will help ensure that reality. Promoting the mineral industry’s interests is a great way to do that.

The geo-mapping program will combine field research and advanced scientific analysis to provide Canadians with a fuller assessment on the extent of mineral and energy resources in the Canadian North. This information will help generate additional investment and economic development in Canada’s northern communities.

The geo-mapping announcement is the latest example of the government’s commitment to protecting Canada’s North. In the past week, Minister of Defence Peter MacKay has participated in Operation NANOOK, a major Canadian Forces Arctic defence exercise, and Minister of the Environment John Baird has announced three new National Wildlife areas on or around Baffin Island. Also, Secretary of State for Small Business Diane Ablonczy announced a major expansion of broadband services throughout the North.

Alaska Votes for Gold, Not Fishing – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn Scales - Canadian Mining JournalMarilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication.

This week the voters of Alaska were asked to decide whether or not they favour prohibitive clean water regulations for new mines in that state. Ballot Measure 4 was aimed specifically at stopping Vancouver’s NORTHERN DYNASTY MINERALS (50%) and South Africa’s ANGLO AMERICAN from completing the Pebble gold mine.

The potential of the Pebble deposit is huge. The property is believed to contain 91.6 billion lb of copper, 84.6 million oz of gold and 5.5 billion lb of molybdenum in the inferred resource category. What concerns opponents is that the deposit is located near the headwaters of Bristol Bay, one of the world’s greatest salmon runs. The sport and commercial fisheries would be crippled if the salmon habitat were damaged.

The initiative was brought by a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying group. Alaska allows legislature to be initiated by voters as well as the state legislature. While Measure 4 did not mention Pebble by name, the target was obvious. Passing it would have effectively delayed or stopped other mine developments, for example, the Donlin Creek gold project belonging to BARRICK GOLD and NOVAGOLD RESOURCES. TECK COMINCO’s planned expansion of its Red Dog zinc mine might have been delayed.

In case the reader has not quite guessed yet, the measure was defeated on Aug. 26. The outcome was not as close as predicted. Almost 57% of voters were opposed and only 34% in favour. That is a result we applaud because we know the mining industry is mindful of local flora and fauna and does all it can to mitigate potential harmful effects. The Hope Brook gold mine that operated from 1987 to 1997 on the southwest coast of Newfoundland was located in a salmon habitat. The fish survived nicely, in fact mine workers were forbidden from fishing or even bringing fishing gear to the site.

Canada does not allow its voters to initiate legislation, and perhaps that is a good thing. Imagine heavily populated Toronto swaying a vote against expansion at XSTRATA COPPER’s Kidd mine or against development of DE BEERS CANADA’s Victor diamond mine. Suppose the residents of Canada’s southern cities said “no” to AGNICO-EAGLE’s Meadowbank gold mine in Nunavut. On the other hand, if voters in Indonesia had stepped in to stop exploration at the Busang project, the entire BRE-X fiasco might have been prevented.

British Columbia Continues to Attract Gold Hunters – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn Scales - Canadian Mining JournalMarilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication.

Gold has been prized throughout history and remains one of the most sought-after metals today. In British Columbia gold was found along the Fraser River (1858), along the Peace River (1861) and in the interior (1865). Dawson Creek became the jumping off point for the great Klondike gold rush of 1898.

The modern gold prospector, spurred by high gold prices and with the help of sophisticated technology, is again scouring the map of British Columbia in hopes of striking it rich. News of bonanza grades is as welcome today as it was in the 19th Century.

For example, Pinnacle Mines (51%) and Mountain Boy Minerals (49%) recently reported grades as high as 81.57 g/t over 1.52 metres at their Silver Coin project near Stewart. A quick run through the metric calculator, and that is equivalent to over 2.4 oz/ton. Such grades bring a smile to most gold lovers I know. Plus the Silver Coin property appears to have recoverable amounts of silver, copper, zinc and lead.

Also in the Stewart area, drill core from Toronto’s Seabridge Gold’s Kerr-Sulphurets-Mitchell (KSM) project is not assaying high grades (it is generally less than 1.0 g/t Ag plus copper), but it is mineralized over exceptional lengths: 745 metres, 109 metres, 498 metres, 921 metres, 500 metres and so on. The company has circulated estimates of over 19.7 million oz of gold in indicated resources and 14.3 million oz in the inferred portion. If the gold grades don’t set a heart to fluttering, the millions of contained ounces should. (For readers of the base metal persuasion, the property may also host more than 8.0 billion lb of copper.)

The deposits described here may differ, but there is no doubt that the rush for the yellow metal in British Columbia never goes out of style.

Danger Lurks Despite Modern Technology – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn Scales - Canadian Mining JournalMarilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication.

The mining industry has made great strides toward establishing workplaces that are safe and healthy for employees. We almost take for granted our computer-assisted, automated and equipment-enabled jobs. For many in the mining and exploration sectors, helicopters are the only transportation that can reach remote locations. For some a trip on a “chopper” is as routine as tying on their boots.

But sometimes technology lets us down. The technology that allows modern helicopter to fly so that drill crews can reach remote sites failed last week, and people died.

One crash happened near Alice Arm about 150 km north of Prince Rupert, B.C. Four passengers lost their lives. Dead are the pilot David Jeffrey Reid of Sidney, B.C., two employees of Bodnar Drilling, Walter Bodnar and his nephew Nicholas Bodnar (both of Rose du Lac, Manitoba). Also killed was a prospector, Frank Moehling of Calgary. They were headed to the Homestake Ridge property belonging to Bravo Ventures.

The Hughes MB500 helicopter that went down on Aug. 6 belonged to Prism Helicopters of Pitt Meadows, B.C. It was chartered by Vancouver’s Bravo Venture Group that is testing its Homestake Ridge copper-gold property.

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Can Coal-to-Hydrocarbons Replace Oil? – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn Scales - Canadian Mining JournalMarilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication.

Like our readers, we at Canadain Mining Journal have watched the price of crude oil skyrocket and heard the voices of the “greens” calling for a more environmentally friendly energy source.

We don’t usually comment on the oil industry except the massive mining operations of the Alberta oil sands. The oil sands have been roundly criticized as one of the least environmentally friendly fuel sources. Their mining and processing could be made cleaner with a liberal injection of money, but the oil sands still produce conventional hydrocarbons in the end.

Ethanol has been suggested as a replacement for hydrocarbons. But the use of corn, rice and wheat in the manufacture of ethanol has played a major part in the rise of food staple prices, placing an unbearable burden on the world’s most disadvantaged people.

Coal, of course, is the second most popular energy source, behind hydrocarbons. It has a reputation of being dangerous to mine and dirty to burn. Continue Reading →

More Mines, Lower Commodity Prices on Horizon – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn Scales - Canadian Mining JournalMarilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication.

We have all heard that “timing is everything”, and that truism applies as much to mine development as to anything. It seems that there is a growing number of new mines planned in Canada just as analysts warn of major corrections in commodities prices.

Softer prices are a result of a strengthening U.S. dollar, according to analysts. Oil prices have dropped to a three-month low, if one considers $119/bbl to be low. Perhaps it is compared to $140/bbl. The much-anticipated $1,000/oz threshold for gold was topped only three days in March 2008. The price of the yellow metal has been bouncing up and down since then from $850 to $990, averaging $900 so far in August. Copper has fallen from its high of over $4.00/lb in June this year back to approximately $3.50, and the pundits predict further losses. The zinc price is continuing to slide from its late 2006 high of slightly over $2.00/lb to under $1.00. Nickel reached a high of $24.00/lb in the first half of 2007, but it, too, is giving up ground, finishing June 2008 in the $8.00 neighbourhood. Analysts are beginning to say that even potash prices have peaked. And so it goes.

All of us mining industry watchers know this is a cyclical sector. Five years of rising prices have spurred exploration efforts around the world and across Canada. Many would-be miners want to cash in on the boom. The question becomes how many of them can do that before prices soften to the point that projects are once again shelved?

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Canada Reduced to “Branch Office” Status – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn Scales - Canadian Mining JournalMarilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication.

Has Canada been reduced to the level of a mere “branch office” in the global mining industry? That’s what Don Argus, chairman of BHP BILLITON, called this country at a recent business gathering in Brisbane, Australia. He was talking about two years of mergers when a large chunk of our base metals industry passed into English, Swiss and Brazilian hands. Argus is concerned lest the Australian mining industry meet the same fate.

For decades Canadians have been leaders in the highly technical business of finding and mining deposits in some of the harshest conditions imaginable. They still are. The fact that our industry attracted the attention of foreign suitors speaks to that. To be called a “branch office” is an insult.

But, truth be told, Canadians have lost control of a large part of a very important industrial sector. Part of the blame belongs to the federal government for allowing the takeovers to happen. Part of the blame belongs to investors who failed to see opportunities in the Canadian resource sector.

A measure of how far Canada has fallen can be seen in this fact: Canada has lost more mining head offices than any other country since 2003. Numbers compiled by PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPERS show that 12 of the world’s top 40 mining companies called Canada home four years ago. Since then, seven of the 12 have been taken over.

If the trend continues, what will be left for Canadians? Will all the profits from our natural resources (minerals, fuels, water) leave the country? Will research opportunities move offshore? Will Canadian jobs be the first to go when the mineral industry reaches its next cyclical downturn? Will Canada be poorer for losing its domestic mineral industry?

The answer to the last question is “yes”. I doubt there will be much argument there. The arguments will start when someone thinks he can reverse the trend.

More Thoughts on Protecting Ontario’s Boreal Forests – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn Scales - Canadian Mining JournalMarilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication.

The decision by the Ontario government to protect its boreal forests north of the 51st parallel continues to be discussed by CMJ readers and environmentalists.

Predictably, leading North American academics support the plan. They praised protection of a “vital ecosystem”. They figuratively patted the Premier on the back for his “long-term vision, recognizing that storing carbon, protecting biodiversity, and traditional lifestyles and maintaining freshwater supplies are more important than immediate profits.” These people don’t depend on the mineral industry for their income, but I’m sure they all enjoy the myriad of consumer goods made possible by it.

Some CMJ readers were understandably upset at the provincial announcement. “Another North American jurisdiction that would rather have trees and swamps than jobs and wealth generated at a time when the manufacturing industry in Ontario is tanking,” wrote Vancouver’s Darin Wagner, president and CEO of West Timmins Mining . “This kind of announcement shows a complete and total lack of understanding of the minimal impact that exploration and mining have on the local environment. Yet another example of a politician jumping on the ‘global warming’ bandwagon to collect a few votes from the ‘urban greens’ at the expense of the resource communities which have been the backbone of his/her economy. Continue Reading →

Half of Northern Ontario Now Off-Limits to Mineral Industry – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn Scales - Canadian Mining JournalMarilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication.

On July 14, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty announced plans to protect at least 225,000 km² of the boreal forest in Northern Ontario. “Protect” will mean permanently removing the declared area from mineral exploration, mining and forestry.

The Northern Boreal forest covers 43% of Ontario’s land mass, an area 1.5 times the size of the Maritime provinces. The forest is home to only 24,000 people in 36 communities. (No mention has been made as to whether or not these people had a say in the decision). The forest supports more than 200 species of animals, including polar bears, wolverines and caribou, some of which are threatened or endangered.

McGuinty is touting the plan as a means of reducing climate change. The government claims that the boreal region absorbs 12.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually from the atmosphere. Therefore, the trees must be protected or global warming will accelerate. By waving the holy grail of global warming, the premier has ensured that every non-governmental environmental group will follow vociferously in his wake.

The decision is a blow to northern communities. Reports in the “Timmins Daily Press” indicate that citizens of that community were not consulted prior to the announcement. The local mayor and mining industry executives interviewed for the article expressed grave concerns that this is disastrous for the provincial economy.

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