Archive | Canadian Media Resource Articles

Far North mischief – by Stan Sudol (National Post – December 7, 2011)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

Is Ontario’s Far North Act anti-aboriginal?

De Beers Canada and its Victor diamond mine is currently in the media spotlight regarding the poverty in the nearby First Nations community of Attawapiskat. Many are questioning why the community is not significantly benefiting from this diamond mine, located on its traditional territory. The Victor deposit — which is the smallest of Canada’s four diamond mines — just started production in July 2008 and has an expected life of 11 years. The mine employs about 500 people, half of whom are of First Nations background and 100 come from Attawapiskat.

This controversy highlights the widespread problem of aboriginal poverty, much of which lies at the feet of Premier Dalton McGuinty, environmentalism and the product of this marriage — the much-detested Far North Act. Praised by the south’s many well-funded and powerful environmental movements, this legislation cuts off half of the Far North to resource development — 225,000 square kilometres or roughly 21% of the province’s land mass — and turns it into parks.

The horrific downside to this green ideology is that mineral exploration and potential mines — the only form of economic development that could reduce the impoverished, Third World living conditions in First Nations communities — is being reduced or stopped in the affected territory. Continue Reading →

With millions pouring into Attawapiskat, colonial blame only goes so far – by John Ivison (National Post – December 7, 2011)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

Failed colonial policies are the biggest obstacles to First Nation progress, Shawn Atleo told a gathering of native chiefs in Ottawa Tuesday. The Assembly of First Nations chief was referring to moves such as Ottawa’s decision to put the troubled Attawapiskat reserve in northern Ontario under third party management. “We simply can’t lurch from crisis to crisis and we can’t accept externally imposed solutions,” he said, before lauding the chief of Attawapiskat for demonstrating transparency and accountability.

Yet the decision to intervene was simply the government exercising its fiduciary duty. The apparent mismanagement of this band by its chief, council and the co-manager, who is meant to be advising the chief but turns out to be her “life partner,” made the worst of an already bad situation. Chief Theresa Spence spoke to the chiefs in Ottawa Tuesday and urged them to take an aggressive stand with the government. “We’re not going to take it anymore,” she said.

The simple fact is, she has been stripped of authority because money has been pouring into the reserve and yet conditions have deteriorated beyond any acceptable level. Continue Reading →

CBC Radio Thunder Bay interview with Ben Bradshaw about Aboriginal/Mining Company IBAs (November 14, 2011)

Ben Bradshaw is a researcher in the Department of Geography at the University of Guelph, and the founder of the Impact and Benefit Agreement Research Network.

In a November 14, 2011 interview with Thunder Bay CBC Radio, Ben Bradshaw discusses various IBA Agreements between Aboriginal communities and mining companies across Canada including the current issues in Attawapiskat.

Impact and Benefit Agreement (IBA) Research Network


Notwithstanding an absence of legislation forcing their use, over the past two decades a number of Impact and Benefit Agreements (IBAs) have been established between mining firms and Aboriginal communities in support of some familiar projects across northern Canada. For example, IBAs were used to facilitate the development of the Northwest Territories’ three diamond mines (Ekati, Diavik and Snap Lake), as well as Inco’s Voisey’s Bay project in Labrador. Continue Reading →

The Arrogance of Inco – by Val Ross (Originally Published in May 1979 – Part 1 of 4)

“The Arrogance of Inco” was originally published as the cover story in the May, 1979 issue of Canadian Business. Reporter Val Ross, who died in 2008, spent two and a half months researching and writing this lengthy expose of the then Inco Limited. It has become a “classic must read” for anyone wishing to understand the often bitter history between Sudbury and the company that defined the Canadian mining industry.

A century of power and profit – and now a sea of troubles

NICKEL, INCO. Clack the consonants of these two words on your tongue, and they sound similar. They used to be synonymous – nickel, Inco – in the public mind undoubtedly, in the company’s mind, indelibly.

The International nickel Co. (it was renamed Inco Ltd. In 1976) was in up to its elbows at the birth of the nickel industry, almost as responsible for nickel’s development as nickel was responsible for making Inco Ltd. the billion-dollar multinational empire it is today. Inco was nickel. And the company men and the metal left their characteristic mark on each other’s fate.

The metal, element 28, is greyish-white. You might describe the company’s subdued, Anglo-Saxon character in the same way. Among the metal’s most important properties are resistance to oxidization and corrosion, and insolubility in water. Alone, nickel us brittle, but it merges promiscuously with iron and other metals into a host of tough alloys. The company is tough too, resistant to change, at times rigid. And the men of Inco have forged some odd business and political alliances to increase their company’s strength and lustre.

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[Vale Strike] In Sudbury it’s Restive, Not Festive – by Tony Van Alphen (Toronto Star-December 19, 2009)

Tony Van Alphen is a Business Reporter for the Toronto Star, which has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on Canada’s federal and provincial politics as well as shaping public opinion. This article was originally published on Saturday, December 19, 2009.

Workers’ mettle gets test as Vale Inco strike drags into bitter northern winter , It’s a war zone here. Their tactics are designed to provoke us like never before. They’re not interested in getting back to bargaining.

SUDBURY–Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” is blasting from a satellite radio in the tent’s makeshift living room.

A couple of plush La-Z-Boy rockers and a couch surround a blazing wood stove. The fresh Christmas tree in the corner gives the place a cozy holiday feeling.

Three hearty men in heavy overcoats and toques hover around the stove, slap their gloves and exchange brotherly greetings. The song ends and they step outside into another world.

There’s not a lot of love or warmth there. They’re on the picket line just after sunrise a few days before Christmas at Vale Inco’s Clarabelle Mill.

It’s a flashpoint in the five-month standoff between some 3,100 workers and one of the world’s biggest mining companies.

The workers face a bitter wind, -20C temperatures and a company spending millions of dollars to keep them in line. Strikers walk the line and delay trucks and cars for 12 to 15 minutes before allowing them through to the sprawling mill up the road. Then, they walk some more. Continue Reading →

A Breakthrough in China, [Nickel Pig Iron] Another Blow for Sudbury – by Andy Hoffman (Globe and Mail-June 15, 2010)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous impact and influence on Canada’s political and business elite as well as the rest of the country’s print, radio and television media.

This article was the cover story of the Saturday, June 12, 2010 edition of the Globe and Mail’s Report on Business section.

No longer just a low-wage workshop, China is reshaping world markets through innovation – including a revolutionary alloy that takes aim at Canada’s nickel belt

Andy Hoffman, Asia-Pacific Reporter – Xuzhou, China

Ask Li Guang about the prospects for his business and a self-assured grin creeps across the young executive’s face. It’s a smile that means trouble for Canada’s nickel-mining capital of Sudbury, Ont., more than 11,000 kilometres away from Mr. Li’s office in eastern China .

“Our production has quite a lot of advantages compared to refined nickel,” says the budding metals titan, who is all of 30 years old and dressed in a short-sleeve dress shirt and black jeans. “Now, in China, many other enterprises are going to enter this market. Gradually they will take over a lot of the share of refined nickel.”

Mr. Li and his company, Jiangsu Mingzhu, are among the many Chinese manufacturers churning out a revolutionary product known as nickel pig iron or NPI. Despite its prosaic name, the alloy has set the global nickel industry on its ear by providing a low-cost alternative to the refined nickel that has typically been used to make stainless steel. Cheap NPI threatens to squelch demand for the refined metal, which is produced in places like Sudbury, as well as in Russia and Australia.

In less than five years, NPI has reshaped the world nickel industry, marking a new stage in China’s capitalist evolution. Since it opened itself to trade in the late 1970s, the Asian nation has become famous for two things – lowering the price of manufactured products with its cheap labour costs, and driving up the price of commodities with its aggressive demand. Now it is altering the fundamentals of a vital industrial sector with a homespun innovation.

NPI, a material produced in low-tech Chinese factories, already accounts for as much as 10 per cent of the world’s $21-billion-a-year nickel market, more than all the nickel that can be produced annually in Sudbury. Some analysts expect China’s NPI producers to double their output this year. Continue Reading →

“The Great Canadian Mining Disaster” -by Jacquie McNish (November 25, 2006) – Globe and Mail’s Report on Business Inco Mining Story

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous impact and influence on Canada’s political and business elite as well as the rest of the country’s print, radio and television media.

This article was the cover story of the Saturday, November 25, 2006 edition of the Globe and Mail’s Report on Business Section. Jacquie McNish’s 16,000-word article on the failed Inco/Falconbridge merger has become the definitive account of this Canadian business tragedy.


Scott Hand had a dream, to keep Inco Ltd. in Canadian hands. But he didn’t count on corporate betrayal, political apathy, a new bread of shareholders, and a lack of boardroom bravado


The horizon clears

Inco sees its future

After days of murky weather, a wool fog lifted off central Labrador, revealing the bald rugged terrain explorer Jacques Cartier dismissed as “the land God gave to Cain.” The momentary clearing allowed a clutch of travellers to dash to two turbo props marooned at Happy Valley Goose Bay airport.

These were no ordinary tourists. Leading the parka-clad pack was Scott Hand, patrician chief executive officer of the world’s second-largest nickel producer, Inco Ltd. Behind him, eager to explore Cain, were an elite corps of international executives. Rick Waugh, CEO of Bank of Nova Scotia, a man who is gobbling up more Latin American banks than Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, was here. So was David O’Brien, chairman of EnCana Corp. and Royal Bank of Canada. Joining them were Glen Barton, retired chief of Illinois’ Caterpillar Inc.; John Mayberry, onetime CEO of Hamilton steel maker Dofasco Inc.; and Francis Mer, retired boss of European steel maker Arcelor SA and a former finance minister of France. Inco directors one and all, they scrambled to the Dash 8s under an uncertain sky to see for themselves the 21st century’s first great mining startup: Voisey’s Bay.

Mr. Hand, however, wanted his directors to see more than a prosperous mine on the afternoon of Sept. 20, 2005. Although Inco was still digesting the $4-billion, 1996 purchase of Voisey’s Bay, he believed it was time to deal again. Rival Falconbridge Ltd. was in play, presenting Inco with an opportunity to forge a global powerhouse by bringing some of the world’s richest copper and nickel deposits under one corporate entity. Continue Reading →

Taking the Message to Canada’s MPs – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn 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.

Last Tuesday, Nov. 18, mining executives from across Canada met in Ottawa for their annual Mining Day on the Hill. Organized by the Mining Association of Canada (MAC), the event puts industry supports in the offices of select Members of Parliament and federal officials to deliver the message that our industry deserves their support.

“A strong mining sector benefits Canadians in every riding across this country,” said Jim Gowans, president and CEO of De Beers Canada and MAC chair. “We are all facing difficult economic times. Now it is more important than ever that we work with government to ensure that programs, regulation and legislation help to sustain mining jobs across Canada. This is more relevant in remote locations where economic development options are limited and operating costs are high.”

The mining industry has enjoyed one of the longest prosperous periods in history, but it is not immune from worldwide economic events. Due to the financial crisis, all capital expenditures are under review as is the level of discretionary expenditures on exploration. All spending will be reduced in line with changing market realities. Canadian policymakers and businesses cannot be complacent.

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Western Australia Lifts Uranium Ban – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn 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 six-year ban on uranium mining in Western Australia has been lifted, newly elected Premier Colin Barnett announced on Nov. 17, 2008. New mining leases will no longer exclude the hunt for uranium.

Australia is the world’s second largest producer of uranium (19.7 million lb U3O8 in 2006), behind Canada (26.7 million lb). Between them they account for half the world’s production. With the hunt on again for new uranium producers in Western Australia, that country may give Canada a run for the its top-ranked status.

The change in policy will benefit companies with advanced projects in Western Australia.

Canada’s Cameco Corp. looks like it was ahead of the curve when it partnered with Mitsubishi Development (30%) to pay US$346.5 million to buy the promising Kintyre deposit earlier this year. The project, located 1,250 km northeast of Perth, is in the advanced exploration stage. The original uranium discovery was made in 1985, and former owner Rio Tinto eventually outlined eight separate deposits. Cameco estimates that the Kintyre project may host between 62 million and 80 million lb of U3O8 with grades averaging 0.3% to 0.4% U3O8. These numbers do not comply with 43-101 definitions.

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Mining Sector Budget Cuts Go Global – 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.

At the risk of being the bearer of even more bad news, I have been watching the world’s mining industry react to the turmoil in global stock and money markets. Not only in Canada, but around the world companies big and small are conserving capital and cutting output.

Let us recap: Liberty Mines has placed its Redstone and McWatters nickel mines in Ontario on care-and maintenance. Breakwater has suspended mining at its Langlois base metals mine in Quebec and its Myra Falls base metal producer in British Columbia. Teck is paying particular attention to debt reduction. Capital budgets have been trimmed at Suncor’s oil sands project in Alberta.

And the announcements just keep coming. It seems producers of all commodities and all parts of the world are announcing cutbacks.

Rio Tinto is slicing approximately 10% from its iron ore output in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

BPH Billiton also expects to send fewer shiploads of iron ore to China next year.

Brazilian mining giant Vale will be slowing iron ore shipments to customers. Additionally, it has suspended a pre-feasibility study for a new bauxite and aluminum project in Ghana.

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Risk Taking and Venezuela – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn 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 nationalization of the Las Cristinas gold project by the Venezuelan government looks like a done deal. There has yet to be an official pronouncement, but Toronto-based Crystallex International looks to have lost its chance to develop and operate this project.

Where is the outrage over such actions, asks Fredric Hambler, a financial systems analyst in San Francisco. “I say it’s time for Crystallex, and the Canadian Mining Journal, to loudly condemn the actions of the Venezuelan government. Thomas Bowden of the Ayn Rand Institute has an excellent article on the subject of ownership rights and the Las Cristinas project, which is available online at:

Our reader is right, of course. We are outraged by the turn of events in that Latin American country. The planning, hopes and money expended by Crystallex will never be recovered. The truly angry among the industry can call this an outright theft. But what is to be gained by ranting and raving?

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Hopes Fades for Crystallex’s Las Cristinas Gold Project – 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 history of the Las Cristinas gold project that CRYSTALLEX INTERNATIONAL of Toronto has tried to lay claim to is steeped in controversy and delay. But the squabbling may soon come to an end if Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez gets his way. He wants to nationalize the Las Cristinas project along with several other industries.

Placer Dome was one of the first companies to drill the Las Cristinas deposit in the early 1990s. The Canadian company formed a joint venture with Corporacion Venezolana de Guayana (CVG), and CVG remains the owner to this day. Crystallex was drilling the adjacent Albino concession at the time.

The entire Kilometre 88 area of Venezuela became one of the hottest gold plays in Latin America during the early 1990s. But the Las Cristinas deposit with 16.9 million contained oz of gold is the richest.

In 1997 Crystallex bought up a privately owned Venezuelan company said to own the rights to part of the Las Cristinas property. Placer Dome called the claim groundless, but it decided to suspend construction at Las Cristinas until the ownership question could be settled. In June 1998 the Venezuelan court dismissed Crystallex’s claim, clearing the way for Placer Dome and CVG to move forward. The next year low gold prices forced Placer Dome put the project on hold.

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Canadian Gold Hunters Undeterred by Sliding Price – 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.

It seems like only yesterday pundits looked at the price of gold as it topped US$1,000 an ounce and predicted it could only go up. Actually it was seven months ago, near the middle of March 2008, and we all wish the price would return to that level. Instead, the mess in the global financial markets has for some reason made the U.S. dollar stronger and the price of gold dip to the $750/oz range.

Nonetheless, many Canadian juniors are pressing ahead with work at what they hope will someday be this country’s next generation of profitable gold mines. Here is a sampling that have landed in my inbox during the last two weeks.

ALTO VENTURES of Vancouver sais drilling has begun on targets at its Mud Lake and Three Towers properties in the Beardmore-Geraldton Gold Belt in Ontario. High grades have been unearthed in the region in the past. ( WESCAN GOLDFIELDS of Saskatoon is earning a 50% interest in the Mud Lake project.

BRIGADIER GOLD of Toronto has extended the gold zone to more than 200 metres vertical depth at its Larder Lake project near Kirkland Lake, Ontario. The intersections were made beneath trenches in which visible gold was discovered in 2005. (

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Financial Woes Trim Mining Sector’s Capital Budgets – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn 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 global financial crisis looks to be the new reality for most mineral producers. Slumping stock markets, wobbly banks and lack of consumer demand are having an effect on Canadian miners, forcing them to trim their capital spending plans.

Here are a two examples.

Don Lindsay, CEO of Vancouver-based TECK, said the number one priority for his company is debt reduction during these times of weaker metal prices. Cash flow generated from operations will be used for that purpose at the expense of capital, sustaining and exploration budgets. “We haven’t come to a determination on how much that will be cut back but they will be cut back,” he promised. Consideration will also be given to selling certain unnamed assets. Teck recently arranged for a $9.8 billion bridge loan to finance its acquisition of FORDING CANADIAN COAL TRUST, and the company has a 20% share in the FORT HILLS OIL SANDS project where development costs have ballooned by 50% over the original estimate of $14.1 billion made in July 2007.

Calgary’s SUNCOR ENERGY has trimmed its 2009 capital budget 20% to $6 billion from the $7.5 billion spent in 2008. Of the 2009 budget, $3.6 billion will be spent on the Voyageur oil sands growth project. This commitment includes meeting spending and construction timelines for the third and fourth stages of the Firebag in situ operation. The completion date of the planned Voyageur upgrader has been pushed back one year to save money. The remaining $2.4 billion will be spent in the oil sands business ($1.7 billion), natural gas operations ($300 million) and refining ($400 million).

When large, well-managed corporations cut capital spending, smaller miners might do well to heed the call. I predict delays in many projects that cannot be economically completed without another round of higher commodity prices.

Mining industry observers have long been aware that this is a cyclical business. What surprises me is how long the upward cycle lasted (five years) and how fast the situation has been reversed (five weeks).

Arming Private Security in the Philippines – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn 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.

Halloween is fast approaching, and I am filled with scary thoughts. I can imagine little ghosts and goblins shrieking for treats. I can imagine costumed superheroes playing gruesome tricks. But the truly frightening thing that I came across this week is the decision made by the Philippine government to allow mining companies to arm their private security forces.

According to reports from GMANews.TV, mining companies in the Philippines will be allowed to established civilian auxiliary armed groups (CAGs) as an adjunct to the local military. CAG members will carry only low-calibre guns, but that is little consolation to anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of a bullet.

Philippine Defence Secretary Gilberto C. Teodoro reportedly said that miners will be allowed to have a many armed men “as necessary depending on the threat level and the terrain” as along as each company signs an agreement with the Armed Forces.

I find this proposal frightening for several reasons.

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