Archive | Canadian Media Resource Articles

The (Russian) Arctic is open for business – by Michael Byers (Globe and Mail – August 12, 2013)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

In the 1990 thriller The Hunt for Red October, the rogue captain of a Soviet submarine evades the U.S. and Soviet navies by threading his way through a narrow – but precisely charted – mid-ocean trench.

In real life, the Soviet navy’s charting efforts extended to the heart of the Canadian Arctic. Soviet-era charts, available today, show more depth soundings in the Northwest Passage than Canada’s most recent charts do.

The Cold War is over, but Russia still takes the Arctic seriously. Russian nuclear-powered submarines still sail under the sea ice, where Canada’s diesel-powered submarines cannot venture.

Russia is intent on transforming its Arctic coastline into a commercially viable alternative to the Suez Canal. In 2011, President Vladimir Putin said: “I want to stress the importance of the Northern Sea Route as an international transport artery that will rival traditional trade lanes in service fees, security and quality.” Continue Reading →

Opening new mines here [B.C.] is our responsibility to the world – by Daryl Anderson (Vancouver Sun – August 11, 2013)

Environmentally sound projects within Canada save poorly regulated countries from unsafe developments

I grew up in B.C. and have been involved in conservation for my whole working life including conducting inspections and investigations at mine sites for Environment Canada.

Recently I had the opportunity to address the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency panel hearings into the proposed New Prosperity mine in the Cariboo. You might be surprised to read that I am in favour of the New Prosperity proposal. The reasons I decided to speak in favour are many.

North America consumes a huge percentage of the world’s metal and mineral resources, yet we only extract about a third of those resources within our borders, relying on the rest of the world to satisfy our ever-increasing demands. As an example, the average lifespan of a new smartphone in North America is only 21 months from production to disposal. Even those among us who live a relatively simple lifestyle still utilize and benefit from the infrastructure we have developed to support our health care, education, transportation, communication and many other systems. Continue Reading →

Mining companies can be forces for good – by Craig and Marc Kielburger (Ottawa Citizen – August 11, 2013)

The sparkling rock on your finger — there’s a good chance it came from a mine in Botswana, which supplies 22 per cent of the world’s diamonds. Kgosi Kegapetswe is the chief of Letlhakane, a village in north-central Botswana that borders a huge mine that since 1969 was owned by an international diamond company.

For years, he felt like a stranger on his own land. Access to the land was restricted, according to the chief, who told us that when he visited the off-limits property to discuss an issue like grazing rights for his community’s livestock, he waited like a supplicant at the property line. When armed guards admitted him, he was marched to the meeting place and then marched back off again. He said there wasn’t enough consultation with his community. He didn’t even know the company sold the property in 2009 until the new owners showed up.

But when Canadian mining company Lucara Diamond took possession, everything changed. We have read literally hundreds of news stories about global mining operations abusing the environment and human rights. Canada is home to an estimated 75 per cent of the world’s international mining companies, and every time these companies trample rights or the environment, respect for our country takes another hit.

Continue Reading →

Cosying up with mining industry – by Catherine Solyom (Montreal Gazette – August 10, 2013)

Matchmaking session gives miners, NGOs chance to team up for projects, but not everyone is happy about the process

MONTREAL – Somewhere inside the vast Palais des Congrès, a strange sort of “speed dating” session will be held this weekend to match some unlikely bedfellows.

These are not lonely hearts looking for love, however, but mining companies hoping to hook up with bleeding hearts — the social and environmental groups working to improve living conditions near Canadian mines abroad.

Held on the margin of the World Mining Congress, which will see some 1,500 delegates gathered to discuss everything from rock mechanics to mine closings, the controversial matchmaking session has attracted a lot of interest from both companies and non-governmental organizations hoping to “connect and build relationships,” said Jean Vavrek, the executive director of the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum, which is sponsoring the event.

The idea, said Vavrek, is to bring these two solitudes together to increase the positive impact of a given mining project, whether in Latin America or West Africa. Continue Reading →

How Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline lost its way – by Nathan Vanderklippe (Globe and Mail – August 10, 2013)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

Not far from Kitimat, B.C., on the rugged western shore of Douglas Channel, a plot of land is set to serve as the terminus of Enbridge Inc.’s $6.5-billion Northern Gateway project.

It is from this spot, if the pipeline can be built, that Alberta crude will pour on to supertankers, opening Canada’s energy industry to Pacific markets and providing a key western outlet for surging output from the vast oil sands. It’s an unremarkable tree-covered shoreline, but for Gateway it’s critically important.

And in the fall of 2011, Enbridge nearly lost it, after the Haisla First Nation staged a bold attempt to seize control of the land in question – one of the most striking examples of the rancour that has swelled around the project. Now Northern Gateway is mired in deep uncertainty. Local qualms have blossomed into broad opposition, raising questions about its viability. Continue Reading →

Glencore, Vale should join forces, analyst says (CBC News Sudbury – August 9, 2013)

For an indepth radio report, click here:

Merging the two mining giants will help reduce redundancies, particulary in Sudbury operations

In a search for cost cutting measures, one mining analyst says a merger between Vale and Glencore should be an option that’s considered. Brazilian mining company Vale released its second quarter results Thursday, which showed an 84 per cent drop in profits.

Base metal prices are also down across the board. Terence Ortslan, managing director with TSO and Associates, an independent mining, metals and fertilizer research firm, said combining operations could help reduce redundancies.

“I think the question is, is it going to be out of necessity, or is it going to be creative in doing things? I think the assets have to be put in a pool to see who can do better and how it’s going to be streamlined in terms of a critical path.”

Glencore recently took over Xstrata — a firm that took over Sudbury’s Falconbridge Ltd. in 2006. Sudbury residents have, for decades, heard and talked about mergers between Falconbridge and Inco Ltd., the company now known as Vale. Continue Reading →

Mount Milligan mine on verge of production – by Derrick Penner (Vancouver Sun – August 8, 2013)

Copper-gold project north of Prince George will be first new mine in B.C. in more than a decade

Crews at Thompson Creek Metals’ Mount Milligan project have started crushing rocks and are mere days away from turning on the milling machinery that will grind down the ore and start extracting copper and gold from the first new mine to open in British Columbia in more than a decade.

That development will turn the $1.57-billion construction project into an operating mine with the goal of commencing commercial production of ore sometime in the fall, churning out an estimate 40,369 tonnes (89 million pounds) of copper concentrate and 262,000 ounces of gold per year.

However, the mine’s opening coincides with an uncertain time for the mining sector with falling metals prices and companies such as Teck Resources scaling back capital projects.

“It’s a bit of a mixed environment” for copper miners, according to Patricia Mohr, vice-president of industry and commodity research for Scotia Economics. Continue Reading →

Rio Tinto Alcan to close Shawinigan, Que., smelter – (Canadian Press/CBC News Montreal – August 7, 2013)

425 workers affected by shutdown

Rio Tinto Alcan says weak metal prices have forced the aluminum producer to close its 72-year-old smelter in Shawinigan, Que., about a year ahead of schedule in November, affecting most of its 425 workers.

“With the current difficult market conditions and when we look at the short-term forecasts, the situation became financially unsustainable for Shawinigan, and this despite all the efforts the employees made to help over the past years,” said Étienne Jacques, chief operating officer of Rio Tinto Alcan Primary Metal in an interview.

He said employees couldn’t have done anything to avert the decision because the market finally caught up with the plant’s old Soderberg technology.

“They have done almost everything that was imaginable to do, they have done it,” said Jacques. The announcement was made Wednesday, ahead of environmental regulations that would have forced the facility to close at the end of next year. Continue Reading →

Potash earthquake – (Northern Miner Editorial – Aug 12 – 18, 2013)

The Northern Miner, first published in 1915, during the Cobalt Silver Rush, is considered Canada’s leading authority on the mining industry. 

Like a sudden Saskatchewan thunderstorm, the potash market surprised everyone yet again with its capacity for drama and destruction, as everyone learned just how important the Russian-Belarusian potash cartel had been all this time in supporting the potash market to the benefit of Western producers and juniors alike.

As detailed in these pages, the major North American potash producers and their investors were side-swiped by news in late July that Russia’s Uralkali was leaving the BPC potash cartel it had created with Belarusalkali as a Slavic twin to the long-standing North American cartel Canpotex run by Potashcorp, Agrium and Mosaic.

Uralkali is already the world’s largest and lowest-cost potash producer, and is now vowing to ramp up production and accept lower prices in order to capture new Asian markets.  In retrospect, the fact that two Russian billionaires unloaded their substantial shareholdings in Uralkali in the weeks leading up to the announcement was a sign something was afoot. (Though, for some reason, we’re not expecting any insider trading investigations to get underway in Moscow any time soon.)

North American juniors in the potash space have always had a tough time, given that potash projects are so vast in cost and scope that developing them on their own is never a realistic option. Continue Reading →

Harper hails west-east pipeline as N.B. seeks to halt exodus of workers – by Jane Taber (Globe and Mail – August 9, 2013)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper gave his strongest endorsement yet of the $12-billion west-to-east pipeline project, enthusiastically pitching it as a job creator for all Canadians and one that will expand the country’s energy markets.

“This is an extremely exciting project,” he said during a visit Thursday to the Irving Oil Refinery in Saint John, which is to be the end of the line for TransCanada’s proposed Energy East pipeline.

Beaming in the background was New Brunswick Premier David Alward, who has been working doggedly for the past year to help land the pipeline, given the green light by TransCanada last week. Mr. Alward’s struggling province has the highest unemployment rate in Canada at more than 11 per cent. The Premier says the project will bring about 2,000 construction jobs and the potential for more from spinoffs of the pipeline. It also holds out the promise that the province’s sons and daughters who have gone west to find work – including Mr. Alward’s 23-year-old son Ben, a pipefitter – can come home. Continue Reading →

Canada’s ‘North Sea’ seeks investors to arrest production decline – by Yadullah Hussain (National Post – August 9, 2013)

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

Newfoundland and Labrador may be Canada’s fastest growing province this year, but its stellar rise masks a dramatic decline in the oil sector. The province’s three major offshore fields: Hibernia (1.24 billion barrels of reserves), Terra Nova (419 million barrels), and White Rose (283 million ) are past their best and production from new fields is years away.

“We are past peak production from the three existing fields,” the province’s Minister of Natural Resources Tom Marshall told the Financial Post. “We need exploration and success from that in order to sustain and grow the economy further.”

Newfoundland is one of the last few great, untapped offshore developments in North America. Oil majors including ExxonMobil Inc. and Chevron Corp. have a presence in the area, but the region has been a backwater as the prolific Gulf of Mexico and North Sea continue to garner all the attention.

Alarmed by continued neglect from oil companies, the Newfoundland government is casting its net wider to attract bigger players. Last month Mr. Marshall was in China to meet CNOOC and Sinopec officials to drum up interest in the province’s offshore riches. Continue Reading →

Why the latest anti-Keystone pipeline ad is a low blow to Canada – by Claudia Cattaneo (National Post – August 9, 2013)


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

CALGARY – An anti-Keystone XL pipeline commercial funded by President Barack Obama supporter and hedge-fund billionaire Tom Steyer confirms what many Canadians have long suspected — American anti-oil activists have gone mad.

The commercial was intended to be aired Tuesday evening on WRC-TV, an affiliate of NBC in Washington, D.C., to coincide with the president’s appearance on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

The commercial is so offensive the station refused to air it. While intended as a parody, it insults TransCanada Corp. CEO Russ Girling, whose company is proposing Keystone XL; it’s a low blow to Canada; and it shows the anti-Keystone campaign is in desperate need of adult supervision. Continue Reading →

Feds supply $6M to get First Nations ready for Ring of Fire (CBC News Thunder Bay – August 8, 2013)

260 people to be trained in trades like mining, welding and environmental monitoring

The federal government has announced almost $6 million in funding to train people from Matawa First Nations in the mining sector. The announcement was made at Confederation College in Thunder Bay Thursday morning.

“There’s no better time than the present, we want to get going on this, we know that this is a legacy project,” said Kenora MP Greg Rickford, who is also minister of state for FedNor, with responsibility for the Ring of Fire. “We want to make sure that all our ducks are in a row.”

The money will go to a group of stakeholders called the Ring of Fire Aboriginal Training Alliance, which includes Matawa First Nations, NorOnt Resources and Confederation College. Matawa CEO David Paul Achneepineskum said building partnerships like this will help First Nations succeed. But Aroland Chief Sonny Gagnon thinks the process should be more grass-roots.

“I’m happy on one hand that we’re moving along, but there’s got to be a better method of how to move along,” he said. “And that means going to the communities and asking what each community wants.” Continue Reading →

Vale aims to stay competitive despite loss in profits (CBC News Sudbury – August 8, 2013)

Totten Mine in Sudbury still on track to open and create 200 jobs

For a detailed interview with Vale spokesperson Angie Robson, click here:

Mining giant Vale is reporting its worst profit decline in a decade. In its second quarter report, the company said its profit was $2.78 billion less than in the same quarter last year — and that foreign currency fluctuations are to blame.

In Sudbury, Vale spokesperson Angie Robson said local operations need to continue to focus on reducing costs while minimizing the impact on staff. She noted the company is working to continue being competitive.

“One of the things that we have happening, as an example, is we’re opening Totten Mine by the end of the year,” Robson said. “It’s our first new mine in Sudbury for more than 40 years … we have to continue to look to the future and look for new sources of ore so that we continue to create jobs and so forth.”

She noted the new mine will create about 200 jobs. Continue Reading →