Archive | Canadian Media Resource Articles

English hamlet becomes unlikely hub for global fracking debate – by Paul Waldie (Globe and Mail – July 31, 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.

BALCOMBE, ENGLAND — With its million-pound homes and leafy estates, the village of Balcombe hardly looks like a hotbed of environmental activism. But this community of fewer than 2,000 has suddenly become the latest epicentre of the global debate over fracking.

For the past week, Balcombe villagers have been waging war with Cuadrilla Resources Ltd., Britain’s largest shale player, which is about to start test drilling in the area, hoping to extract oil from shale rock. Houses have been plastered with “Frack Off” signs, and dozens of people have lined the gates to the site, chanting, singing and trying to stop trucks from going in. Nearly two dozen people have been arrested.

The “Battle for Balcombe” has become a rallying cry for opponents of fracking everywhere as activists, celebrities and media have descended on the village, a short train ride south of London. Arrivals of serial, experienced veterans of the G20 demonstrations and the Occupy camp outside St. Paul’s have turned this town into an eco-cause celebre. Continue Reading →

Canadian mining industry embraces transparency initiative – by Drew Hasselback (National Post – July31, 2013)

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

A new form of transparency is coming to the Canadian mining industry, and it will be compulsory. The industry is offering broad support to an initiative called Publish What You Pay, and it’s bound to become mandatory now that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has stated that Canada will align its mining rules with similar transparency initiatives that have been passed in the United States and the European Union.

The concept is simple. Canadian companies will be required to disclose the amounts resource companies pay to any level of government, anywhere in the world. Industry broadly supports the idea in the hope that it will level the playing field in dealing with different governments around the world. There’s also a belief that transparency will reduce or eliminate opportunities for corruption, and enable local communities to see whether mining is benefiting them.

“What the Canadian government is attempting to do is encourage good disclosure globally of what is paid to governments,” says Sander Grieve, head of the mining practice at Bennett Jones LLP in Toronto.

“The driving theory behind it is to ensure that where ever you have material expenditures, there’s transparency so citizens can see where this money is going,” adds Sarah Powell, a partner with Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP in Toronto. Continue Reading →

Will three be the charm? Quebec makes third attempt to amend mining law – by Drew Hasselback (National Post – July 31, 2013)

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

This fall, Quebec’s legislature will consider several proposed amendments to the province’s Mining Act. The question is whether these changes will permanently impact the province’s reputation as a mining friendly jurisdiction.

That stature is already wavering. Each year the Fraser Institute ranks global mining jurisdictions based on their friendliness to investors. This year the province ranked 11th — a fairly strong showing, given that the 2013 survey covers 96 jurisdictions. But for the first time in years, the province didn’t make the top 10. Back in 2010 and 2009, it was even in first place.

“La Belle Province is no longer the belle of the ball it once was among mining jurisdictions,” says Tom Provost, a lawyer in the Montreal office of McMillan LLP.

“Even if it’s trying to do the right thing, the government is unfortunately sending mixed signals about whether Quebec is a mining friendly jurisdiction,” adds Frank Mariage, a lawyer in the Montreal office of Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP. “Quebec’s ranking on the Fraser Institute list of mining friendly jurisdictions has gone down.” Continue Reading →

Saskatchewan economy can weather potash storm – by Claudia Cattaneo (National Post – July 31, 2013)

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

CALGARY – Saskatchewan will feel the impact of a global potash price war triggered by Russia, but the blow will be lessened by industry efficiencies and continuing growth in other sectors such as oil and uranium. “We remain extraordinarily bullish,” Kent Windsor-Smith, executive director of the Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce, said Tuesday.

“We don’t foresee anything slowing us in 2013. We are expecting to see a modest slowdown in the growth rate in 2014, but that was probably in the cards already and it related to the fact that a number of these capital projects are winding down and moving toward completion.”

Saskatchewan’s potash sector, which produces about a third of the world’s supply of the crop nutrient, spent heavily in recent years to modernize operations and reduce costs, making it well-positioned to weather pricing pressures, he said, while “producers in other parts of the planet may not be as cost competitive.”

Meanwhile, the province’s diversified economy, which has been growing at a blistering pace, will continue to be supported by spending in oil and uranium, and a stable agriculture base. Continue Reading →

‘The end of the potash world as we know it’ is no exaggeration – by Peter Koven (National Post – July 31, 2013)

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

For the potash industry, this would change everything.

If Russian producer OAO Uralkali follows through on its plan to max out production and collapse one of the sector’s two trading arms, the industry’s oligopoly-like business model is thrown out the window.

The days in which the potash producers withheld production to maintain pricing influence could break down completely. Instead, experts said the stage would be set for a dramatic battle for market share, with the companies running at much higher production capacity and selling far more product. Higher supply would mean lower prices, greater competition and a culling of higher-cost producers and eager new entrants.

In short, the potash business would start to resemble a normal commodity business. BMO analyst Joel Jackson called it “the end of the potash world as we know it,” which is no exaggeration.

Markets were rattled at that prospect. Shares of every potash producer in the world plunged on Tuesday as investors absorbed the idea of global prices falling by US$100 a tonne or more. Continue Reading →

New Prosperity will strengthen Williams Lake’s economy – by Kerry Cook (Vancouver Sun – July 29, 2013)

Kerry Cook is mayor of Williams Lake.

We are in the midst of a 30-day environmental assessment review panel hearing for the New Prosperity project, a copper and gold mine proposed by Taseko. This hearing will help the federal government determine the future fate of the project.

As local government we have a duty to seriously consider economic opportunities put before us. For us, New Prosperity presents an opportunity to strengthen the economic base of our region, provide new jobs and training opportunities.

The job potential is significant. Over the life of the New Prosperity mine, there will be 500 direct and 1,280 indirect jobs each year. We understand many industries are facing skill shortages. Taseko, however, has 1,400 active resumés on file. Now is the time to approve and build this project, which has the potential to expand our population base or offset downsizing in other sectors.

New workers will relocate here. This creates potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in new wages, which will go into our local community each week, benefiting new and existing businesses. New Prosperity will also grow the local tax base, which in turn will support the development of amenities, along with recreation, education and health facilities. Continue Reading →

Do we really need Keystone? As Obama dithers, Canada moves on other options – by Claudia Cattaneo (National Post – July 30, 2013)

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

President Obama’s latest smug comments on the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline suggest the Canadian project’s odds of being approved under his watch are waning.

Thankfully, Canada hasn’t stood still while the U.S. President dithered. So many new pipeline options have emerged that Keystone XL’s relevance is diminishing as each one gains momentum.

Sure, it will be hard to fill Keystone XL’s void and promise over the short term — perhaps a couple of years around 2016 and 2017 until new pipeline options are up and running.

But over the long-term, Canada is better off fast-tracking oil market diversification to global markets that are not beholden to U.S. anti-oil interests and that remain very motivated to buy Canadian supplies.

Two all-Canadian options — TransCanada’s Energy East project from Alberta to New Brunswick, and pipelines from Alberta to the West Coast — made big leaps forward in the past few days. Continue Reading →

Oilsands expansion raises red flags for regulators – by Gilliam Steward (Toronto Star – July 30, 2013)

The Toronto Star has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on federal and Ontario politics as well as shaping public opinion.

Regulators increasingly want governments to take more responsibility for oilsands projects and their consequences.

The proposed west-east oil pipeline is inching closer to reality. Last week the premiers discussed the feasibility of such a huge project at their annual get-together. And TransCanada Energy confirmed that it has already signed up major producers who want bitumen from the Alberta oilsands delivered to refineries as far afield as New Brunswick and possibly for export.

Meanwhile in Alberta, for the first time regulators have raised alarming red flags about the environmental impact of oilsands expansion and urged the federal and Alberta governments to step up their oversight of these enormous operations.

The strong words of warning came in a decision by a joint federal/provincial panel established to review an application by Shell Canada for expansion of its Jackpine bitumen mining operation about 70 kilometres north of Fort McMurray.

The proposal would increase production by a third to 300,000 barrels a day; tarry oil that needs the increased pipeline capacity that an east-west pipeline would provide if it is to reach refineries. Continue Reading →

Teck said to bid for Rio’s stake in Iron Ore Co. of Canada – by Matthew Campbell, Brett Foley and Liezel Hill (Bloomberg/Montreal Gazette – June 29, 2013)

TORONTO, VANCOUVER and LONDON (England) — Teck Resources Ltd., Canada’s second-biggest mining company, is among the remaining bidders for Rio Tinto Group’s controlling stake in Iron Ore Co. of Canada, according to a person familiar with the situation.

Rio may decide to keep its Iron Ore Co. stake after being disappointed with the bids it’s received so far, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. While London-based Rio has considered selling the unit’s mining and infrastructure assets separately, it decided against the plan, the person said. Spokesmen for Teck and Rio and a spokeswoman for Iron Ore Co. declined to comment.

Buying Canada’s largest iron-ore producer would enable Vancouver-based Teck to diversify its production, which mostly comprises coal, copper and zinc. Rio’s 59 per cent stake in Iron Ore Co. may fetch as much as $3.5 billion, Crédit Suisse Group AG analysts said in a note in June.

An acquisition that size would be Teck’s largest since its C$10.4 billion ($10.1 billion) purchase of Fording Canadian Coal Trust in 2008, a deal completed just as commodity prices were beginning to plunge during the financial crisis. In 2009, Teck’s credit rating was cut to junk by Standard & Poor’s and the company sold a 17 per cent stake to China Investment Corp. Continue Reading →

Fostering awareness of the origins of minerals – by Terry Pender (Waterloo Record – July 29, 2013)

WATERLOO REGION — Kirsten Van Houten is helping people make the links between their smartphones and the brutal war ravaging the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Van Houten is collecting signatures in support of the Just Minerals Campaign — a national effort to raise awareness of minerals that are mined in Africa and used in cellphones and computers. So far, she has collected more than 100 signatures.

The minerals are tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold. Van Houten and the Just Minerals Campaign are concerned about the supply chains for tech companies that start in Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania and the Congo.

The Just Minerals Campaign is in support of New Democratic MP Paul Dewar’s private member’s bill called the Conflict Minerals Act. It is modelled on U.S. legislation that will require all companies to publicly report on the source of minerals used their products.

“We would like to indicate there is support in this community,” Van Houten said. “We would also like to create consumer awareness and create demand for a fair trade cellphone.” The young woman wrote her master’s thesis on the demand for small guns and light weapons in the Congo. Continue Reading →

Lack of political leadership, bureaucratic infighting freeze Arctic plans: Report – by Lee Berthiaume (Windsor Star – July 29, 2013)

OTTAWA — The Conservative government’s plans for the Arctic are suffering because of bureaucratic infighting and a lack political leadership, a group of Defence Department advisers has concluded.

They also urged the Canadian military to reach out to both mining companies and Inuit communities as it looks to establish a more tangible presence in the North, saying such relationships can be financially beneficial.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper first announced in 2007 that his government would focus on ensuring sovereignty over the country’s vast Arctic territories, developing its abundant natural resource deposits, and improving the lives of those living there.

But the Defence Science Advisory Board wrote in an internal report published last year and obtained by Postmedia News that “frustration is often the predominant emotion” within federal departments when it comes to the Arctic. The advisory board is made up of academics, analysts and industry representatives who provide the department with advice.

The Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development is supposed to be the lead department on the Arctic, with other government departments and agencies supporting it in a variety of roles and areas. Continue Reading →

India eyes B.C.’s coal reserves as it ramps up steel production – by Gordon Hoekstra (Vancouver Sun – July 28, 2013)

Delegation meets with B.C.’s premier, new international trade minister

India wants to buy a bigger chunk of B.C.’s vast metallurgical coal reserves to feed its growing steel industry, a potential boost to the province’s No. 1 export business, worth $5.7 billion a year.

A high-level delegation led by India’s Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma was in B.C. this month and met with Premier Christy Clark, International Trade Minister Teresa Wat and B.C. coal industry representatives.

The Indian government forecasts that by 2017 the country will need twice as much metallurgical coal. The additional 47 million tonnes of metallurgical coal India forecasts it’ll need every year is more than B.C.’s entire annual production of 24 million tonnes.

However, British Columbia sits on vast coal reserves of an estimated 13 billion tonnes with several proposed metallurgical coal mines in the environmental assessment process. Karina Brino, president of the Mining Association of B.C., said the province’s coal industry is paying close attention to the burgeoning Indian market.

Continue Reading →

How rage over a Mexican mining tragedy has propelled a union leader’s book to the bestseller list – by Oakland Ross (Toronto Star – July 27, 2013)

The Toronto Star has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on federal and Ontario politics as well as shaping public opinion.

In Collapse of Dignity, Napoleon Gomez Urrutia reveals much about Mexico’s corrupt mining sector – but what about himself?

Will the real Napoleon Gomez Urrutia please stand up? About 66 years old and living in exile in Vancouver, the Mexican labour leader has trod many different paths during a long, eventful career, and now he has written a book about that journey.

Titled Collapse of Dignity: The Story of a Mining Tragedy and the Fight Against Greed and Corruption in Mexico, the densely written volume recently scaled its way into the Top 10 on The New York Times list of non-fiction bestsellers, an impressive achievement by any measure and all the more so in this case because a good deal of the book is at least somewhat fictitious.

It’s also pretty hard slogging for much of its 368-page length. Still, the good parts are engrossing, and they centre on a mining disaster – or, really, two mining disasters. One of these mishaps took place in northern Mexico, on Feb. 19, 2006, and it was an unmitigated catastrophe.

Sixty-five men lost their lives after a huge explosion hit the Pasta de Conchos coal mine in the early hours that day. Continue Reading →

‘Trains or pipelines,’ Doer warns U.S. over Keystone – by Shawn McCarthy (Globe and Mail – July 29, 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.

OTTAWA — Canada is telling the U.S administration it will see a sharp increase in cross-border crude-oil shipments by rail if President Barack Obama fails to approve the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.

In a telephone interview from Washington, Canadian Ambassador Gary Doer said oil companies are increasingly turning to trains – and even trucks – as the construction of pipelines has failed to keep up with the boom in North American crude production, and that trend will grow if the President turns down Keystone XL.

“His choice is to have it come down by a pipeline that he approves, or without his approval, it comes down on trains. That’s just the raw common sense of this thing, and we’ve been saying it for two years and we’ve been proven correct,” Mr. Doer said Sunday. “At the end of the day, it’s trains or pipelines.”

The ambassador made his comments to The Globe and Mail after Mr. Obama questioned the much-touted economic benefits of the $7.6-billion project in an interview published in the U.S. on the weekend. The President also suggested Canada could do more to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions to help win approval. Continue Reading →

Journey to the end of the MM&A Railway line – by Les Perreaux (Globe and Mail – July 27, 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.

There is a sign marking the start of the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway line south of Montreal, but it’s hardly needed: Simply look for the piles of discarded track and cracked and rotting ties amid the ragweed, out past the point where the Canadian Pacific Railway ends in a well-groomed rail bed.

“I can’t tell you how many times we’ve had to call the city to get them to clean up their tracks,” says Amélie Gervais, the owner of Bistro La Trinquette in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que. Her quaint restaurant, with its vast courtyard patio, overlooks the Chambly Canal at the start of the MM&A line.

Railroads still count distances in miles, and Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu stands at what was once Mile 20 of the mighty Canadian Pacific Railway’s “short line” extension from Montreal to the Atlantic Ocean, which helped knit Canada from Pacific to Atlantic for 105 years. Continue Reading →