North America’s Forgotten Frontier: Canadian Arctic – by Diane Francis (The Huffington Post – September 18, 2013)

YELLOWKNIFE, NORTHWEST TERRITORIES — This charming lakeside town bustles as thousands of Japanese tourists come annually to view the spectacular Aurora Borealis lights and as workers in mining, construction and energy arrive to cash in on its boom.

I was invited to speak at the Prospects North 2013 conference sponsored by the NWT Chamber of Commerce and I also visited the Diavik Diamond mine, the biggest of three gigantic mines nearly 400 miles north of Yellowknife. These mines, and another to open soon, are why the Northwest Territories has become the third biggest diamond producer in the world.

The conference was organized by executive director Mike Bradshaw and well-attended by policy, political and business leaders. My message was simply that the territories needed a new metaphor. They are not isolated and helpless political jurisdictions. They must think of themselves as the world’s biggest mining and resource play.

The three — NWT, Yukon and Nunavut — are bigger than Australia and have only seven operating mines now. Another 20 mines are in advanced stages of pre-development approvals and hundreds more undiscovered ore bodies exist in the frozen north. Such mature projects and exploration must be their top priority — as the world’s biggest mining play — and will usher in an unprecedented amount of prosperity and the building of essential infrastructure.

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Ottawa to step up support for mining – by Steven Chase (Globe and Mail – September 18, 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 — The Canadian government is readying a campaign to promote this country’s mining sector abroad, an effort that will draw on Ottawa’s power and global network of diplomatic missions to help companies expand their exploration and extraction activity around the world.

It’s the latest step in the Harper Conservatives’ efforts to redirect foreign affairs, international development and trade spending so it’s more targeted to core economic interests. In recent years, Ottawa has jointly funded development projects in Africa and South America with large mining corporations.

International Trade Minister Ed Fast will launch cross-country consultations Wednesday to get feedback as he draws up an agenda on what support it should offer to Canadian mining firms. The effort is billed as helping the extractive sector, which also includes oil and gas companies, but is almost wholly focused on mining.

The timing is no coincidence. The Harper government, which is warming up its campaign machine for an expected 2015 election, is looking for ways to contrast itself with opposition party leaders Justin Trudeau and Thomas Mulcair.

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Oliver targets U.S. coal dependence as oil sands controversy builds – by Shawn McCarthy (Globe and Mail – September 18, 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 — Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver has moved from defence to offence, deflecting environmental criticism of Canada’s oil sands by turning the spotlight on the U.S.’s emission-intensive coal-fired power sector.

In a Tuesday speech to a high-profile energy conference in New York City, Mr. Oliver sought to minimize the environmental impact of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline and said burning coal to generate electricity represents the world’s biggest climate threat.

The Conservative government faces intense criticism over the Keystone project from U.S. environmentalists, including actor Robert Redford, who released a video this week in which he claimed the pipeline would spur production of the “world’s dirtiest oil” in Alberta.

At the same time, U.S. President Barack Obama is due to release this week long-anticipated draft regulations for the U.S. power sector that critics are decrying as a “war on coal.” The administration is bracing for a political fight in traditionally Democratic coal states such as Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio. The U.S. relies on coal for 41 per cent of its electricity, although that share has been decreasing with the advent of cheap shale gas.

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Goldcorp chairman Ian Telfer eyes OSC settlement – by Barbara Shecter (National Post – September 18, 2013)

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

One of Canada’s best-known mining executives, Goldcorp Inc. chairman Ian Telfer, is seeking to settle allegations brought against him by the Ontario Securities Commission. Mr. Telfer was not accused of insider tipping or trading. Instead, the OSC alleged that he acted “contrary to the public interest” by helping an old friend, the executive assistant to the chairman of GMP Securities LP, disguise her scheme.

The case against Eda Marie Agueci and eight others is scheduled to begin at the OSC’s headquarters in Toronto on Sept. 30. Ms. Agueci is described by the OSC in a statement of allegations last year as the “central figure” in the scheme.

None of the allegations have been proven. In a brief statement Tuesday, Canada’s biggest capital markets regulator said it has set aside time on Friday morning “to consider whether it is in the public interest to approve a settlement agreement entered into by Staff of the Commission and Ian Telfer.”

In the statement of allegations last year, the OSC alleged that Mr. Telfer advised Ms. Agueci to communicate using her BlackBerry’s PIN-based messaging service to keep her activities secret from GMP.

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Once an economic mainstay, Alberta’s natural gas now struggling to find markets – by Claudia Cattaneo (National Post – September 18, 2013)

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

Barely a dozen years ago, Alberta was producing so much natural gas the resource was the mainstay of the provincial economy and a big reason Canada was the second-largest natural gas exporter on the planet.

Today, Alberta gas is dirt cheap and is struggling to find a home, pushed to the sidelines by shale gas discoveries in the United States and competition from British Columbia. Even emerging opportunities to export gas in liquid form from the West Coast could elude Alberta gas for years, as projects first draw from gas resources in British Columbia’s immense shale plays.

“There are no easy answers for the Alberta gas producers,” Peter Howard, president and CEO of the Calgary-based Canadian Energy Research Institute, said in an interview. “The next several years are going to be challenging.”

While the oil sands, heavy oil and shale oil have moved to the forefront of Alberta’s resource economy, the question of what to do with Alberta’s estimated 3,400 trillion cubic feet of natural gas resource has prompted provincial politicians to look for new uses, such as increasing demand in the province and promoting access to LNG terminals on the West Coast.

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Specialize or risk losing funding, Ontario tells universities and colleges – by James Bradshaw (Globe and Mail – September 18, 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.

Ontario’s government has taken its boldest step yet to compel universities and colleges to make hard choices about how they spend their resources, circulating a draft policy designed to stretch limited provincial dollars by narrowing some schools’ missions.

The draft framework for greater “differentiation” between schools was sent to higher-education leaders for feedback on Tuesday, marked “Confidential” but obtained by The Globe and Mail. After spending a decade investing in massive enrolment growth, the government is trying to climb out of a record deficit, and the paper argues that, without change, “Over time the sustainability of postsecondary education may be at risk.”

The paper sets the province and its schools on course for tricky negotiations, which could kick off before 2013 ends and drive some difficult shifts in priorities. Universities are ultimately free to set their own course, but where the province disagrees with a school’s direction, it can steer behaviour with levers such as funding, allocating extra student spaces and approvals for new programs.

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Vale fined $1M in Sudbury miners’ deaths – CBC News Sudbury (September 17, 2013)

Vale Canada Ltd. fined $1,050,00 after 2 workers fatally injured in 2011

Mining giant Vale Canada has been fined more than $1 million in connection with a double fatality in 2011 in which miners were buried in a torrent of mud. Jason Chenier and Jordan Fram were killed when wet mud and ore flooded the tunnel where they were working at Vale’s Stobie Mine in Sudbury, Ont., on June 8, 2011.

Chenier and Fram were working in an ore pass at the 3000 foot level, transferring broken rock and ore upwards when there was a sudden release of muck, sand and water. The run of muck came through a transfer gate, burying one working and hitting another causing massive crush injuries.

The Ministry of Labour laid charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act in the accident after finding there had been a blockage of wet muck in the ore pass. It also said Vale had failed to deal with earlier water issues in the mine. The company was fined $1,050,000, the highest fine ever given under the health and safety act, by an Ontario court.

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Investors turn up the heat on Barrick for boardroom change – by Jacqueline Nelson (Globe and Mail – September 17, 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.

Some investors are seeking reform in Barrick Gold Corp.’s boardroom and want the company to hasten the transfer of power from co-chairman Peter Munk, according to a published report.

In the most recent sign of tensions at the world’s largest gold miner, about 10 shareholders based in Europe will soon send the board of directors a letter to push for faster changes, the Wall Street Journal said, citing sources close to the company.

“Some directors have sought change at a faster pace than others have been comfortable with,” the report said. The Journal said director Robert Franklin planned to give up his board seat if some new directors weren’t appointed.

Earlier this year, a group of seven major pension funds took issue with the beleaguered gold producer’s board after a large sum was paid to Mr. Munk’s co-chairman, John Thornton.

More than 85 per cent of the company’s stakeholders did not approve of the $17-million payout to Mr. Thornton, voting against it and other multimillion-dollar payments to board members, including Mr. Munk.

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Oil superpowers and their growth towers – by Peter Tertzakian (Globe and Mail – September 17, 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.

Bakken, Permian, or Cardium? Where is all this oil coming from? New production from brittle, oil-bearing rocks in North America – otherwise known as light, tight oil – has been impressive. Yet that’s not all. A wider glance at the world of oil reveals a lot more new barrels coming to market. Other regions are busy pumping up capacity too – for instance, the Canadian oil sands and Iraq are notable for their scale.

Process differences are also important to highlight. Pulverizing subterranean rocks with fracking equipment isn’t the only way to deliver another million barrels a day. Mining and steaming bitumen in northern Alberta works too. Drilling good ol’ vertical wells into virgin Middle Eastern geology is proving to add a lot of capacity in Iraq.

Our feature chart this week shows towers of growth for 11 regions in three countries: the United States, Canada and Iraq. Each tower represents average oil output spanning 2005 to 2013 (the current year is estimated). The number at the top of each tower diarizes the change in output over the nine-year period.

Across all its oil fields, the United States is currently pumping a total 7.2 million barrels a day (MMB/d), up a remarkable 2.0 in less than a decade.

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Northern Promise: Mining projects spark much-needed Sept-Îles port expansion – by Nicolas Van Praet (National Post – September 17, 2013)

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

Northern Promise is a six-part series that explores the pace and progress of development in Canada’s remote communities. In this fifth instalment, Nicolas Van Praet explores mining projects in northern Quebec

SEPT-ÎLES, Que. – The sun is setting on a cool September evening in this northern Quebec port town and three cargo ships sit anchored in the half-moon bay.

From this distance several kilometres away, the ocean-going freighters look like giant match sticks waiting to be struck. Above them, storm clouds hang like a menacing hook and behind, you can sketch the outline of North America’s biggest primary aluminum smelter — Alouette, its hill-perched electrolytic pots powered by transmission wires stretching from Hydro Quebec’s massive Churchill Falls hydroelectric facility.

Sept-Îles, named for the seven-island archipelago that fronts the bay, is a 10-km wide natural harbour in the Gulf of the St. Lawrence some 650-km downriver from Quebec City. The waters here are deep, plunging down as much as 80 metres, and they’re free of ice for year-round passage — a huge advantage for commodity producers getting their goods to market.

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Tories would speed up development of Ring of Fire, says Tim Hudak – by Richard J. Brennan (Toronto Star – September 17, 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.

Tory Leader Tim Hudak is promising to release northern Ontario from the shackles that have prevented it from reaching its economic potential.

Tory Leader Tim Hudak promises to release northern Ontario from provincial shackles that he says have prevented it from reaching its full economic potential. In his party’s latest policy paper, Hudak said a Progressive Conservative government would speed up development of the Ring of Fire — site of one of the world’s largest mineral deposits, which the plan likens to the riches of the Alberta oil sands or Saskatchewan’s potash.

“The Ring of Fire is the great mining discovery of a lifetime, but the project has gone nowhere. Our once-burgeoning forest industry has shrunk and mills have closed,” Hudak stated in the policy paper, which blames high electricity and energy costs for gutting the pulp and paper industry.

“I see a north of great destiny. A Northern Ontario that is going to drive renewed prosperity right across Ontario,” said Hudak, who released his party’s position on the north in Thunder Bay on Monday.

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Ned Goodman and the ‘Botox Economy’ – (Northern Miner – September 13, 2013)

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

Ned Goodman, president and CEO of Dundee Corp., spoke about the perils of quantitative easing at the Toronto Resource Investment Conference on Sept. 12. He made the following remarks, as recorded by The Northern Miner:

Ned Goodman: I have a lot to say and I will give you my biases, no problem there. I believe I’m a sensible man and as a sensible man I’ve been told by my mother, actually, that even though you don’t know the hour or the place of your demise, but you do know, that without a doubt, it’s going to come.

So as a sensible investor, I’m ready for the day that the United States Empire crumbles and that’s a hint as to where I’m going … I know that nothing lasts forever and the environment that we’re in could change, but we do not know anything other than nothing lasts forever and right now it looks like whatever is happening is speeding up, not slowing down. But I expect and hope to be here to watch it happen.

The slide that is on there [on the auditorium screen] is nothing more than to show you, that the fixed income market since 1962, which is when I started my career, has had some unbelievable long runs, we’re not talking of short-term things, we’re talking about long-term things.

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Geopolitical risks rising to the top of investors’ minds – by David Pett (National Post – September 14, 2013)

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

The threat of U.S. military intervention in Syria has held global investors captive this month, resulting in excessive volatility for certain equity and commodity prices. Markets this week rallied on expectations such a military strike may be avoided, but most analysts believe the turmoil surrounding the situation is far from over and could persist for weeks to come.

If so, it will remain the biggest geopolitical risk investors will have to deal with this fall, but, like it or not, it won’t be the only one they will face. “The challenge is a big one,” said Pierre Fournier, a geopolitical analyst at National Bank Financial. “Geopolitics are not always predictable, but neither are company earnings, so you have to take notice.”

In its truest sense, geopolitical risk encompasses both geographic and political factors that could positively or negatively impact capital markets. This includes events such as civil wars, labour strikes and general elections, as well as highly politicized affairs like the upcoming U.S. budget deadlines and Silvio Berlusconi’s possible expulsion in Italy.

Mr. Fournier’s analysis also includes demographic trends, cultural and religious dynamics and structural economic issues that may impact the long-term stability of a nation or region. He spends time, for example, on the impact tribal factions have on Africa’s mining industry, and what kinds of jobs might be created in the U.S. 10 years from now.

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Fort McKay oil sands ambassador at odds with industry – by Claudia Cattaneo (National Post – September 14, 2013)

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

With the Fort McKay band seeking leave to appeal the recent Alberta Energy Regulator’s decision to approve the 250,000 barrels-a-day Dover oil sands project, uncertainty is far from over for Athabasca Oil Corp. and the project’s majority Chinese partner, PetroChina.

Similar uncertainty is poised to spread to other oil sands players in the area, who have been summoned by the wealthy band to a meeting on Thursday to discuss the Moose Lake reserve and why it needs a hefty buffer zone from development.

The upshot: The dispute between oil sands neighbours has the makings of a legal runaway train, a public relations mess and an impediment to good relations between the industry and the most productive and so-far supportive aboriginal community in the region.

As Bill Gallagher, a lawyer, aboriginal expert and author put it: “The oil sands, which undeservedly is continuing to garner an international black eye, now has soured the person who could be the most helpful in putting a happy face on it,” he warned. “[Fort McKay chief] Jim Boucher could have been the most important ambassador the oil sands ever had, and instead he’s going to go to the wall on an issue of vital importance” to his band. Mr. Gallagher believes the Fort McKay’s legal case is strong, and if successful could lead to years of litigation as other First Nations start demanding buffer zones between reserves and projects.

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Coal industry predicts bright future – by Derrick Penner (Vancouver Sun – September 13, 2013)

Exports from Western Canada likely to double over next decade, conference hears

Coal, unloved by environmentalists and battered by a global market glut that has ravaged corporate profits, is still likely to see its production and exports double from Western Canada over the next decade.

“Western Canada produces mainly metallurgical coal for the steel industry and it’s got a lot of things going for it,” said Gerard McCloskey, moderator for the Coal Association of Canada’s annual conference that is in Vancouver this week.

McCloskey, a U.K.-based industry consultant, said Western Canada remains attractive because of its good quality and untapped reserves, and he said while markets are oversupplied now, there is still considerable room for growth, particularly in the Pacific.

“I would think there will be, in my own forecast, a doubling of exports from Western Canada over the next 10 years,” McCloskey said. The coal association conference gathered more than 300 industry participants from all levels of the mining sector and its supply chain, from equipment dealers to consultants and transportation specialists.

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