After Attawapiskat, what? – by Jim Foulds (Toronto Star – December 29, 2011)

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.

Jim Foulds is a freelance writer in Thunder Bay. He was the MPP for Port Arthur from 1971 to 1987.

When Canadians first saw the news about Attawapiskat they knew that no matter who is at fault, nobody in Canada should be using a plastic bucket for a toilet and have to dump it outside on a regular basis. Nobody should be calling a shack with mould on the walls home. And nobody in Ontario should be paying $23.50 for six apples and four small bottles of juice.

With little evidence, Prime Minister Stephen Harper charged that the funds that the federal government had transferred to the reserve over several years had been mismanaged. With no consultation he put the band under third party management.

(Earlier this year several flooded towns along the Assiniboine River called for provincial and federal help. Think how the municipalities would have reacted if, immediately after asking for aid, they had been placed under third party management.)

The Harper message to Attawapiskat was clear. Blame the victims; discredit the messenger; and sow doubt in the minds of Canadians.

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Mining sector supports First Nations – by Pierre Gratton and Tom Ormsby (Saskatoon StarPhoenix – December 16, 2011)

Gratton is president CEO of the Mining Association of Canada and Ormsby is director of external & corporate affairs at De Beers Canada. A recent StarPhoenix editorial reflected on the mining boom underway in Saskatchewan and the need for the mining sector to partner with Canada’s First Nations. We couldn’t agree more.

For evidence that the mining sector understands this fully, one need look no further than Cameco, the world’s largest uranium miner headquartered in Saskatoon, to find the company with the largest number of First Nations employees in Canada.

In fact, there are now close to 200 agreements between mining companies and aboriginal communities across Canada. These typically include hiring targets, business opportunities and training, financial compensation and other components to ensure that local aboriginal communities are primary beneficiaries of mining developments that occur on their traditional lands.

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Rethinking the future of Ontario’s north – by Janet Sumner and Anna Baggio (Toronto Star – December 7, 2011)

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.

Janet Sumner is executive director and Anna Baggio is conservation land use planning director for CPAWS-Wildlands League, based in Ontario.

Like many other Canadians, we’ve been searching our souls in response to the housing crisis in Attawapiskat, home to the Muskego Cree First Nation. We have visited Attawapiskat several times. We’ve stayed at the Kataquapit Inn and enjoyed the community’s hospitality, including a traditional feast of caribou and lake sturgeon. Our work to conserve Ontario’s northern boreal forest has been enriched by the insights of the elders and other members of the community.

That is why the people of Attawapiskat are very much in our hearts today. While a donation to the Red Cross is always a good idea, we believe Canada needs to do far more to fix the problems bedevilling Attawapiskat and many other northern First Nations communities.

It’s time for a fundamental rethink of the relationship between major industrial players in the north, our governments and affected First Nations communities.

We first became involved with Attawapiskat when the environmental assessment of the nearby De Beers Victor Diamond Mine was underway nearly seven years ago.

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Attawapiskat gets housing help – by Barrie Mckenna (Globe and Mail – December 12, 2011)

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.

Longer term, Mr. Angus wants Ottawa and the province to
start talking about sharing the economic benefits of the
development of nearby diamond mines and other resources.
That’s what Hydro-Québec did with the Cree on the Quebec
side of James Bay as it built massive hydroelectric

OTTAWA— Ottawa responded to the Attawapiskat Cree’s plea for more housing by promising Sunday to ship the impoverished community an additional seven modular homes, bringing the total to 22.

However, amid efforts to ease the housing crisis, community leaders continue to clash with the Harper government over its decision to take over the band’s finances earlier this month.

Ottawa has blamed the community’s problems on financial mismanagement of roughly $90-million in federal funds spent in Attawapiskat in the past five years.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan insisted Sunday the community has now agreed to co-operate with a federally appointed third-party financial manager – a claim band Chief Theresa Spence vehemently denied.

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Marketing the Aboriginal housing crisis – by Simon Houpt (Globe and Mail – December 10, 2011)

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.

The tragic tale of Attawapiskat grabbed the spotlight on the national stage only two weeks ago, but it was in rehearsal for six years.

In 2005, New Democrat MP Charlie Angus was trying to bring attention to the misery in Kashechewan, a Cree community on the shores of James Bay struggling with water-borne illnesses, when he came to a realization: People wouldn’t care unless they saw the evidence. So he orchestrated a press conference at Queen’s Park and released horrific photographs taken by doctors in the community.

“It was when we came to Toronto with the pictures of the children that suddenly it hit home,” Mr. Angus explained on Friday. “Pictures always make the difference.”

When Attawapiskat declared a state of emergency in late October, Mr. Angus knew he could go much further by leveraging a pair of tools that weren’t around in 2005: Facebook and YouTube.

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In Attawapiskat, deep-rooted problems won’t disappear in an instant – by Genesee Keevil (Globe and Mail – December 10, 2011)

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 no word for diamond in Cree. “They hear about the diamonds,” said Maryanne Wheesk, a middle-aged grandmother in the remote James Bay community of Attawapiskat, “and they think we’re rich.”

I sat down with Ms. Wheesk two years ago, long before Attawapiskat had declared a state of emergency, and long before a housing crisis transformed the mispronounced dot on a map to a mainstay of the national conversation.

The plight of the inhabitants here is a familiar one among isolated aboriginal communities. They lack access to clean drinking water. They lack adequate shelter. And the persistent questions about economic viability are lost in a haze of mutual recrimination with Ottawa: Complaints about mistreatment by the federal government are met with accusations of fiscal mismanagement and poor governance.

But there is one thing unique to Attawapiskat, something that had – for a time, at least – given residents reason to believe their story would be a different one.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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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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