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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How Ontario plans to deal with tonnes of nuclear waste: Bury the problem – by Shawn McCarthy (Globe and Mail – September 13, 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.

INVERHURON, ONT. — On a clear day, Marti McFadzean can see the Bruce nuclear plant from her home in this cottage town on the sandy shores of Lake Huron, where she had summered since childhood and has now retired.

Ms. McFadzean was never too concerned about the proximity of a nuclear plant to her family’s tranquil summer retreat, where five generations have gathered since 1928. But this summer, the former school administrator interrupted her retirement to become a full-time NIMBY activist.

She and many of her neighbours along Lake Huron’s eastern shore are campaigning against a $1-billion plan by Ontario Power Generation (OPG) to bury low- and intermediate-level nuclear waste in a deep geologic repository (DGR) at the Bruce site, a facility that would be built just two kilometres from her home and only a kilometre from the lake itself.

For nuclear power producers, the Bruce DGR represents part of a long-term answer to a thorny problem that has dogged the industry since its postwar inception: what to do with the radioactive waste that will remain dangerous long after the reactors are gone, in some cases for hundreds of thousands of years.

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At Encana, days of living large are finally over – by Claudia Cattaneo (National Post – September 13, 2013)

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

Encana Corp.’s new CEO is promising bold action to revive what was once Canada’s largest energy producer. Doug Suttles said Thursday the company will be involved in fewer plays, bring in a new corporate structure and realign employee incentives to better match today’s low natural gas prices.

The changes signal a new era of restraint in a company whose past was all about living large, growing production and dominating its business, but that seems to be finally responding to what market is looking for from the country’s largest natural gas producer.

The stock bounced nearly 4% to close at $18.61 in Toronto, on anticipation of major asset sales, after falling 20% in the past year.

“We need to change in a big way, in a bold way,” the former BP PLC executive from Texas said at a New York conference. “Encana will be back to winning. We will get back to the Encana we have known for many years.”

Suttles, who joined Encana in June, promised to announce the strategy’s details in the coming weeks so they can be incorporated in next year’s budget.

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Theirs to recover: Why Ontario’s fiscal ‘time bomb’ is still not defused – by Scott Stinson and Armina Ligaya (National Post – September 13, 2013)

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

The Chestnut Conference Centre, once a hotel but now part of a non-descript student residence in downtown Toronto, is only a short walk from Queen’s Park but worlds apart from the stately brass and wood fittings of the seat of the provincial government.

As such, it was a suitable neutral ground for the first skirmishes of The Great Ontario Labour War of 2012. It was at the Chestnut that representatives of the McGuinty government met with officials of the province’s teachers’ unions to begin what all sides knew were going to be brutal contract negotiations.

The government’s objective was simple. They were to tell the unions that there was no money — none — for salary or benefit increases. The province’s fiscal picture was bleak. These were the financial parameters that had to be met.

On the afternoon of Feb. 22, the leadership of the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario, along with more than a dozen regional chairs, took their seats across from a small group representing the government side. A scripted statement outlining the province’s dire position was delivered. There was no new money.

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Mine rescue wasn’t consulted after Elliot Lake mall collapse – CBC News Thunder Bay (September 12, 2013)

Elliot Lake rescue commander Bill Neadles tells inquiry he didn’t believe mine rescue was an option

The Elliot Lake inquiry has heard the leader of the rescue operation at the collapsed mall never called Ontario mine rescue to see if they could help.

When the community was told the rescue at the mall was over — because the building was too unstable — the idea of calling mine rescue was raised by area residents.

Heavy urban search and rescue commander Bill Neadles was in charge of the operation at the mall. During testimony on Thursday, he told the inquiry he didn’t believe mine rescue was an option.

“A mine is one set of skills and expertise and risks,” he said. “A structural collapse is a total separate discipline and it would be my opinion that they wouldn’t have the training and ability to do anything.”

But Neadles also said he didn’t know a lot about mine rescue and didn’t check to see if that was the case. The inquiry will hear more about whether mine rescue could have helped at the mall.

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Dissolution of an industry cartel leaves Potash Corp shareholders wishing ‘icon’ had sold – by Andrew Coyne (National Post – September 11, 2013)

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

Three years ago, when Australia’s BHP Billiton came bidding for Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc., opponents of the deal had all of the arguments. A majority of the company’s shareholders may have lived outside Canada, along with its CEO, but nevertheless this was a Canadian icon, a “national champion,” or, if you really wanted to get hard-headed about it, a “strategic asset.”

Why would anyone want to sell a company that controlled 53% of the world’s potash reserves? Why, that is, other than the $130 a share —nearly $40 billion in total — that BHP was offering. But what was such a pittance if it meant pulling PotashCorp out of the Canadian-led global potash cartel, on which the vastly inflated world price of potash depended? Surely any idiot could see the folly in that. And in time, enough idiots did: The federal government, egged on by the government of Saskatchewan, blocked the sale.

At the time, blinkered ideologues like me expressed concern that, in the name of preventing one foreign-owned company from taking over another foreign-owned company, and for the sake of preserving “our” control of a resource that would remain as much owned, taxed and regulated by the province after the sale as before, PotashCorp’s shareholders — including the 49% who were Canadian — had been deprived of the capital gain they could legitimately have expected on the sale.

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Media agenda: China buys newsrooms, influence in Africa – by Geoffrey York (Globe and Mail – September 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.

NAIROBI — When one of South Africa’s biggest newspaper chains was sold last month, an odd name was buried in the list of new owners: China International Television Corp.

A major stake in a South African newspaper group might seem an unusual acquisition for Chinese state television, but it was no mystery to anyone who has watched the rapid expansion of China’s media empire across Africa.

From newspapers and magazines to satellite television and radio stations, China is investing heavily in African media. It’s part of a long-term campaign to bolster Beijing’s “soft power” – not just through diplomacy, but also through foreign aid, business links, scholarships, training programs, academic institutes and the media.

Its investments have allowed China to promote its own media agenda in Africa, using a formula of upbeat business and cultural stories and a deferential pro-government tone, while ignoring human-rights issues and the backlash against China’s own growing power.

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In Ontario, electricity bills are reason to weep – by Konrad Yakauski (Globe and Mail – September 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.

If you live in Ontario, deciphering your electricity bill is like trying to crack the encryption on a BlackBerry. It might tax even the professional snoopers at the U.S. National Security Agency.

It’s not as simple as multiplying the amount of power you use each month by the market price per kilowatt-hour. Beyond your “electricity” charge, there’s a “delivery” charge, a “regulatory” charge, a “debt retirement” charge and an Orwellian-sounding “clean energy benefit.”

And there’s a twisted political saga behind each one of them. If you manage to unbundle it all, you’ll discover that the market value of the power you consume accounts for only a tiny portion of your bill. Most of the rest of what you fork out goes to pay for decades of bungled energy policy-making. And pay you will, for years to come.

Indeed, the most important charge is the one that doesn’t directly appear on most people’s monthly statements. It’s called the “global adjustment” fee and it’s tacked on to your electricity charge to cover the government’s cost of buying above-market-priced wind, solar, nuclear and gas-fired power from private operators.

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Gabriel threatens Romania with billion-dollar lawsuit – by Eric Reguly (Globe and Mail – September 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.

ROME — Canada’s Gabriel Resources Ltd. is issuing a stern ultimatum to the Romanian government: Approve the Rosia Montana gold mine or face a lawsuit for billions of dollars.

The strategy marks a stunning reversal for the Toronto Stock Exchange-listed company, which until recently had expected the government would approve a draft law that would allow the $1-billion (U.S.) mining development in Romania’s Transylvania to go ahead.

Then, on Monday, Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta said parliament would likely reject the draft law, a move that would kill Europe’s largest gold project. Gabriel shares went into freefall. The same day, Gabriel said it would “assess all possible actions open to it, including the formal notification of its intentions to commence litigation for multiple breaches of international investment treaties.”

On Wednesday, Gabriel chief executive officer Jonathan Henry vowed that the legal action would go ahead if the government does kill the mining project, and attached a big number to it.

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Protests, cyanide concerns may halt Canadian-Romania gold mine project – by Nick Logan (Global News – September 10, 2013)

VANCOUVER – Anti-mining protesters appear to have won their battle against the Romanian government and a Canadian firm planning to build Europe’s largest open-cast gold mine.

At least for now.

After more than a week of rallies in the capital city of Bucharest and the country’s second-largest city of Cluj Napoca, Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta said Monday the project likely won’t get approval.

A majority of Romanian parliament members weren’t in favour of the mine proposal for the northwest mountain community of Rosia Montana, and Ponta asked parliamentarians to vote quickly on draft legislation that would have moved the proposal forward.

“There’s no point in wasting time, I want to make sure that the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies vote on the rejection and then this project is closed,” Ponta said, according to Bloomberg News on Monday. “I don’t want the government to be responsible for contracts undertaken by previous cabinets.”

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Matawa First Nations chiefs drop Ring of Fire legal challenge – CBC News Thunder Bay (September 11, 2013)

Most Matawa communities hope negotiations assisted by Bob Rae will also address their concerns about environmental assessment

The Matawa First Nations chiefs have withdrawn a legal challenge to the federal environmental assessment of the Cliffs chromite project in the Ring of Fire. The case was set to be heard by Federal Court later this month.

In a news release Wednesday, the Matawa Tribal Council said that when it started the court case in late 2011, there was no negotiation table, and it was pushed into a corner.

“There’s a forum for discussions with Ontario now and it’s going to look at the environmental assessment question, as well as other issues,” Aroland Chief Sonny Gagnon said.

Talks with Ontario began recently with Bob Rae representing the First Nations, and Frank Iacobucci negotiating for the government. Matawa said it expects that mining companies and the federal government will also be involved.

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Ring of Fire road rejection a setback for Cliffs Natural Resources – by Peter Koven (National Post – September 12, 2013)

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

TORONTO – The proposed development of Ontario’s “Ring of Fire” is facing greater uncertainty, as the province’s Mining and Lands Commissioner has made a key ruling against the company expected to build the region’s first mine and much of its infrastructure.

“This puts the project in jeopardy,” said Patricia Persico, director of communications for Cliffs Natural Resources Inc.

Cliffs wants to build a road to the Ring of Fire, located in the James Bay Lowlands, that could be used to transport ore. This is controversial, because the proposed road would cross over mining claims owned by KWG Resources Inc., a tiny junior miner that staked the ground for a potential railroad.

Commissioner Linda Kamerman rejected Cliffs’ request for an “easement” that would allow the company to build a road crossing over KWG’s claims. In a lengthy decision, she said the request breaches KWG’s rights under Ontario’s Mining Act and that Cliffs did not demonstrate the road is in the public interest.

Cliffs claims the road would provide a useful link to First Nations communities, an idea that is also supported by Queen’s Park. But the commissioner wrote that there was no evidence of a “public component” to Cliffs’ application.

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