Archive | Green Mining

Canada’s Mining Sector Fails to Communicate with Media and General Population – by Stan Sudol

Leo DiCaprio on Cover of Vanity Fair Green Issue - April 2007A version of this column was originally published in the June 2007 edition of Northern Ontario Business .

The mining sector is ignoring the green light at the end of the tunnel that is attached to a 100-tonne locomotive driven by the environmental movement.

The collision is going to be messy! It will impact the industry at a time when the voracious metal demands of China and India could bring enormous prosperity to isolated Aboriginal communities throughout northern Ontario.

This constant demonization of the mining sector by media-savvy NGOs is also affecting the recruitment of the next generation of workers the industry so desperately needs.

From the Academy award-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth that stars Al Gore to Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio posing on the cover of Vanity Fair – photographed in the Arctic with a cute polar bear cub to highlight global warming – there is no doubt that environmental issues dominate society’s cultural and political agendas.

Unfortunately, the mining sins of the father are certainly coming back to haunt the sons!

Past industry practices that were detrimental to the environment are still highlighted by the anti-mining crowd today.

Yet, the reality of mining in the 21st century is quite the opposite. Continue Reading →

Barrick Gold’s Dominican Republic’s Environmental Clean-up Reflects Modern Industry Approach – by Nancy White

This article is from the April 2010 issue of Beyond Borders: A Barrick Gold Report on Responsible Mining.

At the Pueblo Viejo project in the Dominican Republic, one of the most ambitious environmental clean-up efforts in recent mining history is underway. When the former Rosario Dominicana mine shut down its operations in 1999, proper closure and reclamation was not undertaken. The result has been a legacy of polluted soil and water and contaminated infrastructure.

Barrick acquired the property in 2006 as part of the Placer Dome acquisition. Today, what was once a hazardous area has been transformed into a safe and busy construction site, as some 4,500 employees and contractors converge to build the new Pueblo Viejo.

The clean-up is also creating a healthier living environment for nearby residential communities that have also been affected.

A Partnership Approach

Responsibility for the clean-up is shared between Pueblo Viejo Dominicana Corp. (PVDC), a company jointly owned by Barrick (60%) and Goldcorp (40%), and the Dominican government. A special lease agreement (SLA), which set out the terms for both parties, was ratified by the Dominican National Congress and President Leonel Fernandez in November 2009. Continue Reading →

The Reclamation of Sudbury: The Greening of a Moonscape (Part 2 of 2)

This article was originally published in Viewpoint: Perspectives on Modern Mining, a publication of Caterpillar Global Mining (2008-Issue Four)

PERFECT TIMING

While mining companies were working on becoming better citizens of Sudbury, an effort was under way to begin turning around the community’s barren landscape.

The newly formed Regional Municipality of Sudbury created a “Technical Tree Planting Committee,” which in 1978 changed its name to the Vegetation Enhancement Technical Advisory Committee (VETAC). The organization is committed to the restoration and protection of Sudbury’s air, land and water.

At the same time, joint work between the Ministry of Natural Resources and Laurentian University was under way to create the “science” necessary to regreen Sudbury’s landscape.

As part of its reclamation efforts, Vale Inco had tried sowing grass seed—which would germinate, but the roots would wither as soon as they encountered the contaminated soil. After years of experimentation, Laurentian researchers—led by the late Keith Winterhalder, a Laurentian professor and former VETAC chairman—learned that an application of ground limestone could detoxify soil. They also learned that if a sparse grass cover could be established on a rocky hillside that had been treated with limestone and fertilizer, seeds from the few existing trees in the area would blow in, germinate and grow.

Continue Reading →

The Reclamation of Sudbury: The Greening of a Moonscape Part (1 of 2)

This article was originally published in Viewpoint: Perspectives on Modern Mining, a publication of Caterpillar Global Mining (2008-Issue Four)

Community and industry come together to save the environment

Sudbury, Ontario, Canada, is a tourist destination, with major attractions like Science North and its internationally renowned science center and IMAX Theatre, dozens of lakes and scenic attractions. It has been called one of the sunniest areas of Ontario, with clean air and world-renowned environmental initiatives. It has even been cited by the United Nations for its land reclamation program and has won several other international and national awards.

However, Sudbury looked radically different just 35 years ago, when a group of transplanted professors, municipal employees, mining company leaders and local residents put their heads together to come up with a way to save it.

Years of mining, logging, fires, smelter emissions and soil erosion had taken their toll, wiping out almost all of the vegetation in the area and poisoning lakes and streams. Because there were no trees on barren sites, there were no leaves to create the mulch that protects the soil. As a result, the barren soil suffered from severe frost in the winter and too much heat in the summer.

Sudbury’s landscape was compared to the surface of the moon. Editorial cartoonists joked that birds had to carry their lunchboxes from tree to tree because they were few and far between.

Continue Reading →

Mining as a Core Supplier to the Global Clean Energy Revolution – by Paul Stothart

Paul Stothart is vice-president, economic affairs of the Mining Association of Canada. He is responsible for advancing the industry’s interests regarding federal tax, trade, investment, transport and energy issues. www.mining.ca This column was originally published January, 2009.

Few subjects are receiving as much attention in the daily media as that of our societal need to move towards a clean energy economy. This theme was fundamental to the platforms of all the Canadian federal parties in the recent election — each featuring an array of programs supporting this transition.

In the United States, the platform of President-elect Obama talks extensively of hybrid vehicles, electricity from renewable sources, low carbon standards and the ultimate objective of eliminating oil imports from the Middle East and Venezuela within a decade. Republicans in Washington talk of nuclear power, carbon capture and sequestration and battery development, among other initiatives.

Beyond the political and media coverage, it is evident that few subjects offer comparable transformative potential as changes to the world’s energy infrastructure. Developed economies have been driven for two centuries by the industrial combustion of fossil fuel — indeed there has long existed a direct macro-economic correlation of living standards with per-capita energy consumption.

Continue Reading →

The Oil Sands and Climate Change — Some Important Considerations – Paul Stothart

Paul Stothart is vice president, economic affairs of the Mining Association of Canada. He is responsible for advancing the industry’s interests regarding federal tax, trade, investment, transport and energy issues. www.mining.ca This column was originally published October, 2009.

The development of the western oil sands constitutes one of the world’s most significant economic stories of recent decades. Technological advances and increases in crude oil prices from $20 per barrel in the 1990s to $140 in mid-2008 together reinforced the oil sands’ economic viability and, through hundreds of billions of dollars of investment, sustained its production growth from test-well quantities to volumes exceeding one million barrels per day.

As with any source of energy, the process of extracting oil from oil sands raises a range of environmental issues. Its rapid development has served to position this sector as target number one among some environmental groups. In this respect, it is important that NGOs and public policy stakeholders not ignore some key realities.

Economic contribution

Oil sands development has increased wealth and economic activity in western Canada during the past decade, creating 200,000 jobs, including many in central Canada that helped to offset job losses in the manufacturing sector. It is also estimated that each direct job translates to nine additional jobs among suppliers and indirect beneficiaries. Continue Reading →

Ontario’s Green Miners Handle Broad Palate of Environmental Issues

This article was provided by the Ontario Mining Association (OMA), an organization that was established in 1920 to represent the mining industry of the province.

The Ontario Mining Association Environment Committee has representatives from most member companies, who possess a wide spectrum of specialties and tackle a broad palate of issues and concerns.  Under the leadership of Committee Chair Nancy Duquet-Harvey of Northgate Minerals, about 30 of the green miners met recently in Timmins.  The group had an extremely full agenda in the session, which followed the second Ontario Mine Reclamation Symposium and Field Trip.

The OMA Environment Committee regularly deals with the Ministry of Environment and handles both analysis of proposed legislation and regulations and proactively develops programs, protocols and, in some cases, computer software to improve environmental performance and reporting of member companies.  The group makes it a habit of sharing best practices, communicating well and working co-operatively.  The collective expertise that members bring to the Committee makes it possible to effectively address issues that are highly complex and technical. 

Major items on the agenda for the recent Timmins meeting included responses to the Toxics Reduction Act and the air standards setting process under Regulation 419.  The Committee has made two submissions on the toxics reduction initiative, expressing support for the government´s intent, but concern about provisions for very broad regulation-making powers and the lack of any defined test setting out how “toxic substances” will be identified and designated. 

Continue Reading →

Mining as a Core Supplier to the Global Clean Energy Revolution – by Paul Stothart

Paul Stothart is vice president, economic affairs of the Mining Association of Canada. He is responsible for advancing the industry’s interests regarding federal tax, trade, investment, transport and energy issues.

Few subjects are receiving as much attention in the daily media as that of our societal need to move towards a clean energy economy. This theme was fundamental to the platforms of all the Canadian federal parties in the recent election — each featuring an array of programs supporting this transition. In the United States, the platform of President-elect Obama talks extensively of hybrid vehicles, electricity from renewable sources, low carbon standards and the ultimate objective of eliminating oil imports from the Middle East and Venezuela within a decade. Republicans in Washington talk of nuclear power, carbon capture and sequestration and battery development, among other initiatives.

Beyond the political and media coverage, it is evident that few subjects offer comparable transformative potential as changes to the world’s energy infrastructure. Developed economies have been driven for two centuries by the industrial combustion of fossil fuel — indeed there has long existed a direct macro-economic correlation of living standards with per-capita energy consumption. Societies that have been able to efficiently generate and transport energy from fossil sources have become far wealthier than those that cannot. To shift away from this dependency, even in a gradual manner, requires major changes in our underlying financial, fiscal and technological practices.

The market potential for new products and technologies associated with such a shift is staggering.

Continue Reading →

Vale’s PT Inco in Indonesia is a Leader in Land Reclamation

PT Inco’s 2.5 hectare nursery is the largest facility of its kind in IndonesiaThe following excerpt on green mining practices is from the 2007 Vale Inco sustainability report. The full report is available at: Vale Inco – Sustainability Report 2007.

In 2007, Indonesia’s Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources honoured PT Inco with a Gold Award (Aditama Award) for its success in post-mining land reclamation. The company also received the Aditama Award from the Department of Energy and Mineral Resources as the best performer, among 40 mining companies evaluated, for its commitment to and success in post-mining land reclamation.

“We are very proud to have received this recognition,” says Dwayne Kroll, Manager of Mine Technology at PT Inco. “We are passionate about environmental responsibility at PTI. Particularly, we are committed to doing all that we can to rehabilitate the land that we have mined.”

PT Inco’s 2.5 hectare nursery – the largest in Indonesia’s mining industry – is living proof of that commitment. Located in the town of Sorowako, it has the capacity to grow one million seedling trees annually. In 2007, the nursery enabled the company to revegetate 150 hectares of post-mining land and restore 37 types of vegetation to 100 hectares of rehabilitated post-mining land. “Our revegetation program involves a two-step process,” explains Kroll. “After we re-contour the mined land and restore topsoil, we plant grasses, legumes and canopy trees to foster a microclimate suitable for native species restoration. The introduction of indigenous plants takes place after approximately two years.”

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Vale Inco President and Chief Executive Officer – Murilo Ferreira on Sustainability in 2007

Murilo Ferreira - Vale Inco President and Chief Executive OfficerThe following excerpt by Vale Inco President and Chief Executive Officer Murilo Ferreira is from the 2007 Vale Inco sustainability report. The full report is available at: Vale Inco – Sustainability Report 2007.

Murilo Ferreira

The year 2007 was an historic one for our company – a period in which we worked diligently to integrate the people, cultures and policies of Vale and Inco.

The process was not without its challenges. Yet it is my firm belief that as we have gotten to know one another – as we have shared our stories, our ideas and our dreams – we have proven that together, we truly are better.

As we work to grow our company, sustainability remains a key priority for us at Vale Inco. Our 2007 Sustainability Report – prepared with reference to the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI G3) – captures the achievements we are making on our journey as well as our ongoing challenges.

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The Canadian Government’s Flawed Climate Change and Clean Air Plan Avoids Economic Reality – by Paul Stothart

Paul Stothart is vice president, economic affairs of the Mining Association of Canada. He is responsible for advancing the industry’s interests regarding federal tax, trade, investment, transport and energy issues.

The climate change issue has always been unique among environmental challenges in that, more than any other issue, it is a direct byproduct of our modern lives.

Other high profile environmental issues generally have a limited set of contributors and an obvious choice of fixes. Depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer, for example, implicated emitters of chlorofluorocarbons and was addressed through technological improvements to air conditioners and refrigerators.

Acid rain was caused by pollution from a relative handful of coal-fired power plants and smelters and was addressed through introduction of technologies to reduce sulphur dioxide emissions. Local water pollution problems, such as in the Great Lakes or nearby rivers, also offer relatively easy solutions—invest in better wastewater treatment, some new storm sewers, and a few marine regulations, and the problem is on the way to resolution.

Unfortunately, climate change does not hold the promise of such an easy fix. Indeed, in one critically important respect, it resides at the opposite end of the spectrum from previous environmental challenges. Simply put, climate change is caused not by a few “bad actors” but by the everyday actions of average people.

Continue Reading →

Caterpillar Funds Sustainable Mining Movie at Science North -by Nick Stewart

This article was first published in Northern Ontario Business, a newspaper that has been providing northerners with relevant and insightful editorial content, business news and information for over 25 years.

Students around the world may soon be viewing and discussing Ground Rules, an educational film detailing the positive side of mining, crafted by Science North and commissioned by equipment giant Caterpillar.

Dan Hellige, manager of safety and sustainable development with Caterpillar’s global mining group, says the movie was necessary so as to highlight the more positive elements of the sector. “I have a niece, who in the Fifth Grade, read
Al Gore’s book, An Inconvenient Truth, in the classroom so they’re really only getting the one side of the story a lot of the time about what’s going on with industry and business,” says Hellige.

“We felt like it was a good time to tell the other side of the story, especially for the mining industry’s efforts and what they put in.”

Continue Reading →

Realities Surrounding Nuclear Energy Ensure Prosperity for Uranium Miners for the Rest of this Century – by Paul Stothart

Paul Stothart - Mining Association of CanadaPaul Stothart is vice president, economic affairs of the Mining Association of Canada. He is responsible for advancing the industry’s interests regarding federal tax, trade, investment, transport and energy issues.

Few energy sources attract the controversy that is associated with nuclear energy and the fuel it requires – uranium. The spectre of potential radioactive accidents and leakages has long been presented by environmental groups as a cause for opposition, as has the technical and social challenge of long-term waste management. A number of governments over the years, ranging from nations such as Germany to provinces such as British Columbia and Nova Scotia, have introduced policies specifically prohibiting uranium mining and/or nuclear reactor development.

Available evidence suggests that these opponents are generally engaging in exercises of political hypocrisy. No energy source is without environmental and social consequence. Fossil fuel combustion has links to smog, acid rain and attendant health concerns. Wind energy requires large land masses, creates noise pollution and poses a hazard to birds — all to generate minor amounts of unreliable power. Hydro-power requires large-scale flooding, ecosystem destruction and resultant mercury releases. Even supposedly clean ethanol is proving to be disruptive to world food prices while presenting a marginal (or by some studies, negative) benefit regarding greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions relative to gasoline. On the health and safety front, in terms of worker and population impacts, few if any major energy sources measure up to the record of nuclear energy.

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The Canadian Oil Sands: Where Economy Meets the Environment – by Paul Stothart

Paul Stothart - Mining Association of CanadaPaul Stothart is vice president, economic affairs of the Mining Association of Canada. He is responsible for advancing the industry’s interests regarding federal tax, trade, investment, transport and energy issues. This article was originally published in May, 2007.

Arguably the single most significant development in the Canadian economy over the past decade has been the emergence of the western oil sands as a creator of jobs, exports, tax revenues, and wealth.

Technological advances since the 1970s have made the recovery and processing of oil sands financially feasible. Increases in world oil prices, from the $20 to $30 level of decades past to the $60 to $70 range today, have further enhanced the economic viability of these projects. Political rhetoric about Canada as “an energy superpower” and talk of “reserves larger than Saudi Arabia’s” speak to the emergence of the oil sands.

It is difficult to over-state the magnitude of this development. On a macro scale, it has served to increase wealth and economic activity in western Canada. On a micro scale, the city of Fort McMurray has grown from a population of some 20,000 two decades ago to 75,000 today. The 200,000 jobs that have been created in the oil sands over the past decade is of similar magnitude to the job losses seen within the central Canadian manufacturing sector— in effect creating a job cushion for the entire country.

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Sudbury Soil Study – Did it Short-Circuit the Community Process? – by Bill Bradley

Northern Life, Greater Sudbury’s community newspaper, gave Republic of Mining.com permission to post Bill Bradley’s article. www.northernlife.ca

There is an old saying around farmyards. Don’t be surprised if, when you go to get the horses, you find the barn door was left open and the horses have stampeded out the door. This seems to be the case with the Sudbury Soils Study, according to its critics.

Why is it that the original terms of reference did not include the influence of metal contamination on area mining workers, including contractors? It would seem obvious that these workers face a double whammy of workplace exposure and environmental exposure, especially if they live near the old smelter sites at Copper Cliff, Gatchell, Falconbridge and Coniston.

This would mean that Ontario government representation would have to include the Ontario Ministry of Labour and the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care on the technical committee (TC), which is responsible for the whole process.

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