Archive | Green Mining

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 permission to post Bill Bradley’s article.

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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Sudbury Soils Study Continues to be Criticized – by Bill Bradley

Northern Life, Greater Sudbury’s community newspaper, gave Republic of permission to post Bill Bradley’s article.

The Sudbury Soils Study is continuing to raise criticisms in the community. The date for public comment ended Saturday, Nov. 1. A number of community food activists and local farmers were told Thursday by Mississauga toxicologist Glenn Ferguson that local vegetables and fruit grown in backyards or from commercial operations are safe. Ferguson is a scientist who worked for the SARA Group managing the Human Health Risk Assessment work for the Sudbury Soils Study. He said the critics may have found high levels of metals in some soil samples in the SARA data but what really matters is what turns up in the food itself.

“It’s like apples and oranges. You cannot compare values in soil with values in the produce itself. People eat the produce, not the soil,” said Ferguson. “We still cannot contact the physician who wrote the critique for the citizens so at this point we do not know what values he is referring to.”

Ferguson has a Ph.D. in health sciences at the University of Waterloo specializing in the validation of toxicology risk assessment models and techniques. He has more than 14 years experience in the field of toxicology, human health and ecological risk assessment. He is considered a Qualified Person for Risk Assessment (QPRA) as defined by the Ontario Protection Act of Ontario legislation.

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Vale Inco’s Emissions Plan Does Not Impress Sudbury Residents – by Bill Bradley

Northern Life, Greater Sudbury’s community newspaper, gave Republic of permission to post Bill Bradley’s article.

Vale Inco is asking the Ontario government for relief on its nickel emissions levels.

But that did not sit well with some residents at a public information meeting at the Italian Club Thursday night.

The event was hosted by the company to inform residents about how they project having difficulty meeting Regulation 419, established by the Ontario government in 2005.

“Through the regulation, the province has set newer or more stringent air quality standards,” said Ed Cocchiarella, manager of the environment, Ontario Operations of Vale Inco.

“Our measured results at monitoring stations around the perimeter of the smelter complex show we are in compliance with the standard on nickel approximately 98 per cent of the time,” said Cocchiarella.

That is because the company has embarked on an ambitious emissions reduction program over the years, resulting in a 90 per cent reduction in SO2 emissions since 1970.

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Dr. Chris Wren – Sudbury Soil Study Author Counters Critics – Bill Bradley

Northern Life, Greater Sudbury’s community newspaper, gave Republic of permission to post Bill Bradley’s article.

The SARA Group, responsible for the Sudbury Soils Study, has hit back against its critics.

Last week, a group, calling itself the Community Committee on the Sudbury Soils Study, released a report by Dr. Kapil Khatter at Tom Davies Square. It was prepared by a nationally known pollution watchdog, Environmental Defence Canada. It stated the Human Health Risk Assessment (HHRA) report of the Sudbury Soils Study “cannot demonstrate there is no harm occurring, it can only estimate level of risk.”

That means the public remains uninformed about lead contamination, air levels of nickel, ingested arsenic from soils and the additional level of exposure mining workers face when they leave the workplace, said Rick Grylls, president of Mine Mill CAW Local 598 and a member of the group. Both Mine Mill CAW Local 598 and John Fera, president of Steelworkers Local 6500 have joined retired health and safety activist Homer Seguin, along with professors and health activists, to push for more government action on soil and water contamination from 100 years of mining.

According to Environmental Defence, Khatter is a family physician and environmental and health expert.

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Sustainability the Key for Vale Inco’s Vice President and COO Parviz Farsangi in Sudbury Speech – by Bill Bradley

Northern Life, Greater Sudbury’s community newspaper, gave Republic of permission to post Bill Bradley’s article.

Sustainability was the word most used by Parviz Farsangi, Vale Inco’s executive vice-president, at a talk at Science North Thursday evening.

“We all want to succeed in the long term, in every aspect of our business, not just in the short term,” said Farsangi.

He was speaking to a standing-room-only crowd at a Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM) Sudbury branch meeting in the Vale Inco Cavern.

“When it comes to (ore) reserves, no one can touch us. We have the world’s best nickel reserves in terms of sulphide and laterite deposits worldwide,” he said.

Those reserves, coupled with the company’s focus on investing in finding new mines and digging deeper into older ones, means the future for Greater Sudbury is bright, he said.

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iPods, Environmental Groups and the Mining Sector – 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 industry sectors are subject to as much scrutiny from environmental and social groups as the mining industry. Mineral extraction and processing, virtually by definition, involve intrusion upon the landscape — whether to conduct open pit or underground mining, to build access roads and power lines, to remove exploration samples, or to treat and manage waste products. These actions represent encounters between humans and the surrounding environment — and the attendant need to manage and minimize the risk that accompanies these encounters.

In the Canadian context, mining can involve accessing lands situated within the Boreal Forest. Accessing land and resources in northern Canada can frequently raise issues of aboriginal rights and relationships. Comparable issues, though on a greater scale, face the mining industry in its international operations, which often occur in countries with less developed infrastructure and with thinner environmental protection and community consultation capacities.

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Sudbury Soils Study 2008 – Commentary by Rick Grylls – President of Mine Mill 598/CAW

Rick Grylls - President of Mine Mill 598/CAWAs a citizen of the area since 1952 and an employee of mining since 1969, I have experienced the changes of time here in Sudbury.

The changes have come only by the blood, sweat and tears of a community that endured the most destructive carnage of lost lives in the mines, mills, smelters and refinery, all the while living surrounded by an environment of a dead and bleak landscape from years of hideous industrial pollution.

I have been on the front lines of representation of the employees since 1973, as a Steward, Health and Safety member, Executive Board member and the last seven years as the senior officer, the President of Mine Mill 598/CAW.

The changes within the workplace and within the community have always been opposed by the companies as too expensive or not needed. The re-greening of Sudbury, the safety standards within the industry, and the betterment of our community has always had an allied relationship with workers collective strength of their union.

I have a front seat within our community and in using material from the Sudbury Soil Study and other sources, I have prepared this statement.  It is not easy to put into a few words the context or my conclusion of the study, which can be found at

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International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) – An Introduction

The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) is a CEO-led industry group that addresses key priorities and emerging issues within the minerals sector. It seeks to play a leading role by promoting good practice and improved performance internationally and across different commodities.

ICMM provides a platform for industry and other key stakeholders to share challenges and develop solutions based on sound science and the principles of sustainable development. Its vision is for a respected mining and metals industry that is widely recognized as essential for society and as a key contributor to sustainable development.

ICMM’s mission is two-fold: to distinguish its members as industry leaders and to make a contribution to raising standards across the industry as a whole.

To be an ICMM member, a company must build trust and respect with key stakeholders as a result of good performance in sustainable development, including clear and comprehensive approaches to reporting and assurance.

By doing this they will be seen by governments and communities as preferred partners in the development of resources; by customers as providers of safe and responsibly produced products; by investors as being companies of choice; by talented people as employers of choice; and by financiers as being secure, well-managed and able to achieve superior returns.

ICMM has a small team of specialist staff based in London. Their role is to:

• work with members to identify and advocate the use of good practices to address sustainable development issues within the industry
• represent the views and interests of members
• serve as a principal point of engagement with key stakeholders in the international arena.

The membership of the ICMM includes most of the world’s largest mineral producers.

Rick Grylls – Local 598 President – Disputes Sudbury Soil Study by Bill Bradley

Northern Life, Greater Sudbury’s community newspaper, gave Republic of permission to post Bill Bradley’s article.

Rick Grylls - Local 598/CAW President“This study is in no way associated to the previous 100 years of health risks and exposures from the 100 million tons of pollutants our historical Sudbury citizens faced and the effects it might have caused, which citizens personally live with today.” Rick Grylls President, Local 598/CAW Sudbury Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers Union

The debate is not over. Comments regarding the Sudbury Soil Study are still coming in. Rick Grylls, Sudbury Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers Union, Local 598/CAW president, released a 13-page letter earlier this month disputing the study’s terms of reference.

“I was informed that the technical committee, the decision making body of the Sudbury Soil Study, discussed my letter at their last meeting on Thursday,” said Grylls.

According to Grylls, the real flaw in the Sudbury Soil Study is that the terms of reference for the research were already set before union representatives were able to participate in the study as observers.

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Pollution Prevention Avoids Future Problems – (Digging Through the Sudbury Soils Study) – By Bill Bradley

Northern Life, Greater Sudbury’s community newspaper, gave Republic of permission to post Bill Bradley’s article.

Designing Out Trouble

(Final instalment of a four-part series) Sudbury Soils Study

Both Vale Inco and Xstrata have committed to being part of the solution and not the problem. They said that in a joint news release on May 13 after the release of the Sudbury Soil Study Human Risk Assessment.

The first necessity is better information about what emissions, such as dust, are being released.

Before the Sudbury Soils Study, the Ontario Ministry of Environment (MOE) conducted monitoring of air emissions at Nickel Street in Copper Cliff and Lisgar Street in Sudbury. In 2003, both companies agreed to fund an expanded air monitoring program, including samples of particulate matter (PM10) which is thought to be more relevant for inhalation into a persons’ lungs. In 10 locations, 20 monitors were set up. That data was used in the Sudbury Soil Study.

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Lead: It Will Follow (Digging Through the Sudbury Soil Study)-By Janet Gibson

Northern Life, Greater Sudbury’s community newspaper, gave Republic of permission to post Janet Gibson’s article.

What people can do to reduce their exposure to this toxic heavy metal

(Third instalment of a four-part series) Sudbury Soils Study

[email protected]

The average citizen can get lost reading the $10 million Sudbury Soils Study, which sits in three volumes on a shelf at your local library. But it’s worth the read if you take a proactive attitude toward your health. Volume 2 is the human health risk assessment, done to find out if residents’ health was at risk from exposure to the soil, air, drinking water or food. Consultant Chris Wren and his colleagues concluded there were “no unacceptable health risks predicted for exposure to four of the six chemicals studied: arsenic, copper, cobalt and selenium.”

As for the other two chemicals – nickel and lead – “the study calculated a minimal risk of respiratory inflammation from lifetime exposures to airborne nickel in Copper Cliff and the west portion of Sudbury Centre.” As well, “there’s a potential risk for young children living in Copper Cliff, Coniston, Falconbridge and Sudbury Centre due to levels of lead in some soil samples and indoor dust.”

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Seven lives 70 Questions (Digging Through the Sudbury Soil Study) – Janet Gibson

Northern Life, Greater Sudbury’s community newspaper, gave Republic of permission to post Janet Gibson’s article.

Citizens Speak Out About Soil Study

(second instalment of a four-part series) Sudbury Soils Study

[email protected]

In 1986, Copper Cliff resident Silvana Oppedisano hung the laundry out to dry in the backyard of the family home on Serpentine Street. That afternoon, her husband Pat found a hole in one of the bedsheets.
“Ever since that day, there’s been no more clothesline outside,” Pat said. The hole, he said, was caused by fallout from the chimney at the Inco smelter. “That’s the way it is,” he said. “The wind shifts every which way.”

Pat, an affable barber, said people aren’t talking about the Sudbury Soils Study released two weeks ago. But he’s interested in reading it if he can find out where it is. “We know the soil’s contaminated,” he said. “Are we happy? No. The question is, ‘What can we do about it?’ Because you can’t live in a place like this without it being contaminated.”

The $10 million study, paid for by mining giants Vale Inco and Xstrata, said there were “no unacceptable health risks predicted for exposure to four of the six chemicals of concern studied: arsenic, copper, cobalt and selenim. The risk calculated for typical exposure to lead throughout the Greater Sudbury area is within acceptable benchmarks for protection of human health.

However, lead levels in some soil samples indicated a potential risk for young children in Copper Cliff, Coniston, Falconbridge and Sudbury Centre.” Pat said things have changed in Copper Cliff since 1961, when he first moved there. Some days in the 60s, he said, “you couldn’t see across the street.” Continue Reading →

Digging Through the Sudbury Soils Study – By Bill Bradley

Copper Cliff Roast Yards - CGS Libraries and Museums Historical DatabaseNorthern Life, Greater Sudbury’s community newspaper, gave Republic of permission to post Bill Bradley’s article.

A Primer on the Study, the Process and the Players Involved

(First instalment of a four-part series)

There is some excellent information on the history of mining activities in the Sudbury area in the first background study of the Sudbury Soil Study finished in January 2008, that can be downloaded at their website. Visit Sudbury Soils Study. Copies for public viewing are available at public libraries and post-secondary institutions.

Here are some highlights and quotes from the study that indicate the extent of the devastation of the Sudbury area:

  • Roasting yards were an early method of separating valuable minerals from rock. The first roast yard, where crushed ore from pits was piled on beds of cordwood, was built in Dec. 1886. Between 1890 and 1930, 28 million tonnes of ore was smelted primarily in the open. After 1920, ore was mechanically smelted indoors. Until the process stopped in 1929, “they released about 10 million tonnes of sulphur dioxide at ground level, killing plants and acidifying soils…open-bed roasting was a cheap but ultimately inefficient method, as it allowed some of the nickel and copper to be washed into the soil by rains.” In 1916 one former resident of the community near the O’Donnell roast yard said there were days when “I could not see my hand in front of my face.”
  • The wartime surge in nickel production in 1916, “increased the volume of noxious gases that wafted from the roast beds into the gardens and fields of the Sudbury basin.” Agriculture in the Blezard Valley was being smothered by the 600,000 tonnes of sulphur dioxide emitted annually by the nickel companies. “In 1916, after successive years of ruined crops, the farmers had had enough, forcing Canadian Copper to pay $137,398 for smoke damages in the year ending March 31, 1916.”
  • As the landscape deteriorated around the smelters, effects of emissions could no longer be ignored. Early studies dealt with sulphur dioxide emissions. “Not until the late 1960s did the focus expand to include metal contamination and acidification of the soils. At that time, studies by local foresters and ecologists showed that soil acidity and concentrations of copper and nickel were elevated in the same areas where sulphur dioxide damage had been measured.” Continue Reading →

Global Reporting Initiative

The following information came from the Global Reporting Initiative website:

The Global Reporting Initiative is a large multi-stakeholder network of thousands of experts, in dozens of countries worldwide, who participate in GRI’s working groups and governance bodies, use the GRI Guidelines to report, access information in GRI-based reports, or contribute to develop the Reporting Framework in other ways – both formally and informally.

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) has pioneered the development of the world’s most widely used sustainability reporting framework and is committed to its continuous improvement and application worldwide. This framework sets out the principles and indicators that organizations can use to measure and report their economic, environmental, and social performance.

The Global Reporting Initiative refers to the 30,000 strong multi-stakeholder network that collaborates to advance sustainability reporting.
To date, more than 1,500 companies, including many of the worlds leading brands, have declared their voluntary adoption of the Guidelines worldwide. Consequently the G3 Guidelines have become the de facto global standard for reporting. The GRI is a collaborating centre of the United Nations Environment Programme.

From May 7th to 9th the Global Reporting Initiative held a Conference on Sustainability and Transparency in Amsterdam where Anglo American CEO Cynthia Carroll gave a keynote speech.