Archive | Mining and Oil Sector Image

[Sudbury/Vale strike]Nickelled and Damned -by John Gray (Globe and Mail- March 26, 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 March 26, 2010 edition of the Globe and Mail’s monthly Report on Business magazine.

Down the road from the Copper Cliff smelter, where the Inco Superstack reaches 380 metres into a clear winter sky, striking Steelworkers stamp their heavy boots and feed a smoking fire pit with scrap wood. Massive ore trucks, engines growling, wait for permission to drive through the picket line. It is a familiar ritual; after 10 or 15 minutes, the picket captain signals the drivers to proceed and go about their business at the smelter—their business being strikebreaking.

When Local 6500 of the United Steelworkers walked off the job at the Vale Inco nickel mines, it was mid-July. The progression from agreeable summer weather to minus 20 C has been brutal. The best to be said about minus 20 is that it’s better than minus 30, just like strike pay of $200 a week is better than no pay at all. It’s hardly surprising that there’s little of the bravado that usually sustains picket lines.

The downbeat atmosphere may also reflect a sense among the strikers that the world has changed and that their strike has not been noticed by Canadians. There have been many strikes in Inco’s history—but every other one was decided in Canada. Now Inco is a subsidiary of a company based far away.

If the long stalemate in Sudbury had a sound, it might be that of the other shoe falling. When the takeover binge of the mid-2000s saw many of Canada’s pre-eminent companies disappear into foreign hands, the debate over the “hollowing out” of the domestic economy was muted. After all, Vale, like other acquisitors, made undertakings to preserve jobs and, in fact, to carry on much like before.

Now, it appears, things look very different to Vale.

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Inside Sudbury’s Bitter Vale Strike – by Linda Diebel (Toronto Star-June 6, 2010)

Linda Diebel is a National Affairs Writer 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. Linda Diebel is originally from Sudbury. This article was published on Sunday, June 6, 2010.

COPPER CLIFF, ONT.—My grandmother, Lillian Rose, was the sweetest person I’ve ever known. She gave up more than youth and beauty to leave England and come with her husband to the nickel mines of Canada’s Precambrian Shield. The Sudbury region, some 400 kilometres north of Toronto, is an unforgiving place for a fragile English rose.

During the last 40 years of her life, she had a disease that turned her once-pale skin red and left it blistered and scabbed. The constant flaking embarrassed her and, on bad days, the pain sent her to bed. My earliest memory — and I was no more than 18 months — was of being on her bed on Jones Lane in Copper Cliff, understanding even then I had to be gentle.

Doctors couldn’t help because they believed her allergic to the air she breathed, a soup of industrial pollutants. Sometimes the sulphur was so thick it seared the throat.

Move away, they said, and your skin will clear up. But they didn’t talk about that publicly. My grandfather Reg was an electrician at the Copper Cliff smelter and his job, and the livelihoods of the physicians themselves, depended on what was then King Inco, the world’s biggest producer of nickel.

Lately, Lillian Rose has been on my mind. Last Sunday, I was preparing to fly north to write about the 11-month-long strike against Inco, now called Vale, by 3,000 members of the United Steelworkers Local 6500. The pending trip evoked memories, and I found myself staring at a faded photo of my grandmother and me.

Still, I had no intention of writing about her.

My story would be about the culture of a company town from the perspective of generations of men who went down the mines, or worked in the smelter or refinery, at what used to be Inco. That seemed the best place to start, given that Inco’s owner since 2006 — Companhia Vale do Rio Doce — insists the working culture of its new operations must change.

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Thoughts on BP’s Oily Environmental Problem – 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.

I’ve been in the United States these last three weeks, and have been bombarded with news of British Petroleum’s uncontrolled oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. For readers who don’t already know, BP’s drill rig, Deepwater Horizon, exploded and sank six weeks ago. All of the company’s efforts so far have failed to stem the spread of crude oil from 1,500 metres under the sea onto the coast of Louisiana. Large parts of the fishery on which so many coastal residents depend are closed. A recent report said cleanup workers are falling ill, and workers at rigs near the site of the doomed BP rig, are being sent home because of the noxious smell.

The wall-to-wall news coverage of BP’s woes on American TV has made the tailings ponds of Alberta’s oil sands producers fade into the background. The anti-tar-sands activists have been quieter than usual, perhaps stunned into silence by the spill in the Gulf. The spill is estimated to have released at least 475,000 barrels and perhaps over 1 million barrels of crude oil.

Worse, hurricane season is underway, and expectations are that it could be a very active season. No one knows how far the crude oil could be spread by high-velocity winds. Continue Reading →

Killing the Goose that Lays the Mineral Sector’s Golden Eggs – The Industry’s Bad Reputation – by Jean-Francois Minardi

Jean-Francois Minardi is a senior policy analyst with the Fraser Institute, www.FraserInsitute.org.

The mining industry is under attack everywhere in Canada, even in the country’s friendliest location, Quebec.

Gone are the days when activists offered constructive criticism that allowed the industry to improve its corporate social responsibility profile and improve environmental standards in mining projects. Today anti-mining activists advocate one thing: an outright destruction of the mining industry.

Nowhere is this attitude more prevalent than in a recent report from the Institute for Research and Socio-Economic Information (IRIS), an organization whose self-described purpose is “to provide an opposite point of view to the neoliberal view,” that suggested nothing less than an end to mining in Quebec. Their simplistic argument can be summed up as, “the economic, social and environmental costs of the mining industry seem to outweigh the benefits, and the economic prospects of the sector in the coming years are not promising.”

Yet, according to the mining associations of Quebec – the Association minière du Québec and the Association de l’exploration minière du Québec – the IRIS study is riddled with factual errors that undermine its conclusions.

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The Mining Industry has a PR Problem – by Liezel Hill

Ever since its founding in 1981, the mission of Creamer Media has been to provide accurate and comprehensive news and information about South Africa’s and Africa’s industrial and resources sectors. Engineering News and Mining Weekly aim to offer news that you can use to give you a competitive edge in your business endevours.

This article was originally published May 14, 2010 
  
LICENCE TO OPERATE

TORONTO (www.miningweekly.com) – Mining companies based in the US and Canada find themselves in a strange situation.

With demand for commodities from China and India still red hot, and, as the rest of the world begins to clamber back from the Great Recession, most producers are cranking out all they can to take advantage of high prices and widening margins.

But, while bottom lines are thriving, the industry is having to defend its actions domestically and abroad to an increasingly hostile public.

The death of 29 coal miners at a West Virginia mine in April galvanised antimining sentiment in the US, and President Barrack Obama’s public criticism of the mine’s owner, Massey Energy, and attendance at the memorial service for the fallen men, has helped keep the tragedy in local and international headlines.

And in December last year, Canadian governor-general Michaëlle Jean was subjected to chants of ‘Canada go home’ on a visit to Mexico, where antimining protests took centre stage during her trip.

A month earlier, Canadian miners watched in frustration as environmental and human rights groups marched dozens of witnesses before Parliamentary committee hearings, to relate allegations – some nothing short of horrific – of Canada-based miners’ involvement in human rights and environmental crimes abroad.

The November 2009 hearings were held to discuss the contentious private members Bill C-300, which has proven a flashpoint for both miners and their opponents.

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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 →

Canada’s Mining Sector Losing the Public Relations Battle – by Stan Sudol

This article was originally published in Northern Life on April 18, 2007

Stan Sudol is a Toronto-based communications consultant, who writes extensively about mining issues.([email protected])

Sector fails at communicating aboriginal and green initiatives

The mining sector is ignoring the green light at the end of the tunnel that is attached to a 100-ton 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 Canada’s northern and aboriginal communities as well as impoverished countries around the world.

There is no doubt that environmental issues dominate society’s cultural and political agendas.

On the political front, the new found commitment to environmentally green initiatives by the McGuinty and Harper governments spell enormous challenges for an industry that most urbanized Canadians still feel is a major source of habitat destruction and pollution.

Mining Sins

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

Hacks, Flacks and Superstacks: Inco and the Sudbury Media in the 1970s – by Mick Lowe (Part 3 of 3)

This article (original title – Hacks, Flacks and Superstacks) was first published in the August 1976 issue of Content magazine. Mick Lowe is a well-known retired Sudbury journalist with a keen insight on labour issues. From 1975 to 1988 he worked as a freelance journalist, becoming a frequent contributor to the Globe and Mail.

In 1977 he became a staff reporter for CBC Radio News where he helped to open the network’s Northeastern Ontario News Bureau. From 1995 – 2002 Mick Lowe was a regular columnist for Northern Life.

I make a point of watching both local TV newscasts tonight. CKSO has Steelworker president Mickey Maguire on first. Shot in his office with available light, Maguire appears angry and concerned for the safety of his members at Frood. Convincing. Hoskins follows, reading the same statement I heard earlier at CHNO, relying heavily on Harvey Judges to back him up.
With his heavy beard, bad studio lighting, and rehearsed delivery, Mr. Inco presents a haggard image, remindful of the Nixon-Agnew talking heads staring hypnotically into the cameras during the 1972 U.S. presidential campaign.

On CKNC, Hoskins appears again in the studio, though with better lighting, reading the same statement. The Steelworkers have declined an opportunity to reply, but the reporter has located sources willing to give “the other side” of the story.

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Hacks, Flacks and Superstacks: Inco and the Sudbury Media in the 1970s – by Mick Lowe (Part 2 of 3)

This article (original title – Hacks, Flacks and Superstacks) was first published in the August 1976 issue of Content magazine. Mick Lowe is a well-known retired Sudbury journalist with a keen insight on labour issues. From 1975 to 1988 he worked as a freelance journalist, becoming a frequent contributor to the Globe and Mail.

In 1977 he became a staff reporter for CBC Radio News where he helped to open the network’s Northeastern Ontario News Bureau. From 1995 – 2002 Mick Lowe was a regular columnist for Northern Life.

Dropped into the safety office at the Steel Hall this afternoon. Tempers thee were high and rising over the death of James Cullen. I talked with John Higgison and Tom Gunn, the co-chairmen of the Local 6500 inquest committee. Both men really feel the rising fatality rate because theirs is the grim responsibility of investigating the accident scene, interviewing eyewitnesses, and doing what they can for the widows. (Cullen had a wife and four children.)

They show me colour Polaroid snaps of the accident. About all I can make out is the tram, a squat mining vehicle with the wheel-base of a five-ton truck, nearly buried under muck. Higgison tells me that Cullen was not crushed by the ore. He died of asphyxiation when the muck covered the back of his neck, forcing his chin against his chest and cutting off his wind. He died at the wheel of the scoop, pinned into the driver’s seat.

Higgison is shaken because a witness that he interviewed told him that Cullen was still alive after the cave-in. The witness came running when he heard the roof come down and he called out to Cullen in the darkness and the dust. Cullen revved the scoop’s engine three times to show that he was still alive. It took 10 minutes for the rescue party to clear a way into the tram. Cullen was dead when they got to him.

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Hacks, Flacks and Superstacks: Inco and the Sudbury Media in the 1970s – by Mick Lowe (Part 1 of 3)

This article (original title – Hacks, Flacks and Superstacks) was first published in the August 1976 issue of Content magazine. Mick Lowe is a well-known retired Sudbury journalist with a keen insight on labour issues. From 1975 to 1988 he worked as a freelance journalist, becoming a frequent contributor to the Globe and Mail.

In 1977 he became a staff reporter for CBC Radio News where he helped to open the network’s Northeastern Ontario News Bureau. From 1995 – 2002 Mick Lowe was a regular columnist for Northern Life.

Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world like a Colossus; and we petty men walk under his huge legs, and peep about to find ourselves dishonorable graves. Men at some time are masters of their fates; the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,but in ourselves, that we are underlings.
-Julius Caesar, Act 1, Scene 11

Sudbury, Ontario – Early on Good Friday morning, April 16, 1976, James D. Cullen was killed while working the graveyard shift at Sudbury’s Frood Mine. In itself, there was nothing unusual about Cullen’s death. He was, after all, the fifth worker to die on the job at Inco since the first of the year. But the cave-in that killed James Cullen triggered a chain of events that few could have foreseen.

The Good Friday accident, an angry union, and an alarming injury rate (3,000 reported accidents in the first half of the year) combined to touch a raw nerve somewhere in the upper regions of management at Inco, a company that is acutely sensitive to its public image, especially in Sudbury. The result was a bitter, behind-the-scenes battle for the hearts and minds of the people in this city.

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Barrick Target of Yellow Journalism – 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.

Toronto’s Barrick Gold, being the world’s biggest gold miner, is also on the receiving end of the world’s worst media abuses. “Yellow journalism” has not gone out of style, and today the Internet provides the means of spreading disinformation worldwide at speeds unheard of a century ago.

Case in point. Headline: “Deadly toxin invades Barrick’s Dominican gold mine, Thousands hospitalized.”

Those are eye-catching words, but no more accurate than the picture of artisanal miners identified as the “Barrick Gold mine in Coui, Dominican Republic” used to illustrate the article.

The article posted at www.BusinessInsider.com went on to say that over 1,000 people were felled by an unknown chemical so toxic that health care workers who attended them had to wear masks. It also reported a boiler explosion at the site that may have been the root of the problem.

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[Mining Reputation] The Ugly Canadians – Shifting Sands – Mining, the Media and Public Perception – by Vivian Danielson (1999)

Vivian Danielson is a former editor of the Northern Miner and a co-author of “Gold Today, Gone Tomorrow: Anatomy of the Bre-X Swindle (1997). The following speech was given at the Mineral Economics Society 11th Symposium on January 25, 1999.

Ten years on, Ms. Danielson’s speech is still a very thought provoking analysis of industry strengths and weaknesses and many of the issues she raises continue to haunt the mining sector.

Please note that I added the term “Ugly Canadians” to the title for Google search terms. Stan Sudol

Vivian Danielson

The mining industry entered the 20th century like a lion, welcomed for its power and strength in building this nation’s economy. Many believe it will leave this century like a lamb, perhaps even a sacrificial one, laid to rest at the altar of changing public values and perceptions.

Some tough questions were asked about mining’s future during the CIM’s 100th anniversary celebration in Montreal last May. Would there be a 200th anniversary celebration? And could mining become the buggy whip industry of the 21st century, something to be studied by bright young MBA students on how not to manage an industry? Noranda’s David Goldman, the man who asked those questions, warned delegates that the industry may have lost the patience and good-will of the public, and that, for many, miners are no longer welcome in the modern world.

The industry can argue otherwise and point to parts of this country where mining remains an economic and social cornerstone. Mining is indeed welcome in Val d’Or, Sudbury, Timmins and Thompson, and in hundreds of other mining towns across this land. It is welcome in these communities because their citizens know the industry, and the people who work in it, first-hand. Knowledge leads to understanding, and understanding leads to acceptance.

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Sudbury Dumped on the Slag Heap of History – Stan Sudol

Stan Sudol - Executive Speech Writer and Communications ConsultantThis article was originally published in the Sudbury Star –  Friday, February 6 , 2004

Sudbury should work extra hard to control its image

Ed Burtynsky is a very successful art photographer who, unfortunately for Sudbury, has become somewhat of a celebrity within the tiny Toronto media establishment. Why should the city be concerned? Mr. Burtynsky’s principal subject matter happens to be industrial environments and many of his photos were taken in the Sudbury region. In fact one particularly photo titled, Nickel Tailings #34, Sudbury, Ontario is not only on the cover of his new book, but is also being highlighted by the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) in their media promotions of his show.

 If you read last Saturday’s Globe and Mail, you would have seen a “full-page” advertisement for Mr. Burtynsky’s AGO show using a striking photo of a river of slag with denuded trees in the distance. The Globe and Mail is Canada’s most influential newspaper, read by the country’s corporate and political elite – the type of people who make decisions on where factories should be built and where significant government investments should be made.  

In the February issue of Toronto Life, journalist Gerald Hannon writes a lengthy profile on Ed Burtynsky’s work and eloquently describes that slag-dump photo as, “One image in particular has become almost iconic. Nickel Tailings #34, Sudbury, Ontario gives us a black and blistered landscape, a fragile line of trees huddling disconsolately in the background, the foreground dominated by a stream so crimson it is as if the earth has bled.”

Ed Burtynsky - Nickel Tailings # 34 Sudbury, Ontario

In a recent review in the Toronto Star, the country’s largest circulation paper, art critic Peter Goddard describes another Burtynksy photo titled #13, Inco Abandoned Mine Shaft, Crean Hill Mine, Sudbury, Ontario as “… that left a pool of lime-green water so toxic and yet so clear – and lovely to look at – that the vertical striations in the rock are reflected in the surface of the deadly pool.”

Taking a Beating

Sudbury’s public relations image is certainly taking a beating. In fact, many in my business might suggest that the past twenty-five years of trying to change the city’s image from a polluted, industrially ravaged moonscape into a transformed, regreened landscape has been dealt a mortal blow!

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Grasping at Lies – NGOs, Mining and the Truth – 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.

“A lie told often enough becomes the truth.” – Lenin

Am I the only one who thinks there may be a conspiracy to defame BARRICK GOLD? The name of the Canadian company has cropped up recently in connection to a couple untruths, deliberate or not.

Last week it was a story circulated by Agence France-Presse and Dow Jones Newswires. Both implied that several miners were killed at the North Mara gold mine that Barrick operates in Tanzania. Dow Jones has since issued a corrected item. As it turns out the deaths occurred at the state-owned Buhemba gold mine. That mine is neither owned nor operated by Barrick, although the company’s mine rescue team responded immediately to the emergency.

In July there were autopsy photos of a gunshot victim allegedly killed by security guards from Barrick’s Porgera mine in Papua New Guinea circulating on the Internet. Again, neither the company or anyone in its employ had any involvement in the incident.

Barrick is not the first, only, or last mining company to be villanized by activists and NGOs with little regard for the truth. Junior miners, too, are accused of environmental and human rights abuses by organizations with political self-interests. I suspect Barrick is targeted because of its name, made recognizable by virtue of its worldwide success. I have seen the company in action at some of its Latin American projects, and I assure my readers that Barrick operates by the highest community and sustainability standards.

Okay, I’ll grant that some advocacy organizations do improve the lives of those they purport to represent. But I take issue with those that grasp at lies to put their cause into the spotlight. And a bald-faced lie that hits the press will be remembered for its shock value. The correction that follows will be largely ignored, especially by those who have an anti-mining axe to grind. I’m afraid Comrade Lenin will be proven correct.

Mainstream Media Ignorance About Mining – Especially Waste Disposal – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn Scales - Canadian Mining JournalMarilyn 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.

I’ve let the daily press get under my skin again. Newspapers and the CBC are telling the public that mining companies are going to destroy pristine Canadian lakes by turning them into dump sites for toxic mine waste. Why does the popular press still think that everything coming from a mine operation is “toxic”? Has no one outside the mining industry ever heard of sub-aqueous deposition?

There are 16 projects for which mining companies have applied to use lakes as tailings repositories, claim the environmentalists. The list includes the following 15:

BRITISH COLUMBIA
– NORTHGATE MINERALS – Kemess North (Duncan Lake)
– SHERWOOD COPPER – Kutcho Creek (Andrea Creek)
– ADANAC MOLY – Ruby Creek (Ruby Creek)
– TASEKO MINES – Prosperity (Fish Lake)
– IMPERIAL METALS – Red Chris
– TERRANE METALS – Mount Milligan

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