Nickel on a rollercoaster – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – January 3, 2012)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

The European economic malaise and competition from upstart nickel pig iron producers will likely combine to keep the price of nickel fluctuating in 2012, says a metals analyst.

Price volatility is bound to continue next year, says Montreal-based Terry Ortslan of TSO & Associates. From a high of $16.91 a pound in 2007 on the London Metals Exchange to a low of $6.65 a pound in 2009, nickel averaged about $12.25 a pound in 2011, said Ortslan.

“Recently, the prices are struggling at $8 a pound,” Orstlan said last week, after returning from a business trip to China, where nickel continues to be in high demand.

Ortslan says $7 a pound would be a “low target” for 2012, although he would not rule out that possibility because of Europe’s economic woes and China’s ongoing production from non-traditional sources.

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Vale hatches a plan [worker shortages] – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – January 3, 2012)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

Vale Ltd. is devising strategies to deal with one of its greatest challenges — the looming shortage of skilled tradespeople, and production and maintenance workers for its Canadian operations.

The Brazil-based miner has launched a country-wide advertising campaign to convince Canadians they can live the good life in Sudbury, rather than having to fly in and out of mining or oil sands operations.

Vale expects to hire at least 300 full-time people in 2012, mostly engineers and skilled tradespeople. But it will be looking for miners as well. A recent call for 60 production and maintenance workers netted 800 resumes, said Vale spokeswoman Angie Robson.

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Sherritt CEO [Ian Delaney] reflects on 40 years in the capitalism game – by Jennifer Wells (Toronto Star – January 1, 2012)

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.

“You do understand it’s a lottery,” says the fired executive. “You know the whole damn thing’s a lottery.” The fired executive is talking about life, that damn thing, that single ticket you’re given. Punched once, you’re done. Adios.

So the executive, who enjoyed the benefits that come along with a multimillion-dollar salary and a chief executive officer’s title, up and fired himself four weeks ago, an act that has put him in the mood to reflect on the past 40 years playing the capitalism game.

It’s a good year for reflection.

The year the eurozone went to hell in a handbasket. The year of the Occupy movement. The year of economic foreboding. There’s 1 per cent. There’s 99 per cent. There’s one-tenth of 1 per cent. Like this guy. So.

Ian Delaney often reaches for small words and sprinkles them over the boardroom table as if they were full sentences.

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Russia re-embraces a cold war — in the North – by Paul Watson (Toronto Star – December 17, 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.

MURMANSK, Russia— In the noonday twilight, as dockworkers squint through the gloom to move mountainous heaps of coal bound for Europe, the hum of Arctic power is unmistakable.

The stevedores labour in the damp cold, 200 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle, part of the vanguard leading Russia’s latest push to build its future on the rich resources of the Far North.

Grab buckets with massive steel jaws, dangling from yellow cranes several storeys high, chomp at mounds of coal, iron ore pellets and other bulk cargo steadily replenished by a stream of trains from the south. And this is a slow winter’s day.

Russians stopped wondering about whether to develop the Arctic generations ago. The only question now is, how fast can progress march?

The Kremlin has declared the Arctic critical to the country’s 21st-century economy and national security. And it is risking billions on a strategy to reverse years of neglect and decline in its Far North.

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Why Ian Delaney, the Smiling Barracuda of Bay Street, is moving on – by Jacquie Mcnish (Globe and Mail – December 17, 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.

TORONTO— Weeks away from ending a 21-year run at the helm of Sherritt International Corp., Ian Delaney has lost none of the bluster that defined his tumultuous reign at the mining conglomerate.

“I’m not retiring; I’m firing myself,” he says, flashing the toothy grin that years ago earned him the nickname, the Smiling Barracuda of Bay Street.

In January, Mr. Delaney, 68, will hand the reins to successor David Pathe, saying it’s time. “One of the disadvantages about getting old is you get too thoughtful. We need younger people who have higher energy levels,” Mr. Delaney says.

Still, talking to the chief executive officer over a simple lunch of baked chicken and steamed vegetables at Sheritt’s spartan offices in Toronto’s Rosedale neighbourhood, the Bay Street legend sounds more restless than tired. “The intensity is gone,” he says, poking at a steamed vegetable. “I can no longer flip the company on its ear every 18 months with a deal.”

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NFB Film: The Hole Story – by Richard Desjardins and Robert Monderie


The following is from the National Film Board of Canada Press Kit


“Don’t know much about mines? Not many people do. Mines don’t talk. Especially about their history.” Richard Desjardins and Robert Monderie explore this history in their latest documentary, The Hole Story. Produced by the National Film Board of Canada, the film continues in the same provocative vein as their earlier Forest Alert.

The history of mining in Canada is the story of astronomical profits made with utter disregard for the environment and human health. It’s also a corrupt and sometimes sinister story. For example, during the First World War, nickel from Sudbury was sold to the German army to make the bullets that ended up killing soldiers from Sudbury in the Battle of Vimy Ridge. In Cobalt, a town in Ontario that once had no garbage collection, people were dying of typhoid.

Meanwhile, the first Canadian mining magnates were growing filthy rich selling silver to England from the 40 mines surrounding the town.

Timmins has its own shameful mining story. In the woods,50 kilometres west of the railroad, prospectors quickly staked their claims before heading to the government office to register their hectares and take ownership of the subsoil.

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Northern mining communities prosper as south struggles – by Chip Martin/QMI Agency (December 12, 2011)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

Mining analyst Sudol said the high-tech nature of mining
in 2011 is not well understood. “We all talk about high
tech in Kitchener-Waterloo and Silicon Valley in California
and we are sort of ignoring an extraordinarily interesting
concentration of mining technology, research and education
in Sudbury.”

The same thing killing jobs in southwestern Ontario is creating them by the thousands in Northern Ontario.

The industrialization and urbanization of China, Brazil and India is causing the flight of well-paid industrial jobs to those emerging economies. The fallout is unemployment in Ontario’s industrial sector and unemployment rates soaring to 9.8% in London and 10.8% in Windsor.

But the loss for the south is a gain for the north.

Unemployment is low in places such as Kirkland Lake and Sudbury. Mines and mine-related businesses are clamouring for workers.

“The industrialization and urbanization of China, India and Brazil and many other developing countries will be ongoing for many generations to come,” says respected mining consultant and analyst Stan Sudol.

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Quadra Takeover Up for Grabs With Escalating Price Driving Deal – by Tara Lachapelle and Liezel Hill – ( – December 8, 2011)

Quadra FNX Mining Ltd. is poised to secure the largest takeover price increase in North America as the cheapest copper bid on record leaves room for Vale SA (VALE3) or Antofagasta (ANTO) Plc to make a competing offer.

Poland’s KGHM Polska Miedz SA agreed this week to buy Quadra for C$2.28 billion ($2.26 billion) including net cash, valuing the Canadian miner at 5.2 times net income, the lowest for a copper takeover of similar size, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The price is also a 36 percent discount to net asset value, based on analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg. After closing 5.4 percent above the bid yesterday, Quadra is more likely to draw a higher offer than any other deal greater than $500 million in North America, the data show.

While the Vancouver-based company agreed not to solicit rival proposals to KGHM’s C$15 a share in cash, Quadra may still lure offers from Vale (VALE5) or Antofagasta with its copper deposit in Chile and mines in the U.S. and Canada, according to Stifel Nicolaus & Co. With analysts expecting Quadra to reach C$18.28 in the next 12 months as an independent company, a bidding war may push the price tag to as much as C$28.25, 88 percent higher than the current agreement, said Salman Partners Inc.

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Investors question ‘cheap’ takeover offer for Quadra FNX – by Brenda Bouw (Globe and Mail – December 7, 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.

Quadra FNX Mining Ltd. has agreed to a $3-billion takeover by Polish copper producer KGHM Polska Miedz SA, triggering criticism the company is accepting a low-ball offer due to an overly cautious view of the metal’s prospects.

The $15-a-share, all-cash bid offers a 40-per-cent premium to Quadra’s recent stock price. But some investors believe it’s a stingy offer that undervalues the company’s assets, which include the promising Sierra Gorda copper project in Chile and operations in Sudbury, Ont.

“Unless the operations are running much weaker than expected, we do not see why one of the most bullish copper companies is selling out so cheap,” said Cormark Securities analyst Cliff Hale-Sanders. .”

Toronto-based hedge fund West Face Capital Inc., which said Tuesday that it owns a 6-per-cent stake in Quadra, called the bid opportunistic. “Given the fact that the shares were trading at $16 a few months ago, it is puzzling that the board did not attempt to contact any other purchasers or run a process,” said chief executive officer Greg Boland.

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Vale board approves US$21.4bn investment budget for 2012 – by Dorothy Kosich ( – November 29, 2011)

Iron ore gets the lion’s share of Vale’s project capex budget next year, with the bulk of investment allocated to Brazilian projects and operations.

RENO, NV – Brazilian über iron ore miner Vale Monday announced its board of directors approved US$12.9 billion for projects, US$2.4 billion for research and development, and US$6.1 billion for sustaining operations in 2012.

The company also reinforced estimated mining production for 2012 including 312 million metric tons of iron ore, 50 million metric tons of pellets, 16.6 million metric tons of coal, 300,000 metric tons of nickel, 340,000 metric tons of copper, 650,000 metric tons of potash and 8 million metric tons of phosphate rock.

Vale now has 20 main projects now under construction to implement organic growth, comprising 75% of the $12.9 billion budgeted for project development next year. The bulk of the investment will be made in Brazil, which gets 63.7% of the total 2012 investment budget, while Canada will receive 11.7%.

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Long-time Sherritt chief Ian Delaney to retire – by Brenda Bouw (Globe and Mail – November 25, 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.

Ian Delaney, the “Smiling Barracuda” of Bay Street who transformed Sherritt International Corp. into a multifaceted mining company with reaches into Cuba and Madagascar, is stepping down, again, as its CEO.

The 68-year-old business maverick, who still exchanges notes with Fidel Castro and shrugs off his ban from the United States, said he can comfortably relinquish the chief executive officer’s role now that his successors are primed to take over during what he sees as a prolonged period of market volatility.

“They are all firing on eight cylinders, they don’t need me,” Mr. Delaney said in an interview on Thursday after announcing his retirement effective at the end of the year, three years after being “drafted” back to the position. He will be replaced by chief financial officer David Pathe on Jan. 1.

The provocative former Merrill Lynch investment banker will remain as chairman of the diversified Toronto-based resources firm he won control over in a hostile proxy contest in 1990, turning it into Canada’s largest coal producer and the largest independent energy producer in Cuba.

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Truth time on Thompson, Manitoba smelter and refinery – Editorial (Thompson Citizen – October 26, 2011)

The Thompson Citizen, which was established in June 1960, covers the City of Thompson and Nickel Belt Region of Northern Manitoba. The city has a population of about 13,500 residents while the regional population is more than 40,000.

It’s time for all the parties or stakeholders to tell the truth about Vale’s plan, announced almost a year ago, to close the Thompson refinery and smelter in 2015. And the truth is the smelter and refinery is closing. Vale has been consistent in their position on this since the day they made the bombshell announcement last Nov. 17.

You don’t have to like that piece of bad news delivered by Tito Martins, chief executive officer of Vale Canada in Toronto and executive director of base metals for the Brazilian parent company, or for that matter you don’t have to like Martins’ direct style or Martins’ himself even. That’s OK.

But you have to give credit where credit is due and Tito Martins has been nothing but a straight shooter on the company’s position on closing the smelter and refinery. He’s told people involved privately what he’s said publicly. And just in case anyone didn’t get the message Nov. 17, 2010 he reiterated it in person Jan. 26 at the Juniper Centre at the Thompson Chamber of Commerce annual general meeting.

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Sudbury in the 1960s – by Sudbury Star (Unknown Date)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

The 1960s were a period of tension and turmoil in Sudbury, with huge changes in local labour organizations. It was also a period of massive urban renewal and municipal restructuring.

When the decade opened, the entire mining industry workforce was represented by one union — the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers. When the decade ended, the United Steelworkers Union had established itself as bargaining agent for Inco employees in Sudbury.

To mark its presence in the community, the union purchased the former Legion Hall at Frood Road and College Street. The building became the Steelworkers Hall.

It was also a time of increasing demand for nickel products throughout the world, helped in no small part by the war in Vietnam. Both of the community’s mining companies, Inco and Falconbridge, were expanding operations.

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Mining pioneer’s memoir reissued [Sudbury History] – by Paul Bennett (Halifax Chronicle Herald – October 9, 2011)

Paul W. Bennett is founding director, Schoolhouse Consulting, Halifax, and the author of Vanishing Schools, Threatened Communities: The Contested Schoolhouse in Maritime Canada, 1850-2010.

Dusty old memoirs rarely attract much attention, unless they celebrate the lives of famous figures or capture well the social experience of bygone days. Men and women living ordinary lives rarely write autobiographies and fewer still have the resources to get them published.

The rather obscure Cape Breton-born mining pioneer Aeneas (Angus) McCharles (1844-1906) was an exception to the normal pattern. His personal memoir, Bemocked of Destiny, published posthumously in 1908, achieved some notoriety for its homespun philosophy and has been re-published recently as a centenary project.

McCharles’s fascinating life caught the imagination of Martin McAllister, an amateur historian and former columnist for the Inco Triangle, the official newsletter of the International Nickel Company in Sudbury, Ont. While researching the mining pioneers of Sudbury District some years ago, he stumbled upon McCharles and his long out-of-print memoir.

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Rails to the Ring of Fire – Stan Sudol (Toronto Star – May 30, 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.

For the web’s largest database of articles on the Ring of Fire mining camp, please go to: Ontario’s Ring of Fire Mineral Discovery

“The Ring of Fire railroad should be subsidized by
governments as the huge economic impact will benefit
the economy for decades to come, help balance budgets
and alleviate aboriginal poverty in the surrounding
First Nations communities.” (Stan Sudol)

Notwithstanding the recent correction in commodity prices, near-record highs for gold, silver and a host of base metals essential for industry confirm that the commodity “supercycle” is back and with a vengeance.

China, India, Brazil and many other developing economies are continuing their rapid pace of growth. In 2010, China overtook Japan to become the world’s second largest economy and surpassed the United States to become the biggest producer of cars.

In March, Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney remarked: “Commodity markets are in the midst of a supercycle. . . . Rapid urbanization underpins this growth. . . . Even though history teaches that all booms are finite, this one could go on for some time.”

Quebec’s visionary 25-year “Plan Nord” will see billions invested in northern resource development and infrastructure to take advantage of the tsunami in global metal demand and generate much needed revenue for government programs.

In Ontario, the isolated Ring of Fire mining camp in the James Bay lowlands is one of the most exciting and possibly the richest new Canadian mineral discovery in more than a generation. It has been compared with both the Sudbury Basin and the Abitibi Greenstone belt that includes Timmins, Kirkland Lake, Noranda and Val d’Or.

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