New lease on life for Cobalt – by Norm Tollinsky (Sudbury Mining Solutions Journal – September 2013)

This article was originally published in the September 2013 issue of Sudbury Mining Solutions Journal.

Refining, milling, assaying and bulk sampling capacity creates critical mass

Proclaiming the rebirth of Cobalt, one of Ontario’s earliest mining camps, may be a stretch, but the recent reopening of the Yukon Refinery just north of town is a step in the right direction.

The refinery had been in mothballs for 13 of the preceding 15 years when United Commodity AG of Switzerland purchased it in June 2012. It has since added a Merrill-Crowe process for gold and silver recovery and struck some longterm deals for processing concentrate.

Originally a silver mill, Cobatec purchased and converted it to a recovery plant for tailings in the early 90s, recalled plant supervisor Gunner Skillins. “That didn’t work too well, so we went into feed from a smelter stack in Cuba containing both cobalt and nickel.”

That, too, proved short-lived. The plant shut down and was purchased in the late 90s by Canmine Resources, which operated it for a few years before going bankrupt. Ownership devolved to the bondholders represented by a Swiss financial group, which kept it on care and maintenance while trying to sell it for 10 years.

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Mine safety inquiry would have clout: Steelworkers – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – September 4, 2013)

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

A delegation from United Steelworkers, including Local 6500 president Rick Bertrand, will meet again this week with Labour Minister Yasir Naqvi about how to make mining safer in Ontario.

The USW delegation will return to Queen’s Park on Thursday with revisions and comments on a proposal Naqvi presented when the union visited him last month to renew its call for an inquiry into mining practices.

USW has been calling for a full-scale inquiry, similar in scope to the one being held into the June 2012 collapse of the Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake. Naqvi gave the union with a proposal that falls short of a full inquiry, a process some are calling a review.

Bertrand said his union doesn’t believe a review will have the clout of an inquiry, which would compel mining companies to provide testimony and release documentation to a hearing chairperson.

The union has been reviewing and reworking the minister’s proposal since meeting with him Aug. 15. “We’re going back to have a discussion about possible changes to see if there’s an avenue … to get things done,” said Bertrand.

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Industry facing cut in wood allocation for caribou – by Ron Grech (Timmins Daily Press – September 3, 2013)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

TIMMINS – Despite reassuring words from provincial politicians, the forest industry still faces a massive reduction in wood volume due to caribou conservation efforts being proposed in this region.

“On the Abitibi River Forest, it’s a disaster because they have not changed the long-term management direction one iota,” said Cochrane Mayor Peter Politis. “The existing long-term management direction sees about a 65% volume loss in 25 years which will devastate towns right from North Bay to Hearst.”

This is a marked change in tone from two months ago. Industry and municipal politicians were hailing Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources when it formally acknowledged the Crown Forest Sustainability Act fulfils the requirements of the Endangered Species Act.

However, the decision to harmonize these acts hasn’t made any difference to the caribou conservation efforts being implemented on the Abitibi River Forest.

“What the MNR is doing, they’re trying to recover caribou all over the place, all the way down south of Lake Abitibi where they don’t exist right now,” said Politis. “That’s what’s causing the problem.”

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[Thunder Bay generating station] Up in the air – by Leith Dunick ( – September 3, 2013)

Premier Kathleen Wynne says the future of the Thunder Bay Generating Station is still up in the air.

The Ontario leader, in the city for a series of events this week, including Minister of Northern Development and Mines Michael Gravelle’s nomination Tuesday night, said the conversation about the plant is ongoing, but no decisions have been made.

Last year the province decided to halt the conversion from coal to natural gas, stating it would save $400 million.

The Ontario Power Authority also said the power it creates won’t be needed down the road, though the region’s energy task forced begged to differ, presenting a much different – and more prosperous – outlook for Northwestern Ontario’s mining sector.

“It’s one of those fundamentals of infrastructure and conditions that has to be in place for job creation to happen and economic development to happen and economic growth to happen,” Wynne said in a brief media availability on Tuesday morning.

“So we’re committed to making sure that power supply is there and the specifics on that conversion are ongoing,” she said.

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Premier meets with mining probe proponents – by Heidi Ulrichsen (Sudbury Northern Life – September 01, 2013)

Wynne ‘very compassionate’ to accident victim’s family

The premier took some time during her visit to Sudbury last week to meet with those pushing for a mining safety probe in Ontario.

Kathleen Wynne met Aug. 30 with Steelworkers Local 6500 president Rick Bertrand, as well as Wendy and Briana Fram, the mother and sister, respectively, of Jordan Fram, who died in 2011 along with Jason Chenier at Vale’s Stobie Mine.

The Fram family are part of the Mining Inquiry Needs Everyone’s Support (MINES) committee, which is pushing for a full inquiry into mining safety in the province. Steelworkers Local 6500, the union representing Vale workers, made the original recommendation for the mining inquiry in its 2012 report into Fram and Chenier’s deaths.

“It was wonderful to meet with her, share our story and tell her why we feel we need an inquiry into Ontario mines,” Briana said. “She was very compassionate and listened to our story.” The meeting with Wynne comes after a previous failed attempt to do just that by those who want a mining inquiry. The Steelworkers requested a meeting with the premier in May, but didn’t receive a response until late July, at which time Wynne turned down their request, referring the matter to Labour Minister Yasir Naqvi.

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Hope muted but persistent for Labrador Trough iron rush – by Keith Norbury (Canadian Sailings-Transportation & Trade Logistics – August 27, 2013)

Signs abound that enthusiasm for new iron ore mines in the Labrador Trough have tapered off since February 2011 when the spot price was nearly $190 a tonne. Since then, prices have been on a roller coaster, which experienced more downs than ups. They dipped as low as $87 last September, soared back up over $150 in February, and then tumbled back down to below $115 in June.

Coinciding with that volatility, Canadian National Railway suspended a feasibility study on a new $5 billion rail line to serve potential new mines in the Labrador Trough. Mining giant Rio Tinto has put up for sale its 58.7 per cent interest in Iron Ore Company of Canada, one of the Trough’s and Canada’s largest iron ore producers.

Champion Iron Mines Ltd., one of the promising junior players in the Trough, abruptly pulled out of its participation in a new multi-user $220 million multi-user iron-ore port at Pointe-Noire in Sept-Îles, Que. And Cliffs Resources shut down indefinitely its pelletizing plant at Pointe-Noire.

Despite those setbacks, the consensus among financial analysts and economists who follow the trials and tribulations of the iron ore industry, as well as of industry insiders, is that long-term prospects for ramping up iron ore production in the Trough remain solid.

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Ring of Fire: Chromite Crumbs or Stainless Steel for Ontario? [Part Two of Two] – by Stan Sudol (Sudbury Star – August 31, 2013)

Outokumpu Stainless Steel Plant Tornio, Finland. Outokumpu Group is the largest stainless steel producer in the world.

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

This was originally published in the Sudbury Star on August 31, 2013 under the title “From ore to steel“.

Canada is the only G-8 country in the world that does not have a “major” stainless steel sector. There is one speciality steel producer, ASW Steel Inc. in Welland, Ontario, that dedicates 30 per cent of its production capacity to stainless steel. Employing  about 95 people, the company manufactures roughly 30,000 tons of stainless steel ingots and billets. By comparison, Outokumpu, the biggest international producer, produces almost 3.6 million tonnes of stainless steels worldwide, slightly over ten per cent of the 35.4 million tonnes of global production last year, according to International Stainless Steel Forum preliminary figures.

We do have world-class carbon steel plants mainly concentrated in Ontario at Hamilton, Nanticoke and Sault Ste. Marie.

Stainless steels are more valuable than carbon steels due to their corrosion and rust resistance due to the addition of chromite. Nickel is added to some varieties of stainless steels to increase the hardness and strength, further corrosion resistance as well as enabling the material to withstand extreme cold and hot temperatures without becoming brittle or deforming.

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Sudburians didn’t really get chance to meet premier – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – August 30, 2013)

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

Premier Kathleen Wynne visited Sudbury for two days to get to know people — Liberals and non-Liberals , she says — and for them to get to know her. But there were few opportunities for Sudburians to speak to the premier about what’s on their minds or for Wynne to tell them how a Liberal government led by her would improve their lives in any real way.

Wynne visited a diamond manufacturing plant Thursday afternoon, with every move photographed and videographed by the media, and later attended a “celebration party” with Liberal riding association members. No doubt, Grits were required to pony up for the party at the meet-and-greet.

Wynne conducted one on one interviews with reporters — as well as a short call-in on CBC Radio and an online chat with a Sudbury newspaper — but most of her appearances were by-invitation-only.

The premier spoke briefly with a Liberal supporter when she arrived for an interview with The Sudbury Star on Friday morning at Old Rock Coffee Roasting Company on Minto Street. Earlier, a security guard scoped out the small coffee house, consulting with owner Carole Roy about where the back entrance was should the premier have to leave in a hurry.

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Vale, Steelworkers to investigate Clarabelle fire – by Heidi Ulrichsen (Sudbury Northern Life – August 30, 2013)

A joint investigation into an Aug. 28 fire at Vale’s Clarabelle Mill will be conducted by the company and the union representing mill workers, Steelworkers Local 6500.

“Typically, when we have an instance such as a fire, we do launch an investigation to determine the cause … so we can learn what we can from it and prevent something like that from happening again,” Vale spokesperson Angie Robson said.

“As per our protocol, we’ve launched an investigation jointly with the union to look into this.” Robson said she can’t speculate as to how long the investigation will take. She said the investigation team will write a report about the incident that will be circulated internally.

The fire was reported in one of the mill’s crushing lines at around 9:15 a.m., and the all-clear was given at around 10:50 a.m., at which time employees were allowed to return to the building.

Robson said she doesn’t yet know the cause of the fire, although Greater Sudbury Fire Services Public Safety Officer Leo Frappier said it was a conveyor belt that caught fire, causing thick, black smoke to stream from the buiding.

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Diamonds are a premier’s best friend – by Heidi Ulrichsen (Sudbury Northern Life – August 29, 2013)

A deal benefitting a business which polishes diamonds mined at the DeBeers Victor Diamond Mine on the James Bay coast is an example of how the province works to create jobs in Northern Ontario, Premier Kathleen Wynne said.

She made the remarks during an Aug. 29 tour of Crossworks Manufacturing’s Sudbury office, which opened in 2009, and employs 35 people. Eighteen of these employees are from the Sudbury area, while the rest are originally from Vietnam.

Wynne, who is also visiting Kenora and Thunder Bay in the coming days as part of a tour of Northern Ontario, credits these jobs to a deal the province struck with De Beers to process 10 per cent of its Victor diamonds in Ontario.

“One of the things I’m determined to do as premier is to work to close the skills gap, to make sure that we provide opportunities for people in Ontario develop the skills for the businesses that are looking for those skills,” she said.

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A premier’s best friend [Sudbury diamonds] – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – August 30, 2013)

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

The partnership between government and industry that resulted in a diamond processing plant in Sudbury is the model for the kind of work the Liberals are doing to ensure business thrives in Ontario, says Premier Kathleen Wynne.

The premier visited Crossworks Manufacturing Ltd., for the second time, to kick off a northern tour in which she’s delivering a couple of messages. One is that her government’s commitment to create jobs and fuel the economy extends to all parts of Ontario, including Northern Ontario.

Another is that Wynne is premier of the entire province, not just ridings in which Liberals are elected. Under an agreement between De Beers Canada and the government of Canada, De Beers is making 10% of the annual rough diamond production from Victor Mine, in the James Bay Lowlands, available for processing in Ontario.

Crossworks was offered the opportunity by the province and the Diamond Trading Company to purchase about $35 million worth of rough stones a year and cut and polish them at the downtown Sudbury plant.

Wynne toured the plant where 35 experienced diamond cutters, the majority of them highly skilled tradespeople from Vietnam, were at work.

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Ring of Fire: Strategic Chromite and the Commodity Super-Cycle [Part One of Two] – by Stan Sudol (Sudbury Star – August 30, 2013)

Kemi Chromite Mine in northern Finland (Photo Outokumpu Group)

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

The recent announcement by American-based Cliffs Natural Resources to temporarily halt its chromite mining project in Ontario’s Ring of Fire camp was met with flying accusations of fault by many politicians affected stakeholders, environmental NGOs and First Nations communities.

There certainly is plenty of blame to go around including the company itself – stubborn opposition to a more thorough environmental assessment demanded by First Nations – Cliffs’ inability to finance the project at the present time and most importantly a currently depressed metals market.

However, this might be a great opportunity to scrutinize the entire development and decide if Ontario has leveraged as many economic and value-added benefits as possible during the current commodity super-cycle and why a tiny country like Finland has been able to do much more with a significantly smaller and lower quality chromite deposit of its own.

But first some project background and geo-political analysis on the current state of global mining would be very helpful for Toronto-centric Premier Wynne and her largely southern Ontario cabinet.

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There’s enough for everybody here – by Harvey Yesno – Onotassiniik Magazine (Fall 2013)

Harvey Yesno is the Grand Chief of NAN (Nishnawbe Aski Nation).

The following is excerpted from an opening address by Grand Chief Harvey Yesno at the Nishnawbe Aski Nation Chiefs Assembly in Mattagami First Nation, April 9, and his follow-up comments to chiefs about resource development and infrastructure, April 10.

It’s time to get down to business for Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN). The First Nations across James Bay Treaty 9 and the Ontario portion of Treaty 5 will not be bystanders or a stakeholder or an interest group as Ontario and Canada prepare to take our interest in the lands and resources to market. …

I am committed to ensuring that there be a balanced treaty and economic approach. NAN First Nations and our future generations will benefit from the development in our territory as was intended at the time of the treaty. …  How do we provoke the implementation of our treaties?

We must develop a strategic approach that includes ensuring that our treaty partners, Canada and Ontario, are equally responsible to uphold the promises made at the time of the treaty. Canada and Ontario cannot opt out of addressing the needs and concerns of NAN. Ontario cannot wash its hands of the duty to consult and accommodate First Nations, nor can it download its responsibility to industry. …

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Vale workers rescued from rooftop: Final update – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – August 29, 2013)

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

Two employees working on a roof had to be rescued and were taken to hospital for examination, but there were no injuries after a $2-million fire broke out at Vale’s Clarabelle Mill on Wednesday at 9:15 a.m.

Thirty firefighters from five downtown stations responded in 10 vehicles and, in about 90 minutes, contained a fire that was belching black smoke into the area, said a fire official.

Leo Frappier, senior public safety officer with Greater Sudbury Fire Services, said at 11 a.m. the fire had been downgraded from a Level 2 to a Level 1, and was contained to the building. A Level 2 fire is one in which there could have been “contaminants in the air, but there’s none,” said Frappier.

Vale spokeswoman Angie Robson said no one was injured and there was no threat to public safety. By mid-afternoon, Robson said the fire seemed to have been confined to one of three crushing lines at the mill, so the impact on production was expected to be minimal.

The cause of the fire was unknown, she said, and there was no estimate of damage.

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The Ring of Fire: Ontario’s Mega Mining Project to be the “Next Fort McMurray” – by Derek Leahy ( DeSmog Canada – August 28, 2013)

Ontario’s largest mining find in decades – a 5000 square km region known as the Ring of Fire – won’t be developed by Cleveland-based Cliffs Natural Resources without facing significant obstacles.

“We question whether the Ring of Fire can be mined without being a massive financial burden on Ontario taxpayers, or without trashing the province’s most pristine watershed,” says Ramsey Hart, Canada program coordinator for MiningWatch Canada, an Ottawa-based organization.

“It is also unclear if this development will proceed in the best interests of the First Nations living in the Ring of Fire,” Hart told DeSmog Canada.

A briefing note to the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs from earlier this year warns that the Anishinaabe/Omushkego* (First Nations of the Ring of Fire) “are some of the most socioeconomically disadvantaged communities in all of Canada” and this could prevent the Anishinaabe/Omushkego from benefitting from the Ring of Fire mega mining project.

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