Northern [Ontario] Policy Institute needs tangible goals: chair – Staff (Northern Ontario Business – September 2013)

Established in 1980, Northern Ontario Business provides Canadians and international investors with relevant, current and insightful editorial content and business news information about Ontario’s vibrant and resource-rich North.

Martin Bayer doesn’t mince words when discussing the mandate of the Northern Policy Institute. There’s no point in wasting money on research papers if that work sits unused on a shelf somewhere, he said.

“I think we have to make sure we don’t allow ourselves to be yet another organization that generates more research papers with some recommendations that never get implemented or simply aren’t practical,” said Bayer, a Sudbury-based lawyer who was appointed the institute’s chair in February. “We want to be careful about that and be sure that if we are commissioning research and it’s evidence-based, it’s relevant, it’s going to be meaningful and it’s going to be used.”

As one of the primary recommendations to come out of the province’s 2011 Growth Plan for Northern Ontario, the institute has been charged with the development of policy options that reflect challenges faced by Northern Ontario and that foster sustainable development and long-term economic prosperity.

Bayer outlined the institute’s mandate, priorities and work to date during a luncheon sponsored by the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce on Sept. 17.

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Inquiry into mining safety long overdue – by Brian MacLeod (Sudbury Star – September 19, 2013)

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

“Something’s wrong,” Sudbury Star mining reporter Carol Mulligan said upon returning from a Vale Canada press conference in January 2012 called to explain the deaths of two miners 3,000 feet underground the previous June. “We’re not getting the whole story.”

On June 8, 2011, Jason Chenier, 35, a father of two young children, and Jordan Fram, 26, were crushed under 350 tonnes of wet, broken ore, known as muck, that had become stuck in a tunnel known as an ore pass.

The nature of the press conference — reporters were allowed to look at information presented, but were not given copies — and the demeanour of the presenters, was odd. Reporters in Sudbury are accustomed to procedures in mining deaths. The report made 30 recommendations to improve safety and the company was acting on them, officials said.

Yet Mulligan’s instincts were right. On Monday, Vale Canada pleaded guilty to three charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The company was fined $350,000 on each charge, plus a 25% surcharge. It was, Crown attorney Wes Wilson said, the largest ever fine levied under the act for health and safety issues. Six other charges were dropped, as were charges against a mine official.

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Push for mine safety inquiry continues – by Jonathan Migneault (Sudbury Star – September 19, 2013)

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

Vale Canada Limited’s plea bargain with the Ministry of Labour Tuesday, regarding deaths of two Stobie Mine employees in 2011, has created a stronger case for a provincial inquiry on mine safety, said Nickel Belt MPP France Gelinas.

“Now that we’re not going to have our day in court it creates one more argument for an inquiry,” said Gelinas. Vale pleaded guilty to three charges under the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act Tuesday, and was charged $1.050 million as a deterrent. The company made a joint submission with the Crown that it be fined $350,000 per charge.

Gelinas said the families of Jason Chenier, 35, and Jordan Fram, 26, who were crushed by a 350-ton run of muck at the 3,000-foot level of the Stobie Mine on June 8, 2011, would never have the chance to hear the full story surrounding their deaths.

“A trial is an opportunity for many people to gain closure because you get to the bottom of the story,” Gelinas said. The provincial NDP and the United Steelworkers have long called for an inquiry into the province’s mining deaths.

Mike Bond, chair of health, safety and environment for the United Steelworkers Local 6500, said he was disappointed with Tuesday’s outcome.

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Conservatives endorse mining tax royalties for First Nations – by Bryan Phelan (Wawatay News – September 18, 2013)

Ontario Progressive Conservatives say a share of the mining tax royalties should go to First Nations and other communities that build and support new mines.

Tim Hudak, the PC leader, introduced a policy “white paper” outlining his party’s position on the North during a visit to Thunder Bay on Sept. 17.

“The Ring of Fire is the greatest mining discovery of a lifetime but the project has gone nowhere,” Hudak stated in the introduction to the policy paper, titled Paths to Prosperity: A Champion for Northern Jobs and Resources.

To ensure mining development moves ahead, “As a first step, we need to work with business and Aboriginal communities to expedite the construction of an all-season transportation link to the Ring of Fire deposits,” the paper suggests.

The policy release comes one week after the Ontario Mining and Lands Commissioner dismissed an application from Cliffs Natural Resources for an easement that would allow the company to build an all-weather road to the Ring of Fire over mining claims staked by another company.

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Vale’s Manitoba Operations has reached 95 per cent of cost savings goal, Lovro Paulic says – by John Barker (Thompson Citizen – September 18, 2013)

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.

But smelter and refinery “base case” is still to close sometime in 2015

Vale, which is trying to find $100 million in cost savings at its Manitoba Operations in Thompson, has achieved 95 per cent of that goal over the last year – a cost savings of $95 million with $5 million still to go, vice-president Lovro Paulic told the Thompson Chamber of Commerce Sept. 11.

Paulic said $60 million was saved last year and $35 million has been saved so far this year. Ninety per cent of the money was saved between September 2012 and last April, while anther five per cent has been saved since then. That leaves another five per cent to go to reach the $100 million target.

The result of the collective cost-savings effort across the operation was a reprieve for Birchtree Mine from being mothballed again for a second time. Birchtree Mine, which was discovered for its nickel deposit in 1963 and opened in 1968, was previously on care and maintenance for nearly 12 years from 1977 to 1989, although regardless if it is mothballed or not, the current life of mine plan anticipates closure at some point in the next 10 years in any event.

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Concerns of Northern [Ontario] cities outlined to province – by Benjamin Aubé (Timmins Daily Press – September 18, 2013)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

TIMMINS – Like the black flies of spring or the relentless nights of winter, leaders in Northern Ontario are making it clear to the government they’re not going anywhere soon.

Timmins Mayor Tom Laughren was among the five Northern Ontario Large Urban Mayors (NOLUM) who met with eight provincial Liberal ministers at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario meeting in late-August.

At that meeting, the five NOLUM leaders – representing Timmins, Sudbury, North Bay, Sault Ste. Marie and Thunder Bay – presented a document titled Linking Municipalities and the Growth Plan for Northern Ontario.

Laughren hailed it as “historic” in its depth, explaining it outlines six distinct focal points Northern Ontario representatives will be pressuring the government on over the coming years.

“Anything we put in here was related to the Growth Plan, and it’s our ideas to how the government can push the Growth Plan forward that we believe that provide a benefit not only to those five communities, but of all Northern Ontario,” said Laughren at Monday’s city council meeting.

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Vale fined $1.050 million in Stobie miners’ deaths – by Jonathan Migneault (Sudbury Star – September 18, 2013)

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

Vale Canada Limited pleaded guilty Tuesday of three charges under the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act tied to the deaths of two Stobie Mine employees in 2011.

The company was fined $350,000 for each of the three counts, which were related to a failure to take reasonable precautions to prevent water accumulation in the mine, which caused a deadly run of muck.

According to Crown attorney Wes Wilson, the total fine of $1.050 million is the largest ever awarded in Ontario for a health and safety prosecution. “Nothing approaching this amount has been awarded in occupational health and safety prosecution ever before in this province,” Wilson said.

The largest fine under the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act before today’s decision, he said, was $650,000. Crown prosecutor Dave McCaskill added he has not found a single Canadian incident that has exceeded the Vale fine. “This may set a national precedent,” he said.

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Scrap your career plans for Wall Street, study agriculture and mining instead: Jim Rogers – by Anthony Halley ( – September 17, 2013)

The US economy is no longer producing anything and the finance industry is completely saturated, presenting a unique opportunity for young people to study agriculture and mining, Jim Rogers told a crowd at a recent public appearance:

The event’s moderator began by quoting Rogers to himself:

“Scrap career plans for Wall Street or the City, London’s financial district, and study agriculture and mining instead. Power is shifting again from financial centres to the producers of real goods. The place to be is in commodities: raw materials and natural resources.”

After hearing the quotes, Rogers asked who had done the “homework” for the event, suggesting that they deserve a raise.

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Cutting Risks to Move Forward: Agnico Eagle leads Nunavut into modern mining era – by Bill Braden (Canadian Mining Journal – September 2013)

The Canadian Mining Journal is Canada’s first mining publication providing information on Canadian mining and exploration trends, technologies, operations, and industry events.

February 24, 2010, was a big day for Agnico Eagle Mines Limited’s Meadowbank project, as Board chairman Jim Nasso, flanked by Inuit business and community leaders, watched the first pour of molten gold and silver doré from the roaring refractory furnace at the $700 million project.

Nasso passed that still-warm ingot among his guests, and later among the hundreds of excited workers who posed to have a photo with it. President and CEO Sean Boyd toasted their work at a gala mine site dinner with glasses of gold-flecked champagne and news that gold bullion that very day had touched a new record of $1,260 an ounce on world markets.

Before the Meadowbank mine was launched in 2010, the vast Kivalliq region of Nunavut hadn’t seen an operating mine for 25 years. But it has been the engine of a new economy, creating hundreds of jobs and fostered millions of dollars in business ventures for a cluster of small Inuit communities with very few other career opportunities.

For its veteran parent company, the mine’s $1 million-a-day output is the biggest in its portfolio of five mines in Canada, Mexico and Finland, making Agnico Eagle Canada’s fifth largest gold producer at $US1.8 billion in revenue last year.

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Gold is plentiful, getting it is painful – by Russell Noble (Canadian Mining Journal – September 2013)

Russell Noble is the editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication.

Gold is always an interesting topic to feature in the magazine because regardless of what it’s doing on the Commodity Index, it seems that everyone wants to read about who’s still producing, or who’s going broke trying to find it?

A few years ago when it was deemed to become a $2,000.00 mineral, gold companies were boasting about their vast reserves and how rich their investors were about to become over the next few months and years ahead. Now, however, with production costs reaching or, in some cases, surpassing the value of the product, many of those same companies have gone dark and silent.

And that’s understandable. After all, it’s a hard thing to accept that what was once a sure thing isn’t worth the effort anymore; even with all of those grams still in the ground.

In fact, anyone involved with gold mining will tell you that it’s one of the toughest minerals to find, and the costs associated with recovering and processing it are among the highest in the entire mining world. And what’s more, the hit-and-miss odds of finding gold, as compared with iron ore, coal and certainly potash, are stacked in Mother Nature’s favour. Quite simply, she hides and protects the stuff really well.

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A pitch for higher level of Ring review – by by Karen Peterson (Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal – September 16, 2013)

Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal is the daily newspaper of Northwestern Ontario.

Karen A. Peterson is a consultant in planning, development and impact assessment and a member of Environment North.

Northern Ontario is poised for development, anticipating a multi-billion dollar mining industry and the creation of thousands of jobs. To plan for a sustainable future and to avoid irreversible consequences, an Environmental Assessment (EA) at the highest level of scrutiny is in order.

Review panels are established when the potential for significant impacts is high and/or when serious public concerns are being raised. Although serious concerns are continually being raised regarding the adequacy of the current Comprehensive EA Study to address the magnitude of issues in the Ring of Fire, government has yet to bump up the process to the scrutiny of a Joint Review.

Joint Review Panels are set up when decisions are required by both the federal government and another jurisdiction to avoid duplication. Joint Reviews offer the most comprehensive analysis and public participation. The federal minister of environment, in collaboration with their jurisdictional counterpart, appoints a group of independent experts to conduct the Joint Review in relation to a set of guidelines.

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Vale’s Clean AER project forges ahead – by Laura Gregorini (Northern Ontario Business – September 2013)

Established in 1980, Northern Ontario Business provides Canadians and international investors with relevant, current and insightful editorial content and business news information about Ontario’s vibrant and resource-rich North.

Installation of a converter at Vale’s Copper Cliff smelter in Sudbury, a major component of the company’s Clean AER Project, is nearly complete. The converter is the first of four converters to be replaced as part of the $1-billion project that will see sulphur dioxide, dust and metals emissions reduced by 85 per cent from current levels.

Citing volatile market conditions and cost challenges, Vale announced in January that it was scaling back the cost of its Clean AER (Atmospheric Emissions Reduction) project from $2-billion to $1- million. At the same time, Vale indicated it would move to a single-furnace operation from a two- furnace operation. Although a significantly less investment, Vale said that the environmental impact would be greater, by reducing emissions substantially more than previously anticipated.

“The original Clean AER project’s scope was designed for a two-furnace operation so it meant that when we made the decision, we had to go back and rescope the project to accommodate the one furnace,” said Vale spokesperson Angie Robson.

Vale doesn’t anticipate moving to a single furnace before 2016. A team was formed to study various aspects of the change and revise plans to accommodate the change to a single furnace.

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Little Engine that Could pushes rail solution in Ring of Fire – by Wendy Parker (In Support of – September 16, 2013)

Ontario Mining and Lands Commissioner Report

Boy! Divert your attention for a few days to deal with some pressing business matters, and all heck breaks loose in Ontario’s Ring of Fire mineral zone.

Thanks to a news release from KWG Resources, we learned last week that Ontario’s Mining and Lands Commissioner has rejected a bid from Cliffs Natural Resources for leave to seek an easement that would allow it to build an all-weather access road across a string of mining claims owned by Canada Chrome Corporation, a KWG subsidiary.

Cliffs wanted to dispense with the need to obtain the claimholder’s consent before applying for the easement under the Public Lands Act. The Commissioner’s tribunal, after hearing evidence and arguments in February, found no clear public interest that would outweigh the potential damage such an easement might do to the claimholder’s rights under the Mining Act.

As a result, the Cliffs request failed.

That’s a nutshell version of the decision, of course. The actual September 10 Order is much more nuanced and intricate. It is well worth reading in its 43-page entirety, both for the logic it applies to its deliberations and for the light it casts on a fascinating story behind Ring of Fire development.

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Billionaire miner Robert Friedland sounds off – by Tommy Humphreys ( – September 15, 2013)

I was able to catch up with billionaire Ivanhoe Mines (TSX:IVN) Executive Chairman Robert Friedland in Toronto yesterday. The Singapore-based mining legend was in Toronto this week to announce the launch of Ivanhoe Pictures, a new film and TV finance and production company, and to host the first investor presentations for his Ivanhoe Mines after a summer spent relaxing and reflecting on the Italian coast, where Mr. Friedland acquired a hotel property earlier this year.

Friedland says that the Chinese are determined to fight air pollution. “I have a home in Beijing but I’ve been avoiding it in recent years because the air pollution has become absolutely diabolical,” Friedland commented. This alone would be enough to drive the conventional Platinum market crazy, he added, noting that catalytic converters which reduce toxic emissions in automobiles use substantial amounts of platinum and palladium.

There is a revolution coming to the automobile industry via the Japanese, according to Friedland. Senior officials in Japan tell him that the Toyota Motor Company will announce hydrogen fuel cell automobiles later this year with a commercial roll out coming in 2015. “These cars will use ounces, not tenths of ounces of platinum,” Friedland said. This is why the Japanese government bought 10% of Ivanhoe’s Platreef project for $300 million, Friedland believes.

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Northeast eyed for future hydro electric projects – by By Ron Grech – (Timmins Daily Press – September 16, 2013)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

TIMMINS – The groundwork is being laid for future waterpower generation projects in Northeastern Ontario. This would include providing power to serve mining operations within the Ring of Fire region as well improving infrastructure for First Nation communities currently dependent on diesel-powered generators.

Ontario Waterpower Association announced last week it has teamed up with the provincial government and the Ontario Power Authority to develop a study that will provide the basis for the province’s energy plan over the next 15 to 20 years.

“Northeastern Ontario has been a pretty critical part of serving the provincial energy needs for decades,” said OWA president Paul Norris. “It is a pretty strategic resource you have in Northeastern Ontario in terms of the overall reliability of our provincial system.

“The question going forward is what other hydro can be built?”

Norris said the announced study, which also involves the ministries of energy and natural resources, will identify opportunities and outline the cost and feasibility for expanding hydroelectric power generation throughout the North.

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