Miners Need to be Wary of Ontario Premier McGuinty – By John Cumming

John Cumming MSc (Geology) is the editor of the Northern Miner, Canada’s global mining newspaper.  jcumming@northernminer.com

The week ended July 19, the 29th trading week of 2008, kicked off with a surprise announcement by the Ontario government that it would “protect” at least 225,000 sq. km, or roughly half of the province’s boreal forest.

The scope of the proposal is broad. It includes: banning economic activity within at least half the province’s boreal forest; holding meetings across the province with every conceivable stakeholder to come up with new land-use plans; giving local aboriginal communities veto power over proposed economic activities; revamping the way resource businesses are taxed, including more taxes going to local aboriginal communities; and building up bureaucracies to create and implement land-use plans.

The government also restated its intention to rewrite the province’s mining act before 2010, including changing the process for staking and exploration. It starts reviewing the act this August.

Given that you can’t trust anything Premier “I-won’t-cut-your-taxes-but- I-won’t-raise-them-either” McGuinty says, and that his professed environmentalism is driven by pure political expediency, figuring out what this latest proposal means for miners in Ontario is tricky.

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China Demand Keeps Xstrata Business in Sudbury Booming – by Bill Bradley

Northern Life, Greater Sudbury’s community newspaper, gave Republic of Mining.com permission to post Bill Bradley’s article. www.northernlife.ca

Demand for nickel is booming and will continue to do so well into the future, said Mike Romaniuk, vice-president Ontario Operations, Xstrata Nickel. He was a speaker at a luncheon for the Rotary Club earlier this week at the Howard Johnson on Brady Street.

Close to $400 million is expected to be invested in Sudbury operations. In 2007, 300 workers were hired and another 400 are expected to join the company this year, said Romaniuk.

Why the good times?

In China, they are building the equivalent of a Greater Toronto Area city every year, he said.

“I was there three years ago and saw a sign in the dirt saying a new city of 15 million to be built at this site within three years. They did it. Cities like that require a lot of nickel in their infrastructure and consumer products. That’s why we are prospering,” said Romaniuk.

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Half of Northern Ontario Now Off-Limits to Mineral Industry – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn Scales - Canadian Mining JournalMarilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication.

On July 14, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty announced plans to protect at least 225,000 km² of the boreal forest in Northern Ontario. “Protect” will mean permanently removing the declared area from mineral exploration, mining and forestry.

The Northern Boreal forest covers 43% of Ontario’s land mass, an area 1.5 times the size of the Maritime provinces. The forest is home to only 24,000 people in 36 communities. (No mention has been made as to whether or not these people had a say in the decision). The forest supports more than 200 species of animals, including polar bears, wolverines and caribou, some of which are threatened or endangered.

McGuinty is touting the plan as a means of reducing climate change. The government claims that the boreal region absorbs 12.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually from the atmosphere. Therefore, the trees must be protected or global warming will accelerate. By waving the holy grail of global warming, the premier has ensured that every non-governmental environmental group will follow vociferously in his wake.

The decision is a blow to northern communities. Reports in the “Timmins Daily Press” indicate that citizens of that community were not consulted prior to the announcement. The local mayor and mining industry executives interviewed for the article expressed grave concerns that this is disastrous for the provincial economy.

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Northern Ontario’s “Ring of Fire” Mineral Discovery Sets off Staking Rush – Gregory Reynolds

Gregory Reynolds - Timmins Columnist

For an extensive list of articles on this mineral discovery, please go to: Ontario’s Ring of Fire Mineral Discovery

The results of a single diamond drill hole announced in August of 2007 set off a massive staking rush into the muskeg swamps of Northern Ontario’s James Bay Lowlands.Someone, after looking at a satellite picture of the area, came up with a name for it – the Ring of Fire.

The name quickly became a part of Canadian mining lore and today over 100 companies have holdings inside the ring.

It will take several hundred million dollars to determine whether a new Sudbury Basin type base metal mining camp is being born but the promoters’ hype is that it is so.

That original hole was pulled by a junior company that, as did so many other small exploration ventures, survived ups and downs over the years.Still, Noront Resources Ltd. persevered and it appears Lady Luck has finally asked it to the dance.

What is interesting about the Noront discovery, known as the McFaulds Lake area Double Eagle Project, is that the Aug. 28, 2007 announcement merely hinted at a big find.

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Canada’s Federal Government Making a Mess of Aboriginal Land Claims and Mining Issues – Gregory Reynolds

Gregory Reynolds - Timmins ColumnistThere is a belief among mining people that the land disputes making news almost daily are best left to the two parties directly concerned – provincial governments and Aboriginal groups.

The truth is that two of Canada’s primary industries are threatened by the failure to tackle land claims in a meaningful way.

Mining and forestry have remained on the sidelines while negotiations become pension funds for lawyers and job protection insurance for civil servants.

There is a third party that not only should be at every negotiating table but should be actively involved. That is Canada’s federal government.

More and more native bands are saying they do not want trees cut or mineral exploration on their traditional lands until outstanding claims are settled.

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CEMI: The High Cost of Split Jurisdictions – By Michael Atkins

Northern Life, Greater Sudbury’s community newspaper, gave Republic of Mining.com permission to post Michael Atkin’s column. www.northernlife.ca

Michael Atkins

If you have even a passing interest in the politics of northern Ontario, and Sudbury in particular, you will take note of last week’s refusal by FedNor to support the Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation (CEMI) at Laurentian University and weep.

The message came from a PR flake in Toronto or Ottawa (it doesn’t really matter where) who was kind enough to point out that it “would not serve to maximize FedNor’s priorities of promoting growth, economic diversification, job creating and sustainable, self-reliant communities in northern Ontario.

Of course, and the tooth fairy henceforth is declining visits to our children on the grounds it no longer fits her mandate.

You will note this piffle did not come from the Sudbury office. It didn’t come from the Sudbury office because the Sudbury office was involved in helping to imagine this project from the beginning and has supported it strongly.

In fact this decision has nothing to do with the merits of the project, pro or con.

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Honourable Michael Gravelle – Ontario Minister of Northern Development and Mines – OMA Conference Speech – Ontario Mining – The Best is Yet to Come

Honourable Michael Gravelle - Ontario Minister of Northern Development and MinesThe Honourable Michael Gravelle, Ontario Minister of Northern Development and Mines, gave this speech at the Ontario Mining Association (OMA) conference in Windsor, Ontario on June 10, 2008.

It is great to be back in beautiful Windsor, Ontario –The City of Roses.  My Cabinet colleagues Dwight Duncan and Sandra Pupatello, who represent local ridings, never tire of singing the praises of this community – and I can see why.

I know that my colleague, Sandra Pupatello had a chance to speak to you last night regarding initiatives that are being undertaken by her Ministry to help boost the competitiveness of both the mining industry in Ontario as well as the Ontario economy as a whole – initiatives that are important to ensuring future prosperity in our province.

Windsor is acclaimed as Canada’s automotive capital. It is also is home to the Hiram Walkers Canadian Club whisky plant.

And while great automobiles and fine beverages may have a special place in our collective hearts, I, as Minister of Northern Development and Mines, also like to think of Windsor as one of the premier salt producing regions in the country — home to the Canadian Salt Company’s nearby Ojibway mine.

The Canadian Salt Company is a source of pride not only for the local community but also Ontario’s mining community. It is a leader in modern salt processing methods and it is our nation’s largest salt manufacturer.

Ontario is recognized as a major producer of metallic minerals. Perhaps we don’t mention often enough that we also produce almost a quarter of Canada’s non-metallic minerals.  In that context, southern Ontario is an important and active contributor to our province’s mining industry.

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The Sudbury Basin: Ontario’s Trillion Dollar Mining Camp – John Lill, President and CEO, FNX Mining

Terry McGibbon, Executive Chairman; John Lill, President and CEO FNX Mining - Underground at the Podolsky Mine, Sudbury BasinLast month, I had the pleasure of participating in the 16th Annual Sudbury Mining Week, not as President and CEO of FNX Mining, but as the event’s Honorary Chairman.

It was appropriate to celebrate Mining Week in Canada, and especially in Sudbury – one of the most prolific mining camps in the world.  In Canada, mining contributes $40 billion dollars or 5% of Canadian GDP every year and pays $4.7 billion in corporate taxes alone.  This industry directly employs 370,000 Canadians and is the largest private sector employer of Aboriginals.  Canada remains the leading source of new capital for the global mining industry accounting for 36% of the $53 billion raised in 2007 or net $19 billion. 

As a mining engineer who has spent his career in Africa, the United Sates and Latin America, I can confirm that there are few places in the world where mining is embraced and supported as it is in Sudbury. 

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Here’s What’s Wrong With Municipal Mining Revenue in Ontario – Michael Atkins

A month or so ago, a special task force for the Greater City of Sudbury called the Advisory Panel on Municipal Mining Revenues presented their recommendations to the city.

The committee was struck to review the astonishing inequities between the amount of mining tax money skimmed off the top by the provincial and federal governments, as opposed to the falling revenue for the city. This is not a new idea. The panel puts it in perspective.

In 1964, the mayor of Sudbury, at the time, struck a committee to investigate Sudbury’s financial problems and came up with a report entitled “1964; Year of the Dilemma.” The major theme was the lack of assessment available to the city from the mining industry.

In 1967,  the Ontario Committee on Taxation went at it with a draft proposal that Sudbury would receive even less money.

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A Refined Argument: Report of the Advisory Panel on Municipal Mining Revenues – Produced by the City of Greater Sudbury

(Following from Feb/27/2008 City of Greater Sudbury News Release)

In March 2006, the City of Greater Sudbury set up a ten-member Advisory Panel on Municipal Mining Revenues chaired by former Inco vice-president José Blanco. The resulting 64-page report, released in February, 2008, called on Council to, ‘invite the Province of Ontario to enter into negotiations with the city to establish a resource revenue-sharing framework that will ensure a predictable and sustainable revenue stream for the municipality.”

The panel notes that in 1970, major mining companies accounted for about a quarter of local property taxes. By 2005, the mining companies’ share of municipal property tax levies had fallen to just 6.5 per cent.

‘This is a very complex, multi-layered story in which there are no bad guys,” said panel chair José Blanco.

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Remarks by José Blanco, Chair of the Advisory Panel on Municipal Revenues from “A Refined Argument”

On behalf of the members of the Advisory Panel on Municipal Mining Revenues, I am pleased to present our report.

The Panel that you and your Council convened to prepare this report includes a diversity of perspectives drawn from the panelists’ experiences in business, politics, community services, labour, education and the mining industry. It has been a privilege to work with these dedicated citizens.

As the work of the Panel progressed, ably supported by the resource team you provided, the diversity of experiences merged into a consensus that a new framework for balancing the costs and the benefits that the mining industry creates within our Municipality is essential. These issues need to be urgently addressed for the City of Greater Sudbury to achieve its potential.

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Executive Summary – A Refined Argument: Report of the Advisory Panel on Municipal Mining Revenues – Produced by the City of Greater Sudbury

The Sudbury Basin is arguably the most valuable geologic structure in the world. For more than one hundred years, dozens of mines have operated around the rim of this ancient meteor crater, extracting millions of pounds of nickel, copper and cobalt as well as million of ounces of gold, platinum and palladium.

The sales of these metals have realized tens of billions of dollars in profit for mining companies and billions of dollars in taxes for the Federal and Provincial Governments. The mining activities in the Sudbury Basin have in large measure driven the development of the progressive urban center that is the City of Greater Sudbury.

Local municipal government in the Sudbury area has gradually grown to match the geographic extent of the basin. As dictated by the Ontario government in 1973 and again in 2001, the disparate assembly of communities that had developed around the mine sites has been consolidated into Ontario’s largest municipality, covering a staggering 3,200 square kilometers.

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Ontario Mining Municipalities Want Fair Share of Tax Revenues – Gregory Reynolds

Gregory Reynolds - Timmins ColumnistThe fight by mining municipalities to win fair tax treatment from the Ontario government is entering a new phase. The drive is spearheaded by the two largest mining communities in Canada, Sudbury and Timmins. The two cities have accepted, finally, that in unity there is strength.

The second fact they have embraced is that there are too many voices attempting to get the ear of the politicians from the Golden Horseshoe.

There are just too many organizations that try to present the numerous problems facing Northern Ontario to Queen’s Park. This has enabled successive governments, and all three political parties are equally guilty when in power, to play the divide and conquer game.

Also part of the new reality accepted by northern representatives is that crying softly, or shouting loudly, doesn’t win friends or influence people. Hard facts, backed by statistics and logical arguments, are needed to achieve their goal of obtaining the financial help required to improve the quality of life in the region.

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Map Staking May Not Be The Answer – Gregory Reynolds

Gregory Reynolds - Timmins ColumnistThe Ontario government appears to be boxing itself in when it comes to the issue of map staking.

While large Canadian mining companies and some bureaucrats in the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines (MNDM) favour map staking over the traditional method of acquiring Crown land with the possibility of a mineral resource, prospectors and most small mining companies are opposed.

Actually going into the wilderness and physically walking the boundary of a mining claim, known as ground staking, generates a great deal of wealth for several sectors of the economy.

On the other hand, under map staking, a company or an individual can sit at a computer and pick out the land desired. Upon paying the ministry its fees, the company or the prospector has acquired temporary title to the land.

It must be noted under map staking, a company in Russia or a geologist in South Africa would be able to stake several hundred, or even several thousand, claims if the bill could be paid over the internet.

While the province is considering map staking for south of the French River and the debate over its value has raged over that point, there is another aspect to the situation.

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Gold Prices May Not Have Silver Lining – Gregory Reynolds

Gregory Reynolds - Timmins ColumnistThe long awaited – and predicted – push by the price of gold through the US$1000 an ounce barrier has occurred.

There is jubilation in the hearts of the gold bugs of the world, those faithful who attend conferences year-after-year to hear the word from on high: gold is the only asset to hold.

That the wait between gold’s previous record high in 1980 at US$850 an ounce to the March 13 break through was 27 years is being ignored.

The gold mining industry, especially in Canada, has reason to be happy but there is a need to look past the event and to ask why it happened.

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