Corporate Social Responsibility and Canada’s Mining Exploration Sector: Doing the Right Thing Wherever We Work – Jon Baird (June 23, 2009)

Jon Baird, Past President of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC), gave this speech to the Economic Club of Canada on June 23, 2009

Check against delivery

Thank you for your generous introduction, Bill. In a 2007 speech here at the Economic Club, National Chief Phil Fontaine of the Assembly of First Nations didn’t pull any punches.

He opened his talk by describing the poverty, suffering and frustration that too many of his people live with.
He called for businesses to join the AFN’s Corporate Challenge and work together with First Nations to help address long standing problems and alleviate poverty. The National Chief described the resource industry as a natural partner for First Nations and called on both groups to work together for their mutual benefit.

So it’s fitting that the PDAC is here today to publicly introduce our new corporate social responsibility initiative, e3 Plus: A Framework for Responsible Exploration.

Aboriginal people and Europeans have been working together on the hunt for minerals in Canada since Jacques Cartier arrived here 500 years ago looking for, he said, “gold, rubies and other gems.”

The PDAC marks the industry’s long connection with Aboriginal people with the Skookum Jim Award, which is presented at our convention in Toronto every March. It recognizes Aboriginal achievement in the industry. Skookum Jim was a Tagish man who led the group that discovered gold in the Klondike in 1896 and touched off the Yukon gold rush.

Those of you outside the mining community may not be aware of how closely geoscientists in this country work with First Nations people.

Read more

Thunder Bay’s Confederation College, Mineral Sector Train Aboriginal Students for Mining Jobs – Ian Ross

This article was originally published in Northern Ontario Business in the December, 2009 issue. 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.

The next generation of mining employees will include many First Nations participants

Building a home-grown workforce has always been an important to Henry Wetelainen, president of Bending Lake Iron Group.

The Thunder Bay-based junior miner is partnering with Confederation College to run a prospectors course at the company’s iron ore deposit near Ignace in northwestern Ontario.

For his Aboriginally-owned, family-run company, Wetelainen said it’s always been a driving interest in his family to get First Nation youth interested in the grass roots end of the mining cycle.

“This is important to us as a company,” said Wetelainen, who has students from remote First Nation communities such as Gull Bay, Kasabonika and Big Trout Lake. “What’s an agreement with the First Nations worth if you can’t live up to it?”

Read more

De Beers Canada Victor Mine Creates Enormous Opportunities for Northern Ontario First Nations

This article was provided by the Ontario Mining Association (OMA), an organization that was established in 1920 to represent the mining industry of the province.

 Ontario Mining Association member De Beers Canada’s Victor diamond mine is a sparkling example of promoting Aboriginal employment.  The Victor diamond mine, which is located about 90 kilometres west of Attawapiskat in the James Bay lowlands, currently has 226 employees from First Nations, or 43% of its workforce.

More than 90 employees from this group are from Attawapiskat with large representation from Fort Albany, Moosonee and Moose Factory and Kashechewan and 40 are from First Nations outside the James Bay area.  In Canada, mining is the largest private sector employer of Aboriginals.  This group comprises 7.5% of the mining workforce, which is up from 3.6% of the country’s total mineral sector workforce in 2006.

The Victor Mine operates with three different impact-benefit agreements – one each with Attawapiskat, Fort Albany/Kashechewan and Moose Factory/Moosonee.  “Negotiating the impact-benefit agreement is the relatively easy bit, implementing it is the tough part and making sure everyone understands their role is more difficult,” said Jonathan Fowler, De Beers Canada Vice President Aboriginal Affairs and Sustainability. 

“One of our strengths is in striving to build a culture of diversity,” he added.  “We don’t believe in a having a specific percentage of First Nation employment.  We want to provide opportunities for people to grow and develop and the real target is to maximize First Nation employment.”

Read more

Hollywood’s Avatar Imitates Ontario Mining/Aboriginal Conflicts – by Juan Carlos Reyes

Juan Carlos Reyes is the organizer of the annual Learning Together conference and an aboriginal consultant with He is passionate about human rights and works tirelessly to help improve the lives of Canadian aboriginal people. This column was originally published in May 2010.

There still may be a few among you who have yet to see James Cameron’s epic blockbuster Avatar.  My advice: Go see it! The movie offers an interesting vision of colonial mentality — something to which many Aboriginal people will relate. Here’s my take on it: White Americans travel to a distant planet to mine an invaluable mineral.

They hire researchers and scientists to placate the indigenous population (called the Na’vi) by socially infiltrating the community and attempting to convince them to move to more “suitable” locations. When the ruse fails, the mining company gets fed up and redefines the term “explosive climax.” The hero of the story, a white American military recruit, switches sides and helps lead the Na’vi to victory.

James Cameron has received a lot of heat over this movie. But I think that Avatar was developed brilliantly. Some reviews claim that Cameron’s idea was to portray the Black or Muslim or indigenous experience. Regardless of his motivation, the movie succeeds in its depiction of the way industrialized nations have “taken over” in many developing countries.

Read more

Ontario’s Hemlo Gold Camp Celebrates 25 Years of Production

This article was provided by the Ontario Mining Association (OMA), an organization that was established in 1920 to represent the mining industry of the province.

Barrick’s Hemlo operations organized a series of educational and celebratory events to mark the 25th anniversary of gold production in the Hemlo gold camp in Northwestern Ontario, near Marathon.  The Ontario Mining Association was pleased to participate in the activities.  Lesley Hymers, OMA Environment and Education Specialist, was on hand with an interactive display booth promoting careers in mining and the OMA high school video competition So You Think You Know Mining.

Back in the 1980s, Hemlo was the industry newsmaker and headline driver in Ontario.  It was the most exciting and largest mineral development in the province since the Kidd Mine in Timmins in the 1960s.  The Hemlo orebody supported three mines originally. Good old fashioned prospecting smarts, innovative geological thinking and interpretations and perseverance led to the discovery and development of this gold mining complex.  At the time, it was improbable to think that three headframes not more than two kilometres apart located within snowball throwing distance of the Trans Canada Highway were producing gold on previously explored ground.

The mine in the middle – Golden Giant Mine – began production in 1985 and it closed in 2006.  The mine in the east – David Bell – and the mine in the west – Williams – are still in operation today and part of Barrick’s fleet of global gold mines.  The Williams and David Bell mines share milling, processing and tailings facilities and the ores are co-mingled for the extraction process.  In 2009, these mines produced 275,000 ounces of gold.  Estimated proven and probable ore reserves contain more than 1.3 million ounces of gold.

Read more

Map Staking Versus Ground Staking: An Enormous Threat to Ontario’s Mineral Prospectors – by Gregory Reynolds

Gregory Reynolds - Timmins Columnist

This column was originally published in the Autumn, 2009 issue of Highgrader Magazine which is committed to serve the interests of northerners by bringing the issues, concerns and culture of the north to the world through the writings and art of award-winning journalists as well as talented freelance artists, writers and photographers.

Gregory Reynolds is a Timmins, Canada-based columnist who writes extensively about mining and northern Ontario issues. He can be contacted at

The Vanishing Canadian may sound like the title for a suspense novel but it is really a realistic description of the fate of the prospector. It has been a career in twilight for many decades but a proposed change to the Ontario Mining Act will turn into a final nail in its coffin.

Canadian’s mining and mineral industries owe their existence to the men – and a few women – who abandoned the comforts of civilization for the hardships of life in the bush.

Home was a tent or a crude cabin with the isolation of living alone usually tempered only by the comfort of a dog.

Bears, mosquitoes, black flies and no see’ems were part of the wildlife that made the hunt for precious and base metals dangerous, not forgetting the distance from medical attention and even further travel to reach a hospital.

When the provincial legislature makes map staking legal in Ontario, there will no longer be a need for prospectors. Individuals and companies will be able to stake claims by looking at a map and informing – and paying – the government electronically.

“The elimination of ground staking is singly the biggest threat to the individual prospector and will result in
an extensive cull and possible extinction of the independent prospector throughout Ontario.”

The present system is called “ground staking” because a person holding an Ontario prospector’s licence is required to physically walk the boundary of a mining claim, marking trees and erecting four corner posts to which his claim tag and other information must be affixed.

After a claim has been staked and then explored, sometimes something of value is discovered. That sets off what is known as a “staking rush.”

Read more

The Future of Mining in Ontario: Is it golden? – by Chris Hodgson

Chris Hodgson is President of the Ontario Mining Association (OMA), an organization that was established in 1920 to represent the mining industry of the province. This column was provided by the OMA.

The Ontario Mining Association held a conference in June “The future of mining in Ontario: Is it golden?” in North Bay, which celebrated the Association’s 90th anniversary. There was the appropriate cake on hand and other touches to mark the occasion along with a commemorative plaque, which was presented by Mines Minister Michael Gravelle on behalf of Premier Dalton McGuinty.

This plaque reads “Since its founding in 1920, the OMA has excelled in representing the interests of companies engaged in the exploration, production and processing of our province’s mineral resources. As the voice for the mining industry in Ontario, the OMA plays a crucial role in securing the sector’s prosperity and competitiveness, while ensuring that Ontario’s mining potential is developed in a sustainable way.”

Perhaps after 90 years, it is time to reflect on how the industry has changed over those decades. After all, the OMA has been open for business longer than all national mining organizations except the Canadian Institute of Mining. In order to put things in a historical perspective, since 1920, Canada has had 15 different people serve as Prime Ministers while Ontario has had 17 different premiers and 32 different mines ministers.

When the OMA first hung out its shingle, Sir Robert Borden was Canada’s leader in Ottawa and Ernest Drury of the United Farmers of Ontario was running things at Queen’s Park. The list of people who have served as Chairmen of the OMA -and there have been 77 of them -reads like a Who’s Who of Canadian corporate history.

Read more

A History of the Canadian Shield – Canada’s Mineral Treasure Trove – David Kilgour (Part 2 of 2)

The Honourable David Kilgour P.C., is the Conservative Member of Parliament for Edmonton Southeast.

North of the Fiftieth Parallel

In addition to its northeast and northwest, Ontario also has another north, the one beyond the fiftieth parallel where boreal forests become tundra. Sioux Lookout, Moosonee and Red Lake/Balmertown are its major cities; places like Pickle Lake and Ear Falls are its “towns.” Most of its approximately 30,000 residents live in isolated communities, accessible mostly by bush planes.

Culturally, the various Ontario Norths differ both from each other and from the southern part of the province. Many non-British newcomers reached parts of northern Ontario and Prairie Canada in roughly equal numbers and at about the same time. Today, despite the passage of three generations, multiculturalism has triumphed in numerous northern communities.

Francophones are found everywhere in northern Ontario, although most numerous in the northeast, and today command reasonable access to francophone education, radio and health services in a number of census districts. A second major group is the aboriginal peoples who predominate “north of fifty” either as status Indians, with treaty rights, as non-status Indians, or as Métis. Ojibway is spoken in the south; Ojibway and Cree in the centre; Cree only in the north. Band councils and Band chiefs are the municipal governments of these peoples. It troubles small native communities who live from fishing and hunting that their band chairmen are not yet recognized by Queen’s Park and Ottawa as they are by other Indians.

The living conditions of Ontario aboriginals tend to vary with the situation of the neighbouring white centres. The Fort William band members near Thunder Bay live quite well; conditions for people living near less prosperous centres are often outrageous. Native communities in some remote reserves compare unfavourably with settlements in developing world nations. Virtually nowhere today do hunting, fishing, trapping, and wild rice harvesting provide decent livings. High school and junior education is generally inadequate for young persons choosing either to remain in the north or to seek future-oriented jobs in the south.

Read more

A History of the Canadian Shield – Canada’s Mineral Treasure Trove – David Kilgour (Part 1 of 2)

The Honourable David Kilgour P.C., is the Conservative Member of Parliament for Edmonton Southeast.

The Canadian Shield is, to most Canadians and foreigners alike, the quintessential Canada. I share this view having lived in the Gatineau Park spur of it for more than a decade and having often vacationed at Lake of the Woods for many more years. In countless ways, the Shield is idyllic. I think, for example, of the hundreds of motor boats which gather each July 1st in Kenora Bay at the north end of Lake of the Woods to watch Canada Day fireworks. Mingled with townspeople at these annual events under the stars are summer residents from all over the country. Many would move to the area to live year round if they could somehow earn a living; some do.

Approximately two million Québeckers and Ontarians combined live on the Canadian Shield. Since its borders are physical rather than political, residents on both sides of the provincial boundary lack effective structures through which they can pursue common regional concerns. The north of both provinces contains relatively thinly-populated frontier hinterlands; for many years, each of them has had only a limited influence on its respective provincial parliament and upon Ottawa policy makers.

The Shield in fact occupies more than forty per cent of our national territory across five provinces, but contains only eight per cent of our national population. In recent years, vigorous natural resource competition from developing countries, a declining resource-orientation of the world economy, and the weakened political position of the American economy have reduced mineral exploration and development across the region. Decades ago, it also contributed to the development of our national self-identity through the art of the Group of Seven and considerable writing about Northern self-reliance.

John Diefenbaker’s view that our national future lay in harnessing the distant North was popular in its day.

Read more

Brief History of Ontario Mining

Prospecting and Developing

Ontario has become one of the most fortunate and richest regions of the world primarily for two reasons. It has vast natural resources including mineral deposits of untold potential. The increasingly complex skills and knowledge necessary for the discovery and development of these deposits have been acquired, refined and applied vigorously by residents of Ontario with growing sophistication during the last 200 years.

Although native peoples knew of some of its mineral deposits and drew on them to meet their own needs, the extent of Ontario’s mineral potential did not begin to become clear until major discoveries of silver and gold were made early in the 20th century on the province’s section of the Precambrian Shield, Canada’s primary geological formation. Massive deposits of copper-nickel ores had been uncovered near Sudbury in the 1880s. But knowledge of their presence did little to change the prevailing view that the Precambrian region of northern Ontario was a barrier to progress. Something of the character of that region, and of what had to occur before its rocks would yield up their riches, may be found in the poetry of Robert W. Service:

I am the land that listens, I am the land that broods;
Steeped in eternal beauty, crystalline waters and woods.
Long have I waited lonely, shunned as a thing accurst,
Monstrous, moody, pathetic, the last of the lands and the first;
Wild and wide are my borders, stern as death is my sway,
And I wait for the men who will win me — and I will not be won in a day.

Men and women, with the qualities that Robert Service identified, settled in Ontario as the 19th century ended and the 20th century began. The record of how they and successive generations transformed its mineral potential into the reality of wealth, with few of them becoming rich in the process, is a central though often neglected feature of the history of Ontario and Canada. Indeed, the emergence of Ontario as the most populous and wealthiest Canadian province, and of Canada as an industrialized and respected nation, cannot be fully understood without some appreciation of the key roles that prospecting and mining have played in that development.

Read more

Brief History of Northern Ontario

This brief history was originally posted on the Ontario Ministry of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry

The largest single population increase in the history of Northern Ontario
occurred in the 1950s during a period of unprecedented economic prosperity.
The boom, mostly in the mining sector, pushed the population from 536,000
in 1951 to 722,000 in 1961

Northern Ontario a Vast and Magnificent Land

Northern Ontario is a unique land sculpted by geology, tempered by climate. Imagine more than a million square kilometre expanse of Precambrian forests and lakes punctuated occasionally by towns and cities — a contrast to the flat, populous, lowland area that is southern Ontario.

Northerners believe that living on this ruggedly beautiful land and battling climatic extremes has imbued them with a distinctiveness.

The mists of time in Northern Ontario lift 9,000 years ago with the arrival of the ancestors of First Nations people. From them descended the woodland, hunter-gatherer societies of the Algonkian culture.

The first European forays into the area came in the early 17th century by explorers from competing colonial empires, England’s Henry Hudson and France’s Samuel de Champlain. Initially, they were looking for a shorter trade route to Asia. They found something else, a land blessed with fur, which was in great demand in Europe.

Read more

De Beers Canada – Sustainable Mining Contributes to Northern Economies and Aboriginal Employment

This article was provided by the Ontario Mining Association (OMA), an organization that was established in 1920 to represent the mining industry of the province.

De Beers Canada celebrated two official diamond mine openings back-to-back in July 2008 – the Victor Mine in Ontario and the Snap Lake Mine in the Northwest Territories. However, the path to those production start-ups took a circuitous and difficult journey of almost 50 years. It took vision, faith and dedication to complete the trek.

De Beers, which is acknowledged as the world’s leading diamond company, began in 1888 in South Africa. The company commenced its exploration activities in Canada in the early 1960s with a staff of four. The first geological field season for De Beers in Canada was 1961.

If you move forward almost half a century to 2009 and De Beers Canada’s first full year of production, you can look at the results. From an operational standpoint, Victor turned out 696,000 carats and Snap Lake produced 444,000 carats for a total diamond output of 1,140,000 carats. This led to a revenue of $316.4 million ($243.7 Victor and $72.7 Snap Lake).

Read more

[Vale Strike] In Sudbury it’s Restive, Not Festive – by Tony Van Alphen (Toronto Star-December 19, 2009)

Tony Van Alphen is a Business Reporter 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. This article was originally published on Saturday, December 19, 2009.

Workers’ mettle gets test as Vale Inco strike drags into bitter northern winter , It’s a war zone here. Their tactics are designed to provoke us like never before. They’re not interested in getting back to bargaining.

SUDBURY–Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” is blasting from a satellite radio in the tent’s makeshift living room.

A couple of plush La-Z-Boy rockers and a couch surround a blazing wood stove. The fresh Christmas tree in the corner gives the place a cozy holiday feeling.

Three hearty men in heavy overcoats and toques hover around the stove, slap their gloves and exchange brotherly greetings. The song ends and they step outside into another world.

There’s not a lot of love or warmth there. They’re on the picket line just after sunrise a few days before Christmas at Vale Inco’s Clarabelle Mill.

It’s a flashpoint in the five-month standoff between some 3,100 workers and one of the world’s biggest mining companies.

The workers face a bitter wind, -20C temperatures and a company spending millions of dollars to keep them in line. Strikers walk the line and delay trucks and cars for 12 to 15 minutes before allowing them through to the sprawling mill up the road. Then, they walk some more.

Read more

Vale Inco’s Bottom Line – How Much Does it Cost to Produce a Pound of Nickel in Sudbury, Canada? – by Kelly Louiseize

This article was orginally published in Northern Ontario Business on March 18, 2010. Established in 1980, Northern Ontario Business provides Canadians and international investers with relevant, current and insightful editorial content and business news information about Ontario’s vibrant and resource-rich North.

Differing opinions on Sudbury’s costs

When Brazil’s Vale SA snapped up Inco for $19 billion in 2006, there was plenty of buzz as to what the mining giant would do with the 107-year old Canadian miner.

Traumatic restructuring fears were quickly put to rest by Murilo Ferreira, the Brazilian in charge of the nickel division who spoke at a Sudbury luncheon. He said there would be very little change with this “successful company.”

Less than a year later, Ferreira stepped down and was replaced by Tito Martins, a former Vale communications executive who together with CEO Roger Agnelli began a series of strategies to make Sudbury more globally competitive.

Agnelli stated that based on current price levels the Sudbury operations was one of the “highest cost operations” Vale Inco owns.

Change was needed to make Sudbury more sustainable.

Productivity and bonuses were red-flagged five years ago when Mark Cutifani was the helmsman at Inco Ltd. Under his direction the intent was to increase productivity by 30 per cent and take another look at the nickel bonus when negotiations came around.

“We knew we all had to work together,” Cutifani said in a phone interview with Northern Ontario Business this past month.

Read more

A Breakthrough in China, [Nickel Pig Iron] Another Blow for Sudbury – by Andy Hoffman (Globe and Mail-June 15, 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 Saturday, June 12, 2010 edition of the Globe and Mail’s Report on Business section.

No longer just a low-wage workshop, China is reshaping world markets through innovation – including a revolutionary alloy that takes aim at Canada’s nickel belt

Andy Hoffman, Asia-Pacific Reporter – Xuzhou, China

Ask Li Guang about the prospects for his business and a self-assured grin creeps across the young executive’s face. It’s a smile that means trouble for Canada’s nickel-mining capital of Sudbury, Ont., more than 11,000 kilometres away from Mr. Li’s office in eastern China .

“Our production has quite a lot of advantages compared to refined nickel,” says the budding metals titan, who is all of 30 years old and dressed in a short-sleeve dress shirt and black jeans. “Now, in China, many other enterprises are going to enter this market. Gradually they will take over a lot of the share of refined nickel.”

Mr. Li and his company, Jiangsu Mingzhu, are among the many Chinese manufacturers churning out a revolutionary product known as nickel pig iron or NPI. Despite its prosaic name, the alloy has set the global nickel industry on its ear by providing a low-cost alternative to the refined nickel that has typically been used to make stainless steel. Cheap NPI threatens to squelch demand for the refined metal, which is produced in places like Sudbury, as well as in Russia and Australia.

In less than five years, NPI has reshaped the world nickel industry, marking a new stage in China’s capitalist evolution. Since it opened itself to trade in the late 1970s, the Asian nation has become famous for two things – lowering the price of manufactured products with its cheap labour costs, and driving up the price of commodities with its aggressive demand. Now it is altering the fundamentals of a vital industrial sector with a homespun innovation.

NPI, a material produced in low-tech Chinese factories, already accounts for as much as 10 per cent of the world’s $21-billion-a-year nickel market, more than all the nickel that can be produced annually in Sudbury. Some analysts expect China’s NPI producers to double their output this year.

Read more