[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.

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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.

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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.

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“The Great Canadian Mining Disaster” -by Jacquie McNish (November 25, 2006) – Globe and Mail’s Report on Business Inco Mining Story

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, November 25, 2006 edition of the Globe and Mail’s Report on Business Section. Jacquie McNish’s 16,000-word article on the failed Inco/Falconbridge merger has become the definitive account of this Canadian business tragedy.

THE GREAT CANADIAN MINING DISASTER

Scott Hand had a dream, to keep Inco Ltd. in Canadian hands. But he didn’t count on corporate betrayal, political apathy, a new bread of shareholders, and a lack of boardroom bravado

Introduction

The horizon clears

Inco sees its future

After days of murky weather, a wool fog lifted off central Labrador, revealing the bald rugged terrain explorer Jacques Cartier dismissed as “the land God gave to Cain.” The momentary clearing allowed a clutch of travellers to dash to two turbo props marooned at Happy Valley Goose Bay airport.

These were no ordinary tourists. Leading the parka-clad pack was Scott Hand, patrician chief executive officer of the world’s second-largest nickel producer, Inco Ltd. Behind him, eager to explore Cain, were an elite corps of international executives. Rick Waugh, CEO of Bank of Nova Scotia, a man who is gobbling up more Latin American banks than Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, was here. So was David O’Brien, chairman of EnCana Corp. and Royal Bank of Canada. Joining them were Glen Barton, retired chief of Illinois’ Caterpillar Inc.; John Mayberry, onetime CEO of Hamilton steel maker Dofasco Inc.; and Francis Mer, retired boss of European steel maker Arcelor SA and a former finance minister of France. Inco directors one and all, they scrambled to the Dash 8s under an uncertain sky to see for themselves the 21st century’s first great mining startup: Voisey’s Bay.

Mr. Hand, however, wanted his directors to see more than a prosperous mine on the afternoon of Sept. 20, 2005. Although Inco was still digesting the $4-billion, 1996 purchase of Voisey’s Bay, he believed it was time to deal again. Rival Falconbridge Ltd. was in play, presenting Inco with an opportunity to forge a global powerhouse by bringing some of the world’s richest copper and nickel deposits under one corporate entity.

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Building The Growth Plan For Northern Ontario – by Honourable Michael Gravelle, Ontario Minister of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry

Important steps are being taken as we work to finalize the Growth Plan for Northern Ontario.

Since the proposed plan was released last October, it has generated close to 300 submissions from individuals, municipalities, educational institutions, industry and community organizations across Northern Ontario.  More than 1,400 northerners participated in 10 public information sessions, and more than 40 videoconferences, meetings and workshops. Many groups organized special meetings to bring together communities and individuals from across sectors to discuss their input.             

As part of our government’s efforts to consult with Aboriginal peoples, 10 regional workshops were held and more than 260 people from First Nations, Métis and Aboriginal organizations reviewed the proposed plan and provided input. We also met with more than 130 northern youth including high school, college and university students, and young professionals building their careers in the North.

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December 8, 1927 Speech to the Empire Club by the Honourable William Finlayson, Ontario Minister of Lands and Forests about Northern Ontario’s Vast Potenial

The Empire Club of Canada, established in 1903, in Toronto is recognized as one of Canada’s oldest and largest speakers’ forums with a membership comprised of some of Canada’s most influential leaders from the professions, business, labour, education and government. Over its history it has been addressed by more than 3500 prominent Canadian and international leaders – men and women who have distinguished themselves in many fields of endeavour.

The Empire Club’s luncheon meetings attract audiences of 200 to 1,000 and usually take place on Thursdays at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel from September through June. Consult their events page for a detailed listing of this year’s events and links to their reservation forms. The addresses are broadcast on Rogers Television and many attract newspaper reports and editorial comment.

Honourable William Finlayson, Ontario Minister of Lands and Forests, Toronto, Ontario – December 8, 1927

The Vice-President introduced the speaker, who was received with loud applause. He said: “It is a pleasure to come to Southern Ontario and talk about Northern Ontario, because the people here are prepared to support any legislation properly designed to develop the North country”; yet I do so with a good deal of hesitation, because I see so many people here who have done far more work in Northern Ontario than I have been able to accomplish.

I see here Sir William Hearst, who knows Northern Ontario not only from the administrative standpoint, but from having lived there and helped to develop one of its important centres. Other men here have done perservering and effective work for the north country, men like Mr. Stapells and Mr. Gibbons, who are prepared to devote not only personal energy but business organization to assist in particular enterprises we may have in view up there.

The people of Toronto and all Southern Ontario think that civilization entered Ontario from the south, and that Cataraqui and Kingston are the oldest centres of civilization in this province; others say that Niagara was the birthplace of Ontario; while people in Toronto the “Meeting Place”-seem to think that civilization and romance and enterprise began here and spread through the province. But I would like to tell the people of Toronto at once, plainly and somewhat bluntly, that those ideas are all erroneous, and that the north, which is not only the source of present wealth but the hope for the future of Ontario, is the place where civilization and enterprise and business entered this province. Let me briefly prove this proposition.

Civilization entered Ontario in August 1615, when Father Recollet went up the Ottawa River, crossed Nipissing, and came down the French River and Georgian Bay. He was followed shortly after by the great Champlain.

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Ring of Fire Mine, Railway Will Bring Economic Development to Northern Ontario and Aboriginal Communities – by Ian Ross

This article was orginally published in Northern Ontario Business on December 23, 2009. 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.

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

Bob Middleton likens the discovery of chromite in the James Bay Lowlands to the 1903 Cobalt silver discovery that opened up Northern Ontario and created the great mining camps of Timmins and Kirkland Lake.

The potential impact of a massive open-pit mine, ore processing facilities and a railway into McFauld’s Lake, as proposed by Cliffs Natural Recources, will be a life-style changer for many living in remote First Nation communities, said the exploration industry veteran.

“It’s going to change the economy of this whole region,” said Middleton, director of Aboriginal and regulatory affairs with Canada Chrome Corp.
Cliffs’ $240 million stock offer to Freewest Resources, which together with KWG and Spider Resources, found some of the richest chromite deposits in the world, will be voted on by Freewest shareholders in January. The Freewest board is recommending approval of the Cliffs offer.

Middleton outlined his company’s role in a high-grade chromite resource in the area now called the Ring of Fire during a presentation at the Ontario Exploration and Geoscience Symposium, Dec. 16, 2009 in Sudbury.

Canada Chrome is a subsidiary of KWG Resources Inc., one of the companies involved in the $1.5 billion development, which includes an $800-million mine scheduled to go into production by 2015.

Cleveland, Ohio-based Cliffs, a global iron ore pellet and coal producer and an established industrial railway builder, is expanding into the stainless steel market with the development of North America’s first chromite mine.

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Rails to Riches in the Ring of Fire – by Edgar J. Lavoie

This article was orginally published in Northern Ontario Business on April 19, 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.

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

A man from North Carolina is standing on the north bank of the frozen Ogoki River in Northern Ontario. His job is to find bedrock that could support a bridge foundation for a Class 3 heavy-haul railway. The railway, currently under feasibility review, would transport 4 million tonnes of chromite every year from the Ring of Fire to the CN mainline near Nakina.

On Feb. 19, Colin Langford, geologist, is overdressed for the weather -2C. The sun is shining, the sky is clear. As the crew extracts two-inch rock core from the drill hole, Langford identifies the rock. “Granite,” he says. Good solid stuff.

Matthew Krzewinski, field program manager for Golder Associates, has dropped from the sky to check on the work. A helicopter is the transport of choice in this country. The company is performing geotechnical drilling on the proposed route.

Only a third of the 340-kilometre route runs through the rock, sand, and gravel of the Canadian Shield. The James Bay Lowlands, in which the Big Daddy chromite discovery is located, is wet – a wilderness of lakes and bogs. KWG Resources Inc. (TSX-V: KWG), in joint venture with Spider Resources Inc. (TSX-V: SPQ), created a subsidiary to do feasibility studies for a railway. In turn, Canada Chrome Corp. engaged Krech Ojard & Associates, PA, of Duluth, who hired Golder Associates, also of Duluth, with support from offices throughout Canada and the USA.

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Ring of Fire: A Chance to Remake, or Ruin, the North – by Tanya Talaga [Toronto Star-March 27, 2010]

Tanya Talaga is the Queen’s Park (Ontario Provincial Government) 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, March 27, 2010 on the front page of the Insight section.

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

A massive ore deposit has prospectors drooling, native groups worried about a raw deal and greens warning of an ecological disaster. With $30 billion at stake, the government is struggling to strike the right balance

MARTEN FALLS FIRST NATION, ONT.–Children sprint into the school gym to feast on the grapes, apples and oranges laid out on long tables – the first fresh fruit they’ve seen in months.

The fruit, all 90 kilos of it, is a gift to the 300 people living in this impoverished, fly-in-only reserve from Northern Development Minister Michael Gravelle.

He’s flown to Marten Falls, where the water is not clean enough to drink, on a diplomatic mission to soothe tensions among the Indians, government and mining companies over the proposed development of the Ring of Fire.

The Ring is a massive, 5,120-square-kilometre area of pristine wilderness that happens to be on Marten Falls’ traditional land and is said to hold one of the richest ore deposits in the world.

The buzz around the potential jackpot has prospectors jockeying for position as everyone lines up to stake their claim in this modern-day gold rush.

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Sudbury FNX and Vancouver Quadra Merger to Open Global Projects to Northern Firms – by Nick Stewart

This article was orginally published in Northern Ontario Business on April 23, 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.

Copper production the focus of new company

Northern Ontario mining suppliers may be able to tap into global mining projects, including a $2-billion mine construction project in Chile, as a result of the recently announced merger between Sudbury miner FNX Mining Company Inc. and Vancouver-based Quadra Mining Inc.

“As part of the integration of the two companies, we’ll look at our purchasing systems and resource material and use our larger orders and larger demands in order to both save money and rationalize how we deal,” says Dave Constable, vice-president of investor relations with FNX.

“So I definitely think there will be opportunities for Sudbury suppliers, because they are global and already do supply to Chile. The new company will rationalize the purchasing systems and make opportunities available to suppliers for both companies to be competitive and bid on those things.”

Announced in late March, the merger of equals will create intermediate copper producer Quadra FNX, amalgamating FNX’s projects in the Sudbury Basin with Quadra’s projects in Nevada, Arizona and twin mining projects in Chile.

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Mining Act and Far North Act need more work: OMA submission

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.

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

The Ontario Mining Association´s submission on the Mining Amendment Act and the Far North Act suggests both pieces of proposed legislation need some additional work, if they are to achieve the government´s intended goals.  The OMA submitted a full version of its review of Bill 173, Mining Amendment Act, and Bill 191, Far North Act, to the Legislature´s Standing Committee on General Government today. 

Last month, OMA President Chris Hodgson presented highlights of the OMA´s views to this committee at hearings in Thunder Bay.  Mr. Hodgson was accompanied at the public consultation by John Blogg, OMA Secretary and Manager of Industrial Relations, Adele Faubert, Manager of Aboriginal Affairs at Goldcorp´s Musselwhite Mine, and Jerome Girard, Mill Superintendent at the Musselwhite Mine. 

“Recent turbulence in the economy has had a negative impact on our industry, but there are steps that the government can take to ensure Ontario remains in an optimal position to take advantage of the next boom in commodity prices,” said the OMA submission.  “Bill 173 and Bill 191 are a start in that direction, but only if this committee ensures that the amendments recommended are in fact implemented in a manner that will foster the growth of mining in the province.”

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Mining Still Glitters in Northern Ontario – Stan Sudol

This article was originally published in the Sudbury Star on October 8, 2004

In July, Alberta Premier Ralph Klein proudly announced that his province’s massive debt has been slain. However, he could not have accomplished that historic feat without the development of northern Alberta’s booming oilsands economy and ensuing resource royalties. Sadly, Ontario, struggling with a $142-billion debt and a $100-billion infrastructure deficit, is largely ignoring the mineral rich potential of its north.

According to the Australian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, over the next 50 years the world will use five times all the mineral supplies that have ever been mined up to the year 2000.

China, India, Brazil and other emerging countries are rapidly industrializing their economies, which require a wide variety of base metals, many of which could be found in one of the world’s richest geological regions — northern Ontario. We are entering a commodity boom that could last for decades.

Historically, northern Ontario’s mineral wealth has provided high paying jobs, supplied significant tax revenues to Queen’s Park and helped settle much of the region. The mining sector still generates enormous wealth and industrial activity.

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Modernizing Ontario’s Mining Act: Proposal To Move To Map Staking – by Michael Gravelle – Minister of Northern Development and Mines

Not everyone realizes that the products of mining are all around us, all the time: in medicine, in transportation, in electronics, in consumer goods. In that regard, the value of mining in the everyday lives of all Ontarians cannot be overstated.

In addition, the minerals sector is a major contributor to Ontario’s economy. Ontario leads the country in the production of non-fuel minerals, such as nickel, gold and copper, and is a major player in the world. In 2008, Ontario’s mineral production was valued at $9.6 billion, with the province’s 27 metal mines generating $6.6 billion for the economy.

The McGuinty government remains wholly committed to building on the industry’s status as a world leader in mineral exploration and development, while it continues to promote sustainable mineral resource practices for the benefit of all Ontarians.

At the end of April, it was my pleasure to introduce to the Legislature proposed ground-breaking changes to Ontario’s Mining Act.

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Former Premier David Peterson’s July 30, 1986, Laurentian University Speech Announcing the Relocation of MNDM and the OGS to Sudbury

In light of the recent decision to put Federal and Provincial money into mining research at the University of Toronto instead of Laurentian, I have posted former Premier David Peterson’s July 30, 1986 historic speech announcing the relocation of MNDM and OGS to Sudbury.

This was one of the most significant economic turning points in the community’s history.

In this speech, Peterson outlines a previous Liberal Government’s entirely different attitude to the sustainable, long-term development of Northern Ontario as well as proudly helping build a global cluster of mining expertise in Sudbury, the richest mining district in North America and among the top ten most strategic in the world.

Honourable David R. Peterson PC, QC

Just over three weeks ago, I was in Sault Ste. Marie with some of my colleagues to announce elements of a northern Ontario economic development strategy this government will carry out over the next few years.

As a first step in this process, we announced a combination of new and accelerated government projects to provide a needed short-term stimulus to that area’s flagging economy.

But we also recognized that the challenges facing the North are related to deeper, more profound changes taking place in the economy. This restructuring is needed to ensure the competitiveness of our resource industries in the international market place.

To better understand and address these longer term, structural changes, we announced in Sault Ste. Marie a number of measures the Government will take.

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No Plan, No Succession, No Future for Local Ownership in Sudbury- 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

Last month, I wrote about the hollowing out of Northern Ontario and the continuing deterioration of authority, influence and relevance in key sectors.

The topic of the day was the destruction of CBC Radio as a connecting force in the North and the ignorance of the people who made the decision to save such piddling amounts of money in the shadow of such benefit.

This month another storyline.

Vale Inco is restructuring. They are taking people in the finance, human resources and procurement departments and moving the strategic thinking and execution out of Sudbury and down to São Paulo and Toronto. In simple terms, it means that local procurement (say rock bolts) will remain in Sudbury but worldwide purchasing (say tires and information technology) will be done elsewhere. It means that the analysis of the business will move from Sudbury to São Paulo.

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