Asbestos: Killer product or toxic PR? – by Mark Bonokoski (Toronto Sun – July 10, 2011)

Mark Bonokoski is a columnist for the Toronto Sun, the city’s daily tabloid newspaper.

Back in May, an international consortium of doctors, scientists, labour leaders and health organizations wrote a rather pandering letter to Zimbabwe dictator Robert Mugabe.

And, in that letter, they appealed for “His Excellency” to back off reopening two old asbestos mines in the country he has already impoverished by murderously turning Africa’s certified bread basket into a certifiable basket case.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s name was not mentioned, but it was implied, citing the Canadian government’s support for the reopening of the Jeffrey asbestos mine in Quebec as the kind of “reprehensive and retrogressive” action that Zimbabwe should not emulate.

The World Health Organization, the International Labour Organization and the International Trade Union Confederation — claiming to represent 176 million workers in 151 countries — have all called for a global end of the use of any form of asbestos, citing it has led to the deaths and chronic disabilities of thousands of innocent victims from cancer and the respiratory disease of asbestosis.

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Sitting on a gold mine – by Lisa Wright (Toronto Star – July 2, 2011)

Lisa Wright is a business reporter with 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.

It began with dreams of a glittering gold price and a gutsy geological gamble. And it took shape in Malartic, population 3,600, a town 520 kilometres northwest of Montreal that literally sits on a gold mine. The highly anticipated project became Canada’s largest gold mine when it opened in June.

But when Osisko Mining Corp. started drilling in 2005, they quickly made a discovery. “We realized the biggest problem was that there were 205 houses and six institutional buildings sitting right on top of it (the deposit),” recalls Osisko chief executive Sean Roosen.

“After we drilled 30 holes we said, ‘Well, that’s a pretty interesting deposit. Unless we can convince the good folks of Malartic to move, it’s a no go.’” That wasn’t the only hurdle.

Osisko had to talk Bay St. into a $1 billion financing for the big move and mine construction in the remote Quebec town amid a severe market downturn.

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Brain drain in Canada threatens mining’s future – by Agence France-Presse (Montreal Gazette – June 29, 2011)

MONTREAL — A shortage of mining specialists in Canada is hobbling the industry at a time when emerging giants India and China are pushing demand for ores and precious metals to record highs, experts say.

“You can’t find good geologists,” Rene Marion, chief executive of AuRico Gold, a Canadian company with mining operations in Mexico, told AFP.

“Hiring is a major, major problem,” echoed Jean-Marc Lulin, head of junior mining company Azimut Exploration. Canada is home to several major multinational mining firms, including Barrick, the world’s largest gold producer, with operations on five continents.

Companies are desperate for geologists, mining engineers and workers with metallurgical, chemical, electrical and environmental expertise, as well as good managers, according to McGill University’s Hani Mitri.

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With asbestos, we are the Ugly Canadians – by Jeffrey Simpson (Globe and Mail – June 25, 2011)

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.

Billions of dollars will be spent over the next two decades to repair the Parliament Buildings. One reason for the repair: The buildings are full of asbestos, a cancer-causing substance that Canadians no longer use.

But we mine asbestos, we ship it, we make money from it, and we’ll use every diplomatic trick in the book to defend this odious practice. We are the Ugly Canadians.

The Harper government could care less. It vigorously defends mining asbestos because of one little corner of Quebec, near Thetford Mines, where the asbestos is mined and shipped to developing countries, mostly in Asia. Stephen Harper’s top Quebec minister, Christian Paradis, used to head the Thetford Mines chamber of commerce. Mr. Harper campaigned in the area and supported the mining. He spent part of Friday, St. Jean Baptiste Day, in Thetford Mines, thereby reinforcing his government’s political marriage to asbestos.

This week, the Ugly Canadians stood alone against the world in blocking the listing of chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous chemical under the Rotterdam Convention.

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Canada’s toxic asbestos trade – Toronto Star Editorial Comment – June 25, 2011

The Toronto Star, which has the largest broadsheet circulation in Canada,  has an enormous impact on Canada’s federal and provincial politics as well as shaping public opinion.

For years the federal government has been warned by doctors, environmentalists, unions, even Health Canada, about the deadly impact of asbestos. But Ottawa remains intransigent about curbing exports of this harmful mineral. Once again this week it opposed listing chrysotile asbestos on the United Nations’ list of dangerous materials. Once again it acted irresponsibly.

At a summit in Switzerland to discuss the Rotterdam Convention — a UN treaty on the international trading of hazardous substances — Canadian officials quietly blocked the inclusion of asbestos on the list of dangerous materials, joining such countries as Vietnam, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

The hypocrisy is staggering. The federal government has spent millions to clear its own buildings of this noxious material — including taking it out of 24 Sussex Drive to protect the Prime Minister and his family. Canadian companies, schools and homeowners have also removed asbestos from their structures. Yet we happily export it.

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James Y. Murdoch (1890 – 1962) 1989 Canadian Mining Hall of Fame Inductee

The Canadian Mining Hall of Fame was conceived by the late Maurice R. Brown, former editor and publisher of The Northern Miner, as a way to recognize and honour the legendary mine finders and builders of a great Canadian industry. The Hall was established in 1988. For more information about the extraordinary individuals who have been inducted into the Hall of Fame, please go to their home website:

 A lawyer by profession, James Y. Murdoch, who became first president of the fledgling Noranda Mines in 1922, at the age of 32, was one of the greatest its builders Canada has ever produced. Not just a mine-builder, but a nation builder.

He was president of the company for 30 years, until 1956, and chairman until his death in 1962. His “temporary” appointment became famous as “the most permanent temporary appointment on record”.
Out of the “important-looking” discovery of prospector Ed Horne in the wilds of northwestern Quebec, Murdoch masterminded the growth and development of Noranda into a massive complex of mines and processing facilities. His energy and judgment could be seen in every step of consequence Noranda took during Murdoch’s 30 years as president.

From the earliest days of its development, Murdoch saw Noranda as more than just the mine that Horne discovered. He visualized, instead, a rounded industry that would refine and fabricate its metals as well as producing them, proving that Canadian raw materials could be processed to the finished state within Canada.

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Edmund Horne (1865 – 1952) 1996 Canadian Mining Hall of Fame Inductee

The Canadian Mining Hall of Fame was conceived by the late Maurice R. Brown, former editor and publisher of The Northern Miner, as a way to recognize and honour the legendary mine finders and builders of a great Canadian industry. The Hall was established in 1988. For more information about the extraordinary individuals who have been inducted into the Hall of Fame, please go to their home website:

Along with many other prospectors of his generation, Edmund Horne came to northern Ontario at the turn of the century with hopes of finding his pot of gold. Success was elusive, but rather than give up, Horne decided to venture across the border into Quebec, based on his belief that good geology did not stop at the Ontario border. This conviction grew over the years, and ultimately led to the discovery of the magnificent Horne copper and gold mine which formed the foundation for Noranda, one of Canada’s great mining companies.

Born in Enfield, Nova Scotia, Horne was a miner and prospector of wide experience long before he ventured into the wilds of Quebec’s Rouyn Township. He worked for several years at the Oldham gold mine near his home before wanderlust seized him. His travels took him to Colorado, and then to the gold camps of British Columbia and California. In 1908, Horne caught wind of the silver discoveries in Cobalt, and came to northern Ontario to start the most important chapter of his wandering miner’s odyssey.

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Magnetic North: The Canadian (Mining) Miracle – by Mark P. Mills (Forbes – June 12, 2011)

Mark P. Mills is a founding partner in energy-tech-focused Digital Power Capital, a private equity firm focused on new technologies that arise from the convergence of power and the tools, materials and software of the digital age.

In child psychology birth order is often considered significantly determinative.  Younger siblings often learn lessons watching the elder ones, well, screw up.  Canada is almost a full century younger than its North American sibling.  What exactly is going on above the 49th parallel?  First quarter 2011 my Canadian brethren and sisters (full disclosure, je suis Canadien) delivered a 3.9 percent GDP growth rate against an enervating 1.8 percent U.S. rate.  Just a few short years ago, nobody would have predicted this.

Nearly one-third of Canada’s GDP is export-based with nearly half of that coming from minerals, metals and fuels.  It is a nation extracting value from its natural environment, not ‘plundering’, as Canadians’ respect for their land is deep and abiding.  And America benefits, receiving three-fourths of Canada’s exports.

Of particular interest these days is the re-invigorated gold rush in that vast northern expanse.  No surprise.  Gold is expensive again, bouncing around $1,500 an ounce.

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Birth of a gold major [Osisko Mining] – Peter Koven (National Post – May 30, 2011)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper. Peter Koven is the Post’s mining reporter. This article was originally published in the Financial Post on May 30, 2011.

By 2006, Osisko Mining Corp. knew it had a major gold discovery near the town of Malartic in northwest Quebec. But it also had a serious problem.

“Everything was fine and dandy with the drilling, except that when you were standing by the drill, you could throw a rock at the closest house,” chief executive Sean Roosen recalls.

Five years later, Osisko is hosting an opening ceremony for the Canadian Malartic gold mine on Monday. It will be the biggest gold mine in Canada once it reaches full production, with an estimated 625,000 ounces of gold output a year for the first five years. And as the project starts generating major cash flow, Osisko will enter the big leagues of Canada’s mining sector.

But getting here hasn’t been easy. Mr. Roosen remembers almost losing the company following the financial crisis in 2008. And there was that little matter of the town being in the way of the mine.

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Quebec to Spend Billions to Develop Resources in Northern Regions- by Ian Austen (New York Times – May 10, 2011)

OTTAWA — Quebec province, anticipating renewed interest in its natural resources, rolled out on Monday an ambitious 25-year plan to develop its vast but largely untouched northern and Arctic regions.

The region is well endowed with mineral resources, woodlands and potential hydroelectric developments, but it lacks the roads, railways, ports, communications links and other infrastructure necessary for their exploitation.

The plan initially commits the province to spending 2.1 billion Canadian dollars ($2.2 billion). It also calls for a variety of measures, including the establishment of an investment fund, which Quebec hopes will initially lead to the development of at least 11 mines and ultimately produce overall investment of 80 billion Canadian dollars.

While the proposed project, known as Plan Nord, includes banning any industrial activity in a large portion of the mainly pristine region, the program has the potential to put the province at odds with environmentalists. Similarly, while consultations are already under way between the province and the area’s large native Canadian population, the development of their traditional lands may pose potential political difficulties.

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[Quebec] Mining’s future looks bright – by Robert Gibbons (Montreal Gazette – April 27, 2011)

Quebec is embarking on expansion driven by growth in Asia-Pacific region and Latin America

Quebec’s mining industry may well be on the cusp of historic long-term expansion, despite fears that surging commodity markets may stumble with a slowdown in China’s growth, the Japanese nuclear crisis, North African and Mid-East turmoil and Europe’s debt.

Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney thinks the global commodity boom will continue for many years, though with plenty of volatility on the way, based on economic expansion in the Asia-Pacific region and in Latin America.

And Rio Tinto Group CEO Tom Albanese, leader of one of the world’s top three mining firms and frequent visitor to China, outlines the main driving force for higher base metals and iron ore prices:

About 2.5 billion Asians are yearning after more cars, refrigerators, roads, bridges and infrastructure, communications, aircraft and homes, absorbing lots more steel, copper, zinc and many other metals. India and other populous Asian countries are urbanizing on the Chinese model and adding to the pressure.

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[Canada] Mining: Miracle on the St. Lawrence – by Brian Dunn (Canadian Business Magazine – May 9, 2011)

Founded in 1928, Canadian Business is the longest-publishing business magazine in Canada.

Sept-Îles is booming, and the numbers are there to prove it. The mining community of 30,000 on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River, some 960 kilometres from Montreal, added 5,200 new jobs last year, for an impressive 10.7% increase in employment, the best in Quebec. Based on its population, the 5,200 new jobs is equivalent to Montreal adding 105,000 new jobs, where only 30,000 were created last year.

A lot of the credit for this growth goes to Serge Lévesque, Sept-Îles mayor since November 2009. He knows the region lives or dies on the fortunes of the mining industry, having worked for both the Iron Ore Co. of Canada and Aluminerie Alouette Inc., a global aluminum industry leader.

In early April, Russian steelmaker OAO Severstal and its South African partner, Iron Mineral Beneficiation Services Pty. Ltd. (IMBS) announced they were conducting a feasibility study for the construction of a $1-billion iron-ore processing plant in Sept-Îles that could create up to 500 new jobs in the area.

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The grand plan for Quebec’s North – by Barrie McKenna (Globe and Mail – May 11, 2011)

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.

Reality Check: The $80-billion plan comes with few details; much of that money is already committed, or expected to come from the private sector

Think of Jean Charest’s $80-billion Plan Nord strategy as a bridge between resource development and the 33,000 aboriginal people of the North. The Quebec Premier is betting aboriginal groups will buy into development if they see tangible benefits. So he’s promising to pump taxes and new higher mining royalties into roads, airports, housing, health care and education, including $1.6-billion between 2011 and 2016 (average: $326-million a year).

But details on much of the $80-billion, 25-year plan is either murky or already committed. More than half the money comes from already planned or proposed Hydro-Québec projects ($47-billion). Private investment in mining and government-financed infrastructure make up the rest.


Quebec has four northern ports, 26 airports, 1,200 kilometres of rail tracks and 51,000 kilometres of logging roads. The province is vowing to integrate the region’s ports, airports and roads into a more cohesive network. The first phase of that work includes $821-million worth of road expansions.

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Canada’s Quebec launches big mining expansion plan – Mining (May 10, 2011)

Mining Weekly is South Africa’s premier source of weekly news on mining developments in Africa’s most important industry. Mining Weekly provides in-depth coverage of mining projects and the personalities reshaping the mining industry. In order to advance Mining Weekly’s objective of positioning itself as a leading global provider of mining news, a full-time correspondent is based in Toronto, Canada and another in Perth, Australia. 

TORONTO – The Canadian province of Quebec plans to develop its huge frozen northern reaches into a powerhouse of mining and renewable energy, targeting C$80 billion ($83 billion) of private and public investment.

Quebec’s 25-year “Plan Nord,” launched on Monday, envisages funding for infrastructure, mines and the development of renewable energy, taking advantage of an improving investment climate as the earth warms and polar ice melts.

Quebec says the region has abundant deposits of nickel, cobalt, platinum group metals, zinc, iron ore, ilmenite, gold, lithium, vanadium and rare-earth metals. “Northern Quebec has incomparable mining potential,” Natural Resources Minister Serge Simard said in a release.

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