Have engineering companies found a secret for successful employee engagement?

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.

Mining in Ontario continues to face current and future human resource challenges due to industry growth and pending retirements from the existing workforce.  Attracting and retaining employees for the right jobs in the right locations is a key strategy to be successful. 

The Mining Industry Human Resource Council (MiHR) indicates Ontario’s mining industry will need between 5,578 and 17,000-plus new employees leading up to 2018.  That range is based on different scenarios for global demand of metal and minerals.  Ontario Mining Association President Chris Hodgson is a Director on the MiHR Board.

A recently released best employer study rates employee engagement as a key indicator for success in attracting in retaining workers.  Aon Hewitt’s Best Employers in Canada study, which looked at 261 employers with a total of 112,000 employees, said the average engagement score for the top 50 companies was 78% while the average engagement score of the other companies was 58%.

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Resources are Canada’s trump card in U.S. trade talks – by Derek H. Burney (October 14, 2011)

Derek H. Burney, Senior Strategic Advisor, Norton Rose OR LLP was Ambassador of Canada to the United States from 1989 to 1993. 

A few months after the United States and Canada announced the launch of Free Trade negotiations in 1986, the U.S. Administration imposed, without warning, a 35% duty on cedar shakes and shingles imported from Canada.  The U.S. lumber lobby simultaneously filed a countervailing duty petition seeking a billion dollars in penalties on annual sales of $4 billion of softwood lumber, perpetuating what has since become the longest running trade dispute between the two North American “partners”.  At the time, Prime Minister Mulroney decried the U.S. actions saying bluntly that “actions like this make it extremely difficult for anyone, including Canadians, to be friends with Americans.”

Recent actions by the U.S. against Canada evoke a similar sentiment: the reinstatement of “Buy America” in the President’s Job legislation and calls by the U.S. Maritime Commissioner for a special tax on cargo shipments from Canada to offset the geographic proximity to Asia of some Canadian ports.  On top of these protectionist propositions, there is also the uproar over a Canadian pipeline intended to bring oil to Texas refineries. 

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Have your say on Cliffs’ EA [Ring of Fire] – by Ian Ross (Northern Ontario Business – October, 2011)

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. Ian Ross is the editor of Northern Ontario Business ianross@nob.on.ca.

Oct. 17 will be the public’s first crack to comment on Cliffs Natural Resources’ massive integrated chromite project slated for the James Bay region. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) will start taking written submissions only on the multi-billion dollar regional mining, transportation and processing development.

The agency announced Oct. 7 that a federal environmental assessment of the Cliffs project in the ‘Ring of Fire’ has formally started with a comprehensive study.

While it’s clear that Black Thor will be the first chromite deposit to be mined starting in 2015, and the Nakina-Aroland area will be the site for a transload facility, the final location of a much-coveted ferrochrome production facility remains up in the air.

But CEAA spokeswoman Celine Legault said the federal regulator will be working from the project description submitted by Cliffs, which identifies the Sudbury in its “base case” as the site for electric arc furnaces.

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NEWS RELEASE: Indian Mining Companies Flex their Muscles

Date: 13 September 2011

Intierra Resource Intelligence notes that by mine output, India is the fourth largest producer of zinc, and the sixth largest producer of lead. However, the actual impact of Indian commerce on global mining is felt far more widely.

Recent Indian mining investment has been broad-based, sizeable and reflects a willingness to invest in early stage and pre-feasibility projects. Intierra’s CEO Peter Rossdeutscher, notes this trend and provides a typical example: “Tata Steel has been very active building a mining company to help feed its steel business. In the last four years it has bought into projects in Canada (Taconite Magnetite Project) and Mozambique (Benga Colliery), where it now partners with Rio Tinto. Tata is also looking for more projects in Australia and North America.”

Other notable Indian companies targeting investment are Adani Enterprises and Jindal Power and Steel. Adani has invested over US$2 billion purchasing Linc Energy’s Bowen Basin tenements and also buying the Abbott Point Coal Terminal. Jindal operates the El Mutun iron ore mine in Bolivia and is also active in Madagascar.

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SUDBURY, August 21, 2011 – Vale is notifying Greater Sudbury residents who may have felt a rumble last evening that a seismic event occurred in the area of Creighton Mine at approximately 9:40 pm. The seismic event occurred approximately 500 feet from the inner workings of the mine around the 7,200 foot level. In consultation …

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Los 33: Chilean miners face up to a strange new world – by Angus Macqueen (Guardian -The Observer – July 17, 2011)


The rescue of 33 miners from Chile’s San José mine after 69 days trapped underground was a triumph shared with the whole world. But the transition back to normality is proving difficult for both the men and their families

‘They are not heroes. We are not heroes. We are all victims,” murmurs Lilly Ramírez, the uncompromising partner of Mario Gómez. At 63, he was the oldest of “the 33” Chilean miners who were trapped half a mile under the Chilean desert on 5 August 2010, and whose rescue became a global event for a TV audience of an estimated 1 billion people.

Ever since they emerged 69 days later on the night of 12/13 October, I have been working on two BBC documentaries: about what happened while the men were down the mine – and what has happened to them and their families since. Now, as the first anniversary approaches, it is the tenacity and the suffering of the women – the wives and partners – that emerges. They and their men were certainly victims but I am not sure Lilly is right: there are certainly heroines – from Lilly herself to the many other women who have struggled ever since to keep their families together. For their men emerged famous, but changed.

For Lilly, the beginning of the story that August night comes straight from the nightmares of miners’ families the world over. She was preparing dinner as usual for Mario, one of their four daughters, Romina, and their one-year-old granddaughter Camila when there was the proverbial “knock on the door”.

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[Ring of Fire] A Market For Chrome – by Brian Sylvester (Mining Markets – September, 2009)

Please note this article was originally published in Mining Markets in September 2009. Much has changed in the Ring of Fire since then and this article is posted here for archival reasons. – Stan Sudol 

Noront Resources (NOT-V) president and CEO Wes Hanson says the global ferrochrome market is somewhere around 17 million tonnes, while his predecessor and Noront director, Joe Hamilton, believes it’s closer to 12 million.

German firm Heinz Pariser Research is forecasting an average ferrochrome price of US$0.79 per lb. and US$1,600 per tonne until 2017. Raw chromite fetches US$200 per tonne.

With global demand of 14.5 million tonnes (the average of the earlier estimates), the global ferrochrome market is worth about US$23.2 billion. A 5% share of that market would be worth US$1.16 billion annually.

Some rough estimates put the chromite tonnage in the Ring of Fire well into the billions but it takes 2.5 tonnes of chromite to make 1 tonne of ferrochrome. And if you saturate the market with too much production early on, prices will sink and the financial models used to finance development would be rendered useless.

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HISTORICAL – The Death of Mining [in America] (Business Week – December 17, 1984)


America is losing one of its most basic industries

Just south of Tucson, a two-lane highway rolls through the desert to Mexico. Along one 26-mile stretch, it skirts five open-pit copper mines amid the saguaro cactus, mesquite, and ironwood. This is U.S. 89, known as el camino de la muerte – “road of death” – for the toll it has taken on drivers zooming north of Nogales. But the macabre name might just as easily refer to the mines that line this lonely road. Once the workplaces of thousands, they are now either closed or up for sale – a stark reminder of the sad state not only of U.S. copper companies, but of most of the rest of the North American metals mining industry.

The recovery of the 1983-84 largely bypassed producers of copper, iron ore, nickel, lead, zinc, and molybdenum. Now, after a prolonged period of painful losses, these companies are reeling from what are clearly chronic problems: shrinking markets, huge debt, and depressed prices. Three or four major metals producers may even be forced out of the business over he next few years. In a very real sense the industry is dying.

The pangs of mining are the latest example of what may be an industrial megatrend: the inexorable shift of the production and processing of all basic materials from the industrial countries to the Third World. Like steelmaking, metals mining is vulnerable to some fundamental forces. It is an industrial activity in which, these days, the developing nations have an almost unbeatable pair of economic advantages: cheap labour plus very low cost reserves.

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Statement from Vale’s Jon Steen about death of two miners – (June 9, 2011)

To all Ontario Operations Employees:

It is with deep regret that I must inform everyone today that two of our employees were fatally injured last night while working around an ore pass at the 3000-level of Stobie Mine. Mine rescue was dispatched, however both individuals were pronounced dead at the scene. All other employees were brought to surface and accounted for.

The immediate families of the two employees have been notified, and our full support is being offered to them as they begin to cope with their loss. The names of the individuals are being withheld out of respect for the families so that they can notify relatives and close friends.

Our Critical Incident Stress Management Team is on site at Stobie Mine to offer personal support to friends and co-workers of the two individuals. The scheduled day shift and night shift at Stobie Mine have been cancelled.

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Critical Minerals Policy Act of 2011 – Background and Section-By-Section

Minerals are the building blocks of our nation’s economy. From rare earth elements to molybdenum, we rely on minerals for everything from the smallest computer chips to the tallest skyscrapers. Minerals make it possible for us to innovate and invent – and in the process shape our daily lives, our standard of living, and our ability to prosper.

There is no question that an abundant and affordable supply of domestic minerals is critical to America’s future. And yet, despite that, our mineral-related capabilities have been slipping for decades. Rare earth elements garner most of the headlines, but according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the United States was 100 percent dependent on foreign suppliers for 18 minerals in 2010 – and more than 50 percent dependent on foreign sources for some 25 more.

To revitalize the domestic, critical mineral supply chain, Senator Lisa Murkowski and sixteen of her bipartisan colleagues introduced the “Critical Minerals Policy Act” on May 26, 2011. The bill provides clear programmatic direction to help keep the U.S. competitive and will ensure that the federal government’s mineral policies – some of which have not been updated since the 1980s – are brought into the 21st century.

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PRESS RELEASE: United States Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources – Senators Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Improve Critical Minerals Supply Chain

MAY 26, 2011                                                                MEGAN HERMANN (202) 224-7875

Senators Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Improve Critical Minerals Supply Chain

 WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today introduced the Critical Minerals Policy Act, along with Sens. Ben Nelson (D-Nebraska), Jim Webb (D-Virginia), James Risch (R-Idaho), Kay Hagan (D-North Carolina), Roy Blunt (R-Missouri), John Barrasso (R-Wyoming), Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming), Kent Conrad (D-North Dakota), Thad Cochran (R-Mississippi), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Dean Heller (R-Nevada), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan), John Hoeven (R-North Dakota), Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri), and Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia).
The legislation seeks to revitalize the United States’ critical minerals supply chain and reduce the nation’s growing dependence on foreign suppliers by directing the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to establish a list of minerals critical to the U.S. economy and providing a comprehensive set of policies to address each economic sector that relies upon critical minerals.
Murkowski: “Minerals shape our daily lives, our standard of living, and our ability to prosper.  We rely on minerals for everything from the smallest computer chips to the tallest skyscrapers, and yet the United States somehow lacks clear policies to ensure an affordable and abundant domestic supply.  The Critical Minerals Policy Act will help solve that problem by modernizing our policies for production, processing, environmental protection, manufacturing and recycling.  Through this Act, we will ensure more opportunities for domestic jobs, technological innovation, increased national security and greater competitiveness.”

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The World’s 10 Most Prolific Gold Fields – by Paul Carter (CMI Gold & Silver, Inc.)

CMI Gold & Silver Inc. is one of the oldest gold and silver dealers in the United States and has played a major role in introducing investors to the gold and silver markets. http://www.cmi-gold-silver.com/

Please note that this article has errored by including “Dawson City, Yukon, Canada” (Klondike Gold Rush) on the list. The Klondike’s short-lived, decade-long goldrush only produced 12.5 million ounces of the precious metal. By comparison, the Porcupine Camp (Timmins, Ontario), discovered in 1909 and still in production, has produced 72-million ounces, once again booming Kirkland Lake, originally discovered in 1911, has produced 38-million ounces to date and Red Lake, originally found in 1925, has produced 26-million ounces up to 2006, and is currently experiencing another boom. Link here for: Battle of the Canadian Gold Rushes: Klondike Versus Northern Ontario. – Stan Sudol/RepublicofMining.com

The World’s 10 Most Prolific Gold Fields

Gold has long been one of mankind’s most prized possessions. Yet most people have little idea where gold comes from, other than from “gold mines.”

Mining gold today often becomes monumental undertakings, truly some of man’s greatest engineering feats. Imagine gold mining shafts nearly two and a half miles below the surface and it taking two hours for miners to get to their work stations. Imagine a pit so large that it can be seen from outer space.

No reason to imagine, those are the realities in the mining of gold revealed in “The World’s 10 Most Prolific Gold Fields.”

1. Witwatersrand Basin (Johannesburg, South Africa)

The head frame of the Tau Tona Mine is the lone entrance to over 500 miles of tunnels.

Located in South Africa, the Witwatersrand Basin represents the richest gold field ever discovered. It is estimated the 40% of all of the gold ever mined has come out of the Basin. In 1970, South Africa’s output accounted for 79% of the world’s gold production. By 2009, South Africa’s share of world gold production had dropped to less than 8%.

Mining in the Witwatersrand Basin is accomplished by creating deep underground tunnels that are necessary to reach the plentiful reserves. The Tau Tona Mine features the deepest tunnel in the world extending a full 2.4 miles below the earth’s surface. A massive ventilation and air conditioning system is required to overcome the extreme working conditions throughout the over 500 miles of tunnels. At its deepest levels, the air temperature reaches 131 F and the rock face itself 140 F. The mine is so extensive that it takes workers a full two hours to travel from the surface to the deepest sections of the mine where they must then contend with pockets of lethal gas, water and a continual barrage of small earthquakes.

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Ontario Northern Growth Plan better than it looks – by David Robinson

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. This column was published in the April 2011 issue.

Dave Robinson is an economist with the Institute for Northern Ontario Research and Development at Laurentian University. drobinson@laurentian.ca 

There is little enthusiasm for the so-called Northern Growth Plan. Public comments are lukewarm. Sudbury Mayor Marianne Matichuk, for example, offered the opinion that it might be good that there isn’t a lot detail, that it leaves room for improvements.

In private, responses range from boredom to outright contempt. In fact, the plan is not really all that bad, though it isn’t actually a plan, of course; rather, it is really a list of guiding principles for the hundreds of sub-departments of the ministries that run Northern Ontario.

They are finally trying to get their act together. Minister of Infrastructure Bob Chiarelli is promising to support a lot of obvious good things and to encourage everyone else to develop real plans based on the principles in “The Plan.”

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Animosity builds over Ontario forestry legislation – by Ian Ross

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. Ian Ross is the editor of Northern Ontario Business ianross@nob.on.ca and this article was posted April 2011.

Hearings on Bill 151 will be held in Toronto, April 11 and 13. These are the final hearings before the legislation goes to third reading. Community and industry rancor continues to build against the McGuinty government over the refusal to stage a final round of consultation meetings in Northern Ontario before a new forestry bill is passed into law.

Hearings on Bill 151 – Ontario’s Forest Tenure Modernization Act — will be held in Toronto, April 11 and 13. These are the final hearings before the legislation goes to third reading.

During a March 30 government standing committee, Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Mike Brown kicked a hornet’s nest when he shot down a recommendation to stage hearings in Pembroke, Timmins, Thunder Bay and Sault Ste. Marie in favour of two days of hearings in Toronto.

The government said delegations from the North can appear in person or make their comments through video conferencing.

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