Archive | Thompson

Workers say goodbye to Vale smelter and refinery in ‘bittersweet’ closing ceremony – by Kyle Darbyson (Thompson Citizen – June 12, 2018)

‘A big hit emotionally for everybody working there,’ says union president

Vale Manitoba Operations hosted a closing ceremony for its smelter and refinery June 9 with workers and others paying tribute to facilities that are almost as old as Thompson itself.

This event took place at the main plant site, and featured a barbecue, children’s activities, speeches from local dignitaries and a tour of the facilities themselves.

While regular production won’t be permanently shut down until July 31, Vale Manitoba Operations manager of corporate affairs Ryan Land thought it was important to put this event together while everything is still up and running, since it gave their family members the chance to get a closer look at the facilities that produced “the world’s best nickel for about 57 years.” Continue Reading →

Northern Manitoba has untapped mining potential – by Blaine Pedersen (Thompson Citizen – April 11, 2018)

Blaine Pedersen is the Manitoba Minister of Growth, Enterprise and Trade.

The past 20 years have not been kind to the mining industry in Manitoba. Low metal prices, challenges in raising capital and the previous NDP government’s adversarial attitude toward the industry have all contributed to a sharp decline in mineral exploration and mine development in the province.

Times have changed for the better! We are open for business and our government is committed to reduce the burden of red tape, manage the province’s fiscal situation and reduce the tax load on companies and Manitoba families. These improvements will have a positive impact on all sectors of the provincial economy, including the mining industry.

We are developing a clear focus on expectations for local communities and the exploration/mining industry. To this end, Ron Evans and Jim Downey have been tasked to develop a Mineral Development Protocol. Continue Reading →

‘It’s probably one of the most difficult times in our history’ – by Kyle Darbyson (Thompson Citizen – January 6, 2018)

Union president braces for Vale cutbacks in 2018

After a rollercoaster year full of uncertainty and surprise announcements, Vale ended 2017 with more than 100 fewer jobs than it started the year with, which brings their total workforce in Thompson down to approximately 1,180 people.

Even though these job loses were announced well in advance, it doesn’t change the fact that the United Steelworkers (USW) Local 6166, the union these affected employees were members of, is definitely going to feel the squeeze in 2018.

Vale Manitoba Operations plans on permanently closing down their smelter and refinery in the third quarter of the year, which will reduce their total workforce to around 837 people. Continue Reading →

Vale rep lays all the cards on the table during Thompson’s last chamber meeting of 2017 – by Kyle Darbyson (Thompson Citizen – December 20, 2017)

Throughout 2017, news about Vale’s cutbacks in Thompson has been on the minds of many local residents, especially after their Birchtree facility was put on care and maintenance back in October.

In an attempt to quell concerns about where the company is headed, Mark Scott, the vice-president of Vale’s Manitoba Operations, attended the Dec. 13 Thompson Chamber of Commerce meeting to provide an overview of the challenges the company will be facing in the new year.

Throughout his presentation, Scott made no bones about the continued work force reductions that will be coming to Vale at the end of 2017 and once the smelter and refinery closes down in the third quarter of 2018. Continue Reading →

Staking out a future: Thompson adjusts as mining industry slows – by Brett Purdy (CBC News Manitoba – November 28, 2017)

Vale still largest employer in Thompson but other industries helping develop diverse economy

Rajinder Thethy has put almost $750,000 in his carwash business in Thompson, Man., and it’s investments like his the northern city is banking on to help stabilize — and build — the economy as the local mining industry slows.

Thethy, who has lived and worked in Thompson for 22 years, originally built the carwash with some partners back in 2004 as a side gig. He was a professional accountant at the time. But in January 2016, he decided he wanted a major career-and-life change and to be more devoted as a business owner.

“I know what the Thompsonites need so for me to stay here and expand my business just made perfect sense,” he said. Continue Reading →

Short-term plan needed to address mining-related job losses in Northern Manitoba, says NDP (Thompson Citizen – November 2, 2017)

Manitoba’s NDP party says Premier Brian Pallister’s Progressive Conservative government is not doing enough to mitigate the economic effects that will be felt as up to 1,500 jobs are lost in Flin Flon and Thompson in the next year or so.

A briefing note sent to Growth, Enterprise and Trade Minister Blaine Pedersen last May, which was obtained by the NDP through a freedom-of-information request, said those job losses could represent $100 million in lost income and an overall loss of $300 million to the Northern Manitoba economy. Flin Flon MLA Tom Lindsey told the Nickel Belt News that the province is not doing enough in the short term to limit the damage those jobs losses will cause.

“We need to start addressing some of these issues right now,” said Lindsey, noting that the Look North task force’s report is more focused on long-term solutions. “The long-term vision is good but what do we do now that will try and keep those jobs, those workers, in the communities in the north so that Flin Flon and Thompson can survive?” Continue Reading →

[Vale and Thompson, Manitoba] The first shoe drops (Thompson Citizen – October 4, 2017)

Thompson inched into a new era Oct. 1 as Birchtree Mine stopped production of nickel ore and began the process of transitioning into care and maintenance status, a position it was previously in from 1978 until it reopened in 1989.

The move affects an estimated 150 jobs within the mine and up to 50 in processing, service and support roles, Vale Manitoba Operations said in May, when the decision to move to care and maintenance was made because it is unprofitable to continue mining at current nickel prices.

At any time, this would have been bad news for Thompson’s economy. While some affected employees may opt for early retirement and stick around and others may find new jobs locally, some will be moving out of town and taking the money that they spent on accommodations and goods and services elsewhere. That will have a trickle-down effect that even people who aren’t employed in anything mining-related will feel. Continue Reading →

Closing Time: Last hoist for Thompson’s Birchtree Mine – by John Barker (Soundings John Barker – September 30, 2017)

On the surface, it was an unseasonably warm and brilliant orange early autumn day. Underground, it was closing time. Not last call, but rather the hard rock mining on-the-job equivalent: last hoist.

This day has almost come for Birchtree Mine in Thompson, Manitoba before. In fact, the day did come for Birchtree for most of a decade in the 1980s, as the mine was on “care and maintenance” because of unfavourable market conditions from December 1977 through 1989.

And on Oct. 18, 2012, Vale had announced care and maintenance was being considered for Birchtree Mine in 10 months time in August 2013. After finding $100 million in cost savings at its Manitoba Operations, bringing its cost per metric tonne for finished nickel to under US$10,000, Birchtree Mine would receive on May 6, 2013 a reprieve that lasted almost 4½ years. Until now. Continue Reading →

Thompson, Manitoba mine to close in October, will put at least 150 out of work (CBC News Manitoba – May 16, 2017)

Falling nickel prices forced Vale to close mine, company says

A nickel mine in Thompson, Man. will be closing this fall, a representative with the United Steelworkers confirmed Tuesday. The closure of the Birchtree mine will put between 150 and 200 people out of work, USW 6166 president Les Ellsworth said.

“I certainly wasn’t expecting to hear this week that we would actually be closing the mine,” he said. “It came as a shock.” Ellsworth expected the mine to be open until at least 2020 but falling nickel prices forced mine owner Vale’s hand, he said.

Ryan Land, manager of corporate affairs for Vale in Thompson, said the company has been in a “prolonged down cycle” for some time. He added the mine was approaching the end of its life cycle as well. “We happen to be in a business where we are price takers, not price makers,” he said, referring to nickel prices. Continue Reading →

Vale’s community report looks to another 60 years of mining – by Kacper Antoszewski (Thompson Citizen – November 8, 2016)

Corporate affairs and organizational development manager Ryan Land was the guest speaker at a special meeting of the Thompson Chamber of Commerce Nov. 9, organized due to his cancellation the previous week. Land updated the chamber on Vale’s recently released annual community report including the results of this year’s Mining Association of Canada (MAC) audit and some of the past year’s accomplishments.

The community report presentation largely revolved around the results of Manitoba Operation’s Sustainable Mining Initiative audit, conducted by the MAC, which assesses member firms based on performance in tailings management, aboriginal and community outreach, energy use and emissions, safety and health, and crisis management.

The report places Manitoba Operations as AAA operators in the areas of aboriginal awareness, safety and health, and crisis management. More average is tailings management, floating in a grey area between A and AA ratings, along with A and B ratings in the areas of energy and emissions. Continue Reading →

[Nickel] Thompson Manitoba Named After Inco Chairman Dr. John F. Thompson

Dr. John F. Thompson (Image from Heritage North Musuem Website)

Dr. John F. Thompson (Image from Heritage North Museum Website)

Following ten years of mining exploration in the region, a major ore body was discovered on February 4, 1956, and a year later Thompson was founded. Named after INCO’s chairman, John F. Thompson, the new townsite was designed as a “planned community” following an agreement between the Government of Manitoba and INCO Limited.- (Heritage North Museum

Information Below Courtesy of Vale

The City of Thompson and the main orebody of Inco’s Manitoba operations (now owned by Vale) are named after Dr. John F. Thompson. Some historical records say Dr. Thompson’s name was used because he was celebrating his 50th anniversary with the company the year the orebody was discovered. But it was his accomplishments, not his time with Inco that earned him this honour.

From the beginning of his career with Inco, in 1906, Thompson played important roles in developing and encouraging the expanded use of various nickel alloys, introducing them to the textile, chemical, power and food service industries. Continue Reading →

Vale marking 60 years of mining in Thompson this weekend – by Ian Graham (Thompson Citizen – June 15, 2016)

We weren’t even supposed to be here today, but the ore that is the foundation of Thompson in both the literal and figurative senses has outlived the original projections of its lifespan more than twofold, making it possible for Vale, which bought Inco in 2006, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Thompson operations this weekend.

When the decision to establish a mine and a town to service it was made following the discovery of nickel deposits in 1956, the plan was for the community – and its infrastructure – to be around for 25 years, says Vale Manitoba Operations corporate affairs and organizational development manager Ryan Land. That it has far outlasted that prediction means the community is now repairing and replacing much of that infrastructure but also that Thompson itself has grown to become more than just a mining town.

“We are already a diversified economy,” says Land. “That regional hub thing is real. The region sustains Thompson as much as Vale if not more.” Continue Reading →

Vale Thompson crowned provincial mine rescue champions for second year – by Kacper Antoszewski (Thompson Citizen – June 1, 2016)

Vale Manitoba Operations and the Mining Association of Manitoba hosted the 2016 Manitoba Provincial Mine Rescue Competition in Thompson May 27- 28, pitting four mine rescue teams from across the province in practical, technical, and firefighting challenges to qualify for the privilege to compete at the national level. The four teams represented the Tanco Mine from Bernic Lake, Hudson Bay’s Lalor and Flin Flon operations, and Thompson’s own Vale.

Friday featured an underground portion, where mine rescue competitors were subjected to a mine rescue scenario, and resolve a first aid problem. Saturday morning, teams alternated between firefighting and technical competitions. The technical portion was a written exam administered to competitors as individuals. After, competitors had to troubleshoot and resolve a fault in a malfunctioning breathing apparatus.

Saturday afternoon, miners mixed and mingled for the practical skills portion of the event: crib building, the hose roll, the dummy drag, the passageway challenge and the Kaiser sled. Continue Reading →

My Take on Snow Lake – by Marc Jackson (Thompson Citizen – December 24, 2014)

The Thompson Citizenwhich was established in June 1960, covers the City of Thompson and Nickel Belt Region of Northern Manitoba. The city has a population of about 13,500 residents while the regional population is more than 40,000.  [email protected]

Former Snow Lakers abound at mining convention

Walking the exhibition floor at the annual Manitoba Mining and Mineral Convention is just like old home week for a Snow Laker. A wide variety of people who have either lived here, or had extended visits, were around every corner, or in some cases working a booth on the convention centre’s massive exhibition floor.

This was indeed the case for several gents clustered on one of the central avenues of the floor looking to drum up interest in their “prospective” properties.

Dan Ziehlke, representing his company Strider Resources Ltd., was welcoming, conversational, and partaking in something he called “the miner’s breakfast” (a bag of popcorn from the kettle maker set up on the convention floor) when we happened upon him. Dan firmly believes – and he can back it up with the geology, prospecting and geochemical work – that he has another Nor-Acme type deposit on the east side of Wekusko.

Jim Parres was set up immediately to the left of Ziehlke and promoting his Jiminex Properties: Misehkow River near Pickle Lake; Northern Eagle near Hemlo; and the Parres and Parres Two near Osborne Lake. Continue Reading →

My Take on Snow Lake II: Ribbon cut at Reed – by Marc Jackson (Thompson Citizen – October 3, 2014)

The Thompson Citizenwhich was established in June 1960, covers the City of Thompson and Nickel Belt Region of Northern Manitoba. The city has a population of about 13,500 residents while the regional population is more than 40,000.  [email protected]

Prior to Sept. 16, Hudbay Minerals had opened a total of 26 mines in the province of Manitoba; staying true to that prolific nature, the company opened two more on this historic afternoon. A mere two hours after they cut the ribbon on the massive Lalor Project, Hudbay and VMS officials had the scissors out and were doing it all over again 80 kilometres down the road at the Reed Mine!

As the snow swirled outside, close to 100 people gathered in the welcome warmth of Reed’s surface shop to break bread, and toast the province’s newest mine.

As he did previously in the day, Hudbay Manitoba business unit vice-president Rob Winton very capably acted as emcee and after smudging the gathering place with sage and sweetgrass, Opaskwayak Cree Nation elder Nathan McGillivary once again delivered wise words and a welcome prayer.

To bring any mine to production involves a long list of those who were key through a variety of stages. Thanking them is no small feat, but acknowledging their contributions is certainly one of the ways this is accomplished. Mr. Winton did this in thanking Steve West (now retired) head of the environment department, as well as environmental lawyer Sheryl Rosenberg for their tireless work on the environmental licensing and in putting the Reed Mine on the map. He praised them for the high standards that had been set and met at the site. Steve Polegato was also commended for bringing the mine in on time and budget. Continue Reading →