Mining Sector Budget Cuts Go Global – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn Scales - Canadian Mining JournalMarilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication. She is one of Canada’s most senior mining commentators.

At the risk of being the bearer of even more bad news, I have been watching the world’s mining industry react to the turmoil in global stock and money markets. Not only in Canada, but around the world companies big and small are conserving capital and cutting output.

Let us recap: Liberty Mines has placed its Redstone and McWatters nickel mines in Ontario on care-and maintenance. Breakwater has suspended mining at its Langlois base metals mine in Quebec and its Myra Falls base metal producer in British Columbia. Teck is paying particular attention to debt reduction. Capital budgets have been trimmed at Suncor’s oil sands project in Alberta.

And the announcements just keep coming. It seems producers of all commodities and all parts of the world are announcing cutbacks.

Rio Tinto is slicing approximately 10% from its iron ore output in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

BPH Billiton also expects to send fewer shiploads of iron ore to China next year.

Brazilian mining giant Vale will be slowing iron ore shipments to customers. Additionally, it has suspended a pre-feasibility study for a new bauxite and aluminum project in Ghana.

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Looking Through Stone – Poems About the Earth – by Susan Ioannou

Poet - Susan IoannouTwo Excerpts from Susan Ioannou’s book of poetry Looking Through Stone – Poems About the Earth. If you would like to order Susan Ioannou’s book of poetry, go to Your Scrivener Press

AQUAMARINE

To mollify sea deities,
ancient lapidaries prescribed
blue amulets carved from aquamarine
whose inner lapping soothed
and as seasoned sailors believed
wore away the dark coast of worry.

Others cast their woes inside the gem,
then soaked it in a little bowl
beneath the waning moon.
Perhaps within a day or two
where crystals cooled and brittled
a six-rayed star would fan and twinkle
love light toward a long marriage,
restore youth, hope, and friends,
or calm a throbbing tooth.

Today Brazilian pegmatites
host the clearest and the bluest,
named (her birthstone) Santa Marias.
A famous one, unearthed in 1910,
was heftier than a bongo drum:
110.5 kilograms
—an amulet with cleansing tears enough
for a thousand sailors
not to drown.

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A Blast From the Past – A Glimpse into Garson Mine’s 100 Years of Evolution – Hans Brasch

Northern Life, Greater Sudbury’s community newspaper, gave Republic of Mining.com permission to post this article. www.northernlife.ca (Originally published on September 16, 2008)

Taken with permission from Garson Mine: 100 Years of Mining Excellence, authored by Hans Brasch

1907 – Garson Mine came into existence, purchased by the Mond Nickel Company. Development work began on a vertical shaft, six by 14 feet. The shaft was sunk to a depth of 225 feet and opened up at the 100- and 200-foot levels. Workforce average (WA) – 100.

1910 – No. 1 shaft was deepened to 600 feet. Production – 70,004 tonnes of ore. WA – 250.

1914 – No. 1 shaft was sunk to 870 feet. The miners dry-house was enlarged and several other buildings were built during the year. Production – 123,143 tonnes of ore. WA – 420.

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Hans Brasch: Retired Miner Keeps Sudbury Mining History Alive – by Laurel Myers

Northern Life, Greater Sudbury’s community newspaper, gave Republic of Mining.com permission to post Laurel Myers’ article. www.northernlife.ca (Originally published on September 16, 2008)

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Hans Brasch has been an avid photographer since the time he was 16. What started as a hobby, developed into a passion and a means by which to keep the history of mining alive.

At the age of 76, Brasch has now compiled three books, documenting the past 100 years of mining in the Sudbury basin. The books – Structure and Operation of the Steelworkers, Mining: Then and Now in The Sudbury Basin, and Garson Mine: 100 years of Mining Excellence – are a mixture of maps, timelines, general information and photography, courtesy of the author, that show an evolution underground from a miner’s perspective.

The retired miner, who spent 40 years – from 1952- 1992 – working in nearly all of the most hazardous underground jobs at Vale Inco’s Levack Mine, admitted the pictures took a bit of undercover work.

“At that time, we weren’t really supposed to take pictures (in the mine),” he said, explaining he used to sneak his camera into the mine with him. “But I’m glad I did. I recorded a very nice history.” Despite his camera being bulky with a big light on it, the private eye, of sorts, was
able to document Inco’s ever changing past.

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Early Miner Credited for Sand-fill Development at Sudbury Basin Garson Mine – by Laurel Myers

Northern Life, Greater Sudbury’s community newspaper, gave Republic of Mining.com permission to post Laurel Myers’ article. www.northernlife.ca (Originally published on September 16, 2008)

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Mining isn’t what it used to be. Ninety-two-year-old Harvey Jarrett was part of the mining evolution. In 1945, he developed the first and only underground sand-fill plant at the time.

Dave Duncan, present superintendent of Garson Mine, explained a sand-fill plant is actually located only 90 feet below the surface, and is still in use today.

“We take in aggregate material (sand) from the pit across the road,” Duncan said. “There is cement silo on surface where we mix the sand with cement and water, then it flows down a funnel into a pipe a fills our stopes.”

Stopes are filled when they can no longer be mined, and are used as support to drill other stopes. After being a pilot in the war for three years, Jarrett returned to the Sudbury area and began work at the Creighton Mine as a mining engineer. He later moved to the Garson and Frood Mines.

“I did all the layouts,” he said. “This place (Garson) is unique. Garson was having a cave-in and it was very serious. “It was going to break through under the lake, and that would have been the end of the mine,” he continued. The supervisor at the time was trying to figure out how to save the place, Jarrett explained. “I happened to be standing there. I put my underground clothes on and just started looking around to find where I could find some fill. There was a sand plant nearby.”

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Sudbury Basin’s Garson Mine Celebrates its Centennial – by Laurel Myers

Northern Life, Greater Sudbury’s community newspaper, gave Republic of Mining.com permission to post Laurel Myers’ article. www.northernlife.ca (Originally published on September 16, 2008)

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Vale Inco marked a century of operations at Garson Mine on Sept. 5. Company officials, local dignitaries, United Steelworkers Local 6500 representatives and Garson Mine employees, both past and present, were on hand to celebrate the milestone.

“For over a century now, Garson Mine has been producing high value ore that is vital to the ongoing success of our operations,” said Murilo Ferreira, president and chief executive officer of Vale Inco, in a news release.

“Not only has Garson Mine enjoyed continued success in production, it has also proven itself to be a leader in health and safety, and we are very proud of that.” In 1907, the first shaft at Garson Mine was sunk 225 feet from the surface, and in 1908, production for the mine began at a rate of 200 tonnes of ore per day. Today, with 253 employees and a shaft depth of 4,200 feet, Garson Mine produces 2,300 tonnes of high-value ore daily.

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Honourable Buyelwa Sonjica – South Africa Minister of Minerals & Energy – 10th China Mining Conference, Beijing, China

Honourable Buyelwa Sonjica – South African Minister of Minerals & Energy10 November 2008

Programme director,
Minister of Land and Resources of the People’s Republic of China, Minister Xu Shaoshi,
Captains of the mining industry from South Africa, People’s Republic of China and elsewhere in the world,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great honour for me to extend a warm welcome to you this morning to the South African Mining Seminar here in China. As South Africa celebrates the 10th successive year of diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China, depicting the political will of the respective countries to co-operate on various areas on common interest, we deemed it appropriate to assemble a multi-stakeholder platform, with particular emphasis on reciprocal investment prospects between the two countries.

The seminar is intended to focus on existing opportunities for Chinese and other foreign companies here present to partner with South African companies and communities in the mining industry. Notwithstanding the current financial challenge, which we project will have a limited shelf life, I believe that the relationships envisaged between our respective companies are intended for long-term periods.

One of the oldest Chinese proverbs has never been more applicable than today, namely: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”. We all should remember that when former President Mandela announced South Africa’s intention to recognise the People’s Republic of China ten years ago, that was indeed a small step. In this context I believe South Africa’s journey with the People’s Republic of China has progressed remarkably towards its intended objective of increasing bi-national trade.

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Nationalization Is Theft – by Thomas A. Bowden

Thomas A. Bowden is an analyst at the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights, focusing on legal issues. Mr. Bowden is a former lawyer and law school instructor who practiced for twenty years in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ayn Rand Center is a division of the Ayn Rand Institute and promotes the philosophy of Ayn Rand–author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead.

Venezuela, Russia, and other countries that nationalize natural resources are violating private property rights.

For years, the Canadian operator of a huge Venezuelan gold project known as Las Cristinas has been seeking an environmental permit to start digging. Well, Crystallex International Corporation can stop waiting–the mine is being nationalized as part of dictator Hugo Chavez’s long-running program of socialist takeovers. “This mine will be seized and managed by a state administration” with help from the Russians, said Mining Minister Rodolfo Sanz.

It’s not surprising that a brute like Chavez would want to grab the 16.9 million ounces of gold estimated to lie buried in the Las Cristinas reserve. But what’s more puzzling is why–when gold mines, oil rigs and refineries worth billions of dollars are nationalized by regimes such as Venezuela and Russia–the ousted companies can muster no moral indignation, only tight-lipped damage appraisal.

The reason, in a nutshell, is that resources like gold and petroleum in their natural state are universally regarded as public property that cannot be extracted by private companies except with government permission, revocable at will. “Venezuela will not accept that foreign organizations tell them what to do with their own resources,” said a local journalist recently.

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Risk Taking and Venezuela – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication. She is one of Canada’s most senior mining commentators.

The nationalization of the Las Cristinas gold project by the Venezuelan government looks like a done deal. There has yet to be an official pronouncement, but Toronto-based Crystallex International looks to have lost its chance to develop and operate this project.

Where is the outrage over such actions, asks Fredric Hambler, a financial systems analyst in San Francisco. “I say it’s time for Crystallex, and the Canadian Mining Journal, to loudly condemn the actions of the Venezuelan government. Thomas Bowden of the Ayn Rand Institute has an excellent article on the subject of ownership rights and the Las Cristinas project, which is available online at: http://www.aynrand.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=21879&news_iv_ctrl=1021

Our reader is right, of course. We are outraged by the turn of events in that Latin American country. The planning, hopes and money expended by Crystallex will never be recovered. The truly angry among the industry can call this an outright theft. But what is to be gained by ranting and raving?

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It’s Not Easy Being Green – Scott Hand, Former Chairman and CEO Inco Limited

Scott Hand, former Chairman and CEO of Inco Limited gave this speech at the Pollution Probe Annual Gala on November 13, 2003, at the Royal York Hotel, Toronto, Canada. 

Scott Hand

Last year I had a milestone birthday. Born in 1902. I turned 100 years old.

Not many Canadians have lived so long. So I celebrated. And reflected on a century of life. What had I accomplished? What did I leave in my wake?

Was I a force for good in the world? Or an instrument of harm?

Tough questions.

The truth is my life hasn’t been perfect. I’ve left a few footprints.

Tonight, I have come neither to blow smoke about our achievements over the century. Nor to apologize for our legacy. You won’t hear me say how “committed” I am. I won’t be pleading for patience and understanding.

You’ll hear a little straight talk, which I hope adds something to the discussion.

First, let me say that that 100-year-old Canadian is Inco. Inco is me. And around the world, there are 10,000 people just like me.

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Hopes Fades for Crystallex’s Las Cristinas Gold Project – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn Scales - Canadian Mining JournalMarilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication. She is one of Canada’s most senior mining commentators.

The history of the Las Cristinas gold project that CRYSTALLEX INTERNATIONAL of Toronto has tried to lay claim to is steeped in controversy and delay. But the squabbling may soon come to an end if Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez gets his way. He wants to nationalize the Las Cristinas project along with several other industries.

Placer Dome was one of the first companies to drill the Las Cristinas deposit in the early 1990s. The Canadian company formed a joint venture with Corporacion Venezolana de Guayana (CVG), and CVG remains the owner to this day. Crystallex was drilling the adjacent Albino concession at the time.

The entire Kilometre 88 area of Venezuela became one of the hottest gold plays in Latin America during the early 1990s. But the Las Cristinas deposit with 16.9 million contained oz of gold is the richest.

In 1997 Crystallex bought up a privately owned Venezuelan company said to own the rights to part of the Las Cristinas property. Placer Dome called the claim groundless, but it decided to suspend construction at Las Cristinas until the ownership question could be settled. In June 1998 the Venezuelan court dismissed Crystallex’s claim, clearing the way for Placer Dome and CVG to move forward. The next year low gold prices forced Placer Dome put the project on hold.

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Vale CEO Roger Agnelli Sustainability Report Message

Vale 2007 Sustainability Report

Click here for the Vale 2007 Sustainability Report

Vale CEO Roger Agnelli

Sustainability is essential for the feasibility of mining activities and for regional and community development where we operate

It is with great pleasure that I present to you Vale´s 2007 Sustainability Report, prepared according to the GRI guidelines, in its updated version the G3. Communication of this information shows Vale’s commitment to transparency in our activities and the improvement of internal sustainability management, in which we will continue to aggressively invest in the coming years.

The last three years were exceptional for Vale. We exceeded all our objectives in production, investment and value generation to our shareholders. During 2007, we consolidated the acquisition of Inco Limited, which occurred in October 2006, and acquired AMCI Holdings Australia Pty, in February 2007, two leading companies in the nickel and coal industries, respectively. With our expanded product portfolio, Vale became the second largest diversified mining company in the world, with operations in 34 countries on five continents. These results were only made possible through the work and dedication of our employees, to whom I extend my sincere gratitude.

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Sudbury: A Historical Case Study of Multiple Urban-Economic Transformation – by Oiva Saarinen (4 of 4)

Oiva Saarinen is Professor Emeritus of the Department of Geography at Laurentian University. He has published many articles on Sudbury’s past and is author of Between a Rock and a Hard Place: A Historical Geography of the Finns in the Sudbury Area. This article was originally published in Ontario History/Volumn LXXXII, Number 1/March 1990.
 
OIVA SAARINEN

Towards a Self-Reliant Community

In 1984 Sudbury was chosen by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Government of Canada, and the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs as an international case study of a declining metropolis that had made a successful urban-economic adjustment after a period of decline. The study confirmed that the Sudbury region had overcome many of the obstacles it had inherited from the 1970s and was on the path towards a more sustainable future.52  The report, however, dealt largely with events that had taken place during the previous decade and devoted considerable attention to political factors. This paper asserts that other long-and short-term factors need to be emphasized as well if the basis for this transitional phase is to be more fully appreciated. In fact, many of the fundamental preconditions for this rapid adjustment from decline towards revitalization and sustainability already existed as far back as the 1950s.

For example, after 1951 the size of the region’s population was unique among Canadian resource-based economies. The foundations for the City of Sudbury as a central-place, already well established during the 1950s and 1960s, were strengthened considerably in the ensuing decade. The post-war birth of a white-collar class and its growing influence stimulated fundamental changes to the economic, political, and socio-cultural order. These three long-term preconditions were complemented by four more recent impulses: creative political leadership at the local and regional levels, financial assistance from the two senior levels of government, increases in productivity by Inco and Falconbridge, and finally, the creation of forward and backward linkages within the mining industry.

In the dynamics of the current metamorphosis phase, community size has been of paramount importance. According to the 1986 census, the Regional Municipality of Sudbury supported a population of more than 152,000. While this figure does not approach the 250,000 often proposed as the minimum for community sustainability, it nevertheless acted as a brake to slow down the decline. The fact that Sudbury was a declining metropolis gave it considerable influence with the provincial and federal governments. Arguing that “no nation is so affluent that it can afford to throwaway a major city,” Sudbury used this political leverage to its fullest advantage. 53

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Sudbury: A Historical Case Study of Multiple Urban-Economic Transformation – by Oiva Saarinen (3 of 4)

Oiva Saarinen is Professor Emeritus of the Department of Geography at Laurentian University. He has published many articles on Sudbury’s past and is author of Between a Rock and a Hard Place: A Historical Geography of the Finns in the Sudbury Area. This article was originally published in Ontario History/Volumn LXXXII, Number 1/March 1990.
 
OIVA SAARINEN

A Declining Metropolis

The post-war transformation of Sudbury was abruptly halted in the 1970s by problems both urban and economic which threatened the future viability of the city and the Sudbury Basin. Headlines shouted that Sudbury had “hit bottom” and was “struggling to stay alive.” 41  By the early 1970s, it had become evident that a political restructuring was needed to meet the region’s growing need for water, sewage disposal, transportation, and planning. The inability of local municipalities to deal with these issues can be attributed partly to the urban sprawl that had begun as far back as the 1950s, extreme parochialism, and the weakness of the tax base outside the company towns. Attempts by the city to rectify the situation were continuously thwarted by the province until 1960, when Sudbury was allowed to absorb the large population which had settled on its periphery. 42

The change in municipal boundaries, however, did little to solve regional problems or the inequities in the sharing of mining assessment between the province and the municipalities. Sudbury’s continued growth in the 1960s caused considerable financial stress, and, as one observer remarked, public funds were used to make the city only “fit to live in” rather than a “pleasant place to live in.”43 Municipal studies were undertaken which claimed that city residents paid one-fifth more taxes than the average Ontario urban resident while at the same time receiving fewer services.44

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Sudbury: A Historical Case Study of Multiple Urban-Economic Transformation – by Oiva Saarinen (2 of 4)

Oiva Saarinen is Professor Emeritus of the Department of Geography at Laurentian University. He has published many articles on Sudbury’s past and is author of Between a Rock and a Hard Place: A Historical Geography of the Finns in the Sudbury Area. This article was originally published in Ontario History/Volumn LXXXII, Number 1/March 1990.
 
OIVA SAARINEN

A Regional Central-Place

After World War II Sudbury began to shed some of its colonial-frontier character and image, thanks initially to a significant expansion of the mining economy. This expansion, however, included neither the broadening of the mining economy to include new products nor the strengthening of forward or backward linkages; rather, the Sudbury area provided ample support for the contention that staple economies often lead to just more of the same. 26 

The extension of the staple economy into the post-war era could be attributed directly to the influence of the American “military-industrial complex,” for it was the American government, in response to the military needs of the Korean and Cold Wars, that deliberately set the stage for a mining boom in the Sudbury and Elliot Lake areas during the 1950s. This economic expansion in turn enabled the Sudbury Basin communities collectively to attain the critical population or a metropolis. A related event was the passing of the region’s remoteness and hinterland status in relation to other parts of Ontario and Canada.

The acquisition of these new population and geographical attributes supported the transition of the area towards a more mature, service-oriented economy, and by the late 1960s Sudbury had acquired some of the characteristics of a regional central-place. The community was also changing internally: land-use planning was introduced, and a white-collar class was emerging. Unfortunately, many aspects of the transition went unnoticed because of the inordinate attention given to the struggle between lnco and Local 598 during the 19505 and 1960s.

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