Dr. Chris Wren – Sudbury Soil Study Author Counters Critics – Bill Bradley

Northern Life, Greater Sudbury’s community newspaper, gave Republic of Mining.com permission to post Bill Bradley’s article. www.northernlife.ca

The SARA Group, responsible for the Sudbury Soils Study, has hit back against its critics. www.sudburysoilsstudy.com

Last week, a group, calling itself the Community Committee on the Sudbury Soils Study, released a report by Dr. Kapil Khatter at Tom Davies Square. It was prepared by a nationally known pollution watchdog, Environmental Defence Canada. It stated the Human Health Risk Assessment (HHRA) report of the Sudbury Soils Study “cannot demonstrate there is no harm occurring, it can only estimate level of risk.”

That means the public remains uninformed about lead contamination, air levels of nickel, ingested arsenic from soils and the additional level of exposure mining workers face when they leave the workplace, said Rick Grylls, president of Mine Mill CAW Local 598 and a member of the group. Both Mine Mill CAW Local 598 and John Fera, president of Steelworkers Local 6500 have joined retired health and safety activist Homer Seguin, along with professors and health activists, to push for more government action on soil and water contamination from 100 years of mining.

According to Environmental Defence, Khatter is a family physician and environmental and health expert.

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Barrick Gold Brings Artisanal Miners into the Fold – by Nancy J. White

Tanzania’s Artisanal Miners Often Work in Unsafe ConditionsThis article was first published in “Beyond Borders”, a BARRICK GOLD quarterly report on responsible mining, edited by Nancy J. White, the company’s communications director for responsible mining. “Beyond Borders” contains several other items highlighting Barrick’s initiatives around the world. It will be posted soon at www.barrick.com.

At age 13, Alfaxad Chacha started digging. He never stopped. Seven days a week, 14 hours a day, he sifted through the red mud and rock of the Tanzanian landscape under an equatorial sun. With a little luck and a lot of backbreaking labour, Alfaxad and his friends eked out a meagre living on the miniscule bits of gold they uncovered.

It was difficult work, using dangerous explosives and toxic chemicals. But for 1.5 million Tanzanians, this primitive form of artisanal mining is a daily reality.

Today, Chacha is 50 years old. He lives in the village of Kerende in Tanzania’s Mara region. A life of digging for gold under the ground has hardened him.

“I am an artisanal gold miner. I have been all my life and so were my parents before me, but I’m not too proud of what I do,” Chacha says. “My work is barely able to support me, my family and my community. It is very hard work for very little money. This is not the life I dreamt of, but it is all I have.”

Like many others, Chacha spends his days digging, crushing and grinding ore, to unlock the small particles of gold it contains. He sells his product for a fraction of its true value to gold dealers who pass through the village. It’s part of an underground gold industry in Tanzania – one with no government regulation or oversight of any kind.

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Arming Private Security in the Philippines – 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.

Halloween is fast approaching, and I am filled with scary thoughts. I can imagine little ghosts and goblins shrieking for treats. I can imagine costumed superheroes playing gruesome tricks. But the truly frightening thing that I came across this week is the decision made by the Philippine government to allow mining companies to arm their private security forces.

According to reports from GMANews.TV, mining companies in the Philippines will be allowed to established civilian auxiliary armed groups (CAGs) as an adjunct to the local military. CAG members will carry only low-calibre guns, but that is little consolation to anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of a bullet.

Philippine Defence Secretary Gilberto C. Teodoro reportedly said that miners will be allowed to have a many armed men “as necessary depending on the threat level and the terrain” as along as each company signs an agreement with the Armed Forces.

I find this proposal frightening for several reasons.

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Historically, the Value of Gold Always Rises During a Financial Crisis – Gregory Reynolds

When in the midst of a perfect hurricane that is threatening the world’s financial structure, it helps to remember an old adage – To know where you are going, look back to where you have been.

The era that should be examined is the Great Depression which began in 1929 with many similar events to what happened in the past few months. It didn’t officially end until 1939 when the world plunged into the Second World War but the reality is that the worst ended in 1934.

The slow climb to normality took six years but it could be seen and measured.

The single most important step taken by the United States, then as now a world power, was the decision on Jan. 31, 1934 to raise the price of gold from US$20.67 an ounce to $35 an ounce.

As president of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt surveyed the wreckage of the U.S. banking system and decided drastic action was required. On March 6, 1933 he closed all the banks for a three day holiday.

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Fighting the Good Fight for Sudbury Labour Unions, Safety and Dignity: The Homer Seguin Story – by Bill Bradley

Northern Life, Greater Sudbury’s community newspaper, gave Republic of Mining.com permission to post Bill Bradley’s article. www.northernlife.ca

Homer Sequin, now retired, but health and safety advocate for the past 50 years, has published his life story.

Entitled Fighting For Justice And Dignity: The Homer Seguin Story chronicles his life from the age of 16, when he started with Inco at the Sintering Plant in Copper Cliff, to his retirement in 1992.

The book is 173 pages, with 40 pictures and is self-published. Journal Printing printed the copies on recycled paper using union labour, said Seguin last Wednesday. Some of the pictures have never been viewed before.

“It chronicles the rise of the whole union movement here and my activity from being a steward on the safety committee to a union trustee in 1963, to vice-president of Local 6500 in 1965, to president in 1967,” said Seguin.

The book is hard-hitting. Seguin had to leave school early to help his mother make ends meet when his 39-year-old father drowned in 1950. At that time Inco did not pay a survivor’s pension, meaning a person had to be alive to receive a pension.

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Turbulent Times on the International Mining Scene – by Paul Stothart

Paul Stothart is vice president, economic affairs of the Mining Association of Canada. He is responsible for advancing the industry’s interests regarding federal tax, trade, investment, transport and energy issues.

Times remain quite good within the global mining industry. There is no shortage of challenges to be sure, ranging from a dearth of workers to mounting social license issues. Nonetheless, the enduring strength of mineral prices continues to drive the industry. Nickel prices grew from $3 per pound in 2002 to $17 in 2007, and copper from 70 cents to over $3. Gold and silver are at prices not seen in decades. The result is record mineral exploration spending, high capital investment, and buoyant stock prices and mergers and acquisitions activity. Demand from emerging economies will continue to drive strong mineral prices in future years.

In this context, a key challenge for the industry worldwide relates to increased international turbulence as governments of many countries aim to capture a larger share of the overall mining revenue streams. Towards this end, governments in many regions are taking a range of actions and, in some cases, following questionable processes. For example: Continue Reading →

Claiming Our Stake! Building a Sustainable Community (Part 3 of 3) – Stan Sudol

Claiming Our Stake! Building a Sustainable CommunityIV: COMPANY & GOVERMENT INVESTMENTS IN LOCAL BUSINESSES

Maximizing the Potential of our Local Cluster

More money is spent within a 500-kilometer radius of Sudbury on underground hardrock mining supplies than anywhere else in Canada, the U.S, or Chile. In 2005, lnco spent $374 million on local supplies and services and $228 million on capital spending, Within the Sudbury area there are more than 300 companies that form the basis for the Greater Sudbury mining supply and services (MS&S) cluster. These companies range from dozens of small specialty shops that have created niche markets for themselves, to firms specializing in project engineering and management, equipment design and manufacture, software development and other research.

Employing over 8,000 people, they have the potential to create a significant number of new jobs over the next 10 years, expand exports and develop as a technical leader for the mining industry. A recent Institute for Norfhern Ontario Research and Development (INORD) survey conducted for FedNor at Laurentian University indicates that innovation is extremely high among the cluster of MS&S companies in Northeastern Ontario. The study revealed that 83 out of 90 of the firms surveyed indicated they were upgrading products and services and 72 out of 93 had introduced a new product or service in the preceding three years.

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Claiming Our Stake! Building a Sustainable Community (Part 2 of 3) – Stan Sudol

Claiming Our Stake! Building a Sustainable CommunityINVESTMENT REQUIREMENTS

I: COMPANY INVESTMENTS IN LOCAL OPERATIONS

Local Operations Managed by Two Major Mining Companies

lnco is planning capital expenditures of about $2 billion in the Sudbury Basin over the next five years to expand current production and build new mines. The company is embarking on the largest period of growth in Sudbury in more than 30 years. This is a conservative estimate and depending on the financial clout of the new owner, may be increased substantially, lnco has plans for new mine developments that include the Kelly Lake and Totten deposits, milling upgrades, smelter improvements, including investments in sulphur emission reductions and expansions at the nickel refinery. The company intends to maintain the stability of their workforce, with longer-term growth potential.

Falconbridge’s half billion-dollar Nickel Rim South project, currently under construction, may become the richest individual mine in Canadian history. Continue Reading →

Claiming Our Stake! Building a Sustainable Community (Part 1 of 3) – Stan Sudol

Claiming Our Stake! Building a Sustainable CommunityIn the summer of 2006, Greater Sudbury residents were extremely concerned that the local community was being overlooked during the foreign takeovers of Inco and Falconbridge. The then Mayor David Courtemanche asked me to produce a policy document that outlined the community’s concerns about the impending loss of Sudbury’s two iconic Canadian miners to foreign ownership.

Many community stakeholders were interviewed and an aggressive first draft was delivered to Mayor Courtemanche. To the concern of some of the stakeholders, myself included, the final version was less bold and assertive than originally planned.

However, it was an honour to play a key role in the production and writing of “Claiming Our Stake! Building a Sustainable Community” during this pivotal time in the mining history of the Sudbury Basin.

Stan Sudol

Executive Summary

“There is an international bidding war taking place in the Canadian mining sector, and Greater Sudbury is at the front lines. What happens here in the next few months will re-define the Canadian mining industry and this community for, the next century.

Mayor Courtemanche, Greater Sudbury (June, 2006)

Over the past year, the global business media and Canadians have been captivated by one of the most expensive and bitter takeover battles in the history of world mining. Falconbridge Limited has been taken over by Swiss-based Xstrata PLC and, while the final ownership of lnco Limited has yet to be decided, these events will permanently change the course and ownership of the country’s resource sector.

We are also witnessing one of the largest economic transformations in the history of mankind. China, India and many other developing countries are rapidly urbanizing and industrializing their societies, and mineral commodities and mining expertise are an essential part of this change. The world is entering the start of commodity super-cycle that will last for decades and create enormous prosperity.

Our community has an enormous stake in the outcome of this international bidding war. Our stake is over 100 years of mining behind us, billions of dollars of ore beneath us, and enormous opportunities in front of us. Greater Sudbury is the historic heart and soul of the global nickel industry. Most geologists and mine industry experts agree that there is still another hundred years of life to this enormous trillion dollar mining camp.

Greater Sudbury is home to one of the greatest mining camps that the world has ever known. The Sudbury Basin is the richest mining district in North America and among the top ten most significant globally. In a world full of geo-political uncertainty, Sudbury’s strategic nickel resources ensure a secure environment for the billions of dollars needed to increase production. Nickel has become the metallic version of oil.

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Grasping at Lies – NGOs, Mining and the Truth – 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.

“A lie told often enough becomes the truth.” – Lenin

Am I the only one who thinks there may be a conspiracy to defame BARRICK GOLD? The name of the Canadian company has cropped up recently in connection to a couple untruths, deliberate or not.

Last week it was a story circulated by Agence France-Presse and Dow Jones Newswires. Both implied that several miners were killed at the North Mara gold mine that Barrick operates in Tanzania. Dow Jones has since issued a corrected item. As it turns out the deaths occurred at the state-owned Buhemba gold mine. That mine is neither owned nor operated by Barrick, although the company’s mine rescue team responded immediately to the emergency.

In July there were autopsy photos of a gunshot victim allegedly killed by security guards from Barrick’s Porgera mine in Papua New Guinea circulating on the Internet. Again, neither the company or anyone in its employ had any involvement in the incident.

Barrick is not the first, only, or last mining company to be villanized by activists and NGOs with little regard for the truth. Junior miners, too, are accused of environmental and human rights abuses by organizations with political self-interests. I suspect Barrick is targeted because of its name, made recognizable by virtue of its worldwide success. I have seen the company in action at some of its Latin American projects, and I assure my readers that Barrick operates by the highest community and sustainability standards.

Okay, I’ll grant that some advocacy organizations do improve the lives of those they purport to represent. But I take issue with those that grasp at lies to put their cause into the spotlight. And a bald-faced lie that hits the press will be remembered for its shock value. The correction that follows will be largely ignored, especially by those who have an anti-mining axe to grind. I’m afraid Comrade Lenin will be proven correct.

Inco’s Sudbury Nickel Mines were Critical During World War Two (Part 7 of 7) – by Stan Sudol

Finland’s Strategic Nickel Deposits

In the 1930s, Inco had invested several million dollars developing valuable nickel deposits in the Petsamo district of northern Finland, close to the Russian border. At the outbreak of war events in the region unfolded with lightning speed. The Soviets invaded Finland and annexed the nickel mines in March 1940. Germany invaded Russia in 1941 and the Finns recaptured the nickel mines which were immediately put under German control.

The British wanted Inco Limited to keep operating the mines even though production would be sold to the Germans. They were hoping that Inco could slow down development and provide the necessary intelligence for nickel shipments that the British navy could destroy. The Mackenzie King government in Ottawa steadfastly refused to co-operate with this plan. Their big fear was the negative public reaction if it was discovered that a Canadian company was helping send vital nickel to the enemy.

During the First World War some Sudbury nickel had been shipped to the Germans via a neutral United States. The “Deutschland” incident caused a huge uproar in Canada and Prime Minister King was adamant that a similar event would not happen. Inco was caught in the middle but agreed to abide with the Canadian government even though its concession in Finland would ultimately be lost.

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Inco’s Sudbury Nickel Mines were Critical During World War Two (Part 6 of 7) – by Stan Sudol

Roger Whittle’s Amazing Invention – the Jet Engine

The successful development of British-born Roger Whittle’s amazing invention, the jet turbine engine was integrally linked to Inco’s metallurgical expertise with high temperature nickel alloys.

In the early 1940s, at the request of Britain’s Air Ministry, company scientists worked furiously to solve the problem of appropriate materials for emerging designs in jet and gas turbine engines. The Germans were also working on their own version of a jet engine the Messerschmitt Me 262.

One of the most noted contributions during the war was the invention of a new alloy for jet-propelled aircraft engines by International Nickel metallurgists from the Henry Wiggin & Company Ltd. facilities in Birmingham.

This new alloy called “Nimonic 80” allowed the jet engine’s turbine parts, particularly the blades, to operate for long periods under tremendous stress, high heat and corrosive exhaust without deforming or melting. This new alloy was superior to German aircraft technology. The first British airplane outfitted with the new engine was the Meteor which first flew in 1943 and was finally approved for the air force in July, 1944.

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Inco’s Sudbury Nickel Mines were Critical During World War Two (Part 5 of 7) – by Stan Sudol

Women Working at Inco During Second World WarWomen working for International Nickel

Since 1890, Ontario mining legislation had prohibited the employment of women in mines. Using its powers under the War Measures Act, the federal government issues an order-in-council on August 13, 1942 allowing women to be employed, but only in surface operations. On September 23, 1942, a second order-in-council was issued to allow women into the Port Colborne refinery.

Over 1,400 women were hired for productions and maintenance jobs for the duration of the war. They performed a variety of jobs such as operating ore distributors, repairing cell flotation equipment, piloting ore trains and working in the machine shop.

Twenty-one year old Elizabeth “Lisa” Dumencu, a resident of Lively, a Sudbury suburb, answered the call. “Women didn’t normally do this type of work, but we had to do our part,” she recalls. “It was really remarkable, but my husband Peter, worked even harder underground at Creighton mine.” Continue Reading →

Will the Ontario Government Strengthen or Hold Back the Province’s Booming Mining Sector – by Gregory Reynolds

Gregory Reynolds - Timmins ColumnistThe Dark Days for the British Columbia mining industry began in 1991 with the election of a New Democratic Party government. The introduction of intolerable tax levels eventual led in some instances to mining companies paying 103 per cent taxes on income.

It led to 10 years of stagnation. Money, jobs and people fled the province. The question that mining people in Ontario are asking these days is whether that could happen here.

The lesson of B.C. should be enough for a provincial government to be careful in its handling of an industry that is cyclical in nature and dependent on economic factors largely beyond its control. It seems politicians find certain elementary facts hard to accept.

The Canadian mining industry operates in an environment where prices and demand are determined elsewhere. Commodity prices are not set in Canada.

Payment is in U.S. dollars and therefore the monetary policies of our giant neighbour to the south are more important than those under the control of Queen’s Park or even Ottawa.

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Inco’s Sudbury Nickel Mines were Critical During World War Two (Part 4 of 7) – by Stan Sudol

Inco World War Two PosterThe Struggle for Union Organization

Before the war, among mining camps in Northern Ontario, Sudbury had earned the reputation of being a centre for “scabs” and “company stooges.”

Labour historian Jim Tester wrote in 1979, “Besides, they [Inco/Falconbridge] hated unions with a universal, almost pathological, passion.” He continues, “Inco had one of the best spy systems in all of North America, not exceeded by the notorious set-up at Fords. Inco’s reputation was known in every mining camp on the continent. In Kirkland Lake and Timmins there was a tremendous sympathy for the nickel workers of Sudbury. It was estimated that one in ten Inco workers was an informer.”

Inco hired people to intimidate union organizers handing out leaflets and disrupted meetings. The company even resorted to violence to keep the union out.  In 1942, two union organizers were severely beaten and hospitalized and their downtown office destroyed by a group of twelve company goons. Although it was the middle of the day, no police were around to stop the violence. Two of the twelve went public and the union printed and distributed 10,000 leaflets throughout the community telling the truth.

A portion of the leaflet read, “This may be what INCO wants — it may be what the Star wants — but it is not what we want, and not what Sudbury wants. Continue Reading →