Rio Tinto CEO Tom Albanese – Toronto PDAC Speech – Strong Markets, Big Challenges

Rio Tinto CEO Tom Albanese at Toronto PDACIntroduction

Thank you for your welcoming introductions. It is a pleasure to be here to address you this afternoon. Over lunch we’ve been reflecting on what a great time it is to be in the mining industry.

When I started in the late 1970s all the way through to the 1990s we saw demand growth rates falling and prices steadily declining in real terms. Many of us can remember 60 cent copper, two dollar nickel and 50 cent aluminum. And this was only a few years back.

As the large attendance at this convention shows, our industry is back in fashion. We are seeing almost unprecedented demand for the metals and minerals we produce.

One of my daughters is studying in New York. She tells me a lot of unlikely people keep asking her about the resources industry. Resource stocks have become cool, even hip, like dot coms were. None of us can remember mining being here before. There’s a whole new ballgame under way, with soaring asset valuations generating a great deal of excitement.

Rio Tinto’s friendly takeover of Alcan last October, along with several other company realignments, are all indicators of how rapidly times are changing as globalisation gathers pace.

Our positive outlook is not unique; certainly BHP Billiton’s conditional bid is a sign of others wanting what we have. While these are the best of times for our industry, the flip side is that it throws up a lot of challenges, which is my theme today.

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Rio Tinto CEO Tom Albanese – PDAC Speech Brief Summary

Rio Tinto CEO, Tom AlbaneseYesterday, Rio Tinto CEO Tom Albanese gave a keynote lunch speech on the last day of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada’s annual convention in Toronto, Canada. The following is a brief summary of some of his major points.

One of his first comments was on how pleased Rio Tinto was to expand into Canada with the friendly takeover of Alcan. The company now has 14,800 employees in this country, of which 10,300 are with Rio Tinto Alcan.

Albanese is a strong believer in the commodity super-cycle and feels the American economic problems will not impact the mining industry. “Important as the US is to the world economy, it is not as influential as it once was to the global demand for metals and minerals. We are firmly of the view there is an economic de-linkage between China on one hand and the rest of the world, especially the US, on the other,” said Albanese.

Rio Tinto feels that a possible US recession will only impact Chinese GDP growth by about one per cent or less.

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Rio Tinto CEO Tom Albanese – An Introduction

Tom Albanese succeeded Leigh Clifford’s seven-year tenure as chief executive of Rio Tinto, in May 2007. Albanese was born in 1957 and grew up in New Jersey. He attended the University of Alaska in Fairbanks where he received a bachelor’s degree in mineral economics and a master’s degree in mining engineering. He held a number …

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Many Challenges for Early Sudbury Prospectors – Gary Peck

Previously it was noted that the lot of a Sudbury prospector was one beset with many difficulties. A. Hoffman Smith, a resident of Sudbury since 1883, had stated in 1894 that Algoma was the most difficult area in North America to prospect.

Having already examined some of the actual problems associated with locating a site, today we will discuss the difficulties associated with securing a site and conclude with a discussion of what, to two early pioneers, was the ideal prospector.

Once a site had been located, a prospector had to secure the prospect. Unfortunately the central office was over 300 miles distant in Toronto. On occasion, his affidavits and applications, once they had arrived, might remain unrecognized for weeks.

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Canada’s PDAC 2008 Convention – The Mining Boom Continues – Stan Sudol

Ontario Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle and PDAC Mining Matters KidsThe annual Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) convention is the premier event in the global exploration and mining sector. The Toronto convention, which is always held in the first week of March, is expected to set another attendance record this year with about 20,000 visitors.

As I jump from presentation to event throughout this column I may sound like I have a severe case of “attention deficit disorder. This only reflects the many stories, people, lectures and events at the PDAC which just simply overloads the mind. Combine that with the networking, business deals, and the enormous amounts of partying and the frantic three and a half days can become a blur to any participant. Where to start?

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Interview with New PDAC President Jon G. Baird on Mining Challenges – Stan Sudol

Jon G. Baird - President of the Prospectors and Developers Association of CanadaThe Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) promotes the interests of the Canadian mineral exploration sector to ensure that there is an economically prosperous and competitive mining industry in Canada. A critical part of PDAC’s mandate is to encourage the highest standards of technical, environmental, safety and social practices of the industry both in Canada and internationally.

New Presidents for the Prospectors and Developers Association start their two-year mandates just following the organization’s convention held in Toronto, Canada in early March of each year.

Canadian-born President Jon G. Baird is an engineer who graduated in geophysics from the University of Toronto in 1964. He has a solid background in dealing with international business.

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Fraser Report – Global Rankings of Mining Jurisdictions – Stan Sudol

The conservative think-tank – the Fraser Institute – has released its annual Survey of Mining Companies, on the most attractive jurisdictions for mineral investment. This year’s top three are Quebec, Nevada and Finland.

The Policy Potential Index is a composite measurement of the effects of government mining policies on mineral exploration and development that include environmental regulations, taxation, infrastructure, political stability, uncertainty over native land claims, labour issues as well as geological attractiveness and the interpretation of existing regulations.

“Quebec has always been viewed in a good light by the mining industry, primarily due to its favourable geology,” said Fred McMahon, coordinator of the survey and the Institute’s Director of Trade and Globalization Studies.

“But Quebec’s government also provides a favourable policy environment to go along with strong mineral potential.

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New PDAC President Jon G. Baird – A Profile

PDAC Presidents traditionally serve two years. Outgoing President Patricia Dillon will be relinquishing her position to Jon G. Baird, a Canadian-born engineer who graduated in geophysics from the University of Toronto in 1964. His business career has spanned 28 years with Scintrex Limited, a Toronto based consultant and manufacturer of instrumentation used in mineral exploration …

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The Annual PDAC Convention Begins on Sunday – Stan Sudol

The annual Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) convention starts this Sunday in Toronto, Canada. This year’s convention has shifted to the South Building of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre from the North Building to accommodate more exhibitors and a larger crowd. They are expecting to see close to 20,000 participants, a new record high like the price a many of the metals its members are searching for.

PDAC was first founded in 1932, early in the Great Depression in order to fight some new provincial government regulation that was detrimental for struggling prospectors. Copper was then selling at four cents a pound (US), nickel was about 35 cents per pound, and gold could be bought for $20.67 per ounce. How things change and how they stay the same.

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Ontario’s Mining Supply Companies Need Strategic Govenment Investments – Dick DeStefano

Dick DeStefano - Executive Director of SAMSSAMining as a national asset seems to have fallen of the table. Not one substantial government document or study that has been produced places any real value on the mining industry or its strategic importance to the Canadian economy.

There are few restrictions on foreign takeovers and the entire sector is rarely placed under the microscope and examined as a “natural asset” that needs to be given serious protection as international brokers and banks play ownership games with resource companies around the world.

The Competition Policy Review Panel – Sharpening Canada’s Edge – is beginning a consultation on investment policies and how Canada can become a destination for talent, capital and innovation.

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Dick DeStefano and the birth of SAMSSA – Stan Sudol (Part B)

Fuller Industrial PhotoSudbury Mining Supply and Service Industry is Enormous

More money is spent within a 500-kilometer radius of Sudbury on underground hard-rock mining supplies than anywhere else in Canada, the United States or Chile. In 2006, Inco alone spent over $400 million on local supplies and services. That figure will only grow with the announcement to bring the Totten Mine into production as well as the Creighton Deep and Copper Cliff Deep projects. Xstrata Nickel is building Nickel Rim South, while FNX Mining will be bringing the Podolsky mine into production in 2008, just to mention a few other initiatives.

One of the main aspects of SAMSSA is the global nature of the organization. During its first year, DeStefano made contacts with 125 embassies focusing on their trade commissioners and government agencies who might have been interested in partnerships or distributorships.

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Dick DeStefano and the Birth of SAMSSA – Stan Sudol (Part A)

SAMSSA Members in Antofagasta, Chile (2004); Dick DeStefano, SAMSSA; Andre Ruest, B&D Manufacturing; Norbert Hoffman, Novenco; Ivania Misetic, Chilean Economic Development AgencyWhile southern Ontario manufacturing and auto industries are under severe economic stress due to the high dollar, competition from China and a U.S. recession, Sudbury’s cluster of mining supply and service (MS&S) companies are growing, exporting their products and technical expertise around the world.

Due to their success and economic clout, the local mining suppliers formed an industry association in 2003 called the Sudbury Area Mining Supply Services Association (SAMSSA) that also has members from North Bay and Timmins. The three communities supply about 35% of mining supply and services in Canada – the second largest concentration in the country.

SAMSSA Executive Director Dick DeStefano says, “Unfortunately, the Sudbury cluster has not been recognized by the provincial government as an important manufacturing centre. In the last three years the local cluster, including North Bay and Timmins have been exporting their products around the world, significantly increasing their revenues and regional employment.”

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The Commodity Super-Cycle Will Benefit Sudbury for Years to Come – Stan Sudol

Stan Sudol - Executive Speech Writer and Mining ColumnistThere is no doubt that the impending recession in the U.S. is causing economic upheaval across Ontario which exports about 86% of its manufactured goods to our southern neighbour.

Over the next few years as the province copes with a high Canadian dollar, competition from China and high energy prices, many communities in Ontario may be faced with a declining standard of living unless we can find sustainable solutions.

However two recent reports confirm that the commodity super-cycle has a long life ensuring that Sudbury – the location of approximately half of the province’s mining production – will be an island of prosperity as the region’s mineral products, supply and service sector and mining expertise is in great demand around the world.

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PDAC – Mining Matters: Educating the Next Generation about the Mineral Industry – Stan Sudol

Laura Clinton - Project Coordinator - PDAC Mining MattersAccording to a comprehensive study by the Mining Industry Training and Adjustment Council (MITAC), the Canadian mining industry needs to fill 81,000 high-paying, highly skilled new positions in the next 10 years. 

Considering that the industry has a terrible image problem among urban populations and a rapidly aging workforce, the issue of attracting the next generation of mine workers has become a significant problem or even a crisis to some.

One small solution is Mining Matters, the educational outreach initiative run by the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC).

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Excerpt from Michael Barnes New Book – More Than Free Gold: Mineral Exploration in Canada Since World War II

Pronto Mine, Rio Algom - Elliot Lake 1958The World Wants Yellowcake (Uranium)

Among some people uranium gets a bad rap due to its use as the explosive material for atomic weapons and yet these folks tend to forget that it has most beneficial uses for mankind, principally as the fuel for nuclear reactors which deliver about 15% of the country’s electricity. Canada is currently the largest producer of uranium in the world, although Australia has the larger proportion of the world’s known deposits. In 2006 of the seventeen countries that mined the element, Canada produced 28%, followed by Australia with 23%. The term ‘yellowcake’ was originally given to uranium concentrate, although the colour and texture today can range from anything through dull yellow to almost black.

Early interest in uranium in Canada took a back seat to the work of Gilbert and Charles LaBine who discovered radium at Great Bear Lake in the Northwest Territories in 1930.

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