The Positive Economic Impact of the Vale Inco’s Voisey’s Bay Nickel Project on Aboriginal Communities and Newfoundland – Raymond Goldie

Raymond Goldie is a senior mining analyst with Salman Partners Incorporated and is the author of “Inco Comes to Labrador” (Flanker Press, 2005). This article was written in December, 2008.

Since the late twentieth century, there have been remarkable changes in the world’s mining industry’s attitudes with respect to community relations.  The mining industry has come to recognize that it is of critical importance to engage the local community in mining development, and it has acted accordingly.  The development of the Voisey’s Bay mine in northern Labrador by Inco Ltd. and its successor, Vale Inco, has epitomized these changes in attitudes and actions.

In 2002, Voisey’s Bay Nickel Company (“VBNC”, now Vale Inco Newfoundland and Labrador ), then a subsidiary of Inco (and now of Vale Inco), made deals with the government of Newfoundland and Labrador and with First Nations groups in the vicinity of the Voisey’s Bay mineral deposit.  These deals allowed Vale Inco to develop a mine and concentrator at Voisey’s Bay.  This operation produces concentrates (which are feedstock for smelters and refineries) of nickel and copper.  The deals also obliged Vale Inco to provide training, employment and business opportunities for members of local communities (including the engagement of local Labradoreans in caring for and monitoring Voisey’s Bay’s natural environment) , and to improve the provision of health care and other social services to those communities.

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CBC Radio Cuts Continue Colonial Treatment of Northern Ontario – by Michael Atkins

Michael Atkins is president of Northern Life – – Greater Sudbury’s community newspaper.

I have written for years about the colonial aspects of living in rural Canada, most of that experience gained from my life in northern Ontario and my family history in Nova Scotia. It does become a little pedantic, but the essence of the message is that you can’t expect to be a grown up, mature, sustainable community or economy, if you have no control or accountability for your environment. If you are not entrusted with responsibility, how would you know how to exercise it?

In the broad spectrum of life in northern Ontario, our people are without influence. We have no meaningful input or accountability for education policy, resource policy, energy policy, social policy, tax policy, immigration policy, economic strategy, or business strategies.
The mining companies do their thinking in São Paulo Brazil, or Zug, Switzerland, the paper companies, to the extent they still have a pulse now, do it in Maryland or Montreal, and all other decisions are made in Toronto or Ottawa. By and large, northerners don’t care that much. They are more focused on the economic hardship they are experiencing, rather than the power relations that exacerbate it.

Northerners are more focused on the economic hardship they are experiencing, rather than the power relations that exacerbate it.

We can add a new silo to this pathetic legacy.

The recent decision to gut the CBC Radio infrastructure in northern Ontario is a case in point. This is a decision made in Ottawa, or maybe Toronto, without one second of consideration for its impact on the north.

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Northern Ontario Separation Episode on TV Ontario – Stan Sudol

Last week, I had the pleasure of being invited onto TVO’s flagship current affairs program, The Agenda, hosted by Steve Paikin. The topic for the first half-hour segment was about northern Ontario forming a separate province.

As the station’s website states, “TVO is Ontario’s public educational media organization and a trusted source of interactive educational content that informs, inspires, and stimulates curiosity and thought. TVO’s vision is to empower people to be engaged citizens of Ontario through educational media.” The Agenda has been described as a program that “presents in-depth analysis and intelligent debate on issues of concern in the rapidly changing world around us.”

The participants on the five-member panel were:

From Thunder Bay:

  • Rebecca Johnson, City Councilor
  • Livio Di Matteo, Lakehead University Economics Professor

From Sudbury:

  • Rejean Grenier, Editor of Le Voyageur

Toronto TVO Studio:

  • John Beaucage, Union of Ontario Indians Grand Chief
  • Stan Sudol, Communications Consultant, Northern Life Columnist

To view the entire program click below:

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Canadian Mining Journal READER COMMENT: Yea and nay to consolidating Ontario’s mining education at Laurentian and turning it into the Harvard of the mining sector

CMJ field editor Marilyn Scales writes: We opened a can of worms a week ago when we published Stan Sudol’s suggestion that Ontario consolidate the education of mining professionals in one school, namely Laurentian University in Sudbury. Readers were quick to weigh in on both sides. Forty-five people voted on the Hot Topic, and they were 60% against such a move.
Better yet, many took the time to write and tell us what they think.

On one hand, an anonymous reader thought Laurentian is the ideal place. “New ideas could develop in a new environment. It will be important to attract the best brains and teachers,” our reader wrote.

Bill Quesnel, president of Parts HeadQuarters in Burlington, ON, thought through the suggestion based on his life-long knowledge of the industry. He made these observations:
“Any move to make Sudbury the centre of mining education will have some major hurdles to overcome:


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Francophones Have Left an Enormous Imprint on Sudbury – Claire Pilon

Claire Pilon is a Sudbury-based journalist, researcher and translator.  She has given Republic of permission to post her column on Sudbury’s francophone history. She can be reached at: or visit her website: This column was originally published in the Sudbury Star.

In order to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the City of Sudbury, this column will demonstrate how francophones have left and still play an important role in the creation and development of our city.

It will demonstrate how francophones helped shape the city, whether it be in the religious, educational, health, economical or social sectors.

In the following columns readers will be made aware of the many contributions of francophones to making this city what it is today, 125 years after its beginnings.

It was 125 years ago when the first settlers, a great number of them French-speaking arrived in our fait city.

Sudbury was a lumbering town before it became a mining one. It has developed over the years and has seen many changes, some for the best.

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Teck – The Last Diversified Canadian Mining Giant

BHP Billiton chairman Don Argus stated last summer that Canada’s commanding role in global mining had been reduced to “branch office” status. This criticism reflects the fact that Canada`s major mining companies like Falconbridge, Inco and Alcan have fallen under foreign control.

Vancouver-based Teck, however, withstood this wave of industry consolidation and stands today as the last, diversified Canadian mining giant.

So I am both wary of and troubled by the intense negative media speculation over the immediate future of Teck. Due to the emotional “herd” mentality of current stock market investors, if you repeat something often enough it seems to become a fact even though it’s not.

Much of this negative coverage focuses on the company’s ability to handle the US$9.8 billion debt it incurred to fund its acquisition of the assets of Fording Canadian Coal Trust. There is concern over the $5.8 billion in bridge financing that is due at the end of October, 2009. The remaining US$4 billion is term debt and repayable over three years.

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Support for Ontario Mining at Queen´s Park is Unanimous

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.

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty joined representatives of all three political parties at Queen´s Park to show their support for the contributions of the mineral industry at the Ontario Mining Association´s Meet the Miners Day event in the Legislature.   In speaking to the audience of approximately 200 people, Premier McGuinty thanked those in the mining industry for working hard to build the quality of life we enjoy in this province.  Meet the Miners is an OMA event at Queen´s Park involving member companies and their employees, which helps shine the spotlight on the industry in provincial governmental circles. 

“While many things have changed in the world since last year, the contributions to the society and economy of Ontario of mining, especially given current global economic circumstances, are more important than ever to communities and the province,” said OMA President Chris Hodgson.  “On behalf of our members, we want to be — and are — a part of the solution to help draw Ontario out of this recession.”

“In this age, we may be drowning in information but we are thirsting for wisdom,” said Premier McGuinty.  “I want to thank miners for their work ethic and for pulling together in tough times.  Keep doing what you are doing and we can meet our shared responsibility of building a better Ontario for our children.”

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Sherritt International at Eighty – Marching to a Different Drum – by Jane Werniuk (Part 2 of 2)

The Canadian Mining Journal is Canada’s first mining publication.

This article was originally published – February/2008

Coal division

Coal contributed 7% of Sherritt’s revenue in the first nine months of 2007.

2003 was a pivotal year for the coal industry in western Canada, when the two major ownership groups exchanged thermal and metallurgical coal assets. Through its ownership of Luscar Coal Income Fund, Sherritt consolidated its holdings in thermal coal, while metallurgical coal was consolidated in the Elk Valley Coal Partnership.

Sherritt International and the Ontario Teachers’Pension Plan each own 41.2% interest in the Royal Utilities Income Fund, which controls Prairie Mines & Royalty Ltd. Sherritt manages the operations at PMRL’s eight surface mines in Alberta and Saskatchewan. The production from these mines is almost all sold to nearby coal-fired electrical generating plants. As well, Sherritt and the Ontario Teachers’ each own half of the Coal Valley export thermal coal mine in Alberta, which is operated by Sherritt.

While coal was not initially one of Sherritt’s traditional core businesses, it is now a substantial part of the Sherritt puzzle. The company moves 500 million tonnes (t) of material each year to mine 40 million t of coal, making Sherritt the largest surface miner in Canada.

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Sherritt International at Eighty – Marching to a Different Drum – by Jane Werniuk (Part 1 of 2)

The Canadian Mining Journal is Canada’s first mining publication.

This article was originally published – February/2008

Sherritt International is a resources company built from the bricks of a Canadian nickel miner, which recently celebrated its 80th anniversary, shown by the timeline in this article. Despite the intervening decades and corporate upheavals, Sherritt is still a nickel company grounded in the strength of its research, technical innovation and operational expertise. But it has become international, and is aggressively focusing on growth in all its business units–metals, coal, power generation, and oil and gas.

In a recent two-hour interview with the company’s president and CEO Jowdat Waheed at its uptown Toronto head office, I learned that Sherritt has decided to get its story in front of the public, which prompted Waheed to invite me to visit the company’s metals, technology and coal offices and facilities in western Canada followed by a trip to see its Cuban assets, all in four days in early February. It is from this brief immersion that I bring you a snapshot of Sherritt International, today.

Metals division

This is by far the largest part of the company, bringing in 62% of Sherritt’s revenue and 80% of its operating earnings in the first nine months of 2007.

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Ontario 2009 Budget Provides Miners with Tax Efficient Opportunities

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.

Several measures announced by Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan in the 2009 provincial Budget yesterday promise tax savings to Ontario mineral producers.  Perhaps the most important is the move to a single value added tax by July 1, 2010, which could save the mining sector potentially millions of dollars annually.  This federally administered value added tax would have a combined rate of 13% — 8% for Ontario, matching the soon to be phased out retail sales tax, and 5% for Ottawa, matching the current Goods and Services Tax (GST).  

The value added tax allows companies to be reimbursed for tax paid on business inputs through tax credits.  It is estimated that Ontario´s $10 billion-plus mining sector spends about $3 billion annually on these inputs to production.  More than 90% of these production inputs are purchased in Canada and 80% of the province´s mineral output is exported.  The arithmetic may be complicated for individual companies and there is a lag in receiving benefits of the tax credits, but the potential for tax saving — freeing more dollars for future investment — is significant.

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The Thunder From Down Under – A History of Nickel Laterites – by Stan Sudol

The Canadian Mining Journal is Canada’s first mining publication.

This article was originally published – August/2005

Everything you wanted to know about laterites but were afraid to ask

The last few years of the 20th Century were not very kind to the nickel industry. In October and December of 1998 the LME price for nickel dipped to US$1.76 a pound, the lowest level ever, if you factor in inflation. The imploding Russian economy was dumping nickel on western markets, the Asian currency crisis was annihilating economic growth and metal demand, and new lower-cost mine production was threatening to come on stream.

Of great concern to Canadian nickel giants Inco Ltd. and Falconbridge Ltd., the second and third largest producers after Russian MMC Norilsk, was an upstart Australian company called Anaconda Nickel Ltd.

Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest, Anaconda’s chairman, was well known in Australian mining circles for his legendary salesmanship and determination. One could almost imagine him pounding the table like Nikita Khrushchev and boasting that “he would bury the West with low-cost laterite nickel.”

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Study Confirms that Mining is a Gem in Ontario´s Economy

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.

The mining industry in Ontario is a cornerstone of the provincial economy providing benefits that far outweigh its relative size, according to a study released yesterday.  “Ontario Mining: A Made-in-Ontario Success Story” was presented by its author tax specialist Greg New at Queen´s Park during the Ontario Mining Association´s Meet the Miners Day.  This report on mining´s impact and contributions to the economy and society of Ontario is produced every other year for the Ontario Mining Association with the assistance and cooperation of the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines.  The previous study was titled “Ontario Mining: A High-Tech Productivity Powerhouse.”

“Overall, the Ontario mining industry matters to Ontario for its direct $10.7 billion in mineral production and related tax revenues, and jobs this production sustains, but also for the fact that it is a largely made-in-Ontario industry that contributes disproportionately to both the provincial tax base and the province´s international balance of trade,” said the report.   This study aims to provide answers, with supporting statistics, to the who, what, where, when, how and why questions often asked about the industry.

Highlights of the study would include: The total value of mineral production in Ontario in 2007 was $10.7 billion; Mining provides Ontario with a trade surplus of about $3.3 billion annually; The productivity of the industry continues to improve – each mining industry employee accounts for $660,000 of output annually; Jobs in the mining industry continue to be among the highest paid in Ontario; Total capital investment in Ontario mining, including research, exploration, construction and equipment, reached $2.7 billion in 2007, representing an increase of 58% from 2004;

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McGuinty Should Establish Laurentian as the Harvard of the Mining Sector – by Stan Sudol

Premier McGuinty should consolidate the province’s scattered post-secondary mineral education programs at Laurentian University and establish a world-class centre of excellence – a Harvard of the Mining Sector.

In one visionary initiative, the Premier could give Sudbury an economic boost, help resolve mining skilled labour shortages, spend university funding more efficiently and be in sync with the recently published provincial report “Ontario in the Creative Age” by Richard Florida and Roger Martin of the Rotman School of Management.

Notwithstanding the current commodity slump, there is a demographic time bomb ticking in the mineral sector as the baby boomers get ready to retire. It is believed that 60% of geo scientists – the people who find new mineral deposits – in Canada will be 65 or older by 2015.

In early 2008, the Mining Industry Human Resources Council (MIHR) projected that mining industry yearly labour requirements face three scenarios: high-growth (9,200), no-growth (6,200), and industry contraction (4,600), until 2016.  These were only based on retirements.

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The Human Disaster in the Canadian Territory of Nunavut – by Colin Alexander

Author Colin Alexander was the former publisher of News of the North in Yellowknife, N.W.T., and was the senior consultant on education for the Ontario Royal Commission on the Northern Environment. Currently living in Ottawa, he is also a retired trader, broker, and systems developer, and author of Streetsmart Guide to Timing the Stock Market. His most recent book, Timing Techniques for Commodity Futures Markets, was published by McGraw-Hill in 2007, and is available here at

As Canada’s Nunavut territory approaches its tenth anniversary on April 1, we should look at the mismatch between resource investment and the Inuit human capital, and consider these points:

* Employers need skilled and motivated workers. But where in their own land are the Inuit geologists and mining engineers, doctors and marine biologists? Where are the electricians, plumbers, heavy equipment operators and chefs?

* The Inuit population almost doubled between 1981 and 2006, and unemployment is very high despite considerable over-manning in administration. However, there are far more jobs in Arctic and sub-Arctic Canada than there are Indians and Inuit of employable age. Xstrata’s Raglan nickel mine in Quebec’s Nunavik region has 500 jobs onsite, with just 16% filled by Inuit.

* Resource-related jobs mostly require real qualifications, not the preferential hiring of the unqualified. As a shift boss at the Giant gold mine in Yellowknife once told me, “Any time I give someone a break who doesn’t deserve it, I risk having an accident that kills us all.”

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Australia Prepares to Overtake Canadian Uranium Production – 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.

Australia will quadruple uranium production pushing itself ahead of Canada as the world’s largest producer. Australian state premier Mike Rann made this boast to a group of Indian journalists at the Citi Australia and new Zealand Investment conference earlier this month, according to a report in The Hindu of March 8, 2009.

The single project that would rocket Australian uranium production ahead of Canadian is the expansion of BHP Billiton’s Olympic Dam mine. The company is looking at the feasibility of expanding output from 4,300 t/y to 19,000 t/y. That would create a single mine that could produce 35% of the world’s current uranium needs.

The newspaper account did not specify whether all those tonnes per year were elemental uranium or uranium oxide. A quick peek at the BHP Billiton website confirmed that the annual output is tonnes of U3O8.

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