Donald H. Gorman (Born 1922) – 2009 Canadian Mining Hall of Fame Inductee

Donald H. GormanThe Canadian Mining Hall of Fame honours the mine finders and developers who helped develop our northern and rural regions and created enormous wealth for the country. For more exciting profiles on the individual who made Canada a global mining powerhouse, go to:

Professor Donald Gorman has served the Canadian mining industry with distinction for more than half a century as a renowned mineralogist and superbly talented educator. Born in Fredericton, he completed a BSc degree in his native New Brunswick in 1947, after his studies were interrupted by wartime service in the Canadian Navy. After spending 1948-1949 studying economic geology as a graduate student at the Royal School of Mines in London, England, he earned a PhD degree at the University of Toronto in 1957 and launched his teaching career.

“Digger” Gorman taught mineralogy with unflagging enthusiasm for the next 41 years, inspiring hundreds of geology and engineering students to pursue careers in mining and mineral exploration. He commanded respect in the classroom by exemplifying the two sides of science: on the one side the rigorous analysis of minerals and their composition and significance; and on the other the pleasure that comes from solving geological puzzles and discovering mineral treasure.

Reta and Donald Gorman

To those he taught, minerals were not chemical formulae and crystal structures, but living things that tell a timeless story, shape history and spur human progress.

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Ontario Mining Association Says Climate Change Issue Caught in Web of Complexities

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.

Participants in the Ontario Mining Association´s Climate Change Workshop came to grips with the web of complexities surrounding this environmental issue.  The goal of the workshop was to provide some information on the current political and regulatory realities surrounding climate change and how they could impact mining operations in the province.  Mining companies in Ontario spend more than $500 million on energy annually and 95% of the greenhouse gas emissions from the mining sector are derived from energy use. 

Speakers at the workshop included David Clarry from the consulting engineering firm Hatch, who provided a “Climate Change 101” course and Steve Quigley, a principal with Conestoga-Rovers & Associates, who spoke about the global regulatory context and implications for Ontario´s membership in the Western Climate Initiative.  Paul Stothart, Vice president Economic Affairs at the Mining Association of Canada, provided information on the “Towards Sustainable Mining” program, while Bruce Dudley with the Delphi Group provided insights into developing corporate sustainability strategies and led a facilitated discussion on next steps for the OMA.

Over the past decade, the Mining Association of Canada has worked with the Canadian federal government on more than half a dozen greenhouse gas emission reduction plans, including “Turning the Corner.”  Although the future of the latest federal plan is uncertain, there are policy developments in Ontario that clearly need to be considered by OMA members. Along with membership in the Western Climate Initiative, Ontario has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Quebec and released five discussion papers in December regarding Cap and Trade. Participants at the session were encouraged to assist the OMA in responding to these papers and in engaging in a dialogue with the Ministry of Environment.

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Vale’s PT Inco in Indonesia is a Leader in Land Reclamation

PT Inco’s 2.5 hectare nursery is the largest facility of its kind in IndonesiaThe following excerpt on green mining practices is from the 2007 Vale Inco sustainability report. The full report is available at: Vale Inco – Sustainability Report 2007.

In 2007, Indonesia’s Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources honoured PT Inco with a Gold Award (Aditama Award) for its success in post-mining land reclamation. The company also received the Aditama Award from the Department of Energy and Mineral Resources as the best performer, among 40 mining companies evaluated, for its commitment to and success in post-mining land reclamation.

“We are very proud to have received this recognition,” says Dwayne Kroll, Manager of Mine Technology at PT Inco. “We are passionate about environmental responsibility at PTI. Particularly, we are committed to doing all that we can to rehabilitate the land that we have mined.”

PT Inco’s 2.5 hectare nursery – the largest in Indonesia’s mining industry – is living proof of that commitment. Located in the town of Sorowako, it has the capacity to grow one million seedling trees annually. In 2007, the nursery enabled the company to revegetate 150 hectares of post-mining land and restore 37 types of vegetation to 100 hectares of rehabilitated post-mining land. “Our revegetation program involves a two-step process,” explains Kroll. “After we re-contour the mined land and restore topsoil, we plant grasses, legumes and canopy trees to foster a microclimate suitable for native species restoration. The introduction of indigenous plants takes place after approximately two years.”

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Vale Announces that Tito Martins will be the new President and CEO for Vale Inco Limited

Vale recently announced the appointment of Tito Martins as President and Chief Executive Officer of its wholly-owned subsidiary Vale Inco Ltd., replacing Murilo Ferreira. He will be starting in January 2009. Tito Martins will retain the position of Executive Director of non-ferrous minerals of Vale. In his roles, he will be in charge of the …

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CVRD Opens its Doors to Local Communities in Brazil

Luana Andreza Ferreira took part in the CVRD Community Visits Program in Minas GeraisThe following article was first published in Engagement, Vale’s magazine for socially responsible and sustainable mining.

Guided tours help bring together CVRD and local town residents

Ever since she can remember, Luana has looked out over the same intriguing landscape from her window. Every day the 19-year-old from Minas Gerais asked herself how it would feel to be there, inside the mine she sees day after day on the far horizon. Then, last November, she was finally able to satisfy her curiosity by taking part in the CVRD Community Visits Program.

The program started in 2003 with the aim of bringing CVRD and local communities near its facilities closer together, and covers the states of Minas Gerais, Espírito Santo, Pará and Maranhão. Bernadete Almeida, Communities Communication coordinator at CVRD, explained, “Surveys showed that we were perceived as being ‘distant’ by some groups. There was also concern as to the environmental impact of our activities. We realized that people were interested in learning more about what we do and that many would like to see a mine with their own eyes. That’s why we created the Visits Program, to open the Company’s doors to receive anybody living in the cities and regions where CVRD is present.”

The story of Luana Andreza Ferreira is a case in point. She lives in Gabiroba de Cima, a neighborhood of Itabira (Minas Gerais) and has grown up surrounded by CVRD. Of her nine uncles, eight work in companies that provide services to CVRD, as does her brother. Nevertheless, she never really knew much about the company. “I thought they only mined the ore. Now I know that they also replant the landscapes, re-cultivating the natural ground cover and forest in the places where the Company operates,” she explained.
The visits to the mines are always a good opportunity to make the public aware of how important a role iron ore plays in modern life.

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Good News From Canadian Gold Miners – 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.

Look to the gold sector for good news from Canadian miners. While base metal, coal and potash producers continue to trim output, companies such as Vancouver’s Goldcorp have recorded record quarterly production. Gold output at all of the company’s operations was 692,000 oz during the last quarter, bringing the 2008 total to 2.3 million oz.

Nor is that the only good news from Goldcorp. Although the calculation of operating costs for 2008 has not yet been completed, the company expects total cash costs will be $300/oz of gold on a byproduct basis.

The company is also predicting it will produce another 2.3 million oz of gold in 2009 at a total cash cost of $365/oz on a byproduct basis. Increases will be achieved at most mines, but production at the Alumbrera mine in Argentina and El Sauzal mine in Mexico will be significantly lower than previous years. The 2009 forecast for Goldcorp’s Canadian operations include 620,000 oz from Red Lake mines, 290,000 oz from the Porcupine division, and 235,000 oz from Musselwhite mine.

Nor is Goldcorp the only bright spot.

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A History of Sherritt – Fifty Years of Pressure Hydrometallurgy at Fort Saskatchewan – by M. E. Chalkley, P. Cordingley, G. Freeman, J. Budac, R. Krentz and H. Scheie (Part 5 of 5)

Application of Sherritt’s Pressure Hydrometallurgical Technology to Other Metals

Much of Sherritt’s metallurgical and product technology developed over the last 50 years can be traced back to work done during the development of the ammonia leach process.  Pressure leaching of sulphide ores and concentrates, using continuous horizontal autoclaves, provided the basis for a thriving pressure hydrometallurgical process licensing business which offered processes for treating nickel mattes and concentrates, zinc concentrates, and refractory gold ores and concentrates.  The nickel reduction process perfected in the Ottawa pilot plant was subsequently licensed worldwide.

During the early 1950’s, following the successful commissioning of the nickel refinery at Fort Saskatchewan, Sherritt utilized its laboratory and pilot plant facilities in Ottawa to look for other potential applications for pressure leaching processes in the metals industry (14).  Laboratory tests were carried out on the pressure leaching of uranium ores and on the pressure oxidation of refractory gold ores, where the oxidative pressure treatment proved an excellent method for oxidizing pyrite and arsenopyrite to liberate the gold for subsequent recovery.

Two additional leaching plants were built by Chemico to treat cobalt concentrates in the aftermath of the Korean War, when the cobalt price was artificially high, but both plants became uneconomic as the price of cobalt declined, and closed in the early 1960s.  A fourth pressure leaching plant was the Port Nickel plant, constructed by Freeport to treat the nickel-cobalt sulphide from Moa.

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A History of Sherritt – Fifty Years of Pressure Hydrometallurgy at Fort Saskatchewan – by M. E. Chalkley, P. Cordingley, G. Freeman, J. Budac, R. Krentz and H. Scheie (Part 4 of 5)

Pressure Hydrometallurgy at Moa

The acid pressure leach process for the treatment of low magnesium content lateritic ore has been in operation at the Pedro Sotto Alba plant in Moa, Holguin, Cuba since 1959.  The plant was originally constructed by Chemico for Moa Bay Mining Company, a subsidiary of Freeport Sulphur, but was taken over by the Cuban government in 1960.  The plant recommenced operations in 1961, under Cuban management.

Under Cuban management the production at Moa gradually increased and improvements were made to the recovery of nickel and cobalt.  In December 1994, Sherritt Inc. and General Nickel Co. S.A. announced the formation of a combined enterprise that included the Moa plant, now known as Moa Nickel S.A.   The nickel and cobalt sulphides produced by Moa Nickel S.A. (13) are transported to the nickel and cobalt refinery at Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, Canada now known as “Corefco” (The Cobalt Refinery Company Inc.), a second combined enterprise company, for processing to pure metal products.

At Moa, Nickel limonite ore is processed in a high-pressure acid leach to selectively dissolve nickel and cobalt from the ore.  Concentrated sulphuric acid is the lixiviant.

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A History of Sherritt – Fifty Years of Pressure Hydrometallurgy at Fort Saskatchewan – by M. E. Chalkley, P. Cordingley, G. Freeman, J. Budac, R. Krentz and H. Scheie (Part 3 of 5)

History and Development of Cobalt Production

As Sherritt was developing the hydrometallurgical process for refining nickel, they were also faced with the question of how to separate cobalt from nickel, and then what to do with the cobalt.   The selection of hydrogen reduction technology to produce metallic nickel powder also provided Sherritt with a primary nickel-cobalt separation step.  As long as the ratio of nickel to cobalt is large, nickel can be selectively reduced with hydrogen without reducing cobalt.

The Lynn Lake concentrate, with typical ore grades of 10% nickel and 0.5% cobalt, yielded nickel reduction feed solution with relatively low cobalt content (nickel/cobalt ratio greater than 30:1).  Since the relatively small amount of nickel and cobalt remaining in the solution after nickel reduction could be precipitated from solution with hydrogen sulphide to yield a saleable intermediate nickel-cobalt sulphide product, development and construction of the nickel refinery was able to proceed without a final answer as to how to handle the cobalt.

Many alternative cobalt flowsheets were studied.  The Ottawa pilot plant was closed in 1955 and some of the pilot plant equipment was shipped to Fort Saskatchewan where it was used in the assembly of a “commercial sized” cobalt refinery.   Output of this plant, at less than 150 tonnes of cobalt per year, was so low that it was only utilized for commercial cobalt production for part of the year, and used for pilot scale development of other hydrometallurgical processes during the remainder of the year. Refining of nickel-cobalt sulphides, utilizing an acid leach of the sulphides, began on June 16, 1955.

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A History of Sherritt – Fifty Years of Pressure Hydrometallurgy at Fort Saskatchewan – by M. E. Chalkley, P. Cordingley, G. Freeman, J. Budac, R. Krentz and H. Scheie (Part 2 of 5)



Leaching of concentrate started on May 24, 1954.  By June 19, the leach circuit was filled and by July 15 feed liquor was available for the metal recovery section.  On July 21, 1954, the first nickel metal was produced and met specifications.  The plant reached 90% of design capacity by the end of 1954 and operated at design capacity during 1955.

Ongoing Development of the Ammonia Leach Process

Through the years, as feed sources to the refinery changed and developments were made and implemented, the configuration of the leach stages and autoclaves was altered many times.  However, the basic function and operation of the ammonia leach has remained remarkably constant.  The dissolution of metal values combined with the simultaneous oxidation of sulphur forms the basis for the chemistry of the ammonia leach.

In the ammonia leach nickel, cobalt, copper and zinc are leached into solution.  Iron, if present in reactive form, upon dissolution is immediately hydrolysed and precipitated as hydrated iron oxide.  The iron oxide tailings are removed by thickening and filtration and discarded.  Sulphur chemistry is complex, as sulphur may exist as any of several intermediate oxidation states as well as the fully oxidized ammonium sulphate and sulphamate.

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A History of Sherritt – Fifty Years of Pressure Hydrometallurgy at Fort Saskatchewan – by M. E. Chalkley, P. Cordingley, G. Freeman, J. Budac, R. Krentz and H. Scheie (Part 1 of 5)


The Beginning

In July 1927, Sherritt Gordon Mines Limited was incorporated, and named after Carl Sherritt and the Gordon family.  Carl Sherritt was an American citizen who worked as a teamster on the construction of the Hudson’s Bay railroad.  He later became a trapper and prospector and staked copper prospects in the Cold Lake area of Manitoba.  J. Peter Gordon was a civil engineer who also worked on the railroad construction and later became interested in mining developments in the area.

The formation of the company was largely due to the efforts of Eldon Brown, a young mining engineer, with the financial backing of Thayer and Halstead Lindsley and the Gordon family (1).

The Discovery of Nickel at Lynn Lake

In 1941, a Sherritt Gordon prospector named Austin McVeigh sampled an outcrop of sulphide-bearing rock near Lynn Lake that assayed 1.5% nickel and 1.0% copper (2).  It was wartime and Sherritt Gordon could neither afford the men nor the equipment necessary to stake and drill the area.  The discovery was kept secret until after the war.

In the summer of 1945, McVeigh started staking in a six mile square area which covered all of the known magnetic anomalies and McVeigh’s original nickel-copper find.  A diamond drill was flown in but drilling on the strongest magnetic anomalies found only magnetite.  In September, the drill was moved to test several weak magnetic anomalies close to Lynn Lake and by the end of the month, an intersection with good ore grade had been made.

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Vale Inco President and Chief Executive Officer – Murilo Ferreira on Sustainability in 2007

Murilo Ferreira - Vale Inco President and Chief Executive OfficerThe following excerpt by Vale Inco President and Chief Executive Officer Murilo Ferreira is from the 2007 Vale Inco sustainability report. The full report is available at: Vale Inco – Sustainability Report 2007.

Murilo Ferreira

The year 2007 was an historic one for our company – a period in which we worked diligently to integrate the people, cultures and policies of Vale and Inco.

The process was not without its challenges. Yet it is my firm belief that as we have gotten to know one another – as we have shared our stories, our ideas and our dreams – we have proven that together, we truly are better.

As we work to grow our company, sustainability remains a key priority for us at Vale Inco. Our 2007 Sustainability Report – prepared with reference to the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI G3) – captures the achievements we are making on our journey as well as our ongoing challenges.

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Blog for Ontario Mining Association Video Contest Welcomes Traffic

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.

High school students — and others — are demonstrating their interest in the Ontario Mining Association´s high school video competition through participation in the “So You Think You Know Mining” blog.  The competition, which offers students the opportunity to place their two to three minute videos on the benefits of mining in the running for substantial cash prizes, is supported by comprehensive web-based resources, including a blog that is meant to encourage an open exchange of ideas and information.  The blog appears to be serving its intended purpose, adding a “wiki” dimension to the contest by enabling anyone to ask questions and contribute information.

Some bloggers have asked if there were previous contests that are similar in nature to “SYTYKM,” so they could see some footage before starting their own projects.  The OMA responded by saying “As far as we know, we are in uncharted territory.  This contest is a first for us and we´re really looking forward to seeing some unexpected entries!  As the videos come in, we´ll be posting some of them under the “Inspiration” tab on the website, so you´ll be able to check out some of the competition with your project.”

The level of the awards seems to be an attraction for some — “I don´t know much about mining — yet — but I like the prize money.”  Others seem to be attracted to gold and want to do a video on that precious metal and jewellery.  Some students who aren´t quite in high school have asked if there is a similar contest for younger kids. 

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The Northern Miner 1984 “Mining Man of the Year” John Zigarlick Jr. – by Patrick Whiteway

Since 1915, the Northern Miner weekly newspaper has chronicled Canada’s globally significant mining sector.

Working at the leading edge of gold mine development in North America is Echo Bay Mines of Edmonton under the quiet, confident leadership of President John Zigarlick Jr. – our choice for Mining Man-of-the-Year.

 While some goldmines struggle under the pressures of falling gold prices, Echo Bay is one of the companies always looking ahead, using new ideas to explore for and mine low-grade oxidized deposits of the southwestern U.S. and the high-grade sulphide deposits in the Canadian far north.

Born in Winnipeg and raised in the northern mining town of Uranium City, Saskatchewan, Mr. Zigarlick is no stranger to the north where the majority of Echo Bay’s interests lie. His knowledge of the north and the ability of people to work there was, no doubt, the source of his confidence in opening up the far north to mining activities previously thought to be either impossible or virtually uneconomic to even attempt.

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CANADIAN PERSPECTIVE: Republic Of Mining Chronicles Canadian Mining History -by Stan Sudol*

This column was posted today on the Canadian Mining Journal digital update.

The Web has forever changed the way we search for information. In today’s digitized world, most journalists, policy analysts, political leaders and the general public – especially students – turn to the Internet as their first source for facts.

Two major drawbacks to Internet searches seem to be the lack of content that is over a decade old because no one has bothered to post it or information that is deeply embedded in corporate websites. Blog postings, on the other hand, generally show up on Google searches much more readily.

In the final week of December, the annual Mining Person of the Year Award given by The Northern Miner is eagerly awaited by the industry. Since the first award was given in 1977, I was very surprised that I could not find much information about previous winners when I searched the Internet.

After contacting The Northern Miner about my concerns, publisher Doug Donnelly graciously allowed the to post all the previous Mining Person of the Year winners.

I have created a separate file in my blog’s index site located on the left hand side of the screen called “Northern Miner – Mining Person of the Year Award,” for easy access. Or just Google “Mining Person/Man of the Year” and the address will pop up at the top of the page.

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