Danger Lurks Despite Modern Technology – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn Scales - Canadian Mining JournalMarilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication.

The mining industry has made great strides toward establishing workplaces that are safe and healthy for employees. We almost take for granted our computer-assisted, automated and equipment-enabled jobs. For many in the mining and exploration sectors, helicopters are the only transportation that can reach remote locations. For some a trip on a “chopper” is as routine as tying on their boots.

But sometimes technology lets us down. The technology that allows modern helicopter to fly so that drill crews can reach remote sites failed last week, and people died.

One crash happened near Alice Arm about 150 km north of Prince Rupert, B.C. Four passengers lost their lives. Dead are the pilot David Jeffrey Reid of Sidney, B.C., two employees of Bodnar Drilling, Walter Bodnar and his nephew Nicholas Bodnar (both of Rose du Lac, Manitoba). Also killed was a prospector, Frank Moehling of Calgary. They were headed to the Homestake Ridge property belonging to Bravo Ventures.

The Hughes MB500 helicopter that went down on Aug. 6 belonged to Prism Helicopters of Pitt Meadows, B.C. It was chartered by Vancouver’s Bravo Venture Group that is testing its Homestake Ridge copper-gold property.

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Sault Ste. Marie’s Chicora Incident – An American/Canadian Border Incident– by Michael Barnes

Most  people know all about  the locks between the Canadian and American twin cities of Sault Ste. Marie. The waterways are good for trade.

But at one time the Soo locks were all on the American side. This ended with the opening of a lock to the north in 1895. Although not openly discussed, one the most important reasons for building a Canadian lock had its roots in an event which took place a quarter century before.

As Canada became a country with Confederation in 1867, a giant firm had to change its way of doing business.The Hudson’s Bay Company could no longer operate as if it were almost a feudal entity within Canada.

As the Bay gave up its huge land holdings in 1869, the action troubled the Metis people of the Red River in Manitoba. They feared their land would be taken up by new settlers.When they banded together under Louis Riel to establish a new government, a clash with Ottawa was inevitable.

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Ontario Gold is Where You Find It – by Michael Barnes

Famed prospector Don McKinnon, co-disoverer of the Hemlo gold fields north of Lake Superior is fond of an old axiom in the mining business.

He says simply that you look for gold where gold is said to be. This sounds like double talk to the uninitiated but actually the seemingly obvious statement makes a lot of sense.

Short of expensive diamond drilling, the location of gold in commercial quantity is anyone’s guess. So the best places to look for the elusive yellow metal are where it has been found before.

A few years ago, an up and coming Junior mining company with a Scots name, Pentland Firth, announced that it was taking another look at the Munro Croesus property off highway 101 east of Matheson.

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Ontario Mineral Industry can be First Nation Friendly – 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

Canadian Arrow Mines Given Award by Chief

Though some prospectors fumed about consulting with First Nations at the provincial Mining Act consultations last week in
Greater Sudbury, one upstart junior company has already shown it can be done.

Kim Tyler, president of Sudbury-based Canadian Arrow Mines, with over a dozen properties in northwestern Ontario, is comfortable
with a new emphasis by the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines on dealing properly with First Nations and environmental concerns.

The province is hosting meetings across Ontario as part of an effort to modernize the Mining Act.

“Dealing with First Nations is easy. Try knocking on their door first. Inform them who you are, what you are doing and what
opportunities there are for their members in terms of future jobs,” Tyler said at the sessions.

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Can Coal-to-Hydrocarbons Replace Oil? – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn Scales - Canadian Mining JournalMarilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication.

Like our readers, we at Canadain Mining Journal have watched the price of crude oil skyrocket and heard the voices of the “greens” calling for a more environmentally friendly energy source.

We don’t usually comment on the oil industry except the massive mining operations of the Alberta oil sands. The oil sands have been roundly criticized as one of the least environmentally friendly fuel sources. Their mining and processing could be made cleaner with a liberal injection of money, but the oil sands still produce conventional hydrocarbons in the end.

Ethanol has been suggested as a replacement for hydrocarbons. But the use of corn, rice and wheat in the manufacture of ethanol has played a major part in the rise of food staple prices, placing an unbearable burden on the world’s most disadvantaged people.

Coal, of course, is the second most popular energy source, behind hydrocarbons. It has a reputation of being dangerous to mine and dirty to burn.

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Mixed Reaction at Ontario Mining Act Consultations – 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

Reaction was mixed at the provincial Mining Act consultations Wednesday night at the Howard Johnson Hotel on Brady Street. Some prospectors fumed they were not being properly consulted and bolted from the meeting while others stayed to express their concerns.

There is a process now underway to revise the Mining Act arising from promises made during the last provincial election.

“There is going to be new legislation developed this fall from issues arising from the far north protection of the boreal forest initiative by Premier McGuinty announced July 14 to bring in the interests of First Nations,” said Anne-Marie Flanagan with Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle’s office.

“But the Mining Act covers the whole province including the rights of private property owners.”

The sessions are the first step in a consultation approach according to a discussion paper entitled Modernizing Ontario’s Mining Act: Finding A Balance that was handed out in the Sudbury session.

To be included in the discussions are the minerals industry, municipalities and other stakeholders, First Nations and Metis leaders, as well as input from First Nations communities across Ontario.

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Miners Need to be Wary of Ontario Premier McGuinty – By John Cumming

John Cumming MSc (Geology) is the editor of the Northern Miner, Canada’s global mining newspaper.  jcumming@northernminer.com

The week ended July 19, the 29th trading week of 2008, kicked off with a surprise announcement by the Ontario government that it would “protect” at least 225,000 sq. km, or roughly half of the province’s boreal forest.

The scope of the proposal is broad. It includes: banning economic activity within at least half the province’s boreal forest; holding meetings across the province with every conceivable stakeholder to come up with new land-use plans; giving local aboriginal communities veto power over proposed economic activities; revamping the way resource businesses are taxed, including more taxes going to local aboriginal communities; and building up bureaucracies to create and implement land-use plans.

The government also restated its intention to rewrite the province’s mining act before 2010, including changing the process for staking and exploration. It starts reviewing the act this August.

Given that you can’t trust anything Premier “I-won’t-cut-your-taxes-but- I-won’t-raise-them-either” McGuinty says, and that his professed environmentalism is driven by pure political expediency, figuring out what this latest proposal means for miners in Ontario is tricky.

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Xstrata Copper Announces $121 Million New Investment in the Timmins Kidd Mine

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 Mining Association member Xstrata Copper has announced a new $121 million investment to deepen and extend the projected operating life of the Kidd Mine in Timmins.  This investment will not only have a positive impact on the company´s future but also on the fortunes of its employees, suppliers and contactors, Timmins, Northern Ontario and the economy of the entire province. 

The Kidd Mine is the deepest base metal mine in the world.  This new project will expand the copper-zinc orebody´s mining zone from 9,100 feet below surface to 9,500 feet and extend the mine life to 2017.  This zone is estimated to contain 3.4 million tonnes of ore with a grade of 1.48% copper, 6.22% zinc and 80 grams of silver per tonne.

“The investment approval reflects Xstrata Copper´s commitment to the sustainability of Kidd Mine and the Timmins community and its business strategy to continually implement improvements to enhance the value of its operations,” said Claude Ferron, Chief Operating Officer for Xstrata Copper Canada. 

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Global Solidarity for Unions: A Vision That Works – by Patrick Veinot

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

(Re: editorial written by Michael Atkins,Chickens coming home to roost with Inco Contract,July 15 edition of Northern Life)

Thank you Michael Atkins for the opportunity to clarify some of the differences between organizations. As well as correct some of your opinions on the leverage or the strength of USW Local 6500, when bargaining with, or as you would so have it, against Vale Brazil.

Let me begin by saying that the CAW is a National Union, run from the top down, focused largely on the Canadian Auto Industry. This is manufacturing, not mining, and since NAFTA the manufacturing Industry has, not surprisingly, been in trouble.

While their leadership continues to negotiate higher wages it could be said to be true, that almost in parallel they have been forced to negotiate lay-offs, often forming awkward relationships with unfriendly politicians for taxpayer subsidies.

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More Mines, Lower Commodity Prices on Horizon – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn Scales - Canadian Mining JournalMarilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication.

We have all heard that “timing is everything”, and that truism applies as much to mine development as to anything. It seems that there is a growing number of new mines planned in Canada just as analysts warn of major corrections in commodities prices.

Softer prices are a result of a strengthening U.S. dollar, according to analysts. Oil prices have dropped to a three-month low, if one considers $119/bbl to be low. Perhaps it is compared to $140/bbl. The much-anticipated $1,000/oz threshold for gold was topped only three days in March 2008. The price of the yellow metal has been bouncing up and down since then from $850 to $990, averaging $900 so far in August. Copper has fallen from its high of over $4.00/lb in June this year back to approximately $3.50, and the pundits predict further losses. The zinc price is continuing to slide from its late 2006 high of slightly over $2.00/lb to under $1.00. Nickel reached a high of $24.00/lb in the first half of 2007, but it, too, is giving up ground, finishing June 2008 in the $8.00 neighbourhood. Analysts are beginning to say that even potash prices have peaked. And so it goes.

All of us mining industry watchers know this is a cyclical sector. Five years of rising prices have spurred exploration efforts around the world and across Canada. Many would-be miners want to cash in on the boom. The question becomes how many of them can do that before prices soften to the point that projects are once again shelved?

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Vale Preserves Aboriginal Traditions in Canada and Bazil- by Vivian Rangel

The following article was first published in Engagement, Vale’s magazine for socially responsible and sustainable mining.

In partnership with Vale Inco, aboriginal peoples from Canada keep their ancestral customs alive while they learn to deal with new technologies

Known as First Nations, or aboriginal peoples, two of the first ethnic groups that inhabited the continent, the Innu and the Inuit, have lived for about 7000 years in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador in the northeast of Canada.  The nomadic tribes confront the intense cold and survive by fishing and hunting animals such as deer and moose.  The men chant ancestral music to attract whales to request and conduct ceremonies of blessing of the shaman, torngak, especially for their hunting equipment.

However, over time the ancestral traditions have been losing out to the encroachment of Christian and colonists’ religious customs.  In 1995, concerned about the gradual loss of customs and high degree of dissatisfaction in the relationship of the Innu and Inuit and other inhabitants of the provinces, the Canadian government recognized the original rights of the aboriginal peoples to land, signing partnership agreements with governments representing the indigenous groups.  Five years later, this was one of the major concerns of Inco when it began its mining activities in Newfoundland.

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China Demand Keeps Xstrata Business in Sudbury Booming – 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

Demand for nickel is booming and will continue to do so well into the future, said Mike Romaniuk, vice-president Ontario Operations, Xstrata Nickel. He was a speaker at a luncheon for the Rotary Club earlier this week at the Howard Johnson on Brady Street.

Close to $400 million is expected to be invested in Sudbury operations. In 2007, 300 workers were hired and another 400 are expected to join the company this year, said Romaniuk.

Why the good times?

In China, they are building the equivalent of a Greater Toronto Area city every year, he said.

“I was there three years ago and saw a sign in the dirt saying a new city of 15 million to be built at this site within three years. They did it. Cities like that require a lot of nickel in their infrastructure and consumer products. That’s why we are prospering,” said Romaniuk.

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Ontario Mining Industry Safety Performance Update

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.

For the first half of 2008, the Ontario mining industry´s safety performance was holding steady keeping the sector among the three safest industries in Ontario.  For the first six months of 2008, the mining industry had a lost time injury rate of 0.6 per 200,000 hours worked, which is the same as the first six months of 2007.  The total medical injury frequency for the first six months of 2008, at 7.4 per 200,000 hours worked, is up slightly from the rate of 6.7 for the January to June 2007 period.  The severity of injuries remains virtually the same at 16 days for the first half of 2008, compared with 15 days for the first half of 2007.

According to numbers from the Mines and Aggregates Safety and Health Association (MASHA), the mining sector´s safety prevention organization, and similar organizations representing other industries, mining´s safety record would not quite match, but be in line with, the top performing electrical and education sectors.  Mining´s safety performance, however, would rank ahead of sectors such as manufacturing, services, forestry, construction, health care, municipal workers, farming and transportation.   

The Ontario mining industry´s lost time injury rate for 2007 was 0.8 per 200,000 hours worked.  The industry has been steadily improving over the decades on this incident frequency, which stood at 4.7 in 1985.  Credit for these stronger safety performances resides on the shoulders of every individual who works in the industry.  These statistics are moving in the right direction because of the personal diligence on the safety front and concern for oneself and his and her colleagues.  There are a number of initiatives and institutions supporting these gains.

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Canada Reduced to “Branch Office” Status – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication. Has Canada been reduced to the level of a mere “branch office” in the global mining industry? That’s what Don Argus, chairman of BHP BILLITON, called this country at a recent business gathering in Brisbane, Australia. He was talking about …

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SAMSSA Welcomes Global Mining Partners – by Dick DeStefano

Dick DeStefano - Executive Director of SAMSSADick DeStefano is the Executive Director of Sudbury Area Mining Supply and Service Association (SAMSSA). Sudbury Mining Solutions Journal showcases the mining expertise of North Bay, Timmins and Sudbury. (This column was orginally published June/2007)

Sudbury has become a global shopping destination for mining visitors in the past few months, especially from South Africa, Brazil and Chile.

“The attraction to our SAMSSA members is overwhelming and exciting to see and augers well for the future of Sudbury and all of Northern Ontario,” said Jeff Fuller, Treasurer of the SAMSSA Board and President of Fuller Industrial.

More than 50 business and government visitors from South Africa’s North West Province, Brazil and Chile have visited SAMSSA members and Sudbury academic institutions in one of the most active months in the history of the Sudbury Area Mining Supply & Service Association’s four-year existence.

Sudbury has become a destination point for mining industry people looking for equipment, technology and talent, and SAMSSA members are one of the main attractions for these global visitors.

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