Tag Archives | Northern Life

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

Michael Atkins is president of Northern Life – www.northernlife.ca – 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. Continue Reading →

Calls to Nationalize Nickel Industry During Xstrata Layoff Support Meeting – 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

It was standing room only at the Quality Inn Tuesday night, when 350 people took part in an event organized by local federal and provincial NDP politicians for laid off Xstrata workers. The group listened to rhetorical speeches by everyone from NDP Leader Jack Layton to Mayor John Rodriguez to Dwight Harper, president of Mine Mill Local 598/CAW workers.

Some comments, such as Harper’s wish to nationalize nickel production, were reminders of bad community feelings during major layoffs in the late 1970s. At that time, both Falconbridge and Inco outraged workers by cutting thousands from both their workforces.

Last week, both Xstrata Nickel and the Conservative government of Stephen Harper were roundly condemned by local politicians and labour leaders for not living up to a three-year no layoff agreement. The agreement was signed in 2006 when Falconbridge was taken over by Swiss mining giant Xstrata.

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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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Digging Through the Sudbury Soils Study – By Bill Bradley

Copper Cliff Roast Yards - CGS Libraries and Museums Historical DatabaseNorthern Life, Greater Sudbury’s community newspaper, gave Republic of Mining.com permission to post Bill Bradley’s article. www.northernlife.ca

A Primer on the Study, the Process and the Players Involved

(First instalment of a four-part series)

There is some excellent information on the history of mining activities in the Sudbury area in the first background study of the Sudbury Soil Study finished in January 2008, that can be downloaded at their website. Visit Sudbury Soils Study. Copies for public viewing are available at public libraries and post-secondary institutions.

Here are some highlights and quotes from the study that indicate the extent of the devastation of the Sudbury area:

  • Roasting yards were an early method of separating valuable minerals from rock. The first roast yard, where crushed ore from pits was piled on beds of cordwood, was built in Dec. 1886. Between 1890 and 1930, 28 million tonnes of ore was smelted primarily in the open. After 1920, ore was mechanically smelted indoors. Until the process stopped in 1929, “they released about 10 million tonnes of sulphur dioxide at ground level, killing plants and acidifying soils…open-bed roasting was a cheap but ultimately inefficient method, as it allowed some of the nickel and copper to be washed into the soil by rains.” In 1916 one former resident of the community near the O’Donnell roast yard said there were days when “I could not see my hand in front of my face.”
  • The wartime surge in nickel production in 1916, “increased the volume of noxious gases that wafted from the roast beds into the gardens and fields of the Sudbury basin.” Agriculture in the Blezard Valley was being smothered by the 600,000 tonnes of sulphur dioxide emitted annually by the nickel companies. “In 1916, after successive years of ruined crops, the farmers had had enough, forcing Canadian Copper to pay $137,398 for smoke damages in the year ending March 31, 1916.”
  • As the landscape deteriorated around the smelters, effects of emissions could no longer be ignored. Early studies dealt with sulphur dioxide emissions. “Not until the late 1960s did the focus expand to include metal contamination and acidification of the soils. At that time, studies by local foresters and ecologists showed that soil acidity and concentrations of copper and nickel were elevated in the same areas where sulphur dioxide damage had been measured.” Continue Reading →