Tag Archives | Sudbury Basin

Goodby Inco, ‘Bem-Vindos’ to Sudbury Brazillian CVRD – by Stan Sudol

This column was originally published in Northern Life, Greater Sudbury’s community newspaper on October 25, 2006

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, if I may borrow from Charles Dickens.

On Aug. 24, 2006 , the spot nickel price hit its all time high ever, at $15.76 (US) per pound. Last Friday it was just a tad under that record at $15.65.

Inco’s third quarter net earnings of $701 million—the Ontario operations contributed $US356 million to that figure—were the highest ever quarterly profits in the company’s 104-year history. The 2005 third quarter net earnings were $64-million.

And to add the cherry on the cake, the company officially opened its $115-million Fluid Bed Roaster Dioxide Emission Reduction plant in Copper Cliff that will further reduce SO2 pollution from the Sudbury operations by 34 percent to just 175 kilotonnes a year. This is about a 90 percent reduction from the 2,000 kilotonnes a year the company used to emit in 1970.

However, the drama and trauma of the past year’s “nickel wars” have finally come to an end in a way we didn’t expect.

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Dramatic Economic Times Impact Mining Sector – by David Robinson

Dr. David Robinson - Laurentian University Economics ProfessorDr. David Robinson is an economist at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Canada. His column was originally published in Sudbury Mining Solutions Journal a magazine that showcases the mining expertise of North Bay, Timmins and Sudbury.

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For an economist, these are interesting times. The accumulating American triple deficit – on trade, the government budget and household spending – finally caught up with the people who live by lending. We get to see the most vehemently capitalist governments nationalizing banks and supporting the value of vast pools of imaginary assets. We even get to watch executives leaping off tall buildings with their golden parachutes.

For the mining industry and industry suppliers, the times are more than just interesting. Economic growth is utterly dependent on what the mining sector produces, and good times in the mining sector depend on economic growth.

The question on everybody’s mind as this column goes to press is whether the lunatics in the financial sector have actually pushed the world economy off the tracks. They have done it before.

The most common view out in the infosphere is that a world recession is almost inevitable. The majority of guesses say it could last six months to two years. There are a few who think the world will end, and a few who think that unprecedented co-operation among governments will have unprecedented results.

No one really believes that the long run story has changed. The BRIC nations – Brazil, Russia, India and China – still have the population, the potential and the momentum they had when Goldman Sachs identified them in 2001. They have been driving world growth, with help from the American consumer. Those BRIC consumers are just getting going.

Rio Tinto chief executive Tom Albanese reminded shareholders in October that China’s economy is driven far more by industrialization and urbanization than by exports to the USA. The company expects demand in China to strengthen across a range of Rio Tinto products.

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Inco’s Sudbury Nickel Mines were Critical During World War Two (Part 5 of 7) – by Stan Sudol

Women Working at Inco During Second World WarWomen working for International Nickel

Since 1890, Ontario mining legislation had prohibited the employment of women in mines. Using its powers under the War Measures Act, the federal government issues an order-in-council on August 13, 1942 allowing women to be employed, but only in surface operations. On September 23, 1942, a second order-in-council was issued to allow women into the Port Colborne refinery.

Over 1,400 women were hired for productions and maintenance jobs for the duration of the war. They performed a variety of jobs such as operating ore distributors, repairing cell flotation equipment, piloting ore trains and working in the machine shop.

Twenty-one year old Elizabeth “Lisa” Dumencu, a resident of Lively, a Sudbury suburb, answered the call. “Women didn’t normally do this type of work, but we had to do our part,” she recalls. “It was really remarkable, but my husband Peter, worked even harder underground at Creighton mine.” Continue Reading →

Inco’s Sudbury Nickel Mines were Critical During World War Two (Part 2 of 7) – by Stan Sudol

Inco World War Two PosterIncreased Nickel Production

In 1941 the Allied governments asked the company to increase production. International Nickel complied by committing $35 million to expand nickel output by 50 million pounds above 1940 production levels, reaching this goal by 1943 without any government subsidies. However, the Canadian government did allow the company to amortize within a five-year period, instead of ten or twenty years, $25 million worth of expansion expenditures.

That enormous task fell to American-born Ralph Parker, who at the time was the general superintendent of the mining and smelting division at Sudbury. It was one of Mr. Parker’s greatest achievements to organize the enormous program of enlarging the Sudbury mining and plant facilities without any loss of production.

To increase production of extraordinary war-time demands, Mr. Parker had to resort to “high-grading” which entails using above average ore grades and leaving behind lower grades that would have normally contributed to a longer, more profitable mine life. There was a real fear that the company would use up most of its reserves and have little to mine after the war.

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Inco’s Sudbury Nickel Mines were Critical During World War Two (Part 1 of 7) – by Stan Sudol

Inco World War Two PosterNickel Was the Most Strategic Metal

By anyone’s estimation, the highlight of Sudbury’s social calendar in 1939 was the visit of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth on June 5th, accompanied by Prime Minister Mackenzie King and a host of local dignitaries. This was the first time a reigning British monarch had ever visited Canada, let alone Sudbury, a testimony to the growing importance of the region’s vital nickel mines. The nickel operations in the Sudbury Basin were booming due to growing global tensions and increased spending on military budgets. Sudbury and the northeastern Ontario gold mining centres of Timmins and Kirkland Lake were among the few economic bright spots in a country devastated by the Great Depression.

In an April 15, 1938 article, Maclean’s Magazine journalist Leslie McFarlane described the three mining communities as, “Northern Ontario’s glittering triangle….No communities in all of Canada are busier, none more prosperous. The same golden light shines on each.”

During the royal visit, precedence was broken by allowing Queen Elizabeth the first female ever to go underground at the Frood Mine. Traditionally miners thought women would bring bad luck if they were permitted underground. There were probably many who thought the beginning of the Second World War on September 1, 1939 was the result of her subterranean visit.

The German invasion of Poland was to have dramatic effects on Sudbury. Many communities across Canada, Britain and the United States played exceptional roles in producing certain commodities and munitions for the war effort. However, it would be no exaggeration to say that in North America, Sudbury was among the top few communities that were absolutely critical to the war effort. Continue Reading →

Prospecting for Gold Mines in the Supply Sector- by Dr. David Robinson

Dr. David Robinson - Laurentian University Economics ProfessorDr. David Robinson is an economist at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Canada. His column was originally published in Sudbury Mining Solutions Journal a magazine that showcases the mining expertise of North Bay, Timmins and Sudbury.

Dr. David Robinson

Mining supply and service companies don’t normally own gold mines, but there are gold mines out there for companies that are looking. With mining booming and commentators expecting the good times to last, some innovations are getting long-overdue attention. Others are still waiting for the right company, or the right innovator to stumble across them.  It is a good time to go prospecting.

To position your company for the long run, you might want to look at some of the wilder prospects right now.  The trick is to figure out where to look. If it were easy, everyone would be rich. Strong prices and sustained demand are making a lot of our companies rich, in fact, but there are still some pretty interesting properties to stake. Here are a few hints.

 Think about boots, for example. Everyone wears boots. Anyone who has spent a day on his feet at a mine site knows that boots aren’t perfect. The way to make money on boots is to find a way to make boots increase productivity, reduce injuries, and minimize time lost. But how?

The gold mine is probably in custom orthotics. Bad boots hurt workers and cost companies money. Custom insoles reduce fatigue, backache and stress on the knees. Fatigue causes accidents and backache calls for prescription drugs and time off.  Continue Reading →

Social Capital, Clusters and Connections in Sudbury’s Global Mining Sector – by Dr. David Robinson

Dr. David Robinson - Laurentian University Economics ProfessorDr. David Robinson is an economist at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Canada. Sudbury Mining Solutions Journal showcases the mining expertise of North Bay, Timmins and Sudbury.

Scott Tiffin is a Canadian who lives in Chile. For the last five years he has been Director of Research and International Relations at the Universidad Alfonso Ibanez in Santiago, one of the best business schools in Latin America. Scott is an expert on entrepreneurship. He wants to help Chileans develop a dynamic mining supply sector, so last week Scott came to Sudbury to steal our ideas.

Scott especially wants to know how universities help resource sector businesses grow. He will look at Chilean, Canadian and Finnish or Australian examples to identify “best practices’’ that can be used to promote Chilean development.

The visit uncovered a few surprises: one Laurentian University Economics professor just back from Chile where he talked about how the supply and service sector developed, a team from the Faculty of Management collaborating with Chilean researchers to study small firms in the mining sector, and a couple of engineers just back from giving a course in Antofagasta. They didn’t know about each other’s work.

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Mining Suppliers are the Engine for Innovation – by Dr. David Robinson

Dr. David Robinson - Laurentian University Economics ProfessorDr. David Robinson is an economist at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Canada. Sudbury Mining Solutions Journal showcases the mining expertise of North Bay, Timmins and Sudbury.

Knowing how things work used to be the key to industrial success. Today, you have to know how things change. At the national level and in industry, innovation is the secret ingredient for success. Countries that innovate will grow wealthy. Companies with the best methods and the best technologies will grow. That’s the new gospel.

That’s why governments are looking for the magic policy to accelerate innovation and commercialization of new technologies. That’s why the mining supply and service sector is the key to the future of mining.

 There has been a flood of research on innovation systems. Researchers have focused on the ends of the supply chain – on research institutions and final users. Acting on that research, policy makers created a Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation (CEMI) at Laurentian University to bring mining companies and university researchers together.

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Global Prosperity to Impact on Mining – Dr. David Robinson

The Sudbury Mining Solutions Journal gave Republic of Mining.com permission to post Dr. David Robinson’s column. This Sudbury-based magazine showcases the mining expertise of North Bay, Timmins and Sudbury. (This article was originally published last winter.)

It is Christmas in the mining industry. Rio Tinto is handing out money to Alcan shareholders. China just signed a three billion dollar iron deal with Gabon. Xstrata has a $3.1 billion takeover offer for Perth-based Jubilee mines.

Talk of a takeover by BHP Billiton in September sent Rio Tinto shares up close to 18 per cent in just over a week.

South Korea is setting up a $22 billion fund to invest in global oil and gas projects, vying with China, Japan and India for resources as prices soar.

Where is all the money coming from? In a sense, it all comes from the imagination. The entire world is looking to a global society with a rich China, a rich India, rich Eastern Europe, and maybe even a rich Africa. The value of today’s ore deposits depends on whether you think they will be needed tomorrow. Continue Reading →

Chickens Coming Home to Roost with Inco Contract – by Michael Atkins

Northern Life, Greater Sudbury’s community newspaper, gave Republic of Mining.com permission to post Michael Atkin’s column. www.northernlife.ca

Michael Atkins

Buzz Hargrove, the feisty (I’m being kind) president of the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) union, recently said they would go on strike against General Motors (GM) if the auto maker did not promise new car products for Windsor, Oshawa, and St. Catharines, Ontario. A few days later, he changed his tune completely.

“You strike after something you think is achievable,” he said. “If we thought there was a product out there that we could strike and fight and win, then you can bet your boots we would be striking over it.”

Of course, what happened between the ultimatum and the climb down was that GM announced unceremoniously it would close a transmission plant in Windsor, whether the union liked it or not. Buzz is now negotiating severance packages, not new jobs.

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The Beauty of Mining Machines – Dr. David Robinson

The Sudbury Mining Solutions Journal gave Republic of Mining.com permission to post Dr. David Robinson’s column. This Sudbury-based magazine showcases the mining expertise of North Bay, Timmins and Sudbury.

Dr. David Robinson

Mining is a rough industry and nowhere is it as challenging as Northern Ontario’s deep, hardrock operations. The mines are hot, dirty and wet. The air has to be pumped in, as if miners were working on another planet. At the bottom of the deepest mines, the rock creeps like toffee under pressure. It can shatter like glass, killing and trapping miners.

In this harsh world, equipment must do miracles. Ventilation systems move minus -40° air to a depth of 2,493 m. Hoist cables lift 4,000 tons per day. There is no room for mistakes. Yet these may be the safest mines in the world.

No wonder Sudbury is the training ground for so many mining experts and the testing ground for some of the toughest machines. The knowledge accumulated by the people of the Sudbury Basin is a treasure. It will grow in value as the mining industry battles to keep up with demand over the next century.

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The Future of Sudbury’s Mining Supply and Services Sector is Bright – Dr. David Robinson

The Sudbury Mining Solutions Journal gave Republic of Mining.com permission to post Dr. David Robinson’s column. This Sudbury-based magazine showcases the mining expertise of North Bay, Timmins and Sudbury.

Dr. David Robinson

Here is the formula for a crystal ball. Take a cube of derived demand, add a book from a Singapore scholar, stir in some used predictions and a sprinkling of judgment. Apply this mix liberally to the mining supply and services industry and voilá – you can see the future.

Economists have long understood that nobody really wants grass seed – they like it once it has been turned into bread and a few people like it turned into lawns. Demand for wheat is almost all “derived” from the more basic demand for food. Demand for copper is even more indirect: copper makes wire to deliver electricity to bake bread. Nobody eats copper or stoves or electricity.

Nobody eats scoop trams, either. Continue Reading →

Vale Inco, President, Ontario Operations – Sudbury Speech – Fred Stanford

Fred Stanford, President, Vale Inco Ontario Operations• Thank you, and good afternoon everyone. It’s been a little while since I spoke to the Chamber, so it’s a pleasure to be here.

• Actually it’s been almost a year to the day since Murilo Ferreira, Vale Inco’s President and CEO, first came to Sudbury to speak to this audience. This was shortly after CVRD completed its acquisition of Inco.

• The theme of his speech was “Together, We are Better” – and I’m sure some of you may have been skeptical.

• He also said the acquisition wouldn’t change things much in Sudbury…but I might argue – since then, things have changed…and for the better.

• What an incredible year we just had at our Sudbury operations: Continue Reading →

Mine Money Triangle – By Leslie McFarlane (Maclean’s – April 15, 1938)

Inco Advertising 1939Prosperity, modernity, pioneer color and a relief problem
– You’ll find them all in the Big Three of Ontario mining

Considering Northern Ontario’s glittering triangle. At the apex, toward the eastern border of the province, lies Kirkland Lake; one hundred miles west and a little north, timmins; southward, along that invisible boundary that makes Ontario two provinces in one, Sudbury.

No communities in all of Canada are busier, none more prosperous. The same golden light shines on each. Close together geographically, speaking the same language of mines and mining in a score of tongues, with a common tradition of pioneer luck and labor and a common destiny in that their wealth is derived from the rock, it might seem that they would share a common personality. They don’t. They are too vital for that.

Each of the three communities is distinctive in its own right. Continue Reading →

FNX Mining – Sudbury Basin Success (Part Two) – Stan Sudol

Underground at McCreedy West - FNX Photo“We had the pick of the geologists’ crop in the depressed mining sector of 2002 and subsequently built one of the country’s biggest, youngest and most innovative exploration teams,” continues MacGibbon. “And with all that historical data, our fantastic computer- literate staff played a key role in helping us decide where to drill.”

Right from the beginning, this junior’s exploration mindset was on steroids. From 2002 to 2007 FNX will have spent more than $100 million on exploring its properties in the Sudbury Basin. Continue Reading →