Sudbury reflects on 10 years since foreign takeovers of Inco and Falconbridge (CBC News Sudbury – October 23, 2016)

Many in Sudbury feel a merger between the two local mining companies would have been best

It has been 10 years since the foreign takeovers of Sudbury’s two homegrown mining companies. And the debate continues over whether or not this has tarnished the Nickel Capital over the last decade.

Vale — then known as CVRD — officially took over Inco on Oct. 24, 2006, three months after Falconbridge was bought by Swiss-based Xstrata.John Fera was president of Steelworkers 6500 when Inco became Vale in 2006.

He says the Brazilian company promised to make things better — but that hasn’t happened.
“It doesn’t seem to be the family atmosphere it used to be. I mean we had our fights with Inco and Falconbridge, but when the fight was over, the fight was over,” he says. “I don’t see our workplaces being better. I don’t see our workplaces being safe than before these people came.” Continue Reading →

Mining giants including BHP, Rio, set for $US18bn coal boost – by Marcus Leroux (The Australian – October 24, 2016)

An unlikely resurgence in the price of coal could deliver an $US18 billion ($A23.6bn) boost to the four big mining groups listed in London.

Despite falling foul of increasingly stringent environmental regulations around the world, the unfashionable fuel has rebounded spectacularly this year, making it one of the best-performing commodities.

The leap in prices is on a similar scale to that after the Fukushima nuclear incident in 2011, which took place when China’s boom was in full flow. The rise in prices is down to the vagaries of Chinese policy. Beijing has ordered mines to cut back on production, which sent import prices soaring. Continue Reading →

Is Yellowknife ready to reckon with its toxic legacy? – by Richard Gleeson (CBC North News – October 23, 2016)

Gold smelters emitted 19,000 tonnes of arsenic during half-century of mining

Winter is returning to the subarctic city of Yellowknife, bringing its snow and ice, the only barriers between people and a toxic legacy of the city’s gold mining history. During more than half a century of mining, 19,000 tonnes of arsenic trioxide dust went up the stacks of smelters at the Giant and Con mines and settled on the once-pristine land and lakes in and around Yellowknife.

One teaspoon of that dust is enough to kill an adult. Though recent scientific research shows that much of the arsenic that went up the stacks is still in the water, sediment and soil, officials and governments have yet to reckon fully with the environmental and human risks.

Due to concerns about arsenic and sewage, since 1968 the city has been drawing its drinking water through an eight-kilometre underwater pipe to the Yellowknife River, upstream of the mines and away from the arsenic fallout. Continue Reading →

Ohio’s US Senators Call for WTO Action Against Chinese Aluminum Firms – by Staff (Alumimium Insider – October 23, 2016)

Ohio’s two United States senators issued a joint press release on Friday urging the United States Trade Representative to bring a World Trade Organization case against the People’s Republic of China over its aluminium overcapacity. The senators say that 15,000 American workers have lost their jobs in the industry over the last decade.

“China has unfairly subsidized its aluminum industry – it’s not competing, it’s cheating,” said Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown. “Enforcing our trade laws will ensure that U.S. aluminum manufacturers, the best in the world, have the opportunity to compete on a level playing field. The Administration needs to stand up for American businesses and put an end to the massive layoffs that have devastated workers and their communities.”

“I firmly believe that when Ohio workers have a level playing field, they can compete and win against competition anywhere in the world,” said Republican Senator Rob Portman. “Unfortunately, China’s persistent cheating has led to a situation where the playing field is not level in the aluminum industry, and Ohioans have suffered as a result. Continue Reading →

Government not doing enough on violence near Canadian-owned mines: Report – by Marina Jimenez (Toronto Star – October 24, 2016)

A new report that documents 15 years of violence near Canadian mines in Latin America says the federal government is not doing enough to address the problem. The study, published Monday, charts 44 deaths, 403 injuries and 709 arrests, detentions and charges from 2000-2015 that the authors link to 28 Canadian companies’ mining projects in 13 countries in the region.

“The world is taking notice of Canadian companies for all the wrong reasons,” said Shin Imai, a law professor at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School and principal author of the report, titled The Canada Brand: Violence and Canadian Mining Companies in Latin America.

“We need a more robust way to hold companies accountable,” he said. Pierre Gratton, president of the Mining Association of Canada, which represents several of Canada’s largest resource companies, said his members are committed to human rights and do disclose workplace injuries and fatalities in annual sustainability reporting. Continue Reading →

Green activists must not usurp [Australian] national sovereignty – Editorial (The Australian – October 24, 2016)

To paraphrase John Howard, we should decide what mining projects are opened up in this country and the circumstances in which they open. Such authority rests with Australia’s democratically elected representatives and established government processes.

It does not belong with overseas governments (including prospective US presidents or their staff), self-appointed meddling international activists or local vigilante “lawfare’’ litigants funded by activists.

Thinking Australians, whatever their views about coal, should be appalled by the revelation, reported exclusively by Dennis Shanahan, that the Sunrise Foundation, part of a highly organised group of Australian activists working to stop the $16 billion Adani coalmine in Queensland, is being funded by the Sandler Foundation in the US. The connection surfaced in material released by WikiLeaks, including Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails. Continue Reading →

Foreign-funded anti-coal activists risk driving India away – by Dennis Shanahan and Michael McKenna (The Australian – October 24, 2016)

A highly orchest­rated, secretly foreign-funded group of Australian environ­mental activists ­oppos­ing the $16 billion Adani coalmine in Queensland has “dampened” ­Indian investment interest in Australia and received heated criticism from the federal Coalition and Queensland Labor governments.

Indian Power Minister Piyush Goyal told The Australian yesterday the years of legal challenges to the vast Carmichael coal project, now revealed to have been funded by multi-million-dollar foundations in the US, “will certainly dampen future investments” from India.

Federal ministers and the Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, have warned of the danger posed by activists to jobs and investment, and questioned the links between the Australian groups, through their US funders, to the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s Democratic election campaign, John Podesta. Continue Reading →

[Mesabi Iron Range] FOOTPRINTS OF A GIANT – by Aaron Brown (Hibbing Daily Tribune – October 23, 2016)

Once, a few years ago, I was overcome with the urge to climb a roadside berm at an Iron Range taconite mine. I drove by this spot all the time, but couldn’t picture what was on the other side.

So I did it. (Don’t try this at home kids). I scrambled up the side to peer over the rampart. I’d seen mine pits before, but this was a tailings pond. Picture a vast lake surrounded by martian landscape spanning the entirety of your peripheral vision. The groaning engines in the pit miles away were the only sound.

I was overcome by the loneliness of it all. I came prepared to evade security. But there were no humans here. Not one.Despite recent struggles, iron mining remains the most productive industry here along Northern Minnesota’s Mesabi Range. Continue Reading →

An 8,000-Mile Journey Spurs Vale Shift as Iron Outlook Fades – by R.T. Watson and David Stringer (Bloomberg News – October 21, 2016)

For years, Brazil’s Vale SA fought with rival iron-ore producers in Australia to supply the fast-expanding steel industry in China by building more mines and boosting output. But slowing demand and prospects of a multiyear glut are changing the battle lines. Now, it’s all about protecting ever-narrowing profit margins.

The challenge for Vale is that its mines are more than 8,000 miles (13,000 kilometers) farther from China than Australian competitors Rio Tinto Plc and BHP Billiton Ltd. That means shipments are more expensive at a time when ore prices are half what they were two years ago. After a record $13.5 billion loss last year, the Brazilian company is investing in higher-quality reserves and automation to erase that cost gap.

It won’t be easy. Vale is producing record amounts of iron-ore, which accounts for more than half its revenue. While operations are returning to profit in 2016, earnings will drop next year, according to analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Continue Reading →

[Sudbury/Vale slag pour] Accent: Lore of the pour – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – October 22, 2016)

(Photo by Gino Donato/Sudbury Star)

(Photo by Gino Donato/Sudbury Star)

Dave Patterson, who led members of USW Local 6500 through the second longest
strike in its history, from Sept. 15, 1978 to June 7, 1979, remembered the
parking lot overlooking the slag dump was called “the passion pit” and that
it drew people from all over the city to watch slag pouring. “Yeah right,”
said Patterson.

A sight that once drew Sudburians and visitors like moths to a flame is now caught in rare glimpses when travelling in the Big Nickel Road-Highway 144 area.

Lance Melnek lives in the Valley and spies it some days when driving to work in Copper Cliff about 6 a.m. There’s a spot on Big Nickel Road, near the entrance to a Fisher-Wavy property, where Melnek sometimes sees slag being poured at Vale’s No. 4b slag dump, depending on weather conditions. Continue Reading →

Road to Ring of Fire may have to start in China – by Alan S. Hale (Timmins Daily Press – October 22, 2016)

TIMMINS – KWG Resources vice-president Moe Lavigne warned a gathering of Indigenous community leaders and mining industry members that until there is money behind them, the proposed mines that make up the Ring of Fire development will only ever exist on paper.

“Until this proposed development is funded, it’s not a project; it’s just a study of an opportunity. There are plenty of people out there that think this is an actual project — it’s not — it’s an opportunity,” said Lavigne.

The KWG executive was speaking at the sixth-nnual Nishnawbe Aski Development Fund Mining Summit held in Timmins this week. He continued to say the federal and provincial governments are being prevented from fully backing the projects by their voter bases which “want this part of Canada to be a park, or museum, and don’t want to see anything happening here.” Continue Reading →

NEWS RELEASE: MiningWatch Predicts KGHM Ajax Would Face At Least $100 Million in Compensation or Litigation Costs If Mine Opens

(Kamloops) – October 21, 2016 – MiningWatch Canada claims that Kamloops should pay attention to recent legal developments of the only other urban mine of comparable size in Canada: the Malartic open pit mine in Quebec.

For the first time since it started operations in 2011, the Malartic open pit mine, owned by Agnico Eagle and Yamana Gold, faces a $70 million class action suit for the impacts on 700 houses and 1400 people located closest to the mine site. The suit was launched on August 1st of this year and aims to compensate damages related to dust, noise, and daily blasts.

The company itself has admitted the impacts of its mine on local community members and has agreed, on September 1st 2016, to offer a $50 million relocation and compensation package for the 3500 residents of Malartic, some of whom live up to about 2-2.5km away from the mine site at the city limits. Continue Reading →

U.S. shale cowboys do the unthinkable and bring mighty Saudis to their knees – by Eric Reguly (Globe and Mail – October 23, 2016)

The oil war is pretty much over, and Saudi Arabia lost. How did the world’s most powerful oil producer, which set prices for decades by riding herd over the member states of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, get it so wrong?

In a word: shale. The Saudis underestimated not only the strength and flexibility of the American shale-oil industry, but also that of the financing machine behind it. American capitalism proved to be the superior fighting force.

The Saudis sat uneasily for a decade as they watched the shale-oil industry go from technological curiosity to production juggernaut, propelling the United States into the global energy big leagues. At last count, total American oil production (from conventional, offshore and shale wells) was about 9.2 million barrels a day, not much less than that of market leaders Russia and Saudi Arabia. Continue Reading →

HISTORY: Letters offer colourful insights into Timmins history – by Karen Bachmann (Timmins Daily Press – October 22, 2016)

TIMMINS – A few years back, the museum was given selected files and what-not from the Hollinger archives. The seven banker boxes contained the minutes from the meetings of the Board of Directors of the Hollinger Mine dating back to 1916 – a real find for those interested in the history of what once was North America’s biggest gold mine.

The files also included a number of old maps and town layouts going back to 1912, the very beginnings of the future City of Timmins. While all of that stuff makes for great reading (and invaluable research opportunities), I hit upon a small file of correspondence that humanizes that big corporation and demonstrates the mine’s impact on the new community.

The first letter in the file (on “Hotel Goldfields” stationary, no less) was from the hotel manager, Mr. McLean, and dated May 20, 1912. What we learn from the handwritten (one good reason to keep teaching cursive in schools) letter is just how big a role Noah Timmins and the Hollinger Mine played in the new town. Continue Reading →

Aberfan disaster: 50th anniversary marked with silence (British Broadcasting Corporation – October 21, 2016)

Wales fell silent on Friday as the country remembered the Aberfan disaster 50 years ago.
On 21 October 1966, a mountain of coal waste slid down into a school and houses in the Welsh village, killing 144 people, including 116 children. A day of events to commemorate the disaster included a service at Aberfan Cemetery at 09:15 BST on Friday.

Prince Charles has visited the Aberfan memorial garden and will unveil a plaque in memory of the victims. Earlier, he visited the Aberfan Cemetery and laid a wreath.

He also attended a reception with the families of some of those who lost their lives, before signing a book of remembrance. Prince Charles said anyone old enough remembers where they were when they heard the “appalling news” about the Aberfan disaster – saying he was at school in Scotland. Continue Reading →