Archive | Inco and Falconbridge History

Will the nickel boom make a new man of Manitoba? – by Robert Collins (MACLEAN’S Magazine – April 13, 1957)

http://www.macleans.ca/

It’s been a have-not province for years. Now its “worthless” north is bustling with an epic strike and staking rush. Some enthusiasts insist it’s the biggest thing since the CPR went through

Until a couple of decades ago every Canadian schoolboy was aware that the prosperity of our three prairie provinces — Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba — depended on agriculture. Given a bumper wheat crop, the prairies were rich.

Hit by drought or rust, they were poor. Then Alberta broke the mold with a series of oil strikes, and in the bonanza that followed became a fat and flamboyant Canadian Texas. Times changed in Saskatchewan too with the advent of the atomic age and the discovery of major uranium deposits.

Manitoba was left in the lurch, with a horse-and-buggy economy hitched to agriculture in the south and a desolate pile of rock in the north that yielded a modest treasure without changing the basic pattern of the province’s economy. Continue Reading →

The story of nickel is industrial romance writ by man in metal – by Charles Vincent (MACLEAN’S MAGAZINE – December 15, 1936)

http://www.macleans.ca/

THE CONSTRUCTION gang foreman looked down the cut where his crew was tackling the tough rock with heavy picks, getting ready to blast. The track layers were right on his heels, pushing the new Canadian Pacific Railway westward to bridge the continent. The foreman’s eye fell on one man.

“Hey, you !” he roared, “what’re ye standin’ there gapin’ at? Get busy with that pick.”

“Well, take a look at this slab of rock, boss; it’s kind of queer.” And so in 1883 nickel was uncovered at Sudbury.

It was a product that nobody wanted. When the first smelting yielded a metal which was curiously pale instead of copper red, and when analysis showed that this fault was due to the presence of nickel, men cursed it as a plague which they neither knew how to get rid of nor how to use in such large quantities. It was the copper content of the Sudbury ore on which they had set their hopes. Continue Reading →

Revealed: Rio Tinto’s plan to use drones to monitor workers’ private lives – by Max Opray (The Guardian – December 9, 2016)

https://www.theguardian.com/

In the remote Australian outback, multinational companies are embarking on a secretive new kind of mining expedition. Rio Tinto has long mined the Pilbara region of Western Australia for iron ore riches but now the company is seeking to extract a rather different kind of resource – its own employees, for data.

Thousands of Rio Tinto personnel live in company-run mining camps, spending not just work hours but leisure and home time in space controlled by their employer – which in this emerging era of smart infrastructure presents the opportunity to hoover up every detail of their lives.

Rio Tinto is no stranger to using technology to improve efficiency, having replaced human-operated vehicles with automated haul trucks and trains controlled out of a central operations centre in Perth. Continue Reading →

Barrick’s Munk Heads Top Ten Most Important Mining Men in Canadian History – by Stan Sudol

Melanie and Peter Munk

Melanie and Peter Munk

Four Americans Made the List!

A few months ago, my dear colleague Joe Martin, who is the Director of the Canadian Business & Financial History Initiative at Rotman and President Emeritus of Canada’s History Society, asked me a very simple question: who would be considered the most important individual in Canadian mining?

Considering Canada’s lengthy and exceptional expertise in the mineral sector, it was not an easy answer and I decided to research and create a top ten list of the most important mining men in Canadian history.

The lack of women on this list simply reflects the fact that for much of our history most women were not given the educational or social opportunities to excel in business, especially in a rough and male-dominated sector like mining. Times have changed, women are playing key roles in mining today and will definitely be included on this list in the future.

However, a few qualifiers need to be established. This is basically a list of mine builders not mine finders.  Building a company through takeovers and discoveries is one way but I am also focusing on individuals who have built corporate empires and/or who have developed isolated regions of the country with the necessary infrastructure for mines to flourish and create multi-generational jobs, shareholder wealth and great economic impact. Continue Reading →

[Sudbury, Ontario] Global Lessons from a Hard-Rock Mining Town: Dr. John Gunn at TEDxLaurentianU

 

Published on 28 Feb 2014

Dr. Gunn presents an inspiring talk on our northern mining town Sudbury. He educates us on our history of pollution, and it’s decline and the impact Sudbury’s smoke stack plays. He illustrates the link between clean air and clean water and further explains the impact and global lessons from our City of Greater Sudbury as it relates to the protection of critical freshwater resources on Shield landscapes.

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)

Prof looking for tales of life in Sudbury’s moonscape – by Heidi Ulrichsen (Sudbury Northern Life – June 2, 2015)

http://www.northernlife.ca/

Project explores the life of immigrants in Copper Clif, Coniston, Gatchell and the Donovan

Did you walk to school with a handkerchief over your face because the pollution was so bad? Did your mother have to replant the garden five times because of acid rain? Were mine tailings your personal playground?

Stacey Zembrzycki, a Sudbury-born adjunct assistant professor at Concordia University, wants to hear these kinds of stories.

It’s all part of a project called “Mining Immigrant Bodies: A Multi-Ethnic Oral History of Industry, Environment and Health in the Sudbury Region,” supported by Concordia University and a federal government grant.

She’s looking to interview men and women who came to Canada in the postwar period — as well as their children — and lived in Copper Cliff, Coniston, Gatchell or the Donovan, where mining impacted heavily on day-to-day life.

Zembrzycki also hopes to speak to those who worked in the mining industry or their families about the health impacts of these jobs. Continue Reading →

Inco’s Roots: The Sequel – by Marty McAllister (Inco Triangle – June 1990)

For Inco Triangle Archives, click here: http://www.sudburymuseums.ca/triangle/?home

This article came from the June 1990 issue of the Inco Triangle: thttp://www.sudburymuseums.ca/triangle/data/INCOTriangle-19900601.pdf

“Fools rush in …” In my January column, I boldly wrestled with the objective of finding the very beginning of Inco’s oldest operation. I even set out a rule: there had to be evidence of organizational continuity, right through to the present. So, after a fair bit of research (and an assumption that came back to haunt me), I declared Wiggin Steel and Alloys the winner — because it started as a partnership in 1835.

Now, with not a steroid user in the lot, the Wiggin group has to be stripped of its medal. Sorry, Birmingham friends, I goofed — but I hope you enjoyed your few months in the sun.

For the benefit of Canadian readers, David Balchin is the Executive Vice-President with responsibility for Inco’s Alloys and Engineered Products segment. With extensive operations on both sides of the Atlantic, he’s a busy man. Not too busy to notice, however, when some self-styled authority hands a heritage award to the wrong member of his group! So gather `round, faithful readers, while I share the continuing story of Inco’s oldest roots. Continue Reading →

INCO’s Roots: How Far Back? – by Marty McAllister (Inco Triangle – January 1990)

For Inco Triangle Archives, click here: http://www.sudburymuseums.ca/triangle/?home

This article came from the January 1990 issue of the Inco Triangle: http://www.sudburymuseums.ca/triangle/data/INCOTriangle-19900101.pdf

It has taken more than a century — actually, quite a lot more — to build the Inco Limited of today. There have been good times and bad times — and successes and failures, you bet. Throughout, we’ve demonstrated a capacity to learn from the things we’ve done, to grow, as our current motto says, “Stronger For Our Experience.

I think that’s a pretty good motto, don’t you? It doesn’t say anything about being perfect, but it implies a process of continuous improvement. In order to learn from our collective experience, we have to study it. As we face the changes and challenges of the future, we’ll want to know how we’ve coped with such things in the past. History is more than just nostalgic fun, although that’s what carries us past the boring parts. Confucius said: “Study the past if you would divine the future.”

To start 1990 off on the right foot, I want to back up to square one and give you a clearer picture of the many pieces that came together to form the company as we know it, and to maybe change a few pre-conceived notions in the bargain. Continue Reading →

INCO HISTORY: MOND: The Man, The Process, The Company – by Marty McAllister (Inco Triangle – September, 1989)

For Inco Triangle Archives, click here: http://www.sudburymuseums.ca/triangle/?home

This article came from the September 1989 issue of the Inco Triangle: http://www.sudburymuseums.ca/triangle/data/INCOTriangle-19890901.pdf

Just enough paint has peeled off an old tank in the Nairn powerhouse to partially reveal the hand-lettered words: Mond Nickel Company.

At least on this side of the Atlantic, there remain few such reminders of the proud organization that became part of Inco sixty years ago. As an independent company, “the Mond” barely lasted thirty years; its spirit, however, began much earlier with its founder, and its contribution is not yet complete. In a reverse version of the Canadian Copper story, Mond Nickel began as a process looking for raw materials.

Remember the Bunsen burners in high school? Well, Robert Wilhelm Bunsen was Ludwig Mond’s chemistry prof at the University of Heidelberg. The lessons stuck, and Mond went on to earn a sizable fortune in the chemical business in England.

His home, known as The Poplars, was an ornate mansion north of Regent’s Park, and he converted one of the stables into a research lab. It was in this lab in 1889 that Mond, then 50, set out with Carl Langer to develop a bleaching powder. Continue Reading →

Private company, public resource: The Inco Triangle archives are home to a rich collection of historically important documents – by R. Bergen (CIM Magazine – November 2009)

http://www.cim.org/en/

“I hope my comments won’t seem picayune, but Inco’s history is an integral and important part of our heritage in the Sudbury Basin. As with any locale, I suppose, some local legends have been embellished a little over time.” — Marty McAllister, in a 1989 letter advising a correction in the Inco Triangle

Twenty years after his first dispassionate contribution to the Ontario division of Inco’s now-defunct community news magazine, Marty McAllister no longer bothers to mince words. “If a magazine could be a legend, that one was,” he declares unabashedly, referring to the Inco Triangle from his Barrie, Ontario, home. His attention to the historic record earned him a regular heritage column. As a Greater Sudbury native, lifetime reader and career Inco employee, McAllister understands better than most the unique role of the publication in the hundreds of Sudbury area households that received the Triangle each month.

Of course, the operations were often featured in its pages and trumpeted for their forward thinking, but the Triangle was far more than a company mouthpiece. From the 1930s to the 1990s, the paternal influence of the Triangle helped tie together the communities that Inco had built to support its mines. Workers named Salfi, Kanga, Levesque and Rainville, whose birthplaces were scattered across Europe and North America, featured as a fraternity in the Triangle. Marriages, births, deaths, bonspiel winners and expert gardeners were fixtures in the magazine. Sports always featured prominently. Continue Reading →

Excerpt: From Meteorite Impact to Constellation City: A Historical Geography of Greater Sudbury – by Oiva W. Saarinen

To order a copy of “From Meteorite Impact to Constellation City”, please click here: http://www.wlupress.wlu.ca/Catalog/saarinen-meteorite.shtml

Sudbury: A Union Town? (Part 5 of 5)

Post-Merger Events

In the years following 1967, both unions went their separate ways, each respectful of the other. In 1969, Inco tested the mettle of the Steelworkers, resulting in a 128-day strike. Unlike previous strikes, this one was quiet and orderly. With no nickel stockpile at hand, the Steelworkers outlasted Inco. The strike ended on November 15, 1969, with the union winning major gains in wages and, for the first time, a cost of living allowance (COLA). The union made progress on issues such as the “contracting out” of jobs, training and apprenticeship opportunities, and an evaluation of all job classifications at Inco. The last act resulted in major monetary gains for numerous positions. Falconbridge workers went on strike around the same time and reached a similar settlement, albeit without a contracting out provision.

The signing of the 1969 contract set a positive tone for the next three years because of Inco’s desire to project a revamped company image. The setting was advantageous for the Steelworkers as well, and its membership rose to a peak of 18 224 in July of 1971. Over the next six months, however, the situation changed as Inco announced cutbacks, layoffs, and the closing of the Coniston smelter. Despite this gloomy setting, the union signed a contract that introduced a new clause allowing workers to retain their seniority throughout any of Inco’s operations. Formerly, workers who moved from one department to another lost their seniority. For the first time in mining history, a Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee (JOHC) was negotiated. During the 1970s, the Steelworkers promoted the concept of mining as a trade, and in cooperation with company officials and Local 598 at Falconbridge, created a “common core” training program for basic underground hard rock mining. Continue Reading →

Excerpt: From Meteorite Impact to Constellation City: A Historical Geography of Greater Sudbury – by Oiva W. Saarinen

To order a copy of “From Meteorite Impact to Constellation City”, please click here: http://www.wlupress.wlu.ca/Catalog/saarinen-meteorite.shtml

Sudbury: A Union Town? (Part 1 of 5)

While Sudbury’s history has been intimately associated with the corporate aspect of resource extraction, this linkage also brought with it another aspect of the mining spectrum—unionism. Indeed, Sudbury has long had the reputation of being a union town. While most Sudburians have traditionally taken pride in this image, for others it has been regarded as a dubious distinction. The latter view, for instance, is explicit in the book For the Years to Come, a history of International Nickel of Canada written by one of the company’s chairmen in 1960, where the existence of Mine Mill did not even warrant mention in the book’s index.

When viewed in the context of Inco’s traditional hegemony in Sudbury and its influence in the corridors of power in Toronto and Ottawa, and the lack of interest shown by other Canadians to Sudbury’s woes related to hazardous working conditions, mining assessments, and environmental issues, it was inevitable that some counterforce to this capitalism would appear.

This resistance came in the form of the only option available to workers: unionism, notably via the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers (IUMMSW), known locally as Mine Mill. For three decades, Mine Mill had an honourable tradition of supporting its union members and the wider community through cultural programs and fundraising activities. Its presence was sufficiently strong in the 1950s to encourage the rise of unions in other sectors of the community. Continue Reading →

Excerpt from “Haywire My Life in the Mines” – by Doug Hall

This autobiographical book describes the Doug Hall’s family through war and depression, and goes on to relate his experiences underground in the late 1960′s and early 1970′s. It is written from the point of view of the average Joe who went underground when he was eighteen and didn’t know what he was getting into. The author considers himself lucky to have survived those years.

Click here to order an e-book of “Haywire My Life in the Mines”: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/269905

Working on the Grizzly

So anyway there I was one day working in a gang of guys with Old Abel when the Shift Boss or Captain or some such dignitary came up to us and said, “I need a man with a safety belt to work on the grizzly”. Now probably at that point I should have been a bit brighter and taken note of how all the other men in the crew were suddenly looking at the ground or the side of the drift or just about anyplace else except at this chap who needed a man for the grizzly. And to compound things I looked directly at this chap and said, “I’ve got a safety belt”. I noticed then how some of the other men in the crew seemed to relax and some of them even looked the visiting dignitary right in the face as if to say, “Gee I was going to volunteer but that other guy beat me to it”. And so that was how I became a grizzly man.

For the uninitiated perhaps I should explain what a grizzly is. It’s basically a steel grating with various sized holes placed over the top of an ore-pass. Usually a scooptram driver but sometimes trammers on the railroad tracks would put rocks of varying sizes (i.e. muck) on top of the grizzly and then the grizzly men would have to put the rocks through the grizzly so that the rocks would be small enough to go through the chutes in the loading pocket down below. The grizzly men would do this using a scaling bar, a sledge hammer or by drilling and blasting the rocks, sometimes after dragging them to the back of the grizzly using a tugger hoist. Continue Reading →

Excerpt from “Haywire My Life in the Mines” – by Doug Hall

This autobiographical book describes the Doug Hall’s family through war and depression, and goes on to relate his experiences underground in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. It is written from the point of view of the average Joe who went underground when he was eighteen and didn’t know what he was getting into. The author considers himself lucky to have survived those years. 

Click here to order an e-book of “Haywire My Life in the Mines”http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/269905

Sudbury 1966

Anyway as I said I was eighteen when the grade thirteen school year was over and so father took me out to the mine the next day. I don’t recall being asked if I wanted to go underground. Father was a miner and I guess like it or not I was going underground as well. I remember I made $2.56 an hour that first summer underground as mine helper.

I still remember going down on the cage the first time. I felt good about it. No fear. I think I sort of felt like I had become a man. One time a few years later I had been away from the mines for a while but I had secured a job underground. In the day or so before I went back underground I was seized by fear. I knew then what I was getting myself into. I managed to steel my nerves and get on with it. After a few days back at it I was okay but I always remember the fear I had that time before I went back under. Continue Reading →

Excerpt from “The History of Mining: The events, technology and people involved in the industry that forged the modern world” – by Michael Coulson

To order a copy of The History of Mining please click here: http://www.harriman-house.com/products/books/23161/business/Michael-Coulson/The-History-of-Mining/

THE AUSTRALIAN NICKEL BOOM

The Australian mining boom of the late 1960s was given the generic title of the nickel boom, although it can be argued that nickel was, in economic terms, a relatively minor part of a period of exploration and new discoveries that saw the genesis of the giant iron ore industry in the northern part of Western Australia and the discovery of uranium in the Northern Territories.

In terms of nickel there were three major events – the discovery of nickel by Western Mining at Kambalda in Western Australia in 1966, the sensational but ultimately disappointing Poseidon discovery at Windarra to the north of Kambalda in 1969, and in 1971 the Selection Trust group’s Agnew nickel discovery, which was further north still.

A FINANCIAL EVENT

Although Australia had spawned a number of mining booms in its past, the 1960s boom at times was as much a financial event as a mining event. As far as stock market activity was concerned, the surge of interest in Australian mining shares followed an extended worldwide boom in industrial, technology and financial shares, and was symptomatic of an era when confidence was high and investors, buoyed by profits elsewhere, were in the mood for speculation. Continue Reading →