Archive | Mining Power Issues

Zambia Copper Miners Face $276 Million Bill in Power Dispute – by Matthew Hill and Taonga Clifford Mitimingi (Bloomberg News – March 20, 2017)

Zambian copper miners including the local unit of Glencore Plc could face a power bill of more than $276 million if they lose a dispute with the government over electricity tariff rises, according to Copperbelt Energy Corp., their biggest supplier.

A resolution to the three-year battle could come by the end of the month, Copperbelt said in its 2016 annual report, published on Friday. If the High Court rules in favor of the energy regulator and its tariff increases, the supplier will be ordered to pay state-owned power producer Zesco Ltd. $276 million in outstanding fees. The company would in turn pass the cost onto customers, Copperbelt said.

A ruling could bring an end to a dispute that has raged in Africa’s second-biggest copper producer since April 2014, when Zambia’s Energy Regulation Board raised tariffs for mining operators by almost 30 percent. The Chamber of Mines of Zambia, which represents the companies, asked the High Court in Lusaka, the capital, to review if the increase was lawful. The regulator again raised prices in January, 2016. Continue Reading →

Ontario manufacturers eye greener pastures stateside as hydro rates go through the roof – by Peter Kuitenbrouwer (Financial Post – March 16, 2017)

Jocelyn Bamford, a white hard hat perched over red hair that curls down around her shoulders, has her hands on her hips. Behind safety glasses, her eyes flash. On the shop floor in the bustling Automatic Coating Inc. plant owned by her family, she has to shout to be heard above the squirt of compressed air nozzles, honks from forklifts, the clang of steel as it’s dipped in baths, and the hum of exhaust fans.

Bamford might be shouting regardless of the noise since the hydro bill for her Toronto-based company has her mad as hell. Once boasting one of the continent’s lowest electricity rates, Ontario today has some of the highest and that has many industrial companies planning to move at least some operations to the United States.

“The government treats us like bourgeois sweatshop operators who have to be stopped,” said Bamford, who has organized dozens of medium-sized companies into the Coalition of Concerned Manufacturers of Ontario. “All the businesses are terrified of the government. My husband said, ‘Well, do you just want to pick up and go?’ And I said, ‘Well, I guess I gotta just stay and fight.’ I feel like I’m the Norma Rae of manufacturing.” Continue Reading →

Excluded from Ontario’s hydro cuts, firms say they can’t compete – by Shawn McCarthy and Greg Keenan (Globe and Mail – March 3, 2017)

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne unveiled a new hydro plan Thursday that targets lower residential rates but provides only modest relief to industrial customers who say soaring electricity costs are driving business out of the province.

Through legislation it intends to pass before summer, the provincial Liberal government will cut residential rates by 25 per cent, including a previously announced 8-per-cent reduction. The plan also promises deep price cuts to rural and remote customers who faced dramatic increases over the past decade, and will boost subsidies for low-income households.

Business customers will not benefit from reduced rates but will instead see an expanded rebate program for those that can shift their consumption to off-peak hours. Companies in Northern Ontario and rural areas will also benefit from a reduction in delivery charges that have driven up bills in less-populated regions. Continue Reading →

Kathleen Wynne’s sleazy, desperate hydro ploy to fool Ontarians is, well, brilliant – by Kevin Libin (Financial Post – March 2, 2017)

Ontario’s Liberal government is already being savaged for its latest scheme to quell the provincial outrage over out-of-control electricity rates. Even before the plan was official, the details that were leaked to the Toronto Star — reporting that power-bill costs would be “smoothed out” by rearranging contracts at lower rates, but longer periods — were being called a “shell game” by the opposition.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation complained that “spreading the cost … over more years, doesn’t solve the problem” but would just cost more in the long term. Sun Columnist Lorrie Goldstein called it “robbing Peter to pay Paul.”

That is surely all true. As Kathleen Wynne confirmed in unveiling the plan Thursday, long-suffering Ontarians will be made to suffer even longer with extended contracts. Other costs will be shifted from hydro bills to taxes, costing the province another $2 billion a year it doesn’t have, after already rebating the provincial sales tax on power or, more accurately, paying for it with other provincial taxes, instead. Continue Reading →

In Ontario, the taxpayers sustain Wynne’s green energy perpetual motion disaster – by Rex Murphy (National Post – February 25, 2017)

There’s more than a touch of Oprah in our Prime Minister. Substitute town halls for studio audiences and you get a little of the flavour of his recent hopscotch to various venues across the country.

He loves – and why should he not? – being on stage in front of people who (mainly) like or idolize him, and he’s quick, like the great Eminence Herself, on his emotional feet. By far the most affecting moment of his grand tour, interestingly on “the catastrophe and heel” of his (originally) covert stay on the yacht of his buddy the Aga Khan, came in Peterborough, Ont.

There, somewhat in the manner of the Biblical Ruth, a woman “stood in tears” as she recounted to the Prime Minister, whom she both liked and supported, how her hydro bill was now competing with her mortgage payment. “Something is wrong now, Mr. Trudeau,” she told him and the assembled crowd. Continue Reading →

‘Alternate hydro facts’ ring of truth – by Thomas Perry (Timmins Daily Press – February 18, 2017)

TIMMINS – Listening to Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown and Liberal Energy Minister Glen Thibeault go back and fourth on the province’s hydro rates brings to mind a misattributed catchphrase from a 1960s television show.

Despite common belief, Det.-Sgt. Joe Friday’s monotone voice never actually proclaimed: “Just the facts, ma’am,” on any episode of the popular Dragnet. That line was actually featured in Stan Freberg’s works parodying the show. Having said that, Brown was clearly preaching to the choir while in Timmins on Thursday.

After all, this community lost hundreds of jobs when Xstrata made the decision to close its met site in May of 2010 and ship ore to Quebec for processing. Quebec, like Manitoba to the west, has much more economical electricity rates, which was certainly a factor when Xstrata made its decision. Continue Reading →

Canada’s green electricity bailouts make the Bombardier giveaway look like peanuts – by Terence Corcoran (Financial Post – February 10, 2017)

While the punditocracy whipped itself into a justifiable if ritual lather over another Ottawa bailout of Bombardier, the $372-million loan is small change compared with the multi-billion-dollar green electric power fiascos across the country.

A rough tally of the ballooning financial plight of the electricity sectors in British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Newfoundland quickly runs to more than $50 billion in new debt and imbedded costs for investments that threaten to be money-losing drags on growth and consumers — and the federal government —for years to come.

The looming disasters have two things in common. They are the work of government-controlled and politically manipulated Crown corporations. They are also the product of a deliberate push to produce clean, green and renewable carbon-free electricity. No fossil fuels allowed. Money is no object. Continue Reading →

EDITORIAL: Liberal hot air on coal plants shutdown (Toronto Sun – January 21, 2017)

It’s obvious why Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government was anxious to discredit a report by the Fraser Institute last week that Ontario’s closure of its five coal-fired electricity plants did not significantly improve provincial air quality.

That decision cost Ontario taxpayers billions of dollars and helped to send electricity rates skyrocketing, because coal is a cheap form of energy.

The problem for the Liberals is that if the report by economists Ross McKitrick and Elmira Aliakbari is accurate, it discredits the Liberals’ claim their closure of the coal plants saved taxpayers $3 billion a year in health costs, $4.4 billion when environmental costs are added in.

The Liberals have always claimed closing Ontario’s coal plants has saved thousands of lives and prevented thousands of hospitalizations due to pollution. Continue Reading →

Automated vent system saving millions for Kidd Mine – by Sarah Moore (Timmins Daily Press – January 21, 2017)

TIMMINS – Glencore’s Kidd Operations was recognized by the province for its energy conservation efforts on Friday morning at a presentation at the Timmins Museum.

Representatives from the mine joined Timmins Mayor Steve Black, Terry Young, vice-president of conservation and corporate relations with the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) and Ontario Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault that morning to showcase Kidd’s new ventilation-on-demand system as an example of how utilizing government funding programs will reduce energy consumption and cut energy costs.

Kidd tapped into the government’s Industrial Accelerator Program in order to offset $5.6 million of the total $9 million required to transition to the fully automated underground ventilation system it now has today. Continue Reading →

Buying Quebec hydro power a dim prospect for Ontarians – by Konrad Yakabuski (Globe and Mail – January 13, 2017)

The Green Energy Act was written by Liberal-friendly renewable energy
lobbyists who managed to persuade the former Dalton McGuinty government
that there were big political dividends in making Ontario a wind and
solar powerhouse….As long as this madness goes on, instead of common-
sense energy planning, it’ll be one (price) shock after another for Ontarians.

U.S. wholesale electricity prices hit record lows in 2016 to the delight of millions of residential and industrial power customers who pay rates tied to the spot market. Cheap natural gas, which displaced coal as the main source of U.S. power generation last year, boosted the competitiveness of U.S. industrial power users and even led to a drop in residential electricity rates.

In October, U.S. residential electricity prices averaged 12.5 cents (U.S.) per kilowatt-hour, or about 16.5 cents (Canadian), according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

That may not sound like a bargain compared to Ontario, until you consider it is an all-in price that includes distribution and transmission costs, as well as taxes. It also marks a 2.1-per-cent price drop from 2015. Continue Reading →

Turns out Ontario’s painful coal phase-out didn’t help pollution — and Queen’s Park even knew it wouldn’t – by Ross McKitrick (Financial Post – January 18, 2017)

Ross McKitrick is a professor of economics at the University of Guelph and a senior fellow at the Fraser Institute. His study “Did the Coal Phase-Out Reduce Ontario Air Pollution” is available at

The federal Liberal government plans to impose a national coal phase-out, based on the same faulty arguments used in Ontario — namely that such a move will yield significant environmental benefits and reduce health-care costs. One problem: those arguments never made sense, and now with the Ontario phase-out complete, we can verify not only that they were invalid but that the Ontario government knew it.

Together with Fraser Institute economist Elmira Aliakbari, I just published a study on the coal phase-out in Ontario and its effects on air pollution over the 2002–14 interval. Our expectation was that we would find very little evidence for pollution reductions associated with eliminating coal. This expectation arose from two considerations.

First, ample data at the time showed that coal use had little effect on Ontario air quality. Environment Canada’s emissions inventories showed that the Ontario power generation sector was responsible for only a tiny fraction (about one per cent) of provincial particulate emissions, a common measure of air pollution. Continue Reading →

Industry and indigenous communities let the sun in on the shared problem of diesel – by Sunny Freeman (Financial Post – January 7, 2017)

One of Chris Angeconeb’s first jobs was documenting diesel spills near schools, health clinics and airports on northwestern Ontario reserves for his Lac Seul First Nation.

Today, 25 years later, as vice-president of junior miner AurCrest Gold Inc., he’s trying to forge bonds between his company and nearby indigenous communities over a shared goal: ending their reliance on diesel.

Using diesel energy means companies and residents alike are susceptible to blackouts due to shortages as well as hazardous leaks and spills. The lack of reliability, volatile pricing and cost of hauling the fuel, often via ice roads or planes, in addition to the increasing viability of alternatives, has made getting off diesel a priority for both miners and remote communities. Continue Reading →

Beware of desperate politicians seeking ‘environmental legacies’ – by Kevin Libin (Financial Post – December 22, 2016)

Here’s to wishing all Canada’s provincial and federal leaders much success, prosperity and terrific polling numbers for 2017. Let us hope they all sail comfortably through the new year on high approval numbers from their voters. Because as Canadians — and now Americans — are learning, there is little more dangerous than a political leader with nothing to lose.

On Tuesday, after eight years of stifling U.S. economic growth, Barack Obama announced yet another round of rules to restrict oil and gas, this time ordering vast expanses of the Arctic and Atlantic seaboard “indefinitely off limits” to new offshore oil and gas exploration.

The reasoning was supposedly “the important, irreplaceable values of … Arctic waters for Indigenous, Alaska Native and local communities’ subsistence and cultures, wildlife and wildlife habitat, and scientific research (and) the vulnerability of these ecosystems to an oil spill,” according to a White House statement. Continue Reading →

Faced with soaring energy bills, Ontario businesses demand ‘love’ from Queen’s Park – by Chris Selley (National Post – December 21, 2016)

TORONTO — The Ontario Liberals’ electricity price nightmare has plenty of human faces: middle-class parents, gainfully employed, struggling to pay for an essential utility. The opposition attack ads in 2018 will practically write themselves: Ontarians have endured a more-than-70-per-cent rate hike over a decade, driven mostly by production costs that were the direct result of Liberal decisions.

Through 2014, auditor general Bonnie Lysyk found last year, the system extracted $37 billion extra from Ontarians’ pockets. The nightmare might soon have a more recognizable corporate face. A group of small-to-medium-sized businesses calling itself the Coalition of Concerned Manufacturers of Ontario invited reporters on a tour of Leland Industries’ fasteners plant in Scarborough on Tuesday.

There were the good-paying blue-collar jobs. And here was a group of employers saying Ontario’s electric bills, and its forthcoming cap-and-trade system, were pushing them toward the brink. Continue Reading →

Amazon chooses Montreal for its Canadian data centre operations due to cheaper hydro costs than Ontario – by Vito Pilieci (National Post – December 20, 2016)

Internet giant Amazon Web Services has opened a cluster of data centres near Montreal due to the ready availability and cost of hydro-electric power in Quebec.

The company, which is notoriously secretive about its data centres, said there are now at least two data centres just outside Montreal to offer web-based services to the “Canada Region.” Canada joins 15 other regions around the globe from which Amazon is running data services on behalf of clients.

Teresa Carlson, vice-president of public sector with Amazon Web Services, said the cost and availability of hydro-electric power is ultimately what made Amazon choose Quebec as its Canadian home. “We picked the area that we did because of the hydro power,” said Carlson. “We did find them (Quebec) to be very business friendly.” Continue Reading →