Archive | Thompson

[Vale and Thompson, Manitoba] The first shoe drops (Thompson Citizen – October 4, 2017)

http://www.thompsoncitizen.net/

Thompson inched into a new era Oct. 1 as Birchtree Mine stopped production of nickel ore and began the process of transitioning into care and maintenance status, a position it was previously in from 1978 until it reopened in 1989.

The move affects an estimated 150 jobs within the mine and up to 50 in processing, service and support roles, Vale Manitoba Operations said in May, when the decision to move to care and maintenance was made because it is unprofitable to continue mining at current nickel prices.

At any time, this would have been bad news for Thompson’s economy. While some affected employees may opt for early retirement and stick around and others may find new jobs locally, some will be moving out of town and taking the money that they spent on accommodations and goods and services elsewhere. That will have a trickle-down effect that even people who aren’t employed in anything mining-related will feel. Continue Reading →

Closing Time: Last hoist for Thompson’s Birchtree Mine – by John Barker (Soundings John Barker – September 30, 2017)

https://soundingsjohnbarker.wordpress.com/

On the surface, it was an unseasonably warm and brilliant orange early autumn day. Underground, it was closing time. Not last call, but rather the hard rock mining on-the-job equivalent: last hoist.

This day has almost come for Birchtree Mine in Thompson, Manitoba before. In fact, the day did come for Birchtree for most of a decade in the 1980s, as the mine was on “care and maintenance” because of unfavourable market conditions from December 1977 through 1989.

And on Oct. 18, 2012, Vale had announced care and maintenance was being considered for Birchtree Mine in 10 months time in August 2013. After finding $100 million in cost savings at its Manitoba Operations, bringing its cost per metric tonne for finished nickel to under US$10,000, Birchtree Mine would receive on May 6, 2013 a reprieve that lasted almost 4½ years. Until now. Continue Reading →

Thompson, Manitoba mine to close in October, will put at least 150 out of work (CBC News Manitoba – May 16, 2017)

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/

Falling nickel prices forced Vale to close mine, company says

A nickel mine in Thompson, Man. will be closing this fall, a representative with the United Steelworkers confirmed Tuesday. The closure of the Birchtree mine will put between 150 and 200 people out of work, USW 6166 president Les Ellsworth said.

“I certainly wasn’t expecting to hear this week that we would actually be closing the mine,” he said. “It came as a shock.” Ellsworth expected the mine to be open until at least 2020 but falling nickel prices forced mine owner Vale’s hand, he said.

Ryan Land, manager of corporate affairs for Vale in Thompson, said the company has been in a “prolonged down cycle” for some time. He added the mine was approaching the end of its life cycle as well. “We happen to be in a business where we are price takers, not price makers,” he said, referring to nickel prices. Continue Reading →

Vale’s community report looks to another 60 years of mining – by Kacper Antoszewski (Thompson Citizen – November 8, 2016)

http://www.thompsoncitizen.net/

Corporate affairs and organizational development manager Ryan Land was the guest speaker at a special meeting of the Thompson Chamber of Commerce Nov. 9, organized due to his cancellation the previous week. Land updated the chamber on Vale’s recently released annual community report including the results of this year’s Mining Association of Canada (MAC) audit and some of the past year’s accomplishments.

The community report presentation largely revolved around the results of Manitoba Operation’s Sustainable Mining Initiative audit, conducted by the MAC, which assesses member firms based on performance in tailings management, aboriginal and community outreach, energy use and emissions, safety and health, and crisis management.

The report places Manitoba Operations as AAA operators in the areas of aboriginal awareness, safety and health, and crisis management. More average is tailings management, floating in a grey area between A and AA ratings, along with A and B ratings in the areas of energy and emissions. Continue Reading →

[Nickel] Thompson Manitoba Named After Inco Chairman Dr. John F. Thompson

Dr. John F. Thompson (Image from Heritage North Musuem Website)

Dr. John F. Thompson (Image from Heritage North Museum Website)

Following ten years of mining exploration in the region, a major ore body was discovered on February 4, 1956, and a year later Thompson was founded. Named after INCO’s chairman, John F. Thompson, the new townsite was designed as a “planned community” following an agreement between the Government of Manitoba and INCO Limited.- (Heritage North Museum http://heritagenorthmuseum.ca/thompson-area/history-of-thompson.html)

Information Below Courtesy of Vale

The City of Thompson and the main orebody of Inco’s Manitoba operations (now owned by Vale) are named after Dr. John F. Thompson. Some historical records say Dr. Thompson’s name was used because he was celebrating his 50th anniversary with the company the year the orebody was discovered. But it was his accomplishments, not his time with Inco that earned him this honour.

From the beginning of his career with Inco, in 1906, Thompson played important roles in developing and encouraging the expanded use of various nickel alloys, introducing them to the textile, chemical, power and food service industries. Continue Reading →

Vale marking 60 years of mining in Thompson this weekend – by Ian Graham (Thompson Citizen – June 15, 2016)

http://www.thompsoncitizen.net/

We weren’t even supposed to be here today, but the ore that is the foundation of Thompson in both the literal and figurative senses has outlived the original projections of its lifespan more than twofold, making it possible for Vale, which bought Inco in 2006, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Thompson operations this weekend.

When the decision to establish a mine and a town to service it was made following the discovery of nickel deposits in 1956, the plan was for the community – and its infrastructure – to be around for 25 years, says Vale Manitoba Operations corporate affairs and organizational development manager Ryan Land. That it has far outlasted that prediction means the community is now repairing and replacing much of that infrastructure but also that Thompson itself has grown to become more than just a mining town.

“We are already a diversified economy,” says Land. “That regional hub thing is real. The region sustains Thompson as much as Vale if not more.” Continue Reading →

Vale Thompson crowned provincial mine rescue champions for second year – by Kacper Antoszewski (Thompson Citizen – June 1, 2016)

http://www.thompsoncitizen.net/

Vale Manitoba Operations and the Mining Association of Manitoba hosted the 2016 Manitoba Provincial Mine Rescue Competition in Thompson May 27- 28, pitting four mine rescue teams from across the province in practical, technical, and firefighting challenges to qualify for the privilege to compete at the national level. The four teams represented the Tanco Mine from Bernic Lake, Hudson Bay’s Lalor and Flin Flon operations, and Thompson’s own Vale.

Friday featured an underground portion, where mine rescue competitors were subjected to a mine rescue scenario, and resolve a first aid problem. Saturday morning, teams alternated between firefighting and technical competitions. The technical portion was a written exam administered to competitors as individuals. After, competitors had to troubleshoot and resolve a fault in a malfunctioning breathing apparatus.

Saturday afternoon, miners mixed and mingled for the practical skills portion of the event: crib building, the hose roll, the dummy drag, the passageway challenge and the Kaiser sled. Continue Reading →

My Take on Snow Lake – by Marc Jackson (Thompson Citizen – December 24, 2014)

The Thompson Citizenwhich was established in June 1960, covers the City of Thompson and Nickel Belt Region of Northern Manitoba. The city has a population of about 13,500 residents while the regional population is more than 40,000.  editor@thompsoncitizen.net

Former Snow Lakers abound at mining convention

Walking the exhibition floor at the annual Manitoba Mining and Mineral Convention is just like old home week for a Snow Laker. A wide variety of people who have either lived here, or had extended visits, were around every corner, or in some cases working a booth on the convention centre’s massive exhibition floor.

This was indeed the case for several gents clustered on one of the central avenues of the floor looking to drum up interest in their “prospective” properties.

Dan Ziehlke, representing his company Strider Resources Ltd., was welcoming, conversational, and partaking in something he called “the miner’s breakfast” (a bag of popcorn from the kettle maker set up on the convention floor) when we happened upon him. Dan firmly believes – and he can back it up with the geology, prospecting and geochemical work – that he has another Nor-Acme type deposit on the east side of Wekusko.

Jim Parres was set up immediately to the left of Ziehlke and promoting his Jiminex Properties: Misehkow River near Pickle Lake; Northern Eagle near Hemlo; and the Parres and Parres Two near Osborne Lake. Continue Reading →

My Take on Snow Lake II: Ribbon cut at Reed – by Marc Jackson (Thompson Citizen – October 3, 2014)

The Thompson Citizenwhich was established in June 1960, covers the City of Thompson and Nickel Belt Region of Northern Manitoba. The city has a population of about 13,500 residents while the regional population is more than 40,000.  editor@thompsoncitizen.net

Prior to Sept. 16, Hudbay Minerals had opened a total of 26 mines in the province of Manitoba; staying true to that prolific nature, the company opened two more on this historic afternoon. A mere two hours after they cut the ribbon on the massive Lalor Project, Hudbay and VMS officials had the scissors out and were doing it all over again 80 kilometres down the road at the Reed Mine!

As the snow swirled outside, close to 100 people gathered in the welcome warmth of Reed’s surface shop to break bread, and toast the province’s newest mine.

As he did previously in the day, Hudbay Manitoba business unit vice-president Rob Winton very capably acted as emcee and after smudging the gathering place with sage and sweetgrass, Opaskwayak Cree Nation elder Nathan McGillivary once again delivered wise words and a welcome prayer.

To bring any mine to production involves a long list of those who were key through a variety of stages. Thanking them is no small feat, but acknowledging their contributions is certainly one of the ways this is accomplished. Mr. Winton did this in thanking Steve West (now retired) head of the environment department, as well as environmental lawyer Sheryl Rosenberg for their tireless work on the environmental licensing and in putting the Reed Mine on the map. He praised them for the high standards that had been set and met at the site. Steve Polegato was also commended for bringing the mine in on time and budget. Continue Reading →

Vale Canada Limited fined $150,000 for workplace safety conviction in connection with death of T-3 scooptram operator Greg Leason – by John Barker (Soundings John Barker.com – October 1, 2014)

http://soundingsjohnbarker.wordpress.com/

Vale Canada Limited has been fined $150,000 in provincial court in Winnipeg and ordered to pay $37,500 in a victim surcharge after pleading guilty June 18 in a previously unreported decision to one count of failing to ensure the safety, health and welfare of all workers, contrary to The Workplace Safety and Health Act, in connection with the death of 51-year-old T-3 scooptram operator Greg Leason at Manitoba Operations in Thompson almost three years ago.

Vale was charged last Oct. 3. The Leason case marked the first time Vale, or its predecessor, Inco, had been charged by the province in connection with a mining fatality since mining began in Thompson,

The charge upon which Vale was convicted and nine other charges laid against Vale by Manitoba Labour and Immigration’s Workplace Safety and Health Branch, also under The Workplace Safety and Health Act, in connection with the the death of Leason, which were ordered stayed, all listed an offence date of Oct. 7, 2011, the date of the accident.

While stayed charges technically can be re-activated within one year of the day they are stayed by the prosecution, in practice they almost never are, unless the accused is charged with new offences during the one year period after the original charges have been stayed. When charges are withdrawn instead of stayed, the prosecution of those charges is finished immediately. Continue Reading →

Thompson, Manitoba Vale Emission Agreement – by John Barker (Soundings John Barker.com – September 25, 2014)

http://soundingsjohnbarker.wordpress.com/

Agreement-in-principle reached with federal government on environmental sulphur dioxide (SO2) airbone emission standards that will allow Vale’s Manitoba Operations smelter to stay open until 2018, mayoral candidate Luke Robinson and USW Local 6166 president Murray Nychyporuk say

Vale has reached an agreement-in-principle with the federal government that will allow it to continue to operate its 53-year-old smelter in Thompson until sometime in 2018, say mayoral candidate Luke Robinson and USW Local 6166 president Murray Nychyporuk. Pending environmental sulphur dioxide (SO2) airborne emission standards that were due to come into effect in a few months, as applied to Vale’s Manitoba Operations, would have required its closure if Vale couldn’t meet the standards. The new standards would require a reduction in airborne emissions of approximately 88 per cent from current levels at the Thompson operation, Vale has said previously.

More than 30 per cent of Vale’s production employees in Thompson work in the smelter and refinery. Employees hired before Oct. 1, 2011, have the option to transfer to the mill or underground to the mines from surface operations when the smelter and refinery close under the company’s transition plan.

The announcement that the smelter and refinery would close was originally made on Nov. 17, 2010, with Vale saying at the time it was “phasing out of smelting and refining by 2015” in Thompson. Mining and milling operations are slated to continue. Continue Reading →

Lalor and Reed mines officially opened – by Ian Graham (Thompson Citizen – September 19, 2014)

The Thompson Citizenwhich was established in June 1960, covers the City of Thompson and Nickel Belt Region of Northern Manitoba. The city has a population of about 13,500 residents while the regional population is more than 40,000.  editor@thompsoncitizen.net

NDP Mineral Resources Minister Dave Chomiak attended official opening ceremonies for Hudbay’s Lalor and Reed mines in the Snow Lake area Sept. 16, saying the projects would create 373 jobs and pour millions of dollars into the local and regional economy.

“Mining has been an important part of Manitoba’s economy for decades and these new mines will produce real benefits for local communities including employment for more than 370 workers,” said Chomiak in a news release. “These are good jobs that will help improve living standards and create significant economic growth.”

The Lalor mine is 13 kilometres west of Snow Lake and contains gold, copper, zinc and silver and is expected to be in production until 2030 and beyond. The total budget for construction of the mine is $441 million and its ore will be processed at the refurbished Snow Lake concentrator, which now has a capacity of 2,700 tonnes per day.

The Reed copper mine, which was approved on Sept. 24 last year, is in Grass River Provincial Park, 45 kilometres south-southwest of Snow Lake, and is a joint venture between Hudbay and VMS Ventures Inc., 70 per cent owned by Hudbay. Chomiak said the copper reserves at the Reed Mine have an estimated value of $800 million. Highway 39. Continue Reading →

If We Build It, They Will Stay [Ring of Fire and North] – by John Van Nostrand (Walrus Magazine – September 2014)

http://thewalrus.ca/

Instead of extracting resources and leaving, we could populate the mid-Canada corridor—and create a bigger, better country

FORTY-SEVEN YEARS AGO, perhaps in the outsized spirit of Expo 67, the retired major general and author Richard Rohmer put forward a bold proposal in Mid-Canada Development Corridor: A Concept. It described a vast landmass stretching from Newfoundland and Labrador across Quebec, Ontario, and the Prairies, to British Columbia and up through Northwest Territories and Yukon, occupying the area between southern settlements and the treeline—a band dominated by boreal forest. His idea was to implement a national strategy to develop and populate it.

Rohmer reasoned that Canada was poised to be a world leader in resource extraction, and that our future was tied to that endeavour. Mid-Canada was rich in minerals, oil, and gas, largely untouched, and had a habitable climate. The key to the plan was new infrastructure, which both the government and private sector would finance.

At the time, there were a few north–south arteries in place, and more were needed; east–west links needed improvement. Some existing settlements could be expanded to serve as urban hubs. The middle of the country could be settled in much the same way the West had been settled three generations earlier, when Canada saw its future in agriculture. Continue Reading →

$3-million Mineral Exploration Assistance Program (MEAP) will support 22 new projects – by John Barker (Thompson Citizen – July 18, 2014)

The Thompson Citizenwhich was established in June 1960, covers the City of Thompson and Nickel Belt Region of Northern Manitoba. The city has a population of about 13,500 residents while the regional population is more than 40,000.  editor@thompsoncitizen.net

Manitoba Mineral Resources Minister Dave Chomiak said June 23 the Mineral Exploration Assistance Program (MEAP), which delivers financial assistance to companies carrying out mineral exploration in Manitoba, would invest $3 million in 2014-15 to support 22 new projects, doubling 2013-14 funding levels. MEAP provides assistance in the form of a partial refund of approved exploration expenditures.

“Doubling our investment will have a positive effect on mineral exploration and development in Manitoba,” said Chomiak. “We are attracting new companies exploring here for the first time, creating good jobs for Manitobans, especially in northern communities.”

The companies are exploring for a variety of commodities including a number of projects for gold, copper, zinc and nickel. There is also one project each for graphite and uranium. Base metals and gold represent 92 per cent of the proposed MEAP projects. Twelve of the projects (54.5 per cent) are exploring for gold; five projects (22.7 per cent) are looking for copper and zinc; and three projects (13.6 per cent) are exploring for nickel.

There are 22 companies involved in 23 projects – 22 of them which are new projects – and three of the companies have been attracted in part by MEAP’s financial assistance to explore in Manitoba for the first time, Chomiak said. Continue Reading →

Bill 50 – The Thompson Nickel Belt Sustainability Act – The losing fight – by John Barker (Thompson Citizen – June 18, 2014)

The Thompson Citizenwhich was established in June 1960, covers the City of Thompson and Nickel Belt Region of Northern Manitoba. The city has a population of about 13,500 residents while the regional population is more than 40,000.  editor@thompsoncitizen.net

Monday marked three years to the day since Bill 50, The Thompson Nickel Belt Sustainability Act, received royal assent on June 16, 2011. There is only one catch, as the fine print points out. “This Act is not yet in force. It is to come into force on a date to be fixed by proclamation.”

Not wanting anything to have anything to do at first with the Thompson Economic Diversification Working Group (TEDWG), announced jointly a couple of weeks earlier on May 18, 2011 in a news release from the City of Thompson and Vale, the province always saw the legislation primarily as a bargaining chip to get Vale back to the table to reconsider their decision, announced 6½ months earlier on Nov. 17, 2010, that it is was “phasing out of smelting and refining by 2015” in Thompson.

To be fair to the province, even if they had been inclined to proclaim the legislation into law early on, they were under intense pressure from the City of Thompson through behind-the-scenes lobbying and politicking to delay proclamation of The Thompson Nickel Belt Sustainability Act until the TEDWG process was wrapped up and a new municipal tax and funding agreement with Vale Canada Limited for grants-in-lieu of taxes for the city, School District of Mystery Lake and Local Government District (LGD) of Mystery Lake was in place. That didn’t happen until early 2013. Continue Reading →