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Archive for May, 2007

This is not necessarily the best way to start a sober piece on the topic of women in mining, but what other way is appropriate when last night my older daughter had a baby daughter? Both are well and I am stuck babysitting the older brother, so here goes an attempt at a serious piece.

I know I will never be able to make this new granddaughter as rich as Gina Rinehart. She is reportedly Australia’s richest woman as a result of mining. The report continues:

    Ms Rinehart, the daughter of the late mining magnate Lang Hancock, signed a deal last year with global miner Rio Tinto to develop her Hope Downs iron ore mine in Western Australia at a cost of $1.3 billion. The mine is due to start producing early in 2008. “She (Ms Rinehart) is very conservatively valued this year,” Mr Thomson said. “We’ve applied a bit of a discount to her because the mine’s not in production, but when the iron ore starts leaving on the boats, that discount will have to come off. “Ms Rinehart really looms as the best candidate to overtake James Packer as Australia’s richest person.”

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mine2.gifThese manuals, that are available for free download off the internet, have nothing to do with mining. Yet I submit they may constitute a valuable resourse for the new mines proposed in proximity to the cities for which these manuals are written. I make this submission on the basis that prudent policy dictates that every mine have a surface water management plan. Each of these references contains valuable information and design and practice guidance that should facilitate compilation of a mine’s surface water management plan:

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  • Stormwater Management Policy and Design Manual (2003) issued by the City of Coquitlam, BC, Canada is the best collection of design criteria and design methods I have yet come across. While it is written for application to a relatively small city on the west coast of Canada, it nevertheless contains considerable information and guidance useful to mine surface water management.
  • Hydrologic Criteria and Drainage Design Manual (1999) issued by the Clark County Regional Flood Control District provides information for Las Vegas. I particularly liked the section on Nevada surface water management law.
  • Drainage Criteria Manual (2005) issued by Yavapai County, Arizona give guidance on surface water management in really dry locations.
  • Let me know if you know of others and give me your opinion of all of them. Thanks.

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    Here is some practical advice I cull from Hydrology and Floodplain Analysis (1988) by Philip B. Bendient and Wayne C. Huber. They recommend the following steps in using models to simulate and analyze surface water management problems:
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    A short piece to ask for help from the readers of this blog. I have tried in vain to find a suitable numerical procedure to calculate the onset and development of gullies on the steeper sideslopes of mine waste disposal facilities. I read about some Australian successes with a computer code called SIBERIA. But I can no longer find their website, and none of the references I read gives me details of the equations they use. So please, if you know the best way to calculate the onset and development of a set of gullies on a steep slope, let me know. Thanks

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    china.gifIn 1870 the population of the United States was about 30 million–more or less the current population of Canada. By 1900 the United States population had doubled. Gold mining had something to do with this increase. In the early years of the 1900s, Chinese workers came to Canada (and the US.) Is the Canadian population about to double in the next thirty years by Chinese immigration to work the mines? These thoughts are prompted by the following news report:

    A Vancouver-based mining company is reportedly planning a coal project for northeastern B.C., and wants to bring in as many as 400 workers from China to build the mine. The Globe and Mail reports the Chinese-backed Canadian Dehua International Mines Group Inc. has filed a project description with the B.C. government, saying it needs 400 workers with specific skills in underground coal mining. The document says there are few underground coal mines in Canada and Dehau will need skilled labour from China to meet its staffing requirements. The proposed Gething coal project is northwest of Chetwynd in northeastern B.C. Jim Sinclair of the B.C. Federation of Labour doesn’t like the idea of importing foreign workers, calling it the ultimate sellout of B.C. resources. Michael McPhie of the Mining Association of B.C. says the concept of importing an entire mine crew isn’t something they’ve seen before, and needs serious scrutiny.

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    This weekend the two grandsons got three new games for the PlayStation 2. The room resounds with the clash and bang of competing armies and navies and combatants as they guide them through the maze and the mayhem. I had qualms about so many new violent games. And with tomorrow being Memorial Day is all seemed somehow inappropriate. But then I received this in an e-mail:
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    We have all heard of those ridiculous US court decisions where some careless woman gets a huge award from McDonalds because she drives away with hot coffee in her lap and proceeds to spill the coffee. Now from a Canadian court we get as stupid a ruling. But this time it is a judge not a jury handing down the stupid ruling. Here are some background facts to the Canadian case:

    The case began in 2002 when John Chiasson was hired by Kellog Brown and Root as a receiving inspector at Syncrude’s oilsands plant. He was required to pass a pre-employment drug test. Nine days after he started work the company learned his urine was positive for the active ingredient in marijuana. He admitted that he had smoked pot five days before the test and was immediately fired under the company’s zero-tolerance policy. Chiasson complained to the Alberta Human Rights Commission, which ruled he was not discriminated against. Last year, Justice Sheilah Martin of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench overturned that decision, ruling that Chiasson should have been treated the same as someone with a drug addiction, which is considered a disability in human rights case law. Martin said the company should scrap the drug tests or find a way to help people who fail them.

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    It is Friday evening and weekend plans are being formulated for parties and social gatherings. I have just returned from a dinner with three of the most ethical people I know. The cook is the best I have ever encountered: one of those “natural” cooks who make even the ordinary extraordinary. We started with Mexican beer and crips that reminded me of The Folk of the Faraway Tree who ate burst-balls that exploded with unique flavors in the mouth. Then a pasta with green beans and small, bright red tomatoes, and shrip barbequed outside to a crisp perfection. The wine pleased the palate and induced generalizations of intense insight. These are some of the highlights about mining that peppered our conversation.

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    Sitting in the luxurious staff restaurant of the University of British Columbia eating fine food and looking out over the best view in the world, I have been honored to meet some of the top professors in the UBC mining department. So I am prejudiced and biased towards their success. Thus I was delighted to see that the Province of British Columbia is providing $7.5 million to expand faculty and increase student spaces in the Norman B. Keevil Institute of Mining Engineering. This money is in addition to the $7.5 million that Teck Cominco has also committed in support of the Norman B. Keevil Institute of Mining Engineering.

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    For a while now, we have grown used to the perpetual wails that there are not enough people to do all the mining work that needs be done. We have heard professors call for more money to train miners; we have seen governments fund glossy brochures to lure kids into the mines; we have even encouraged our son-in-law to go to north-east Wyoming to earn more on the coal mines than he earns as a cable installer for MediaCom in Iowa. Now I wonder if we have all been wrong. Is the writing on the wall? Is the thin edge of the wedge revealed in these two stories in today’s news reports? I quote:
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