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.
Archive for May, 2007
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.
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:
It has been a record dry season in southern California. You would not know this by looking at the lush vegetation, abundant flowers, and vast pools of the townhouse complex and everywhere else in this piece of paradise. The beach is cloud-covered all day long as the desert heats up pumping great masses of evaporation inland and keeping local temperatures in the 60 to 65 degree range. We left Iowa partly because of record heat: way up in the 95s with humidity and strong winds. Most unpleasant. And then to the mining news and this strange report:
The axing of 160 jobs at a south-east Queensland coalmine because of the drought is just the first of a wave of job losses set to hit the region, the state opposition warns. But Premier Peter Beattie says he does not expect mass job cuts as a result of the state’s worst drought on record. Tarong Mine today announced the cuts, which it said were unavoidable after dwindling water supplies had forced a scaling back of operations at Tarong and Tarong North power stations—which the mine supplies.
On a whim, we left the farm in Iowa and set off across country with three young kids in a new Ford Focus piled high and packed to the brim. We followed the old Lincoln Highway through Iowa and then along the Platte River through Nebraska; hence down the north-east corner of Colorado to traverse the Rockies and sleep in Grand Junction; hence through that beautiful country of southern Utah and to Las Vegas; finally the desert of eastern California and the blessed Beach Cities, including our destination, Huntington Beach. The car went well—a testament to American car manufacturers. The kids behaved—a testament to a portable DVD player and three Game Boys. The KOA campgrounds were comfortable and quiet and a great place for kids to stay. Las Vegas and Excalibur were a kids’ delight although it cost me a fortune for them to play every electronic game in the packed halls.
Playing computer games is for everyone. Here is my take at four computer games relevant to mining.
Before we look at the games, let me state emphatically my basic beliefs re computer games and mining.
- I think it a waste of money to develop glossy brochures to hand out to students in order to encourage them to become miners.
- I believe it would be better to spend money developing computer games involving mining and in supporting youth groups playing these games competitively.
Maybe here is an opportunity for some benevolent mining company to sponsor a youth group to try out new mine development strategies. Any profit can be converted to US dollars and be sent to folk who live around closed mines. And the mining company can apply the strategy in real time.
NEWS RELEASE FROM PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPERS
British Columbia’s mining industry posted another year of record financial results in 2006, driven primarily by increased global demand and higher coal and metals prices. Net income reached Can$2.35 billion in 2006, up 27.6% from $1.84 billion in 2005—the highest level in the 39 year history of PricewaterhouseCoopers’ (PwC) annual survey of the B.C. mining industry.