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Archive for June, 2008

If ever there was a reason to stay away from Africa and its mines, the disgusting spectacle of the welcome accorded to Mugabe in Egypt is it. 

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Sand Mining

 

 

 

Some countries just do not get it.  Zimbabwe is the most egregious example affecting honest mining.   But on a much lesser scale, take a look at the Education News Site in India.  Here is how they describe mining engineering:

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Uranium Mine At the Grand CanyonNot in my backyard, or national park, or lake.  That is the fight being fought in the United States about mines.  Consider:

Grand Canyon and uranium:  a majority of democrats used an obscure provision of the law to try to stop the staking of new mining claims for uranium near the  Grand Canyon—leaving in place about 10,000 claims staked before the politicians got around to acting. would you dare.. ??

Alaska Lake Tailings Disposal:  The US Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal from a ruling by the Ninth Circuit court which essentially stopped plans to dispose of tailings in a lake off Juneau, Alaksa by Coeur d’Alene mines.  

In the first case there is a clear statement that mining uranium adjacent to the Grand Canyon should not occur.  Personally I would like to know who the mining companies are that have staked 10,000 claims in the area.  Are any of them majors or is this a case of thousands of juniors seeking an ephemeral dream?  

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Great Hall at Wits

In the old  days of mining in South Africa, Anglo American was the revered giant.  From those mighty lion-statue-defended doors of their downtown Johannesburg offices they ruled the South African mining industry.  I vaguely recall they also controlled something like sixty percent or more of all the companies on the local stock exchange.  They may still do for all I know.  Now they seek to be the same dominating presence from Alaska to Zimbabwe. 

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Totempole.Sudbury OntarioThe Republic of Mining is a Sudbury, Ontario-based blog on mining.  I recommend it if you are interested in a quiet and sober view of a segment of mining—focussed on Sudbury and the greater Canada.  Unlike this blog, The Republic of Mining in uncontroversial.  Their world perspective is respect and praise.  Seems I grew up and live in a different time and place.  California is its own place and breaks most rules usually in the lead.  And Vancouver is branded the banana-belt Republic in the rest of Canada.  So I am explained, if not excused.

Thus I was neither surprised nor distressed to see no mention on the Republic of Mining about the city manager of Sudbury demanding more money from the province and the feds for Sudbury.  The report reads: 

A passionate presentation before North Bay city council, Sudbury mayor John Rodriguez explained how his city and many other northern communities are not getting their fair share of resource revenue sharing from the federal and provincial governments. He says it’s essential and urgent to get a funding framework in place so that more tax revenue from the mining sector flows back to municipalities such as Sudbury, Timmins and Kirkland Lake. He says in the last ten year Sudbury has seen a half a billion dollars of deficit in infrastructure. To put is simply says Rodriguez, “They’re not sharing in the wealth”.Big Nickel, Sudbury Ontario

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No doubt the facts are complex and at least can be argued either way.   Yet this morning’s two news reports, make you wonder about the tendency for people to do wrong:

W. R. Grace - 1865W.R. Grace and asbestos:  “The U.S. Supreme Court Monday refused to hear an appeal by W.R. Grace & Co. in a case that involves criminal charges brought by the government against the company and six of its executives for Clean Air Act violations in the release of asbestos from a vermiculite mine in Libby, Montana.”

Grace in the City

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guiltyThe news item tells us that Obama opposes the Cline Mine.  I quote: “Barack Obama has joined the list of prominent state and federal officials who oppose a proposed coal mine in the Canadian Flathead Valley.  On May 29, Obama’s Montana campaign manager Matt Chandler sent an e-mail to Will Hammerquist of the National Parks Conservation Association announcing the presidential candidate’s opposition to a plan by the Cline Mining Corporation to begin an open-pit coal mine in the headwaters of the Canadian Flathead River drainage.”

Now Obama is on record as opposing NAFTA and Canadian mining.  Will Canadians soon be e-mailing their American cousins asking them to support McCain.  That will be a hard sell:  the weekend Los Angeles Times reports on Cindy McCain and her running of a company that opposes efforts by Mothers Against Drunk Driving.  Not to speak of her extensive drug use.  But I suppose she will be the first lady, not the president, and she will probably not seek the nomination any time soon, so leave her and Mrs. Obama alone.  Cindy McCain

What a choice for president?  Maybe we can elect McCain and get Cindy to Vancouver to change the way booze is sold in that repressive system.  I bought drinkable wine in California for less than $3 a bottle this weekend to drink to drown the sorrow of Cindy.  Try doing that in Vancouver; I have to make my own at a neighborhood store to get that price to drink to Canadian mining. 

 

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Monday morning brings: the continuing heat of a high pressure system;   the incessant whine of grass cutting; and the clanging of garbage collection trucks.

small boulderMonday also brings a slew of new mining-related newsletters and promotional literature.  That from The International Council of Mining and Metals is worth reading—and comment.  This issue deals with the usual: responsible mining and sustainability.  There are, however, some interesting points, including:

In Ghana: a workshop agreement between ICMM and the government to: develop new District Development funds to build local capacity; sharing of good practice; improved transparency to the local level; standard model for sharing compensation programs; sharing of experience between mining areas.  [I am not sure what all this means or implies, but it sounds good.]

Gold MinesFrom Teck Cominco:  the need for improved resource productivity based on a concern for increased demand on finite natural resources—hence the need to reduce, reuse, and recycle.  [This appears to be a mantra of Teck and I applaud them for it; it will be difficult to achieve, but why not the best from Vancouver?]

Vale:  now the second largest mining company, Vale in 2007 established a Sustainable Development Division, intends to produce a report on its practices, and has a in-house university to train staff in the right way to do thing so they can be proud to work for the company. [It is encouraging to see these initiatives and we hope they achieve their goal of attracting the best and brightest on the basis of these commitments.]

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Normally it is June Gloom time here in southern California.  But this year we have a heat wave.  The beaches and the pool are where we have spent the weekend keeping wet and cool. 

In between, I have been reading Reinventing the Sacred by Calgary professor Stuart A. Kauffman.  As I am but half-way through the book, I will comment no further than to say that he proposes an ethic based on emergent behavoir flowing from complex systems.  My aim is to see if we can apply this thesis and philosophical approach to mining. 

Maybe if you are reading the book too you can let me know so we can explore the possibilities in concert. 

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Fort Mcmurray SunsetFrom Los Angeles came an e-mail from a recruiter asking me if I knew anyone who would be interested in a job at the Albian Sands in Ft. McMurray as a Mining, Geotechnical, Process (Extraction), Reclamation Engineers, and/or a Construction Manager (Dykes).  

I do not, nor am I personally interested, but the request set me thinking about the income a suitable candidate might expect.   From the 2008 Canadian Mine Salary, Wages & Benefits Survey from CostMine here are some annual lowest, average, and highest salaries for western Canadian mines:

Mine Manager  = $92,000,  $131,400,  $165,000

Mine Superintendant  = $80,600, $114,200, $135,800

Chief/Senior Engineer  = $70,000, $104, 500, $146,600

Mine Engineer = $60,00, $80,400, $91,000

Metallurgist = $66,000, $83,400, $121,000

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