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Archive for October, 2008

  

This morning’s Globe & Mail reports on mining job losses at Myra Falls on Vancouver Island. A company spokesman said:

While we view this as a temporary suspension, our challenge is that we’ve seen the price of zinc move from 76 cents to 48 cents in a month.

Down in Salt Lake City representatives of the governor attended the opening of operations by Cementation whose current USA projects are described thus:

Cementation USA’s main projects now are the excavation of a 28-foot diameter shaft, 7,000 feet down to a deep ore body outside of Phoenix; cutting an 11 percent grade ramp for Kennecott Minerals to a nickel and copper deposit in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula; and developing a shaft for Hecla Mining Co.’s Lucky Friday mine east of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

The report tells us that Cementation, an offshoot of South African company Murray & Roberts,  plans to increase staff to 422 over the next decade. We note that this items is the only one in a list of ten that talks of increased employment in the mining industry.  The other nine talk of job losses.

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This quote from prayerbeacon, a blog that appears to list things Christians should pray for regarding the upcoming election.  The site lists statistics and associated “prayer points” by state.  This is a short statistic about Arizona:

The state’s per capita income is $27,232, 39th in the U.S. Arizona had a median household income of $46,693 making it 27th in the country and just shy of the US national median. Early in its history, Arizona’s economy relied on the “Five C’s”: copper, cotton, cattle, citrus, and climate (tourism). At one point Arizona was the largest producer of cotton in the country. Copper is still extensively mined from many expansive open-pit and underground mines, accounting for two-thirds of the nation’s output. The state government is Arizona’s largest employer, while Wal-Mart is the state’s largest private employer, with 17,343 employees (2008).

There are no employment figures for either mining or beer distribution in Arizona.  But it is an interesting statistic that Arizona produces two-thirds of the nations copper.  How much is imported one wonders.  (more…)

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Find the errors in this picture?  The small company from whom we rent offices in Vancouver has recently shut down its uranium mine in Colorado and put thirty miners out of work.  Yet the blogs today are full of news about planned mining of uranium on the moon, besides the Grand Canyon, in Alaska, and besides isolated South African villages.  Previously we have seen stories of uranium mining in Ontario and almost every other place you can name. 

Is the phenomenon of news articles and successful blogs on uranium mining rooted in a need for and the viability of uranium mining or is this just a passing journalistic fantasy based on a need to fill empty pages and computer screens?

I personally suspect the latter: it is so easy to attack uranium mining and nuclear power that any journalist lacking a coherent topic is drawn to the idiotic.  There is also another possibility: any aspirant miner lacking a decent ore body is drawn to the “romance” and stock market possibilities of uranium mining. 

Hopefully this plethora of proposed small uranium mines in really way-out places and the news reports thereabout is just another bubble that will soon burst.  Hopefully we will soon get back to sober and considered reporting based on a rational assessment of the uranium that is truly needed. 

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Just a short note to turn your attention to an article extolling the Cannon Mine in Wenatchee, WA and its tailings impoundment.  The article seems to be an attempt to support the reopening of the Idaho-Maryland mine in California. 

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The fan in the upper story has been turning at full speed for two years.  In Van Buren County, Iowa I ascended the stairs to the upper story of a double-story house to see this fan spinning away unawares.  The inhabitants of the house have lived their lives for the past two year on the ground floor.  They had not climbed the stairs since the late wife died and the kids rummaged through the stuff and left their Playboys on the dresser and the fan blowing away to no benefit.

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Yesterday in Mt Vernon, Iowa.  Not to see a politician, but to visit a friend who has just moved into a huge, new facility selling John Deere farm equipment.  No mining for miles around, but some of the same issues bedevil the dealership.

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Down an icy road from Vail and the conference to Denver where two companies impressed me greatly.   Neither paid me to write the following—in fact neither even knows I am writing the following.

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The most forward thinking speculation at Tailings & Mine Waste ’08 was by Dirk Van Zyl.  He joked about his fast-written paper that suggests that somebody seeking a PhD in tailings and mine waste management could do no better than apply the concepts and methods of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to tailings impoundments.

For those readers unfamiliar with this grand concept, take a look at what I have written about LCA and its success in proving that Australian mines are more efficient users of water than Australian farmers.

Here is a non-succinct definition of LCA:

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My nomination for the best paper and best presentation at the conference Tailings & Mine Waste ’08 is Gold Quarry North Waste Rock Facility Slide Investigation and Stabiliization by R. J Sheets and E.E. Bates both of Newmont Mining Corporation at the Curlin Surface Mine Operations, Carlin, Nevada.   Here is the paper’s abstract:

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The conference on Tailings & Mine Waste ’08 is done.  Two days of technical papers lead one to identify these changes in the theory and practice of mine waste in the thirty years the conference has been held:

  1. Liners for impoundments are now accepted as good practice; no longer do we hear how liners are unnecessary components forced on the mining industry.
  2. Covers are now routinely four feet and thicker; gone are the days when the proud brag was a one-foot thick cover.
  3. Side slopes of three to one and even five to one are considered reasonable; no longer do we hear that the angle of repose is stable enough.
  4. Water is a component of interest and value; no longer a side issues and a nuisance.
  5. Regulations including CERCLA and RCRA are mentioned in passing and implemented routinely; no longer are there tirades against unwise regulators.
  6. Stocastic methods are used and the young recognize that extreme events do occur.

These I consider to be good changes.  Although they have resulted in significant increases in the cost of tailings and mine waste management. 

In future postings I will review some of the papers that expand on these ideas.

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