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Archive for November, 2008

   

Don Carlo is the grandest of grand opera.  You are hit in the guts by the power of the music.  You are assailed by the story:  the horrors of theocracy and the glories of friendship and love.  You shudder at parental deceit and despair at the folly of youth.  You grow angry at the logic of the priests.  And you must cry during the most daring and poignant scene in all opera, the denunciation and burning of the heretics.  Thank the gods we live in a seeming free society. And have opera to guide us in making mining-related decisions in situations of conflict of values.

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The December issue of  Soutwest Hydrology deals with groundwater and uranium.  Here is how they introduce the subject:

Groundwater was involved in the formation of many large uranium ore deposits, and increasingly groundwater (fortified with other compounds) is being used to mine them using in-situ leaching methods. Uranium mining in the 20th century left a legacy of surface water and groundwater contamination that is still being dealt with today. Water quality standards for uranium were not enacted until after mining began, which means insufficient or no background data were collected to serve as baseline remediation goals. Love it or hate it (there doesn’t appear to be a middle ground), uranium mining is on the increase in the Southwest.

If you are the least interested in the subject, I recommend this for weekend reading.

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Has the world really changed that much in the last week, month, year?   On Saturday I supped with very old friends, people who like me survived the 1982/3 mining crash, a time when twenty percent of engineers in Vancouver were out of work and everyday brought new cuts in production.  Now it seems those times have returned, maybe more viciously. 

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Sunday is a quiet time and an opportunity to look at some of the PowerPoint presentations from last month’s conference in Vail, Colorado on Tailings & Mine Waste ’08.  Here is a link to a list of the presentations that are now available in the InfoMine Library.

We must thank the presenters and the conference organizers for making it possible for us to post these valuable documents for free download on InfoMine.  This, in our opinion, is how it should be done:  conference materials readily available to the world, not hidden in some dusty tome in an obscure library.  Thanks again.

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The Dominion, News from the Grassroots is a blog that has just run a month of stories on the Canadian mining industry.  They are mostly critical: the usual that the oil sands are dirty, that Canadian mining is to blame for the war in the Congo, and stories about opposition to mining by tribes from Thailand to Timbuktu. 

Most of their links are to “independent” sites that include “socialist” in the title.

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I travel a great deal by plane for pleasure and for mining.  Thus I am delighted and dismayed by another of those idiotic rulings by a Canadian court.  They truly come up with unique nonsense.  You recall the verdict that drug addicts had a right to continue to work in dangerous jobs on mines.  Then there was the verdict that tent people in Victoria had a right to pitch their tents in the city’s parks.  Now we have one that fat people get two seats on the aeroplane for the price of one, so they have the space needed to park their vast girth. 

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Fort Belvoir in Virginia is a large army base.  Today we drove the fall woods that cover much of the base to a small school for the military kids.  In a large classroom, mothers convened for the baby sign-language class.  All but one of the ten kids has normal hearing.  All were younger than about two-years old.  But they all paid rapt attention to the teacher who showed them how to say “more,” “want,”  or “please,” in American Sign Language.

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Arizona gets a new mining research insititute.  We have been reading about this for the past few days hoping to find out what they will research.  Here is one brief description:

Mary Poulton, lead researcher at the institute, has identified a wide range of projects to tackle, from water use to simulators for safety training to the feasibility of using mining sites for alternative-energy projects.

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Miners supporting pirates with cash payments.  Seems hard to believe.  But the news is out that an Australian mining company is doing just that. Read on.

Books on pirates glorify the romance of the free spirit and the rough life.  Movies and musicals do likewise.  Recall the wonderful Pirates of Penzance, in which it turns out that all the pirates are peers of the British Empire “who have done wrong” and so are pardoned to marry the Major-General’s daughters. 

The reality off the coast of Somalia does not seem quite as romantic.  My son who floated around on a Navy ship in the area assures me the Navy could wipe out the pirates fast if it were not for the reticence of the insurance companies who understandably want to minimize their losses, preferring to pay the ransoms.  Maybe the pirates are Robin Hood in disguise afterall—-preying on cautious insurance companies like AIG.     

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Two tales of conflict in mining, one from long ago and far away and one from today’s news. The first is of biblical proportions, as the report tells:

An international team of archaeologists may have uncovered the copper mines owned and operated by the biblical King Solomon during a dig at Khirbat en-Nahas, an ancient mining and metallurgy district of more than 450 square miles in southern Jordan.

Mining involved conflict as indicated by this observation:

An ancient Egyptian scarab and amulet were also found in a layer of the excavation associated with a disruption in production at the end of the 10th century BCE. The event is thought to have been connected with a military campaign by the Egyptian Pharaoh “Shishak” that took place following the death of King Solomon.

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