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Archive for February, 2009

   The Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) annual conference begins tomorrow in Toronto.  Everybody with a mining prospect will be there. Many looking for potentially profitable mining prospects will be there.  InfoMine will be in a booth to help you.  Many of us are left behind to blog about whatever we can scrap from the news.

All of which set me to thinking about weekend reading about mining investment.  There are literally thousands of books that provide information and advice on investing.  Wonder into any bookstore at any airport and they are there spilling into the aisles.  There are surely more books at airports about investing than core at PDAC.

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   This year’s Fraser Institute Annual Survey of Mining Companies 2008/2009 is better than ever, even though the message is gloomier than ever.  

As they do each year, the Fraser Institute once again compiled answers to questionnaires it sent out to miners.  The miners are asked to rank countries and the states and provinces of major mining countries.   Here are a few observations about how some jurisdictions rank. 

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   We have previously blogged about US coal mine wages.  Now it is time to turn our attention to US coal mine salaries.  Specifically what do those middle of the road, conservative folk like engineers, scientists, and secretaries make.  You know them; they are the folk who believe they are underpaid.  Let us find out if that is true by looking at selected salaries from CostMines‘ new 2008 Survey Results, U.S. Coal Mine Salaries, Wages, and Benefits report. 

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  As a blogger I reserve the right to be wrong.  I reserve the right to attack folly and verbal excess.  I reserve the right to criticise the National Geographic and First Nations. I reserve the right to defend dead ducks, dead ptarmigans, the oil sands, and Fort McMurray. 

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   Another paper from the SME CD Preprints that I enjoyed and recommend is Application of Best Available Technology to Reclamation Design and Integration with Mine Planning by H.J. Hutson of BRS Inc. in Riverton, Wyoming.   

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   SME is over and now we have time to slip the  CD of Preprints into the computer to read the technical papers.  The sad part is that most of those who presented talks did not bother to prepare a paper.  And no provision has been made to collect, disseminate, or archive their PowerPoint presentations.  So all that hard work and hot air is lost. 

Of the technical papers that do appear on the CD of Preprints, the most intriguing is entitled Climate Change Risk and Impact Assessment for Global Diversified Mining Group.  

The paper describes “a project undertaken for a multinational mining company to examine the physical risks from climate change across its international business operations.  The study addresses 163 components of the business including operating sites (mines, smelters, and refineries), key transportation routes (road and rail) and port links.”  Almost sounds like Rio Tinto, although the paper does not tells us which mining company commissioned the study.

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This morning’s session on Coal Bumps and Seismicity gave us some background to the Crandall Canyon disaster.  Fisrt a magnificent presentation by J Whyatt on a review of case studies presented in 1958 at an SEM Bump Symposium.  He re-read the papers from 1958 and noted that almost everything that happened in Utah had been noted and very-nearly predicted.  If only those responsible for the Utah coal mine had bothered to read the 1958 SME papers, nine people would still be alive. 

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   The only way to summarize this afternoon’s technical sessions at the SME conference is to record the “wisdom” scattered on the PowerPoint presentations.  Here are some I noted from a talk on sustainable human resource management given by a headhunter::

Why waste a good crises  -  layoff the deadwood and hire the experts.  

Why don’t we make quality (social license) everybody’s job?

We will run out of fully competent people before we run out of people. 

Don’t build playing fields; rather spend the money on local people and put them to work as mine employees.

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   Rapid construction is the key to success in mining.  Alan Moss of Rio Tinto heads up the research part of Rio TInto in Vancouver.   In a fine speech this morning at the SME conference he told us how a program he is managing is succeeding in find new ways to drive drifts faster and more cost-effectively so that block caving can begin sooner.  Here is the abstract of his paper:

A number of very large scale underground mines are in various stages of development.  A common characteristic is the need for many kilometers of development of drifting prior to production start.  Even a small increase in the drifting rate can have enormous economic consequences.  The Rio Tinto program to increase development rates is discussed.

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    Funny how conference presentations are replete with references to sustainability.  The talkers all use the term.  Yet they all shrug in quiet embarrassment at using the term.  It is not hard to fathom why.  Everybody you talk to jokes about the concept.

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