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Archive for June, 2010

    On a Sunday, one may be forgiven for ruminating on the role of religion in mining.  The story at this link prompts new ideas on the choice between a life of impecunious devotion and financial security come from a job on a mine; here are some extracts: (more…)

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    This week, EduMine posted a new course that I wrote.  As is the title of this posting, the new course is called Geotechnical Engineering for Mine GeoWaste Facilities.  

I was prompted to write the course when I was called on to explain to a client who is not a geotechnical engineer what is involved in geotechnical engineering.  This client was in charge of the design and construction of a large tailings impoundment that involves nearly every aspect of geotechnical engineering.  He asked me fundamental questions that demanded a wider knowledge base than a simple answer could provide.  Thus I wrote a few short pieces for him and then more short pieces to expand on topics.  Eventually it was obvious we needed a complete course.  So I wrote it.

The course covers pretty much the complete spectrum of geotechnical engineering as applicable to mine tailings impoundments, waste rock dumps, and heap leach pads.  I write from my own experience, including over forty years as a consultant to the mining industry.  During that time I have been lucky enough to work on the geotechnical engineering aspects of all these large structures that I collectively refer to as Mine GeoWaste Facilities. 

I contemplated a course on tailings impoundments alone.  But the topic seemed insurmountable.  Apart from that, there is so much written and readily available about the fundamentals of tailings impoundments that I could not face going into competition with so many excellent texts.   Moreover, it was clear from interaction with my client that a more fundamental look at the basics was needed.  Thus in the course I go back to the fundamentals of soil mechanics that underlie every tailings storage facility, every waste rock dump, and every heap leach pad.

If the topic interests you, I recommend going to the links I provide above, join EduMine, and read the course.  Please tell me how you fare and help me add to future updates of the course by telling me your stories.  Thanks

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Late breaking news from an e-mail just received.  And this is sad news.  This is the result of concerted false information disseminated by interested parties.  It stands as a sober reminder to all miners and investors of the importance of keeping abreast of local politics, NGO activities, and lies, damn lies, and statistics.  It proves that the success or failure of a mine is as much determined by the opposition as by the quality of the ore body and the other conventional factors listed in elementary courses in mining.  We fear this is another move in the march to make Central America a non-mining zone.  (more…)

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   The end of the story is neat and tidy:  Rudd, the former Australian Prime Minister is out and a new lady is in.  Rudd was outed (or is it ousted) in part by his bungled attempt to foist a 40% tax on Australia’s mining industry.   For the mining industry and shareholders thereof, this is good news.  Australians, it seems, believe it is good news.  For the communities to whom Rudd said he would provide more money from the tax income, this may well be bad news.  (more…)

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   Over the weekend, we drove up to Squamish and on the way back stopped at the British Columbia Museum of Mining, sometimes called the Britannia Beach Mining Museum.  With my son, daughter-in-law, and two and a half year-old grand-daughter, we took the obligatory tour of the underground workings and panned for gold.  First we rode deep into the tunnels on a “yellow train” as the young one called it.  There we were scared out of our wits by the noise of the old fashioned drills and the whistles that marked the end of a shift underground.   We trode the wet stopes and floors and gazed in amazement at the “primitive” working conditions as my son called them.  I reminded him that that is how his grandfather worked and how lucky he is to work in the comfort of an office in the Pentagon.    (more…)

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   Friday is upon us, so here are a few idle thoughts to ponder over the weekend.   Re Afghanistan mining, I refer you to this link where we read: 

A Chinese state-owned firm has already been awarded the concession for a copper mine in eastern Afghanistan.  Many mining industry executives say they expect the Chinese to bid aggressively on Afghanistan’s newly discovered mineral deposits even as many Western firms sit it out.  Robert Schafer, executive vice president of Hunter Dickinson, an exploration and mining firm based in Vancouver, Canada, which lost the bid for the copper mine concession to the Chinese company, said he believed that the Chinese “have a different perception of the risk” because they see mineral resource development as part of a national strategy.  “Their concern is for the supply of a commodity, so they are willing to do things at a loss,” Mr. Schafer said. “So yes, I could see the Chinese being willing to make investments in areas where we are unwilling (more…)

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   I have been entertaining my son and his family in Vancouver this week, so I resort for a blog topic to another of the fascinating e-mails that arrive from various people.  The one I write about came from a fellow who introduces himself thus in his first e-mail to me: (more…)

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