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Archive for October, 2010

   George Bernard Shaw called Rossini “the supreme master of clap-trap.”   Rossini wrote of Wagner: “He has great moments, and dull quarter hours.”   No live opera or Met opera this weekend.  We took solace in the DVD.  First a life of Rossini and then, in anticipation of the Met broadcast, a cheap DVD of Le Comte Ory.  I needed music and alcohol to assuage the soul. (more…)

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   The news is that the private member Bill C-300 failed to pass in the Canadian parliament yesterday.   This bill would have allowed any agitator anywhere to accuse a Canadian mining company of anything that irritated the accuser; the bureaucrats in Ottawa would have judged; the mining company would have had no way to defend themselves; and a new era of non-legal proceedings would have come into place.  In my opinion, the law the bill would have established was fatally flawed and would have taken us back to the days of the old English Star Chamber–accusation and conviction without the right of self defence.  As for the idea that the accuser had to have what is called in law “standing,” why that ancient, yet simple legal principle too would have been tossed out the window. 

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    Most mines engage consultants.  Even the largest mines do not find it practical or economic to keep permanently on staff people to do those special, one-off projects that lead to new mines, efficient operation of existing mines, or close mines with a skeleton staff.  Most mines needs the expertise that consultants have, but which it is just not necessary for the mining company to keep in-house.  Examples of consultants include the specialized exploration geologist, financial planners for a take-over bid, geotechnical/tailings engineers for the design or expansion of a tailings facility, planners to compile closure documents, or regulatory experts to secure new permits. (more…)

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The supply of water and protection of water quality are now key issues at mines.  The level of activity and focus on water may be gauged by looking at the website of any consultant to the mining industry: without fail they feature a pretty young lady in front of a stream, a pond, or ocean of pristine water.    (more…)

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Here is a link to a paper that I and a fellow author wrote for the conference on tailings and mine waste 2010.  This is not the version published in the proceedings.  Rather it is an updated version, now made more publically available. 

The paper seeks to record some of the many people who contributed to the development of slimes dam practice in South Africa over the past one hundred years.  It is a fascinating story that culminates in the grand book by Geoff Blight on the topic of South African tailings practice. 

All I ask here is that if you have more information on the history of South African slimes dams, please send it along, and we will continue to collate the information.  Thanks.

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   The sky was overcast; the chill of fall was in the air.  The flowers in the Park & Tilford gardens besides the movie house are still in color and the horse chesnut trees in the Chinese garden are a brilliant orange.  A perfect morning to settle into my regular seat, D1, and watch this morning’s projection from the MET of Boris Godunov.  And during the intervals to walk slowly around the gardens enjoying the last of summer.  (more…)

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   At the conference in Vail earlier this week, somebody at dinner said this: “I am sick of hearing people talk about other people’s tailings impoundment failures.  Why can’t anyone stand up and say ‘this is why the dam I designed failed’?”   [I hope I get the punctuation right.] (more…)

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    Should your mining company run a blog, sponsor a tweet, or facebook away to all the world?  Every mining manager has asked this question.  Few receive intelligent answers.  Those amongst their staff with blogger instincts or skills, plead for a blog, write a blog, and persist until they offend some sensitive individual.  Then the blog is pulled and the mining company rethinks the question.   (more…)

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Vail, Colorado was once a mining town.  Now it is a Disney horror of fake Alpine buildings clinging to an image that is rooted in conspicuous consumption.  To survive the off-season, all food prices are half-price. 

The conference on tailings and mine waste is just ended and we have left this ski resort, newly informed on the state-of-the-art and practice of tailings management in mines world-wide.  Here are some reflections on the state-of-things: (more…)

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These past two days we have been in sunny Vail, Colorado at the conference on tailings and mine waste.  Sadly you will have to buy the volume from the organizers to read the papers.  With a bit of patience, we will post some of the presentations on InfoMine in the near future.  Meanwhile let us urge the authors to update their papers on the basis of new ideas gained here at the conference and hence paste their papers on their websites so that we may all more freely share in the information and lessons learnt.   (more…)

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