Sunday night looking to Monday and a day on the oil sands mines. Flew from rainy Vancouver to sunny Fort McMurray. Tomorrow we will deal with issues of surface water management and the failure of sand berms inundated by ponded water. A salutary lesson in the need for proactive and conservative planning before starting construction.
The picture above and the pictures below are of Penhorwood, an apartment block in Fort McMurray from which over 150 families have been moved because of alleged structural and other deficiencies so bad they amount to unsafe. This just to remind you that some people are worse than even the worst said about miners.
At a recent ecumenical conference May 1 to 3 in Toronto, Bishop Tom Morgan (retired), said he felt shocked and embarrassed to see copies of Philippine newspapers, which carried stories about mining activities that bore the headline, “Ugly Canadians.”
Toronto is certainly spawning many of these “attack mining” conferences—see posting below. How Tom Morgan managed to get through a whole career in the church without encountering the darker side of human nature escapes me. Surely he encountered liars, propaganda, untruths, and distortions? Surely he realized that not everybody likes Canadians? Or did he lead so insulated and isolated existence in Toronto in an Anglican parish that he is “shocked” to hear criticism of his ilk? Or did it take a Roman Catholic priest to set him off. Those Anglican priest I grew up under always harbored a profound jealousy of the Roman Catholics and a desire, often expressed, to be Catholic. Even now I cannot but believe the Roman Catholic Church is the true church of Jesus Christ and all others are but pretenders and johny-come-latelies. And I was brought up in the Anglican Church!
The report continues on the awakening of this formerly innocent priest:
Canadians “are seen by many as perpetrators of rape and pillage, using both metaphorically and literally,” said Bishop Morgan, a member of the board of directors of the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF). Representatives of communities affected by mining spoke of families being displaced, protesters being arrested, and people being “decimated by disease” resulting from pollution of rivers by cyanide, arsenic, mercury and other chemicals released into streams, he said in an interview.
Of course he offers no balanced judgement—do these kind of folk ever do so? I get the impression the are sunk in a terminal funk of despair and negativity. Even the writer of the posting sought to balance things by noting that “Canada is home to 75 per cent of the world’s mining and mineral exploration companies, and its stock exchanges trade 40 per cent of the world’s mineral exploration capital.” Maybe not all the mining and mineral exploration and stock exchange workers are Anglicans or Catholics, but a pretty number of them surely are and earn their honest living from Canadian mining. Will they or their Churches speak up?
Enough on Sunday religion and mining. Let us turn to the week ahead.
I won’t be in British Columbia to celebrate the start of BC Mining Week–first two days on the oil sands to apply rigorous civil engineering principles. Here is what one site says of BC Mining Week:
B.C.’s $7-billion mining industry is reason to celebrate this Mining Week, May 8-14, 2011, with employment, revenue, exports, production and prices all up over the previous year and on the rise. Mining Week is sponsored by the Mining Association of British Columbia, which represents the collective needs and interests of operating coal, metal and industrial mineral mining companies. The province has eight metal mines and 10 coal mines in operation, as well as more than 30 industrial minerals mines and over 650 aggregate pits and quarries. The mining boom is being fuelled by the global recovery in manufacturing, and in particular the strong demand for raw materials in Asia. Mineral exploration spending increased to $322 million in 2010, more than doubling the 2009 figure of $154 million. In this investment climate, new mines are opening. The Copper Mountain copper-gold mine outside Princeton is set to open this summer. The New Afton major copper and gold mine near Kamloops will open in 2012 and Mount Milligan, a copper-gold mine half-way between Fort St. James and Mackenzie, is currently under construction, and plans to begin operations in 2013.
There are even more celebrations in Australia over mining salaries. I do not belive a word of the following report, for if it were true I would migrate to earn half a million dollars in a year–and nobody has asked me to do that. Still I quote so that you can decide for yourself:
More than 1,500 jobs in the Bowen Basin are going begging despite salaries worth close to half a million dollars for executives and some companies offering free home loans to employees. BHP’s joint venture coal mines are understood to have 750 vacant jobs in central Queensland while Rio Tinto has 530 vacancies at its global operations. According to recruiters Robert Walters, project managers in mining can now earn more than $500,000 a year, while a mine deputy can get $200,000. Labourers are getting $100,000 in Dalby and dozer drivers are earning $50 an hour. “I’ve seen sign-on bonuses for 50 per cent of a salary,” Robert Walters’ head of mining and engineering Adam Harris said. He said some executives were getting their home loans repaid, others had their children’s school fees covered and huge bonuses were being paid to stay beyond three or four years.
Now I know of no Canadians who would want to go. But what of all those out-of-work Americans? Maybe the time has come for a bit of emigration from the USA to find jobs in mining for those unemployed young men who are now structurally unemployed. Or maybe we just need to open some mines in the USA to get people employed again. Although I am sure Bishop Tom Morgan would not support Canadians seeking to open mines in the USA. Rather keep them poor and reliant on the church.
Hope all the ranting and raving above brings some perspective for the weekend. Enjoy the week ahead.