No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.
I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.
Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.
Blogging is a part-time activity that I undertake in order to record ideas, happenings, and opinions that intrude into an otherwise calm and peaceful existence.
I am formally retired and so now work full time as a consultant with Robertson GeoConsultants. You can probably guess my clients from the places that I visit and write about. I also give the game away occasionally when I link to a paper that I or fellow workers have written. I also write the occasional piece for TechnoMine and EduMine. You will find those writings easily enough on InfoMine.
InfoMine looks after the blog site, although they keep it at arms length because they are concerned that what I write may offend somebody in the mining industry and thereby reduce support for InfoMine. I must applaud their courage in doing what they do. For sometimes, I am sure I offend somebody in the mining industry.
I was born and brought up on the mines of South Africa. I was educated as a civil engineer on a mining company scholarship. I have spent most of my working life consulting to the mining industry. I am a supporter of mining and know that we must mine. I believe that we can mine in such a way as to enjoy the benefits of mining without incurring the many avoidable side-effects that bedevil mining’s reputation.
If at times, I criticize one or other aspect of mining, I am criticizing. Not because I want to stop mining, but because I believe it can be done better and should be done better. I have benefitted immensely from mining; why should others not also benefit from mining done right?
I live sometimes in Vancouver and sometimes with my three kids and ten grandkids in the United States. I think of myself as a citizen of both countries. So if I criticize either, maybe I am criticizing one or the other or both. I am not blind to the failings of Canada and the United States, although I know they are the best places in the world and I am very lucky to be able to live in both. I do not pretend to hope that my writings will improve either, but then somebody has to say what they think, lest bad people prevail. From my youth in South Africa, I know bad people sometimes do prevail for long periods.
Thus I hope you enjoy my postings. I hope they entertain, inform, and stimulate you. If you do not like them, please comment or send me a private e-mail at email@example.com. Many people prefer to send me a critical comment in private. I enjoy them all; although I do not promise to reply to all.
PS1: Here is a piece I wrote some three years after starting the blog. It gives a bit more insight into who and what I am and why I write this blog.
Give or take a few weeks and a few postings, this blog, I THINK MINING, has been “on the air” for about three years and I have written over one thousand six hundred postings on almost every topic touching mining.
The blog started when Andy Robertson decided that InfoMine needed a blog. A hour or two later we had this one up. At first it was tightly connected to and identified with InfoMine. Then the Chinese blocked the blog because of what I wrote about safety in Chinese mines. Concerns arose that the Chinese would soon block InfoMine as well. The blog was downloaded from the InfoMine servers and given a more “independent” image.
Next I wrote a blog item about hippo’s eating green tomatoes. That posting so offended the SME that they protested, issuing a formal complaint. That so scared InfoMine, that all links to or identification with InfoMine was canned. The blog was posted as far away as possible lest I further offend the powerful mining communities. Thus for the past year or more, I have essentially been on my own. Of course I have been “on my own” ever since starting to write. I would not have had it any other way. Andy Robertson, to his credit, has supported me whatever I have said, although many minor people have screamed for censorship. Their pathetic cries have fallen on deaf ears. And the reality of the internet–it is terrible easy to start and run one’s own blog on Google—have kept them at bay.
Over the years, I have been privileged to receive posted comments both praising and damning me and what I write. I have also been privileged to receive many private e-mails from people I would otherwise never have communicated with. For example, much of what I wrote about the failure of the Bellavista heap leach pad was sent to me by people living besides the site. Similarly with the story of Southwestern Resources. I would like to believe that what I wrote about the Alberta Directive 74 woke up a complacent community to act to fix a flawed regulation.
By far the most popular posting on this blog started out innocently. I received an e-mail from a lady in Australia noting that her boyfriend could not find a job as a truck driver on the Australian mines. I posted her e-mail and since then the posting has become a sort of center of folk commenting on similar difficulties. The posting still gets read about ten to twenty times a day.
I have also received many misdirected readers who are otherwise seeking porn and sex sites. Unthinkingly I have used words like porn and sex in titles—and the search engines pick that up for mid-night trysts. The funniest is a piece I wrote on ladies in hard hats–it has a good porn-site seeking search engine following.
I have never received money for writing this blog. At first I did it as part of a larger commitment to write occasional pieces for TechnoMine, but for the past two or more years, I have written on my own time and at my own direction. I have written favorably about companies and I have attacked companies; but none of them has been involved in what I said. They, also to their credit, have borne it patiently and with good grace.
I have enjoyed writing this blog and will continue as long as I am able and not censored. I have learnt a lot about the world, being forced to think about topics. I have learnt a lot about myself as I let my fingers do the work of skimming over the keys and forming opinions. I am not sure what picture of me emerges, but I am more confident of my opinions now than ever before–the only problem being that I find myself changing my opinion as new news item prompt me to comment.
I have read many other blogs in compiling this blog. I post my favorites so you too can see them. I seldom criticize them and I have never seen them criticize me. I wonder if this is an unspoken and informal code of respect amongst bloggers–or are they also too busy writing to care to read others?
I have collated some of the postings on this blog into other writings. These include “cleaned-up” versions that are posted from time to time on TechnoMine, by kind favor of Sahar Pakzad. I have combined others into a course on mining investment on EduMine by kind favor of Simon Houlding. Some postings have gone on to become articles in Mining.Com, the magazine. Thanks to Cecilia Jamasmie.
The number of visits to this site fluctuates with the day of the week and the time of the year. The number can be as low as five hundred a day and on occasions as high a one thousand a day. Never enough to entice anybody to try to sell advertising or to buy advertising. I am told my opinions are too erratic and potentially offensive to entice any respectable company to put their name with mine. So be it. But I note that many other less visited publications of deadly dull content do get advertising. I wonder what the purchasers of the adverts are thinking? I know I never read the dull rubbish on such sites, although I have on occasion been lured into writing for them– a smile from a beautiful woman is irresistable.
PS2: Here is a link to long-winded personal recollections of growing up.
PS3: If you are still curious about me in spite of all the above, see this blog piece in which I cogitate on writing versus engineering, both activities I indulge in.
PS4: Here is a link to personal reflections on travel.
PS5: I sometimes get e-mails telling me I have said bad things. But sometimes I find a statement about this blog that makes me happy. Here is one example:
There is great nuance here, and the most thoughtful treatment I know of is found at the following blog:
http://ithinkmining.com/ See recent entries on Anglo’s Pebble Mine and the West Virginia mining deaths for examples of the quality of Jack Caldwell’s site. Given his background as a mine engineer, he provides insights that you just won’t get from most journalists or activists.
PS6: My passion is opera. Here is a link to one posting on the topic. Try the category “opera” to get more.
PS7: I also like riding my bicycle. Here is a link to a posting that tells why.