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Archive for the ‘British Columbia’ Category

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I spent some time last week, this past weekend, and today polishing the webcast coming up next week on Geosynthetics in Mining.  We started out as a small group, Tarik, Terry, and me.  But as we talked and planned, we realized we needed other to augment us.  So I am proud to tell that we now have Abigail, Bertrand, Marat, and Ryan join us.  Here is more detail:

Jack Caldwell is a consulting engineer for RGC with over 35 years of experience in mining, geotechnical and site remediation projects.

Tarik Hadj-Hamou, waste management and geotechnics expert with SLR,  has over forty years’ experience in civil and geotechnical engineering and risk analysis.

Terry Mandziak, Principal Geotechnical Engineer at SRK, has more than 21 years of diversified professional experience in project coordination and project design, and is a leading expert on heap leach pads and their design, construction, operation, and closure.

Abigail Beck is Director of Liner Integrity Services for TRI Environmental, Inc.  She will talk on that incredibly important part of geosynthetics installation, namely quality assurance and construction quality control.  I have listened to her on this subject before—she is the expert and we will all learn from her.

Bertrand Breul is a civil engineer and Managing Director at Axter Coletanche.  He is a young fellow promoting his product.  But he is knowledgeable and passionate.  I reckon it is worth hearing from him on the bituminous geomembranes he sells—and designs with as part of his sales responsibilities.

Marat Goldenberg is a civil/environmental engineer at CETCO.   He too is young, eager, and informed.  Again I invited him to join us on the basis that he knows CETCOs products better than anybody and is the best person to learn from I can imagine.

Ryan McKeever is Technical Sales Consultant – Mining for Nuna Innovations Inc.  A young Irishman with sparkling eyes, and in my opinion, an incredible geosynthetic that is currently very expensive.  So I have invited him to tell us more about a product that I am sure will in time become a staple in the mining industry.

There is still plenty of time to register an join us for three hours for three days next week.   Click this link.

The course is intended for all who manage, operate, design, or approve (as regulators) geowaste facilities. It is also for those who are interested in advances in the use of Geosynthetics in such structures as part of the process of enhancing mine water management and the functionality and economy of such facilities.

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Today was a perfect summer day in Vancouver; although it is still officially winter.  I slept late in the sun streaming through the bedroom windows.  I rode my bicycle to and from work in the warmth of the sun, although it was a trifle cold coming home as, short of breath, I walked the hills that become steeper every year.

I did no work of note:  answer emails, chat with colleagues, edit an upcoming EduMine course presentation.  Nothing of intellectual challenge or worth.  Just what you would do on a lazy, sunny day.

I am lucky; for what does it matter if I work or do not work?   Nobody cares for my opinion, except when I tell the truth—when they get bent out of shape.  The bank manager has more of my money invested than I can touch—all I need to do is get him to support me in idleness.  I have decided to stop smoking–except my pipe–for that will save me money and make me better able to ride my bike this summer, which I intend to do until I am lean & mean like those old farts at Granville Island who are far older, skinnier, and fitter than me.

Yet my heart today could not shake off a conversation I had with a young engineer let go last week as his company is contracting as commodity prices fall.  He has three children, has just bought a new house, and is now without a job.

He has been my client.  I have done work for him.  He is a good engineer: he asks the right questions; he demands the appropriate answers; he uses my advice prudently; he advances the cause of his employer.  It was a pleasure and an honor to work for him.  I learnt and he learnt and we advance the state-of-the-art.  Yet he is laid off.  My heart bleeds for him, for I have been in this situation.

In 1983 the mining industry collapsed.  As manager SRK Vancouver, I laid off twenty, including myself and Andy Robertson.  It is a long story how we survived; but we did.

In the mid 1990s, I was told to leave a site because I challenged the incumbent privileges.  The project eventually did what I told them was the thing to do.  But only after firing me and two others.

I lost my drive some ten years ago when my then-wife of 34 years eloped with a very rich man (five cars, a private plane, monthly trips to Vegas, and lodges in Africa).  I lost my drive and care to help clients.  So I “retired” and spent years riding my bike, watching opera, and writing EduMine courses.

The point is that I have “lost” my job at least three times.  It happens in life and in mining, no less than in other walks of life.  I have survived: brushed off the dust, stood up, and moved on.  Yet still my heart bleeds for the young man with three children, a new house, and no job.  He is a good engineer and will, I trust, survive.  But what anguish and struggle until then.

Me and the young engineer I write of are but a very few examples of many more who are affected by the ups and downs of mining.  Our stories are never told as individuals.  We are but statistics for journalists.  Yet our pain and struggle is real and wrenching.  So pause if you can to help one of those laid of in the mass waves of layoffs in the current mining downturn.

 

 

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Flexible Evaporation Solutions

Walked around the exhibit hall at the Denver SME convention.  Chatted to old friends and met new people–and learnt of new products. Suddenly my mind was cast back to my days as a kid on the East Geduld Mine in South Africa where we grew up.  The area was arid; there were no natural water bodies within two-hundred miles.  One of our favorite places was the mine’s evaporation ponds.  On our rickety bicycles we would break through the flimsy security gate and spend hours around the ponds.  They were magic: a wonderland of color and water.  Better than those fountains at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. (more…)

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Last night we attended the International Mining magazine’s induction of new members of the Mining Hall of Fame.

It was a grand affair.  Many worthy folk in the mining industry were inducted.  I am told that the March or April issue of the magazine will document their achievements and contributions to mining.

I note only Andy Robertson who was inducted for these contributions:

  • Founding of Steffen Robertson and Kirsten, now SRK.
  • Founding of GemCom that now has the name Geovia.
  • Founding of InfoMine and EduMine, both of which I contribute to.
  • Founding of Robertson Geoconsultants for which I work.
  • Leading the way forward on responsible tailings management.
  • Leading the technology on acid mine drainage.

I might add that it was Andy who got me started on this blog.  Although he has had occasion to rue that lead and the blog, for on a number of occasions he has been asked to tell me to remove postings.  As a true gentleman, he has done so with discretion and dignity.

In his acceptance speech Andy thanked his family, his colleagues, and his clients–all of whom have supported his hard work.  He mentioned only one name:  Professor Jere Jennings who taught so many of us in mining geotechnology the basics of the art.  His contributions and memory live on in people of Andy’s caliber.

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This week I had reason to go back and re-read three papers I co-authored in the early 1980s.  It is surprising how far advanced we were then, and how little things have changed, or how little of what did has become standard practice. The first paper is at this link.  Rick Call was the lead on the work we describe in this paper.  He was a large buff man, with an enormous beard, a perpetual pipe, and a totally irreverent attitude towards authority.  He sent Ned Larson and me to Texas, where we sweated through the heat to get the data.  Then back to Tucson to do the calculations.  I recently reconnected with Ned who is now in Las Vegas and the grandfather of sixteen grandchildren.  He is still with the U.S. Department of Energy which he joined after working with me for five years on the UMTRA Project in Albuquerque.  He is a great engineer, as was Rick. (more…)

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Here is a welcome announcement from the University of British Columbia.  An Executive MBA in Strategic Mining Management. I wish I were young enough to attend–but I am one of those soon to be demographic shifters, a baby boomer about to retire. Maybe I can lecture in my dotage on the relevance of tailings management to strategic mining management.  But they probably won’t give a blogger the podium. So be it.  We must simply applaud the move, support them, and wish them and their graduates well. Here the full announcement: (more…)

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This week we to the dinner given in honor of Dr. Peter Byrne and his receiving the RF Legget Medal. (more…)

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