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Here is a copy of an email alert that I received today.  All about a new book on gender in mining.  I quote below from the email and from the Amazon.com site where you can buy the book. (more…)

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Here are two links to two very different reports on Tahoe’s Escobal mine in Guatemala.  I need to rush to join clients for drinks and supper, so no comment other than to repeat what one of the articles reports on what I said in an interview with the reporter.  Oh Dear! (more…)

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Last Saturday night we went to Bard on the Beach to watch The Tempest.  First a supper on the grass beneath the trees: wine; bread, sushi; and a whole roast chicken eaten with gusto and more wine.  And an avoidance of the rain that threatened and then came in gusts during the performance. (more…)

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A recent email and links to sites worth taking a look at. (more…)

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The final day of the conference Paste 2014 in Vancouver today.  The keynote was about filter pressed tailings management at Pogo in Alaska.  Too complex to blog about, but worth reading the paper and looking at the PowerPoint presentation when they available on InfoMine. (more…)

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Mike Jacobs of Goldcorp presented the keynote address today at Paste 2014 in Vancouver.  His topic:  Where mining meets the public–and why water is so important? He told us that Goldcorp annually publishes the statistics of the use of water at all its mines.  Commendable. Then he told us of the First Nations prayer ceremonies at the opening and closing of water seasons at their mines.  Incredible. (more…)

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The first official day of conference sessions at the Paste 2014 conference here in Vancouver.  Sean Wells, Director of Research for Suncor presented the opening keynote address. I cannot possibly here recount all he said.  All I can do is note a few points that he made that stuck with me.  In due course, his PowerPoint presentation will be available through InfoMine.  Get it and take deep thought over it, for his points are provocative, timely, and scary. He noted that the problems of oil sands tailings management are all about scale.  They oil sands produce so much tailings that the shear volumes and areas needed introduce problems not encountered in conventional tailings management.  I have heard it said that the two oil sands mines, Suncor and Syncrude, produce more tailings per day than the combined total of all the other mines worldwide.  His point is made. (more…)

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Day one of the  conference Paste 2014.   Actually the actual conference begins tomorrow.  Today there were short courses and meeting of friends and fellow travellers on the mining journey.  The most beautiful was a lovely lady from Brazil who is studying at the university of British Columbia for a semester and will be a mining engineer in a year or two.  We chatted over lunch and if she is, as I believe she will be, the future of mining, the profession is in good and beautiful hands. (more…)

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Today was the first of five days of events associated with the conference Paste 2014.  One course today; two courses tomorrow; and then three days of papers and presentations. So last night out drinking with old friends come to the conference.  Today a long ride around Vancouver with one who survived last night’s drinking–we lunched at The Bridges at Granville Island.  And we explored all the things right & wrong with tailings management.  And lost loves and failed marriages.  In the sun and trees of a perfect summer day, who cares about these things.  They are past and only the present and future count. (more…)

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I am not sure I can do it. Can I put in words what it takes to be a great engineer? It is easy to recognize a great engineer when you work with them. I have these past few days worked with a great engineer whom I had not met before. I just know he is a great engineer. But as I said, I am not sure I can in words justify my gut emotion. Let me try, for if I fail this is but a blog posting–one of many, in fact posting 1,953 or thereabouts.

We drove around the sites together. We got out to look and to feel the soil & tailings. We joked that it is no longer considered safe to put the soil between tongue and top of palate to determine if it is a clay or silt. We both used to do that before H&S became a dictator. We shared observations about the vegetation–a sure sign of soil type and groundwater flow. We delighted in the scarp face of a soil failure zone caused by excessive seepage. And we kicked the rocks with glee to see them roll rugged, gray, and non-acid generating down the slope. We marveled at the track marks up the slope where the fussy site overseer continuously dressed the slope. And we poked our ears down the penstock to listen to water flowing when it should not.

He knew the history of the dams: the people who designed them; the problems that arose during construction; the failures during raising; the incidents not reported; the current need for more information; and the way the impoundments must be constructed so that they may be operated for twenty years and more.

We nodded or winked when referring to clients past and present who did not provide adequate budget. We shrugged a shoulder when agreeing the mine gets what is pays for and pays for a lot more when it does not pay its consultants to do what they know needs to be done.

Instinctively we concurred that the mine deserves its sorrows when it cuts budgets or defers inevitable capital expenditure and maintenance.

He has that singular gift of focusing on what is relevant. He cut through the underbrush that distracts the inexperienced and unskilled. He calmly focused on the sights, sounds, and senses of that which will fail soon if not remediated. And ignored the spectacular but irrelevant.

Yet he has been a good consultant to the miners. He has used judgment when the youth would have demanded finite element analyses. He has made quick decisions based on knowledge and experience when the youth would have waded through tests, trials, and tribulations. He has produced in the face of small budgets and demanding miners.

And now as he gets old, he gets patient. There is no hurry. So what if the report is late or never produced. “Just hear me and do it.”

And that is the ultimate sign of a great engineer: they know they are right and know they do not and cannot write enough to prove they are right.

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