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Posts Tagged ‘Oil sands’

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I have no data to support the opinions I write of in this posting.  So please do your own research before deciding, panicking, or acting on anything said below.

Today I was outside smoking in the damp rain when my smoking companion said that he had just surveyed the salaries of mining geoscientists (geologists and geotechnical engineers).  He noted that it appears that salaries for such folk are, on average, higher in Canada than in the USA.

My first reaction was to note that salaries for geoscientists in the oil sands and related consulting organizations probably skew the averages for Canada.  He promised to look into this.

Then I pointed out that if you look at geoscientists salaries in Orange County (California), Denver, or San Francisco you would find averages much higher than the USA average.  Afterall there are many states where salaries are low.  A geotechnical engineer working for a local authority in Iowa or Mississippi will drag down the average.

I returned to my office to field a call from one such person working in the oil sands.  He noted that Calgary is no longer a place of infinite jobs–most companies serving the oil sands overstaffed in the past in fear, and now find themselves with a surplus of engineers.   He said there simply are few jobs on offer now in Calgary–times have changed significantly.

He conceded that salaries are higher in the oil sands than in the rest of Canada.  He has just hired away from a Vancouver company a bright young engineer and is going to pay him more than the Vancouver consultant.  A good example of the drift of qualified folk from consulting to the mining companies themselves.  No wonder a few Vancouver consultants have laid off many or are considering reduced work weeks!

Yet another phone call told me off an Orange County, California consultant.  Just returned from South Africa, he is planning to lure bright mining geoscientists from South Africa to California.  Apparently, he thinks they are smart and in many ways ahead of USA engineers in innovative practices & solutions in the mining industry.  He thinks the industry can absorb and use them; and he can make money from them.  Good News!

I am not sure how you make sense of or put a common thread to these fleeting discussions.  Maybe the simple fact is that there will always be work for highly skilled people regardless of the state of the industry or economy.  Let me now what you know and how you think on these questions.

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The general approach to undertaking a risk assessment is well described in International Standard IEC/ISO 31010, which also provides considerable information about risk assessment methods. It notes, however: “The standard does not provide specific criteria for identifying the need for risk assessment, nor does it specify the type of risk analysis method that is required for a particular application.” (more…)

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Most engineers have no idea what the strength of a soil or tailings implies.  Let me write a little about the physicality of soil and tailings of a given strength. (more…)

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The promise of results from risk assessments is as seductive as the picture above.  The results are as fuzzy and fantasy-based as the picture above.  But doing risk assessments is as much fun as it would be to be a participant in the scene above.  Let me explain. (more…)

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On Tuesday I was in yet another of those asinine arguments about what constitutes “perpetual” in mining and mine closure.  I had heard all the arguments, smart and cynical, more than thirty years ago when we debated them on the UMTRA Project.  But the pusillanimous arguments continue, for everyone has an opinion and wants to be heard. (more…)

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Professor Jere Jennings who taught so many of us now-old civil engineers in mining used to say: “When you have read everything there is to read, when you have done all the calculations possible, then drink a bottle of brandy and exercise engineering judgement.” (more…)

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The name of the  new leader of the Canadian opposition party,the NDP, is Thomas Mulcair.  He is rather naive: before visiting the oil sands mines he said they are the cause of a plague of the Dutch Disease in Canada.  On seeing the oil sands mines, he is reported to have exclaimed: “They are big.”     Which of course they are by any standard. (more…)

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Funny how we all know ever detail of the US Republican presidential hopefuls, yet know nothing about those seeking to head up the NDP, the official opposition party in Canada.  Today at this link, I got a taste of who might become the next NDP leader and got a smattering of his attitude towards mining.  (more…)

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When I think of a place or a country, in my ignorance I generally believe all the people who make up that country to be of a similar stock, have like personality traits and characteristics. That view of those people is either reinforced or altered completely when we meet someone who calls that place home and my impression of them will help me form a new idea of what is to be “from there”. (more…)

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Most mines have a place where the miners eat.  Let us celebrate the cooks at these places by telling of the many fine meals we have enjoyed in these mining canteens. In celebrating cooks at mining canteens, I also seek to describe a job in mining that most do not write about.  If you like cooking, then maybe a job at a mine canteen is for you. (more…)

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