By The Canadian Press - Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar has introduced a bill to fight…
OTTAWA – NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar has introduced a bill to fight the spread of so-called “conflict minerals” in the Democratic Republic of Congo — key components for cellphones, computers and a myriad of devices.
Dewar said that minerals from the war-ravaged nation have been used to fund an armed conflict that has claimed more than five million lives.
Dewar travelled to Congo four years ago and was deeply moved by the scale of the violence in the resource-rich African country.
He launched an awareness campaign Tuesday with the help of Quebec students, and the organizations Partnership Africa Canada and STAND Canada.
The campaign is similar to the efforts more than a decade ago that led to controls on the spread of blood diamonds, which were used to finance rebels in West Africa.
By The Canadian Press - Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 7:14 PM - 0 Comments
VANCOUVER – A Federal Court judge isn’t letting Ottawa off the hook when it…
VANCOUVER – A Federal Court judge isn’t letting Ottawa off the hook when it comes to producing documents in the case involving the use of Chinese miners in a proposed British Columbia coal mine.
Two unions are challenging the government’s decision to allow HD Mining to bring about 200 Chinese miners to work in northern B.C., rather than hire Canadian miners.
A judge ordered Human Resources and Skills Development Canada to turn over documents from HD Mining related to temporary foreign worker applications, but the government has said the company is refusing to provide the documents.
Federal government lawyers argued there was nothing they could do and asked the court to change the order to reflect that.
But Judge Michael Manson says the order stands, and he has ordered Human Resources Minister Diane Finley to reconsider whether she can do anything else to force HD Mining to turn over the documents.
The judgment doesn’t say just what the government needs to do, but it says whatever action it takes must happen by Jan. 21.
By Mike Blanchfield - Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 9:18 AM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – A highly critical human rights report scheduled for release Tuesday is expected…
OTTAWA – A highly critical human rights report scheduled for release Tuesday is expected to shed new light on the darker implications of the Conservative government’s ambitions for Canadian mining companies in Africa.
The report by Human Rights Watch says Vancouver-based Nevsun Resources Ltd. (TSX: NSU) failed to ensure that forced labour was not used in the construction of its mine in Eritrea, the hermit-like pariah state on the Horn of Africa.
Though the company was concerned when the problems first came to light and tried to investigate, it was blocked by its state-owned partner, says the report by the New York-based agency.
Nevsun said it has since instituted rigorous screening practices at its Bisha mine project and taken steps to ensure that forced labour is no longer used.
“When Nevsun began building its Bisha mine in Eritrea in 2008, it failed to conduct human rights due diligence activity and had only limited human rights safeguards in place,” Human Rights Watch said. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, December 21, 2012 at 4:59 PM - 0 Comments
The NDP’s International Cooperation critic explains her concerns with some of CIDA’s recent moves.
Economic growth is essential for sustainable poverty reduction. But not all economic growth is sustainable or leads to sustainable poverty reduction. The private sector can contribute to international development, but we are deeply concerned by the approach the Conservative government is taking to its public-private partnerships. CIDA’s focus should be creating the best conditions for development for local communities, not for Canadian industry. It matters who is in the driver’s seat. Unlike Minister Fantino, we do not think extractive industries are the most appropriate partners for our aid agency …
With Minister Fantino’s recent announcement, CIDA is straying away from what was once a clear and coherent vision for development assistance. While the private sector can play a role in development, CIDA’s objective should not be to open new markets for Canadian businesses abroad. That is the mandate of the International Trade department. It is time for Minister Fantino to learn his file and assume real responsibility for Canada’s development agenda.
Julian Fantino, the minister for international cooperation, responds (and manages to get a carbon tax reference into the second sentence).
I am also proud to say that CIDA works with the extractive sector to ensure it is transparent, accountable, sustainable and maximizes local benefits. The fact is that constructive NGOs understand this direction. They are working with us towards these objectives and are achieving meaningful results. CIDA’s collaboration with Plan Canada and IAMGOLD, for example, will train 10,000 youth in 13 communities of Burkina Faso so they can compete for higher paying jobs in their communities.
Development is not about dependency; it is about helping those in need get a leg up so they can prosper. This is a concept that the tax-and-spend NDP fundamentally do not understand. While the NDP would prefer to fund endless talk shops, I am committed to ensuring our development assistance is accountable, transparent and results-focused.
By The Canadian Press - Thursday, November 22, 2012 at 8:56 PM - 0 Comments
VANCOUVER – The Federal Court will hear a challenge brought by two unions of…
VANCOUVER – The Federal Court will hear a challenge brought by two unions of a federal government decision to grant temporary foreign work permits for a northern B.C. coal mine.
The unions are seeking a judicial review of approximately 200 temporary foreign worker permits granted to HD Mining International for its Murray River mine near Tumbler Ridge, B.C.
Lawyers for the company and the federal Immigration and Human Resources departments sought to have the application dismissed.
Judge Douglas Campbell declined, noting in his decision Thursday there is a public interest in the case.
“I note that presently there is almost no knowledge of the contents of the (labour market opinions) in question, nor is there a method in the present circumstances by which their production can be ordered without granting the applicants standing in these proceedings,” Campbell wrote.
The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 115 and the Construction and Specialized Workers Union Local 1611 say the company offered wages that were $10 to $17 an hour lower than the going rates at similar mines, and without benefits.
They claim the mine also had advertisements that required workers speak Mandarin — a claim the company denies.
The unions want to see the labour market opinions rendered by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. The opinions, which are intended to determine whether there’s a labour shortage in a particular job, formed the basis for the successful permit applications. The Crown opposed providing those documents, even on a confidential basis.
“I don’t know why they were fighting us so hard and why they wouldn’t give us the documents earlier,” said Charles Gordon, the lawyer for the unions.
“If the process was followed, as the companies have claimed, then it’s hard to see what harm there could be from producing the documents when we asked for them. And if the process was followed properly, this whole thing would disappear.”
Brian Cochrane, business manager of the Operating Engineers union, said Thursday’s victory is only the first step.
“We’ve just hit first base today and now it’s time to move on and hopefully we get the production of documents necessary,” he said outside court.
Seventeen workers have already arrived and another 60 workers are scheduled to come in mid-December. The judge urged the parties to come to some agreement in place of an injunction from the court against the arrivals next month.
The United Steelworkers Union filed a separate complaint Thursday with the provincial mines ministry and the mine inspector over the safety conditions facing the workers at the mine.
In a letter to Mines Minister Rich Coleman, the union said the Chinese workers hired by HD Mining don’t speak English well enough to understand and comply with hundreds of pages worth of health and safety rules.
Nor do they understand their rights in Canada, they said.
“Inserting a foreign national without English language fluency into such a maze of overlapping and precise safety requirements is a recipe for disaster,” the letter said.
The union asked the minister to ensure English language competency and verify the workers’ training and skills. Until that is done, they want the province to suspend work at the mine.
A ministry spokesperson said no work has begun at the mine, which is still under environmental assessment and has not yet received regulatory approval.
“Work must begin before the ministry can inspect the site to determine compliance under the act,” the spokesperson said in an email response to questions.
The company is required to follow all health and safety standards, they said.
HD Mining is a partnership between China-based Huiyong Holding Group, which owns a 55 per cent stake, and Canadian Dehua International Mines Group Inc.
The federal minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, Diane Finley, cited the B.C. mine in announcing a review of the entire temporary foreign worker process earlier this month.
The B.C. Employment Standards Branch is also investigating allegations that recruiters in China demanded illegal fees from the temporary workers — allegations HD Mining has denied.
By The Associated Press - Monday, October 1, 2012 at 5:25 AM - 0 Comments
LONDON – The board of Anglo-Swiss mining company Xstrata PLC said Monday it is recommending shareholders accept merger terms with Swiss commodities trader Glencore PLC — a deal that would create an industry behemoth with revenues of around $175 billion.
LONDON – The board of Anglo-Swiss mining company Xstrata PLC said Monday it is recommending shareholders accept merger terms with Swiss commodities trader Glencore PLC — a deal that would create an industry behemoth with revenues of around $175 billion.
Xstrata said in a statement it was supporting the offer of 3.05 Glencore shares for each Xstrata share. The deal values Xstrata at 31.9 billion pounds ($51.5 billion) on the shares’ closing price Friday. Glencore has a market capitalization of 23.5 billion pounds, according to data provider FactSet.
Xstrata is the world’s biggest exporter of thermal coal and also produces copper, nickel and zinc. If the deal is approved by 75 per cent of Xstrata shareholders, the merged company would be one of the world’s largest natural resources firms.
Glencore, one of the world’s biggest traders in raw materials such as coal, cotton and corn, went public with a $10 billion IPO last year.
Its attempt to get hold of Xstrata has developed into a long-running saga. Previous offers were resisted by Xstrata shareholders, including Qatari sovereign wealth fund Qatar Holding, which holds 12 per cent of Xstrata.
Glencore improved its original offer of 2.8 shares last month, leaving issues of management structure and executive remuneration the main stumbling blocks to a merger.
The deal announced Monday would see Xstrata chief executive Mick Davis remain as CEO of the new company for six months, then leave the company to be succeeded by Glencore CEO Ivan Glasenberg.
Xstrata said it had agreed to give shareholders a separate vote on bonuses for senior executives, a key sticking point to a deal. While Xstrata recommended that shareholders also vote in favour of the bonus scheme, the merger’s approval will not depend on it.
Mike van Dulken, head of research at Accendo Markets, said the new deal was designed to remove the issue of retention payments as a potential road-block and “hurry up termination of the seven-month saga after major shareholders recently warmed to an improved share offer.”
“The deal is not done — not just yet,” he said — though Monday’s 3 per cent rise in Xstrata’s share price suggests investors and traders “see an endgame being closer.”
Davis said the strategic rationale behind a merger was “highly compelling.”
“A merger will fuse the respective strengths of the two companies into a unique, vertically integrated natural resources group,” he said.
Glencore chairman Simon Murray said the merged company “will have the scale to play a key role in meeting the growing global demand for commodities whilst helping resource holding countries create value from their natural endowments.”
Xstrata, based in Zug, Switzerland, was formed in 2002 when it bought Glencore’s coal assets. The company mines copper in the Americas, zinc in Spain and ferrochrome and vanadium in Australia and South Africa.
Glencore extracts, ships and refines raw materials from coal, to copper to corn. It is based in the Swiss town of Baar but has its main stock listing in London.
Glencore was founded in 1974 by Marc Rich, the fugitive trader who was controversially pardoned in 2001 by then United States President Bill Clinton just hours before he left office. Rich sold the company to its employees in 1994, and the firm has been at pains to distance itself from its founder and any whiff of improper activity, though environmental groups have since targeted the company for its mining interests.
Xstrata shares were up 2.9 per cent at 985.2 pence on the London Stock Exchange. Glencore shares were up 0.5 per cent at 344.95 pence.
By Josh Dehaas - Thursday, September 13, 2012 at 6:50 PM - 0 Comments
Graduating with a degree in mining engineering seems to be a ticket to a well-paying job
Kyle Buckoll finished his bachelor’s degree at the University of British Columbia in April. Unlike many 23-year-old university graduates, he didn’t settle at his parents’ house in Maple Ridge, B.C., to start hunting for internships or entry-level jobs. Instead, he went on an all-expenses-paid trip to Turkey with 31 fellow class-of-2012 graduates from UBC’s mining engineering program. They marvelled at Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia, visited two of the seven ancient wonders of the world, and lounged on beach chairs in Bodrum to toast their graduation. They also toured six mines, because the flight, hotels and buses were all paid for by mining companies eager to show their largesse.
Buckoll wasn’t worried about student loans, either. His tuition for the last four years was covered by Anglo-Swiss mining company Xstrata. In addition to working for the firm while at school, he promised to work for Xstrata after graduation (he will owe them money if he quits in the first two years). After a summer spent touring Europe for fun, he has a well-paying job waiting for him at the company’s mine in Timmins, Ont., in September. His two vehicles will be there, shipped from Vancouver at Xstrata’s expense. His girlfriend will join him there too, her flight and moving expenses covered. They’ll settle into a home with the rent taken care of for the first two months.
Buckoll’s situation, enviable as it sounds, isn’t uncommon. Practically all of his classmates graduated with jobs lined up. Good jobs: pay starts at around $65,000 per year for mining engineers-in-training (EITs) and climbs to around $100,000 after three to five years. Buckoll didn’t get a signing bonus, but he estimates that half of his classmates did.
By Richard Warnica - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 at 10:26 AM - 0 Comments
Peter Pocklington, the one-time owner of the Edmonton Oilers and long-time most-hated man in…
Peter Pocklington, the one-time owner of the Edmonton Oilers and long-time most-hated man in Canadian hockey is in trouble again. ‘Puck’, as he is known, has been accused of defrauding Arizona investors out of millions in a dodgy gold scheme.
From the Edmonton Journal:
In documents filed with the Arizona Corporation Commission earlier this month, investigators accuse Pocklington of several instances of securities fraud while he was trying to attract investors to his Gold Nugget Mining project in 2010 and 2011.
Pocklington, 70, is accused of selling unregistered securities, performing transactions as an unregistered dealer and making “untrue statements of material fact.”
The documents allege that Pocklington misrepresented the amount of recoverable gold in surface mines scattered around La Paz County, Ariz., and also misrepresented his company’s ability to recover what gold did exist.
For children of the 80s, Pocklington will be forever known as the man who ‘sold’ Wayne Gretzky south to L.A., breaking up one of the greatest hockey teams of all time and forever scarring at least one Need To Know correspondent.
By Colby Cosh - Thursday, March 15, 2012 at 6:29 AM - 0 Comments
Ex-Colleague Coyne has an excellent column on the emerging political split between the resource-extracting parts of the country and the sentimental nationalists who think every drop of bitumen and chip of timber sent abroad makes baby Jesus cry. I noticed one snippet, though, which goes to show how even the most trend-aware and detail-oriented columnist (that’s what he is!) can be held prisoner by persistent images of the past: Continue…
By Richard Warnica - Tuesday, February 7, 2012 at 11:37 AM - 0 Comments
You get a $90 billion mining behemoth
Two global resource giants have reached a merger agreement that, if approved, would create the world’s fourth largest mining firm. Glencore International and Xstrata, which owns Canada’s Falconbridge, reached a US$90 billion deal that has been in the works since last spring, the Globe reports.
The new joint firm could immediately rival global mining leaders such as Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton. But regulatory hurdles remain. The Globe’s Eric Reguly says EU anti-trust officials are not likely to challenge the merger, but those in Australia, China, South Korea and Japan could take a hard look, especially given the new joint firm’s dominance in key areas such as coal.
“Regulators everywhere would be crazy not to review the Xstrata-Glencore merger, worth $90b,” Reguly wrote on Twitter. “Its control of some commodities is outrageous.”
Xstrata shareholders, meanwhile, believe the deal undervalues the company, the BBC reports. Several large shareholders are expected to vote against a merger in April. But with Glencore already controlling 38 per cent of the firm’s shares, a shareholder revolt seems unlikely to succeed.
By Alex Ballingall - Wednesday, February 1, 2012 at 10:26 AM - 0 Comments
Osisko’s Famatina mega-mine project put on hold
In the face of intense local opposition, Canadian gold mining company Osisko has suspended a proposed project in Argentina’s western La Rioja province. The “Famatina project,” which the company insists is still in its speculative phase, had met with resistance from environmentalists who complained it woud require millions of liters of water per day and the use of cyanide to access and extract precious metals.
On Jan. 2, protesters blockaded a dirt road leading into the mountainous Famatina area, stopping anyone affiliated with Osisko, but allowing tourists and locals to freely pass by. They were joined by hundreds of people who held solidarity protests outside the Canadian embassy against the project in Buenos Aires. Osisko shouldn’t have been surprised by the local reaction; Barrick Gold, another Canadian mining giant, pulled out of La Rioja five years ago, when it was pursuing a project in the same mountain range.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, January 27, 2012 at 9:50 AM - 0 Comments
“I think if we can increase the capacity of any country to become a global trading partner, if they’ve got products Canadians need, we can import them and, if Canada has products they would like, Canada can export them.”
And Oda says she wants to see more partnerships between aid agencies and companies to help deliver Canadian aid around the world. “Our government is very much looking to increase its relationships with the private sector,” she said, adding that she would like to see such relationships between NGOs and corporations in manufacturing, agriculture and tourism, in addition to the extractive industry.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, January 20, 2012 at 11:55 AM - 0 Comments
“The Liberal Party supports the efforts of Canadian companies working abroad to fulfill their corporate social responsibilities. We also support those who have chosen to work with Canadian NGOs in meeting these responsibilities effectively. However, it is inappropriate for the Conservative government to use taxpayers’ money to fund these projects when the companies should be paying for these projects themselves. The Conservative government should be putting Canada’s precious foreign aid dollars to help alleviate poverty and not to the benefit of large corporations.”
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, January 19, 2012 at 9:34 AM - 0 Comments
Elizabeth Payne wonders what’s going on at CIDA.
Oda announced four CIDA projects – totalling $26.7 million – in September that will “help developing countries in Africa and South America manage their natural resources to ensure they are the source of long-term sustainable benefits to their people.” Perhaps. But these projects also help highly profitable Canadian mining companies. CIDA will provide money to help Canadian companies Rio Tinto Alcan, Barrick Gold and Iamgold create corporate social responsibility projects with aid agencies near mining projects…
Brown calls it “scandalous” that some of the most profitable companies in Canada are, in effect, supported by foreign aid dollars to set up programs that compensate for the negative effects of mining.
By Kenneth Whyte - Wednesday, July 27, 2011 at 10:30 AM - 3 Comments
On immigrant dreams, the importance of failure and why the future belongs to Canada
Peter Munk, the founder and chair of Barrick Gold, the world’s biggest gold miner, found a land of opportunity when he arrived in Canada as a teenager after he fled Nazi-occupied Hungary. But the 83-year-old businessman is convinced the country’s brightest days may still lie ahead. As the appetite for raw materials skyrockets in China, India and other developing countries, he argues that Canada has a rare, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to establish itself as the world’s next big financial sector, rivalling the dominance of London and New York.
Q: Let’s talk first about your earliest impressions of Canada as an immigrant boy.
A: That day I arrived, it was a miserable, rainy day in early March ’48. It was like, terra incognita, like going to Mars. I know it sounds moronic.
By Emma Teitel - Friday, June 17, 2011 at 11:30 AM - 1 Comment
A long-standing conflict between Mongolians and Han Chinese is reawakened
The conflict between Inner Mongolia’s indigenous herders and its Han Chinese mining community spans five decades, but recent events confirm it may continue indeﬁnitely. Last month, a Mongolian herder known as Mergen was trying to prevent a mining convoy from crossing the fenced prairies of Xiwu when, his people allege, a Chinese coal-truck driver ran him over on purpose. Enraged, and further angered by government-backed mining operations on their land, the herding population erupted with protests, the largest since 1991, in over three cities.
Beijing insists that the mining, and fencing off of herding territory, is essential for development and environmental protection (they made no mention of Mongolia’s status as China’s leading producer of coal). The herders, on the other hand, say their rights have been unfairly reduced, and that the mining is actually poisoning the environment. Mindful of the unrest, authorities swiftly sentenced the Chinese truck driver to death last week, but tensions continue to simmer.
By Jasmine Budak - Monday, October 25, 2010 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
The sky-high price of gold has sparked a modern-day rush to Ontario’s mining towns
With the price of gold currently hovering around US$1,300 an ounce—up 45 per cent since early 2009—Ontario’s mining towns are exhibiting the classic symptoms of a boom: inflated house prices, overbooked hotels, frantic construction, labour shortages and a collective sense of optimism after decades in a slump. Across the province’s northern gold belt, defunct mines are being revived and exploration activity has taken an almost frenzied pace, the product of gold being an investment safe haven amid global economic uncertainty and a weak U.S. dollar. “I’ve been here a long time,” says Brock Greenwell, statistical analyst for Ontario’s Ministry of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry. “And 2010 is looking like a record year for gold exploration. It’s unprecedented.”
There are 12 gold mines operating in Ontario, with four more slated to start production by 2012. And, with exploration expenditures for precious metals—mostly gold—expected to exceed $620 million this year in the province (compared with $389 million in 2009), it’s a safe bet that more mines will follow. “It’s an absolute boom,” says Bill Greenway, economic development officer for the municipality of Red Lake. “There are 40-plus exploration companies here at any given time.”
By Michael Petrou - Wednesday, October 13, 2010 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
As the 33 Chilean miners are rescued, unregulated colleagues continue to risk their lives
Whatever the horrors and deprivations suffered by the 33 miners now trapped 700 m below ground in a collapsed Chilean mine, they at least knew from the moment of the cave-in that others would be trying to free them. They worked for a company with access to heavy machinery and rescue equipment. The mine had ventilation shafts and a refuge room. And the trapped miners are all grown men, not children.
In the hills and mountains surrounding the now famous San José mine in Chile’s Atacama desert, there are hundreds of miners who enjoy none of these comforts. Known as pirquineros, these men, and sometimes children, are freelancers who burrow into abandoned mines or promising hillsides. Safety measures are rudimentary. Rickety ladders disappear down black holes. Wire cables haul up rusted carts creaking with hundreds of pounds of mineral-infused rocks. When a cart gets stuck, a miner drops into darkness with a wrench and crowbar and pounds on almost-vertical railway ties until the cart can pass again.
Those working on their own are especially vulnerable. “We have so many pirquineros in the mountains. Some don’t come back. Maybe they left. Maybe they died. Nobody knows,” says Ignacio Nazar, a pirquinero and secretary of a local independent miners’ union. “That’s why it’s important to have partners. But many don’t.”
By macleans.ca - Thursday, October 7, 2010 at 10:20 AM - 0 Comments
Canada’s resource sector may be emerging in an unlikely place: Baffin Island
While the future of Saskatchewan’s potash industry is grabbing attention around the world, the real hub of Canada’s resource sector may be emerging in an unlikely place: Baffin Island. The remote and sparsely populated Arctic island could soon be home to companies extracting everything from diamonds to oil to gold.
Among the largest projects being studied is Baffinland Iron Mines Corp.’s plan to build a huge open-pit iron ore mine at Mary River, about 1,000 km northwest of Iqaluit. The $4-billion project would allow the Toronto-based company to tap a site that’s believed to hold some 500 million tonnes of high-grade reserves.
Just who gets to develop the site, however, remains up in the air after rival Nunavut Iron Ore put in an unsolicited offer last week to buy out Baffinland for $274 million in cash.
By Michael Petrou - Tuesday, October 5, 2010 at 11:00 AM - 0 Comments
Tensions are brewing—both below and above
“We always had problems with safety in that mine. Every day when we came to work we’d see rubble from falls that had happened since we left the day before. Pieces of the tunnel were collapsing all the time.”
Until three months ago, Gino Cortés worked in the San Esteban mining company’s San José gold and copper mine in the desert mountains north of the Chilean city of Copiapó. He might have been underground when the mine’s roof collapsed on Aug. 5, trapping 33 miners some 700 m beneath the surface, but for a twist of luck, or perhaps fate. Just one month before that, says Cortés, “I was walking in one of the tunnels when a rock fell from the ceiling and tore my leg off. I thought it was a nightmare. Then, when I realized it was real, the only thing I could think of was that I had to live. I saw a light. I think it was God, because I have no other injuries. Only this leg.”
Cortés speaks from his bed in a Santiago hospital, where he is having an infection treated. He was home near the San José mine when it caved in and entombed his friends and co-workers. “I wasn’t surprised,” he says. “All the workers knew something was going to happen. They had heard strange sounds. Old miners say a mine is alive and speaks to you. That’s how they knew something wasn’t right.”
By Andrew Potter - Wednesday, September 8, 2010 at 9:21 AM - 0 Comments
Even NASA sees it as a case study in isolation
Reflecting on his trips down a Lancashire coal mine, George Orwell wrote that aside from the lack of ﬁre, “most of the things one imagines in hell are there—heat, noise, confusion, darkness, foul air, and above all, unbearably cramped space.” If Orwell found a few days in a coal mine just this side of hell, imagine what it must be like for the 33 Chilean miners who have been trapped 700 m underground since the main shaft of the San Jose gold and silver mine collapsed on Aug. 5.
When the miners were finally discovered on Aug. 22, rescuers quickly realized that it could take as many as four months to bore a hole wide enough to pull the men out. As a result, a great deal of attention has been paid to the urgent need to secure not only the miners’ physical well-being, but also their mental health. In addition to the food and water being sent down through the four-inch-wide boreholes, rescuers are sending down movies and games, notes from friends and families, and instructions for sanity-preserving measures such as the need to establish a clear night-and-day cycle.
By Colby Cosh - Tuesday, April 13, 2010 at 10:14 AM - 72 Comments
“You’ve heard of peak oil,” the Globe & Mail asks us this morning. “How about peak gold?” Peak gold, O wise Globe editors? Are you insulting our intelligence by picking such an popular, recognizable substance to create a stir over? Throw a dart at the periodic table, and I can practically promise you that for whichever element you impale, you will be able find a cluster of Hubbertian cranks frantic to raise awareness over its imminent, irreversible, apocalyptic “peaking”. A single Italian study sweeps a whole buffet of minerals off the desk: mercury, lead, gallium, selenium. They missed aluminum, but someone else has it covered. Salon was complaining about peak copper four years ago, and as any fool can tell you, peak copper means peak silver!
How about peak lithium? Surely not… wait, yep, there’s a peak lithium guy. Helium? C’mon, helium makes up a quarter of the goddamn universe! Sorry, peaked. Phosphorus too. You may be under the impression that we’re all swimming around in a sea of nitrogen but turns out that’s peaked. And you may be certain that long-passed, purely local peaks of many resources represent rehearsals for more intractable global limits, and cannot possibly just mean that the Republic of So-and-So found better things to do than mining arsenic. Pretty much everything’s peaking, all at once. Very soon now we’ll all be scurrying like ants across an eight-thousand-mile celestial object that looks suspiciously like an apple core.
By Steve Maich - Friday, October 16, 2009 at 8:30 AM - 1 Comment
A weekly scorecard on the state of the economy in North America and beyond
The Canadian economy has answered a lot of questions for us in the past few months. Our housing market stumbled, but didn’t go into free fall. Our mining, manufacturing and construction industries suffered, but did not collapse. Retail sales slowed, but you won’t see row upon row of boarded-up stores when you venture out holiday shopping next month. And, of course, it turns out our banks are a fair bit more solid than many gave them credit for.
All of that must qualify as welcome and somewhat surprising news, and the latest bit of encouragement came last week with the release of September jobs figures. As the kids headed back to school, the employment situation in the U.S. continued to worsen—another 263,000 jobs vapourized as the world’s largest economy searches for a way to staunch the bleeding. But in Canada, 31,000 jobs were created, a second straight month of improvement, far outpacing even the rosiest projections on Bay Street. Continue…