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Week in review

February 22nd, 2013

A mining and exploration retrospect for February 16 to 22, 2013

by Greg Klein

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What’s behind the scenes for graphene?

Graphene may have sparked an explosion of patents but results of the boffins’ brainstorms “remain shrouded in secrecy,” according to Friday’s Industrial Minerals. CambridgeIP chairman Quentin Tannock told the journal, “Some companies will never publish their patents and … there are probably many very valuable ideas out there that haven’t been disclosed.”

A mining and exploration retrospect

Graphene’s unique properties suggest a host of possibilities,
but much recent research has focused on touch screen technology.

That could be the case even if only a small fraction of last year’s 5,000-plus patent applications pan out. On February 13 CambridgeIP, which encourages “development, deployment and dissemination of valuable technologies,” released its top 10 list of companies and agencies that filed patents for graphite’s wonder-derivative. A January CambridgeIP report prompted the BBC to speak of “an intensifying global contest to lead a potential industrial revolution.”

But regardless of whether some research stays secret, Focus Graphite TSXV:FMS president/CEO Gary Economo told IM, “We see 2013 as a breakout year.” Focus holds a 40% interest in Grafoid Inc, a company with its own top-secret graphene laboratory. IM said Economo “[predicted] the first raft of graphene-based consumer products will emerge on the market within months.”

Much of the research so far has been on touch screens and bio-sensors, Tannock added.

Rule of law lost in Canadian resource shakedowns

“What is the message being sent to the world” when “five or six disgruntled ex-employees … can shut down a business of 500 people at a cost of millions? That there is no law in northern Ontario?”

That’s how Wednesday’s Timmins Daily Press quoted Neal Smitheman, a lawyer representing De Beers, which faces a native blockade to its Victor diamond mine. The company has now lost nearly three weeks of an approximately 45-day season to transport heavy equipment and supplies over a winter ice road. This week only about half a dozen protestors were in place, apparently ex-employees who want to renegotiate an existing impact benefit agreement. Police refused to intervene, forcing the company to apply for a court injunction. On February 15 Judge Robert Riopelle issued an order that specifically “required” police to act. They still refused. De Beers went back to court on Wednesday.

If Smitheman sounded exasperated, a lawyer representing the Ontario Provincial Police seemed infinitely patient as he explained that the OPP takes a more “measured approach” towards natives than other people. Plus the weather was cold, he said.

Thursday’s Daily Press reported a plea to the demonstrators from two local politicians. “We have hundreds of families across James Bay and the Timmins region who rely on work at the Victor mine to pay their bills and save for their kids’ college education,” said MP Charlie Angus.

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