Monday 18th February 2019

Resource Clips


Posts tagged ‘gas’

Battlefield correspondent

January 24th, 2019

Rex Murphy sees human casualties in the war on Canada’s resource industries

by Greg Klein

Rex Murphy sees human casualties in the war on Canada’s resource industries

An SRO audience paid rapt attention to Rex Murphy’s VRIC speech.

 

There’s something inspiring about a Newfoundlander—a Newfoundlander born in Newfoundland before it even joined Canada—coming to the West Coast largely to defend Alberta’s oil and gas sector. Actually Rex Murphy’s message applies to Canada’s resource industries overall, focusing on the people who work in them, their families and others who helped build the country. He sees the chasm between those who find fulfillment in employment and those who would shut down the industries that provide it.

Rex Murphy sees human casualties in the war on Canada’s resource industries

A National Post columnist who’s somehow tolerated by the CBC, Murphy proved a huge hit with an overflow crowd at the Vancouver Resource Investment Conference 2019. “As a journalist, I’m in a room full of achievers,” he quipped. “This is a very awkward spot.” But unlike most journalists, he neither ignores nor celebrates an enormous shift in Canadian society.

He remembers miners from Baie Verte and Buchans who frequented his mother’s restaurant in the 1950s, “the gentlest of men” despite their gruelling work. But important as mining was, Newfoundland’s main source of survival was fishing. That changed dramatically in 1992.

That’s when 31,000 people, “at the stroke of a pen on a single day, were completely removed from the Newfoundland inshore fishery. Something that had gone on for 450 years, that defined the culture, the humour, the idiom, the songs, the pattern of settlement, the whole idea of Newfoundland, was wrapped up in that fishery…. For the first time in 500 years no one could jig a codfish and have it for supper. But also it was 31,000 people abruptly unemployed.”

Proportionately that would have been 660,000 people in Ontario, he added. One man he knew, desperately hoping for a job in Hamilton, sold his house for seven plane tickets. “That’s how rough it was.”

Rex Murphy sees human casualties in the war on Canada’s resource industries

But as one regional resource economy collapsed, another boomed. Alberta’s oilpatch needed workers. Murphy calls it “one of the great rescue operations of Canadian Confederation, which most people still haven’t even heard about…. It was one of the great moments, unsung, of Confederation at work, where one region of the country, very willingly, allowed a strange bunch with certainly a stranger language to wander into their province … one of the great songs that we should be singing, that the enterprise of Alberta and a primary industry rescued one of the great social and cultural blows of another part of the Confederation. Did you ever hear about it?”

We more likely heard vilification, often coming from activists, celebrities, media and increasingly Ottawa, he maintained. “You heard every criticism you could hear about poor Fort McMurray. Even after the fire they went after it…. You had the oil price decline, you had the burning of Fort McMurray, you had a flood in Fort McMurray, you had the departure of capital from Fort McMurray, you had the layoff of engineers in Fort McMurray, and what did they decide was the cure? Let’s bring in a carbon tax.

“I mean, the poor creature’s already laid out on the morgue table and they want to take another few shots at the head.”

Rex Murphy sees human casualties in the war on Canada’s resource industries

Resource extraction was vital to the generations who built this country, Murphy emphasized. “It is only in a country as prosperous as our own that we get to the point where we denigrate and derogate the essential industries that brought us precisely to where we are.”

Prosperity, or at least just simply work, can provide intangible benefits too, he pointed out.

“Do you know what it’s like not to have work? There’s no psychological stress greater except loss of a loved one or breakup of a family…. It’s not just the work, it’s not just the paycheque, it is the fulfillment of the human personality.”

Although often incredulous, Murphy’s cri de coeur falls short of actual despair, especially when laced with homespun humour. Nevertheless a despairing thought might occur to listeners who wonder whether the intangible value of an earned paycheque matters much in a culture of entitlement, or among those who find remuneration in activism. As for work’s fulfillment of the human personality, maybe another type of personality has gained prominence, one that finds fulfillment in espousing fashionable convictions and obstructing useful projects.

What remains to be seen is whether the people he speaks for are declining, in numbers as well as influence. Maybe previous generations could have offset such a fate by producing a few more Rex Murphys.

Videos of VRIC 2019 presentations will be posted online in the coming weeks by Cambridge House International.

You’re invited—Geoscience BC presents webinar on Peace region groundwater research

November 14th, 2018

by Greg Klein | November 14, 2018

November 21 marks the date for a live, interactive online event open to anyone interested in a four-year groundwater study conducted at northeastern British Columbia’s oil- and gas-producing Peace River region. Hosted by Geoscience BC through YouTube Live, the two-hour webinar will feature researchers from around the world who’ll present their findings and take audience questions.

When: Wednesday, November 21, from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. PST

Where: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Zy354jH49M

For more info: http://www.geosciencebc.com/s/Workshops.asp?ReportID=839811&_Type=Workshops-and-Conferences&_Title=Peace-Project-Technical-Webinar-to-be-held-November-21-2018

Geoscience BC presents webinar on Peace region groundwater research

The Peace Project used airborne geophysics
as well as drilling in the first large-scale program
to map northeastern B.C. groundwater.
(Photo: Geoscience BC)

Draft agenda:

8:30 a.m. Peace Project introduction, Carlos Salas

8:40 a.m. Airborne geophysical survey, SkyTEM and Aarhus Geophysics, Q&A

9:05 a.m. Characterization of sediments and groundwater wells, Brad Hayes and Mel Best, Q&A

9:40 a.m. Summary of final report, Samantha Morgan, Q&A

10:10 a.m. Peace Project conclusions, next steps, Carlos Salas, Q&A

10:30 a.m. Close

Following the event, a video of the webinar will appear at the same YouTube location.

The non-profit group says the project’s maps, data and interpretations “provide an increased understanding of the aquifers and shallow groundwater in northeast B.C. and make it possible for First Nations, energy companies, communities and government to make informed decisions about the use and protection of water resources in the Peace region.”

Having undertaken over 160 projects so far, Geoscience BC encourages informed use of land, water and resources by making its findings available to local communities, governments, industry and the wider public.

Read more about the Peace Project.

See the Peace Project Final Report.

Read more about Geoscience BC here and here.

Active participants

November 7th, 2018

A new study finds greater native involvement in resource projects

by Greg Klein

A new study finds greater native involvement in resource projects

Representatives of Nemaska Lithium and Nemaska Cree negotiate the Chinuchi Agreement in 2014.
(Photo: Nemaska Lithium)

 

Trans Mountain—it’s likely been Canada’s biggest and most discouraging resource story this year. The subject of well-publicized protests, the proposed $9.3-billion pipeline extension met federal court rejection on the grounds of inadequate native consultation. But any impression of uniform aboriginal opposition to that project in particular or resource projects in general would be false, a new report emphasizes. In fact native involvement increasingly advances from reaping benefits to taking active part, with corresponding advantages to individuals and communities.

That’s the case for the oil and gas sector, forestry, hydro-electricity and fisheries, with mining one of the prominent examples provided by the Montreal Economic Institute in The First Entrepreneurs – Natural Resource Development and First Nations. “While some First Nations oppose mining and forestry or the building of energy infrastructure, others favour such development and wish to take advantage of the resulting wealth and jobs,” state authors Germain Belzile and Alexandre Moreau. “This cleavage is no different from what is found in non-indigenous cities and villages in Canada, where there is no vision for the future that everyone agrees upon.”

A new study finds greater native involvement in resource projects

Visitors tour a cultural site at the Éléonore mine.
(Photo: Goldcorp)

Mining provides a case in point, and the reason’s not hard to understand. “In 2016, First Nations members working in the mining sector declared a median income twice as high as that of workers in their communities overall, and nearly twice as high as that of non-indigenous people as a whole.”

“Between 2000 and 2017, 455 agreements were signed in this sector, guaranteeing benefits in addition to those stemming from extraction royalties due to rights held by First Nations on their territories.” Those agreements often include native priority in hiring and subcontracting, which helps explain why “6% of indigenous people work in the mining sector, compared to only 4% in other industries.”

Of course the proportion rises dramatically in communities close to mines. MEI notes that Wemindji Cree make up about 25% of Goldcorp’s (TSX:G) Éléonore staff in Quebec’s James Bay region. The native total comes to 225 workers out of a community of 1,600 people. Their collaboration agreement also makes provisions for education, training and business opportunities.

At another Quebec James Bay project, Nemaska Lithium TSX:NMX expects to begin producing concentrate in H2 of next year. Collaboration with the Nemaska Cree began in 2009 and brought about the 2014 Chinuchi Agreement covering training, employment and revenue sharing, among other benefits. The community holds 3.6% of Nemaska stock.

Even stalled projects can benefit communities. Uranium’s price slump forced Cameco TSX:CCO to put its majority-held Millennium project in northern Saskatchewan on hold in 2014. But the 1,600-member English River First Nation still gained $50 million from the project in 2014 and $58 million in 2015.

Or, to take an example not mentioned in the report, natives can also profit from an operating mine that fails to make a profit. In Nunavut, a benefit agreement with Baffinland Iron Mines’ Mary River operation gave the Qikiqtani Inuit Association $11.65 million this year, as well as the better part of $3.7 million that the QIA reaped in leases and fees. In production since 2014, Mary River remains in the red.

Of course some natives still oppose some projects. Last month Star Diamond TSX:DIAM received provincial environmental approval for its Star-Orion South project in southern Saskatchewan’s Fort à la Corne district. That decision followed federal approval in 2014.

Star says the mine would cost $1.41 billion to build and would pay $802 million in royalties as well as $865 million in provincial income tax over a 20-year lifespan. The mine would employ an average 669 people annually for a five-year construction period and 730 people during operation. But continued opposition from the James Smith Cree Nation calls into question whether environmental approval will suffice to allow development.

Similar circumstances played out in reverse for Mary River. Last summer the Nunavut Impact Review Board recommended Ottawa reject Baffinland’s proposed production increase. But support from the QIA and territorial Premier Joe Savikataaq convinced the feds to approve the company’s request. So the veto, if it exists, can work both ways.

James Smith opposition stems largely from Saskatchewan’s lack of revenue-sharing programs, a basic component of benefit agreements in other jurisdictions. “As a government it’s our position that we will not and do not consider resource revenue sharing as a part of any proposal going forward,” enviro minister Dustin Duncan told the Prince Albert newspaper paNOW. He said the province uses mining revenue “to fund programs for the benefit of all Saskatchewan residents and not just one particular group or region.”

The MEI report quotes an estimated $321 million in 2015-to-2016 revenues from natural resources overall for First Nations, a category that doesn’t include Inuit or Metis, and a dollar figure that doesn’t include employment or business income and other benefits.

While Trans Mountain stands out as an especially discouraging process, MEI points out that proponent Kinder Morgan signed benefit agreements with 43 First Nations totalling $400 million. After Ottawa bought the company, “several First Nations showed interest in a potential takeover. For some of them, the possibility of equity stakes was indeed the missing element in the Kinder Morgan offer.”

That might take negotiations well past the stage of benefits and further into active participation. As JP Gladu of the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business told MEI, “The next big business trend that we are going to see, and that is happening already, is not only that aboriginal businesses are going to be stronger components of the corporate supply chain, but we are also going to see them as stronger proponents of equity positions and actual partners within resource projects.”

 

A new study finds greater native involvement in resource projects

The category of First Nations excludes Inuit and Metis.
(Chart: Montreal Economic Institute. Sources: Statistics Canada,
2016 Census, 98-400-X2016359, March 28, 2018)

Canada’s spy agency monitors pipeline opposition, B.C. to overhaul environmental process

November 6th, 2018

by Greg Klein | November 6, 2018

An analysis from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service “clearly indicates the spy service’s ongoing interest in anti-petroleum activism,” Canadian Press reports. The news agency obtained the June document, originally classified top secret, through the Access to Information Act.

The CSIS review outlines opposition to the federal government’s $4.5-billion purchase of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline, saying some critics call it a betrayal of Canada’s positions on global warming and native rights.

Canada’s spy agency monitors pipeline opposition, B.C. to overhaul environmental process

Over 200 people have been arrested for breaching court orders at a Burnaby Mountain demonstration site in British Columbia, while other protests have taken place across Canada. But CP added that the report concedes “no acts of serious violence” took place. While activists questioned the spy agency’s interest, the report was heavily redacted, making any CSIS concerns unclear.

CSIS spokesperson Tahera Mufti told CP the agency follows legislation forbidding investigations into lawful protest. The news service quoted her saying, “While we cannot publicly disclose our investigative interests, we can say that it is important for the service to pose important analytical questions on these types of issues, such as the question of whether developments such as the purchase of a pipeline could give rise to a national security threat to Canada’s critical infrastructure.”

Ottawa bought the Trans Mountain project after a federal Court of Appeal rejected a proposed extension that the federal government had approved. The same court had previously rejected Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline proposal, which won federal government approval in 2016. The court attributed both decisions to “inadequate” consultations with natives.

On November 5 the B.C. government introduced legislation to create a new Environmental Assessment Act requiring native participation at the outset of the review process.

“Having indigenous collaboration from the beginning means a more certain and efficient process where good projects can move forward more quickly, providing benefits to indigenous peoples while respecting their rights, values and culture,” said a statement from environmental minister George Heyman. “We want to reduce the potential for the types of legal challenges we’ve too frequently seen in B.C. These have impacted our province’s economic development, eroded public trust, alienated indigenous communities and left project proponents trying to navigate through a costly, time-consuming process.”

Although B.C.’s First Nations Leadership Council praised some aspects of the proposed act, the group objected that it would allow projects to proceed without native consent, according to another CP dispatch.

The legislation forms part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement in which B.C.’s Green Party agrees to support the minority NDP government.

Richard Truman of Geoscience B.C. discusses how various stakeholders benefit from the organization’s research

February 20th, 2018

…Read more

Infographics: Think again about natural resources

February 23rd, 2017

Among the news from Resource Works is the #ThinkAgain campaign, a series of infographics that “set the record straight on myths, misunderstandings, ‘alternative facts’ and fake news about resources.”

Here’s the current batch. Resource Works promises more to come.

Infographics: Think again about natural resources

Infographics: Think again about natural resources

Infographics: Think again about natural resources

Infographics: Think again about natural resources

Infographics: Think again about natural resources

Infographics: Think again about natural resources

Infographics: Think again about natural resources

Infographics: Think again about natural resources

Infographics: Think again about natural resources

Infographics: Think again about natural resources

Infographics: Think again about natural resources

Infographics: Think again about natural resources

Infographics: Think again about natural resources

Posted with permission of Resource Works, a non-profit research and advocacy organization “supporting a respectful, fact-based public dialogue on responsible resource development in B.C.”

Infographic: Countries of origin for raw materials

November 16th, 2016

Graphic by BullionVault | text by Jeff Desjardins | posted with permission of Visual Capitalist | November 16, 2016

Every “thing” comes from somewhere.

Whether we are talking about an iPhone or a battery, even the most complex technological device is made up of raw materials that originate in a mine, farm, well or forest somewhere in the world.

This infographic from BullionVault shows the top three producing countries of various commodities such as oil, gold, coffee and iron.

Infographic Countries of origin for raw materials

 

The many and the few

The origins of the world’s most important raw materials are interesting to examine because the production of certain commodities is much more concentrated than others.

Oil, for example, is extracted by many countries throughout the world because it forms in fairly universal circumstances. Oil is also a giant market and a strategic resource, so some countries are even willing to produce it at a loss. The largest three crude oil-producing countries are the United States, Saudi Arabia and Russia—but that only makes up 38% of the total market.

Contrast this with the market for some base metals such as iron or lead and the difference is clear. China consumes mind-boggling amounts of raw materials to feed its factories, so it tries to get them domestically. That’s why China alone produces 45% of the world’s iron and 52% of all lead. Nearby Australia also finds a way to take advantage of this: It is the second-largest producer for each of those commodities and ships much of its output to Chinese trading partners. A total of two-thirds of the world’s iron and lead comes from these two countries, making production extremely concentrated.

But even that pales in comparison with the market for platinum, which is so heavily concentrated that only a few countries are significant producers. South Africa extracts 71% of all platinum, while Russia and Zimbabwe combine for another 19% of global production. That means only one in every 10 ounces of platinum comes from a country other than those three sources.

Graphic by BullionVault | posted with permission of Visual Capitalist.

Ever deeper, ever higher

October 11th, 2016

China takes on three mining frontiers, but not without competition

by Greg Klein

This is the first of a two-part feature. See Part 2.

Nearly a century before laggard Europeans got around to their Age of Exploration, Chinese merchant vessels had been travelling at least as far as eastern Africa, returning with vast shiploads of treasure. The voyages ended abruptly in 1433, for reasons debated by historians, and rulers ordered a massive merchant fleet destroyed. That largely left the New World to Westerners, evidently not a policy China intends to repeat. Now the country plans the conquest of three new frontiers: “deep underground, deep sky and deep sea.”

Such are the goals of Three Deep, a five-year plan announced last month by the country’s Ministry of Land and Resources. China’s funding R&D that would take mineral exploration deeper than ever on land and at sea, while exploring from outer space as well. But formidable as they are, the three frontiers aren’t completely uncharted. The expansionist, resource-hungry regime will have competition.

China takes on three mining frontiers, but not without competition

By 2020 the country wants the ability to mine land-based deposits that begin two kilometres in depth, find minerals at three kilometres, and identify oil and gas at 6.5 to 10 kilometres, the South China Morning Post reported October 5. China intends to develop underground communities too, although those details were even more scarce.

China also plans technology for undersea mineral exploration and mining, working towards the ability to send a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to 11 kilometres’ depth by 2020, the paper added. That’s slightly beyond the deepest known point of any seabed. The country has already sent an ROV seven kilometres deep in the Pacific. In the Indian Ocean, Chinese have been studying seabed mining technology on a 10,000-square-kilometre area south of Madagascar, the SCMP stated.

Going from the depths to the heavens, China wants 27 satellites in orbit by 2020 to conduct surveys and research, partly on terrestrial mineral potential. The country also has expressed ambitions for moon and Mars landings, and for sending its citizens into space. A Chinese competitor to SpaceX, One Space Technology, plans its first commercial rocket launch in 2018.

SpaceX, of course, retains its Elon Musk confidence even after the Falcon 9 rocket blew up prior to take-off last month, destroying a $300-million communications satellite. Having received NASA contracts to ferry people and cargo to the International Space Station, Musk continues to talk about sending colonists to Mars. He’s already sent some lithium stocks to the moon.

Probably among the more credible companies talking about mining the heavens are Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries. Both develop technology for NAFTA and both have signed MOUs with Luxembourg that would help finance mineral exploration and mining of near-Earth asteroids. The Grand Duchy, a global leader in satellite communications, has announced its willingness to invest in extra-terrestrial mining to become a world leader in other worlds. The country also plans to create a legal framework for its outer space endeavours, after the U.S. passed legislation giving Americans the right to keep any extra-terrestrial commodities they extract.

Deep Space says it will launch its Prospector X experimental asteroid explorer “in the near future.” By the first half of the next decade, Planetary expects to begin small-scale extraction of asteroid water for its oxygen and hydrogen.

Already a nine-year veteran of the main asteroid belt, NASA’s Dawn craft now orbits the dwarf planet Ceres after having studied the proto-planet Vesta. Last month the space agency’s NASA OSIRIS-REx set off for the asteroid Bennu, with arrival expected in 2018 and return in 2023.

JAXA, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, has been to that neighbourhood and back after its Hayabusa craft delivered asteroid samples in 2010.

Last month the European Space Agency ended the 12-year, eight-billion-kilometre odyssey of its Rosetta craft, which spent the last two years studying a comet. In a joint project with Russia’s Roscosmos, the ESA expects to land a capsule on Mars on October 19 to search for signs of previous life.

Russia’s moon exploration program sees potential for minerals delivered by asteroid impact. “In the next few years, all scheduled moon flights will focus on its southern polar region, where low-temperature reservoirs of rare earths, as well as unknown volatile substances, have been detected,” Industrial Minerals quoted Vladislav Shevchenko of Moscow State University. Given higher commodity prices, mining could be viable, he added.

Boeing NYSE:BA recently matched Musk’s big talk as CEO Dennis Muilenburg spoke about sending holidayers to orbiting tourist traps prior to linking up with the Red Planet. “I’m convinced the first person to step foot on Mars will arrive there riding a Boeing rocket,” Bloomberg quoted him last week. As a NASA contractor Boeing competes with SpaceX on its own and through the United Launch Alliance, a JV with Lockheed Martin NYSE:LMT.

This is the first of a two-part feature. See Part 2.

The non-profit group Resource Works points out green energy’s reliance on oil, gas and mining

July 18th, 2016

…Read more

Visual Capitalist: Gold and zinc crush it in Q1, energy gets smoked

April 8th, 2016

by Jeff Desjardins | Visual Capitalist | April 8, 2016

Gold and zinc crush it in Q1, energy gets smoked

 

The start of 2016 has been a roller coaster for investors.

Global markets had their worst ever start in the first trading days of the year, with the S&P 500 eventually shedding 10.5% by early February. Stocks have rebounded since then, but tension is still in the air with record longs on the VIX Volatility Index.

Precious metals

For this reason, among many others, investors piled into precious metals in Q1 of 2016. Gold finished up an impressive 15.9%, buoyed by record buying in gold ETFs. Meanwhile silver and platinum, which are considered precious metals with more industrial uses, were also up in Q1 to a lesser extent: 9.4% and 6.6% respectively.

Base metals

Base metals were all over the map in the first few months of the year. Zinc shot up a surprising 20%, though it has been overdue for a bounce-back since hitting five-year lows in 2015. Nickel and copper, however, did not perform as admirably. Nickel was in negative territory (-3.1%) and copper ultimately ended up flat, despite a large rally in February and early March.

Energy

The energy sector had no real winners, with WTI crude, natural gas and uranium all ending up in the red. Natural gas was the worst of these with a steep -17% drop as it continues to eye multi-decade lows. Some analysts expect more downward pressure on natural gas now that the quantity of gas in storage is 34.2% higher than the five-year average.

Food

The world’s key agricultural commodities were a mixed bag in terms of performance. Soybeans jumped 4.2% in value, but wheat (1%) and corn (-0.3%) only had subtle changes in prices.

With many looming questions for Q2, we’re sure that our next quarterly update will be just as eventful. Concerns around a potential Brexit, negative interest rates, stagnating manufacturing and a potential U.S. rate hike could make for a particularly interesting time period.

Chart presented by First Mining Finance Corp. Posted with permission of Visual Capitalist.