Wednesday 24th May 2017

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Posts tagged ‘nova scotia’

B.C. election: Inconclusive result puts focus on Green Party

May 10th, 2017

by Greg Klein | May 10, 2017

What looks like British Columbia’s first minority government since 1952 will evoke plenty of speculation, not the least from miners. As cliff-hanger metaphors competed with seesaw comparisons throughout the night of May 9, the B.C. election came to an inconclusive result by ResourceClips.com press time. While the B.C. Elections website took most of the day and night off, CBC pegged the post-midnight results at 43 Liberals elected, 41 New Democrats elected and three Greens in the upper echelons (two elected and one leading, compared with just one seat last time).

B.C. election: Inconclusive result puts focus on Green Party

During the campaign all three parties professed support for mining, especially the continuation of flow-through tax credits. But the much more vexatious issue of permitting drew largely euphemistic responses.

Quoted by the Association for Mineral Exploration, NDP leader John Horgan pledged his party would address the uncertainty of permitting by working with Geoscience B.C., the B.C. Geological Survey and First Nations “to develop comprehensive mineral land use plans.”

In the same publication Green leader Andrew Weaver professed his commitment to fix B.C.’s “structurally broken” environmental review process, in which the “professional reliance model” has lost the confidence of First Nations and the general public.

Former mines minister Bill Bennett, who retired as the writ was dropped, reminded AME about his government’s inducements to native support, including royalty sharing and training programs.

But the mining-related issue that unexpectedly gained most prominence was thermal coal and its trans-shipment from the U.S. to Asia via B.C. The stuff “fouls the air. It fouls the oceans. It’s terrible for the environment,” Canadian Press quoted BC Liberal leader Christy Clark.

She spoke in response to the U.S. president’s 20% tariff on softwood lumber imports, most of which come from B.C.

Her proposed $70-a-tonne penalty would not only cripple thermal coal exports from the U.S., but also from Alberta, to the detriment of that province’s mines and this province’s ports. Clark’s comments didn’t acknowledge B.C.’s reliance—notwithstanding its hydro resources—on Alberta’s coal-generated electricity. That’s not to mention B.C.’s dependency on nuclear-generated power from Washington state. B.C . has banned uranium exploration.

Additionally Clark’s proposal would hammer the final nail in the coffin of Quinsam, B.C.’s last thermal coal mine. Hillsborough Resources suspended the Vancouver Island underground operation in January 2016 due to low prices.

A coal mining topic unacknowledged in the campaign was the election’s coincidence with the 25th anniversary of Nova Scotia’s Westray disaster, which killed 26 miners. Down Easterners marked that anniversary as a former director of mine-owner Curragh Inc, 83-year-old BC Liberal Ralph Sultan, swept to his fifth straight victory in the affluent riding of West Vancouver-Capilano.

Meanwhile preliminary results offer the Greens potential power that’s unprecedented for their party in Canada. All three projected Green seats are on southern Vancouver Island, also home to Canada’s sole Green MP, Elizabeth May. Apart from B.C., only New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island have Green MLAs, one each in those two provinces.

However B.C. Green leader Andrew Weaver stands apart from the other parties’ undistinguished professional politicians. A University of Victoria professor, he shared in the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his participation in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

His influence, with maybe two other Greens, could be formidable. That might be especially true since this election will mark the first new government after the 2014 Mount Polley tailings dam disaster that challenged public support for mining.

B.C. and Nova Scotia commemorate coal mining disasters

May 7th, 2017

by Greg Klein | May 7, 2017

Two anniversaries six days apart serve as grim reminders of the sometimes deadly work of extracting resources often taken for granted. May 3 marked 130 years since the No. 1 Esplanade coal mine explosion in Nanaimo, British Columbia that left a death toll estimated between 148 and 153 men. May 9 marks the 25th anniversary of Plymouth, Nova Scotia’s Westray disaster, which killed 26 workers.

The 1887 Esplanade disaster ranks as Canada’s second-worst, after the June 1914 explosion at a Hillcrest, Alberta coal mine that killed 189 men. Esplanade was just one of many disasters that gave the Vancouver Island coal fields international notoriety for deadly working conditions. The loss of so many breadwinners devastated a population estimated between 2,000 and 6,500.

B.C. and Nova Scotia commemorate coal mining disasters

A monument to Westray displays 26 names as rays of light under
a stylized miner’s lamp. (Photo: Nova Scotia Federation of Labour)

“There would have been not one living soul in Nanaimo at the time who didn’t lose a family member, in-law, workmate or a friend,” local historian Tom Paterson told NanaimoNewsNOW.

In parallel with Esplanade and Vancouver Island, the 1992 carnage at Westray was one of a number of Pictou County coal mining disasters. Although not as lethal as many of its predecessors, Westray took place under supposedly modern conditions and enlightened attitudes.

The mine was owned by privately held Curragh Inc, whose board of directors included former federal cabinet minister and short-term Liberal prime minister John Turner, and Ralph Sultan, now running for re-election as a BC Liberal MLA in a vote coinciding with the anniversary. A five-year inquiry brought a report entitled The Westray Story: A Predictable Path to Disaster.

Curragh declared bankruptcy in 1993. As CBC reported, criminal charges against two mine managers, as well as 52 non-criminal charges against the company, went nowhere.

The disaster did bring about the 2004 federal Westray Act, which “provided new rules for attributing criminal liability to corporations and representatives when workers are injured or killed on the job,” CBC added.

Every May 3rd Nanaimo City Hall flies flags at half mast. Among May 9th events near Plymouth will be a morning vigil and evening memorial service at Westray Memorial Park in Stellarton.

Saskatchewan and Manitoba first and second globally as mining jurisdictions

March 1st, 2017

by Greg Klein | March 1, 2017

Saskatchewan edged one notch upwards to take first place worldwide while Manitoba soared from 19th to second in this year’s Fraser Institute survey of mining and exploration jurisdictions. Those two provinces pushed last year’s top performer, Western Australia, down to third place. Canada’s other top 10 spot went to Quebec, rising to sixth from eighth the year before. All continents but Antarctica came under scrutiny but Canadian, American, Australian and European locales monopolized the top 10.

Farther down the list, the strongest Canadian improvements were Newfoundland and Labrador, climbing to 16th from 25th, and the Northwest Territories, now 21st, previously 35th. Most disappointing were British Columbia (falling to 27th from 18th), Nunavut (31st from 23rd) and Alberta (47th from 34th).

Those findings come from the survey’s Investment Attractiveness Index, which combines two other indices—Policy Perception, a “report card” on government attitudes, and Best Practices Mineral Potential, concerning geological appeal. Representatives of 104 companies responded with their 2016 experiences in mind, giving a numerical rating to questions in several categories regarding their likelihood of investing in a particular jurisdiction. The previous year 109 companies responded.

Here’s the top 10 globally for overall investment attractiveness, with last year’s standings in parentheses:

1 Saskatchewan (2)

2 Manitoba (19)

3 Western Australia (1)

4 Nevada (3)

5 Finland (5)

6 Quebec (8)

7 Arizona (17)

8 Sweden (13)

9 Ireland (4)

10 Queensland (16)

Here are the Canadian runners-up:

15 Yukon (12)

16 Newfoundland and Labrador (25)

18 Ontario (15)

21 Northwest Territories (35)

27 British Columbia (18)

31 Nunavut (23)

40 New Brunswick (45)

47 Alberta (34)

52 Nova Scotia (59)

At least those provinces and territories steered far clear of the bottom 10, where Argentina figures prominently:

95 Mozambique (84)

96 Zimbabwe (98)

97 India (73)

98 Mendoza province, Argentina (101)

99 La Rioja province, Argentina (109)

100 Afghanistan (not available)

101 Chubut province, Argentina (104)

102 Venezuela (108)

103 Neuquen province, Argentina (93)

104 Jujuy province, Argentina (86)

“We believe that the survey captures, at least in broad strokes, the perceptions of those involved in both mining and the regulation of mining in the jurisdictions included in the survey,” stated authors Taylor Jackson and Kenneth P. Green.

Download the Fraser Institute Annual Survey of Mining Companies 2016.

Where the money is

June 10th, 2016

Joe Martin sees a fundamental transformation coming to junior financing

by Greg Klein

The old system’s not only broken, it can’t be fixed. The world of finance for mineral exploration is changing and juniors must learn new rules and master new tools to survive. That’s the message from Joe Martin, a former business journalist, the founder of Cambridge House International and a prominent advocate for investment regulatory reform.

Well, better scratch that last designation. He’s no longer advocating reform. “There’s no sense trying to change the existing rules because no one at the executive level wants to,” Martin says. “So we have to look at new opportunities emerging, primarily through electronic media.”

Joe Martin sees a fundamental transformation in junior financing

The reform movement failed, he says, despite encouraging response to an open letter by the Venture Capital Markets Association last August. The status quo prevailed—and for that, Martin blames political indifference, bureaucratic intransigence, the self-serving agendas of Canada’s fragmented securities commissions and banks that wield power over the TSX Venture. “Nobody wants to take action and we don’t have the money to fund a multi-million-dollar campaign,” he says.

Now he’s addressing the juniors, not the regulators, and he’s urging them to recognize new financing opportunities in crowdfunding, peer-to-peer transactions and the U.S. JOBS Act.

Crowdfunding has already prompted considerable buzz, especially with the arrival of Australian mine-funder Mineral Intelligence in late 2015, followed by Canada’s Red Cloud Klondike Strike after Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia laid down a regulatory framework in January. Investors register with Klondike under the ordinary, eligible or accredited category.

Klondike’s first listing, Banyan Gold TSXV:BYN put up a $750,000 offer on March 2. The company closed a more conventional private placement of $200,000 the previous January. By press time, Banyan had yet to update the progress of its online offer.

Following that company by six days, Radisson Mining Resources TSXV:RDS offered up to $1 million on Klondike after completing a $324,000 private placement in December. Radisson expected to complete its offer by April 8. But it wasn’t until June 6 that the company announced closing of the second and final tranche, with a total $675,010 raised.

Joe Martin sees a fundamental transformation in junior financing

Joe Martin: “You’d better get in
this game and learn the new rules.”

Klondike’s biggest involvement so far might be IDM Mining TSXV:IDM, which raised a total of $10.85 million in April with Rob McEwan participating. But IDM didn’t divulge how much crowdfunding contributed. The company had said a portion of the placement would be brokered through a syndicate of Klondike, Haywood Securities and Medalist Capital.

Current offers listed on Klondike come from GoviEx Uranium CSE:GXU (up to $2 million), Sarama Resources ($2.25 million) and Brixton Metals TSXV:BBB ($1 million and $1.3 million).

Martin foresees a fairly gradual transformation but a definite change nevertheless with crowdfunding, peer-to-peer lending and the U.S. JOBS Act “all blending together to bring in a new world of financing. P2P, for example, is becoming very big in England.”

With last month’s Tier III enactment of JOBS (Jumpstart Our Business Startups), American crowdfunding has “opened up big time,” Martin says. “Less than 1% of Canadians are accredited investors who can take part in private placements.” The new U.S. regulations allow crowdfunding participants to invest a portion of their income or net worth, up to a percentage that depends on the individual’s financial circumstances.

“Those rules are changing. Canada isn’t changing, so we may be going to the States for financing.”

Martin also sees hope for Canadian juniors on foreign exchanges, as well as the Venture’s rival. “The CSE is doing a pretty good job. They’re a lot easier to deal with.”

Having despaired of fixing the existing system, he sees new opportunities elsewhere—provided juniors adapt. “You’d better get in this game and learn the new rules,” he emphasizes. “But don’t try to change the old ones because we’re not going to get it done.”

Joe Martin addresses the Vancouver Commodity Forum on June 14. Click here for free registration.

Lights. Camera. Action—Ontario students put mining on video

June 3rd, 2016

by Greg Klein | June 3, 2016

How do you get high school students enthusiastic about mining? One way is to encourage them to create videos on the topic. Then sweeten the enticement with some cash. That was enough to draw 200 entries to the Ontario Mining Association’s So You Think You Know Mining contest. Twelve winners and five honourable mentions brought their casts and crews a total of $48,000 in prizes at a June 1 Toronto event attended by mining professionals, government officials, teachers, parents and students.

Lights. Camera. Action. Mining—Ontario students put the industry on video

A screengrab from her winning entry
shows future geologist Mia Tullio.

Contestants used a number of approaches including research, interviews, poetry and music to express their perspectives on mining’s past and future, its benefits to the economy and to society. That’s not to mention some helpful tips on How to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse.

Judged best overall entry, a video called Technology–the Future of Ontario Mining brought Sudbury’s Mia Tullio $7,500 in prizes, along with another grand for her school. The sophisticated three-minute documentary briefly outlines developments in remote operation of mine equipment, game-style simulation for mine rescue training and how flying drones can be used in underground accidents. The video includes a visit to Norcat, the Northern Centre for Advanced Technology, “like the offices of Google, a hotbed of creative, innovative thinking.”

The entries “offer a fresh look at the important role that mining plays in our modern lives,” said OMA president Chris Hodgson. “They also help us imagine what the future might hold—for our industry and our society.”

The contest was the final of eight annual events that drew nearly 1,000 videos and handed out $272,000 in prizes. In April the Mining Association of Nova Scotia announced winners of its Mining ROCKS! video contest.

Video contest fosters mining awareness among Nova Scotian students

April 11th, 2016

by Greg Klein | April 11, 2016

Okay, there was a cash incentive. But the enthusiasm’s genuine. The Mining Association of Nova Scotia asked high school students to research a brief topic on mining and quarrying, then find a way to portray it on video. The results were not only informative but inventive and entertaining. And they brought contest winners a total of $8,000 in prizes, MANS announced April 11.

Mining ROCKS! video contest gets Nova Scotia students excited about mining

Now in its second year, Mining ROCKS! pulled in 22 entries from students across the province. Judges included film and media pros as well as Minister of Natural Resources Lloyd Hines and Membertou Chief Terry Paul, among others. Another 1,848 people cast votes for the People’s Choice Award.

The winners (shown here) use wide-ranging approaches to explain, illustrate, dramatize and emphasize the many uses of minerals and the industry’s importance to Nova Scotia. This is, after all, a province where coal mining dates back to 1672—and coal’s a relative newcomer. MANS says Canada’s oldest mine, possibly North America’s oldest, would be Davidson Cove, where Mi’kmaq extracted jasper and agate for arrowheads and cutting tools 1,500 years ago.

Mining and quarrying now provide around 5,500 jobs and put $420 million into the provincial economy each year.

As for the Ontario Mining Association, it now has judging underway for its student video contest, So You Think You Know Mining. Winners will be announced June 1.

See the winning entries for Mining ROCKS!

Are miners denigrating Canadian geology?

March 4th, 2016

by Greg Klein | March 4, 2016

Are miners denigrating Canadian geology?

 

A look at Canadian jurisdictions in this year’s Fraser Institute Survey of Mining Companies suggests perceptions of the country’s geology have declined. The survey emphasizes two main indexes, one addressing matters of government policy, the other considering geology as well as policy. The biggest changes from the previous year showed up in the latter index.

Called the Investment Attractiveness Index, it weighs responses from mining and exploration professionals, giving 60% for their answers on questions about mineral potential and 40% on questions about public policy. The 60/40 split reflects the way companies generally base their investment decisions, according to the survey.

The IAI ranked New Brunswick 11th out of 12 Canadian jurisdictions (Prince Edward Island wasn’t included) and 45th out of 109 jurisdictions worldwide. That’s a steep fall from the previous year, when New Brunswick came in 19th out of 122 jurisdictions.

But the survey’s Policy Perception Index was less dramatic, showing the province fell from third place in 2014 to ninth place in the current poll.

The IAI dropped Manitoba from fifth to 19th place globally. But the PPI actually raised the province two notches, from 15th to 13th.

Then there’s Nova Scotia, with Canada’s worst IAI score. But the province gets a middling sixth place in Canada for public policy. (Globally, the province ranked 59 on IAI and 17 on PPI.)

Obviously public policy can change significantly and quickly. But, barring dramatic new discoveries, widespread mine depletion or plunging commodity prices, wouldn’t mineral potential undergo more gradual transformation?

When rating geology, companies “have downgraded Canada a bit and they’re saying it’s less attractive this year,” says Fraser Institute policy analyst Taylor Jackson, who co-authored the survey with Kenneth Green. “This is the reason we saw Australia surpass Canada as the region that’s the most overall attractive in the world.”

Jackson adds, “It could be that they’re factoring in that certain commodities are less attractive to them than in the past. It is tough to say, though, what they’re thinking. It could be a combination of things.”

Strangest of all Canadian rankings was Nunavut. The territory showed strong IAI improvement, moving from 34th to 23rd place. That contrasted with its PPI score, which declined from 51st to 54th.

Despite Canada’s slump, Saskatchewan held on to its second-place global IAI position and moved from fifth to fourth place on the global PPI. Apparently the potash gloom failed to overshadow mining-friendly policies and high Athabasca Basin uranium grades.

Download the Fraser Institute Survey of Mining Companies 2015.

Read about the previous week’s Fraser Institute report on permitting times across Canada.

Nearly $1.9 billion for 2015 Canadian exploration: Where goes the money?

November 6th, 2015

by Greg Klein | November 6, 2015

Newly released numbers offer a glimpse of how exploration money’s being spent in this country by location and commodity. The info comes from a Natural Resources Canada survey asking companies about this year’s spending intentions for exploration and deposit appraisal. The feds then compared their responses with figures going back to 2010. Not surprisingly, we’re at a six-year low.

Total spending intentions for 2015 sunk to $1,879.8 million, almost 6.7% lower than last year and (read and weep) a nearly 56% plunge from the heady days of 2011. This year’s total breaks down to $1,037.3 million for exploration and $842.5 million for deposit appraisal.

Nearly $1.9 billion on 2015 Canadian exploration: Where goes the money?

Each jurisdiction’s share of nearly $1.9 billion planned
for Canadian exploration and deposit appraisal in 2015.

Ontario gets the most, $399.8 million or 21.3% of Canada’s total. Nearly 73% of the province’s outlay will go to the pursuit of precious metals.

British Columbia comes second, with $355.8 million, or 18.9% of the total. Precious metals will get nearly 41% while base metals get about 29%.

About $297.1 million, or 15.8% of the national total, goes to third-place Saskatchewan. Uranium gets nearly 52% of that.

Quebec’s share comes to $280.9 million, or 14.9%, with nearly 40% of that being spent on precious metals.

Nunavut places fifth nationally with $202.5 million or 10.8% of Canada’s total. Precious metals projects attract almost 80% of the territory’s spending this year.

Several jurisdictions improved over last year’s performance. This year’s plans show increases of 21% for Saskatchewan (from $245 million to $297.1 million), 27% for Alberta (from $26.1 million to $33.2 million), 28% for Nunavut (from $158 million to $202.5 million), 30% for Manitoba (from $28 million to $36.4 million) and 44% for Nova Scotia (from $7 million to $10.4 million).

Nor do all minerals have spending on six-year lows. Although coal sits at a five-year low of $113.1 million, that’s nearly double the amount spent in 2010. Uranium exploration and appraisal gets $172.1 million in 2015, a bit better than its 2013 low of $167.4 million. Diamond spending should reach a six-year high of $119.6 million. The Northwest Territories gets $76.7 million of that, which accounts for just over 81% of the NWT total.

Of the national total, majors plan to put up $1,130.9 million this year and juniors the other $748.9 million. Ontario has the greatest major/junior disparity, in which the big guys plan $308.8 million, compared to $91.1 million from their smaller cap cousins. The gap’s narrowest in Quebec, where majors plan $145.3 million, followed closely by the juniors’ $135.6 million.

Natural Resources Canada defines exploration and deposit appraisal as “on-mine-site and off-mine-site activities, field work, overhead costs, engineering, economic and pre- or production feasibility studies, environment and land access costs.”

See the Natural Resources Canada data.

How fares Canada in the Fraser Institute’s global mining survey?

February 25th, 2015

by Greg Klein | February 25, 2015

Saskatchewan’s number two worldwide, Quebec’s back in the top 10 and Manitoba climbed 17 notches. But Alberta, Ontario and British Columbia took a beating in the latest Fraser Institute survey of mining jurisdictions. Released February 24, the study rates 122 jurisdictions (including provinces and states in Canada, the United States, Australia and Argentina) based on 485 returned questionnaires. Drawing on their 2014 experience, mining and exploration companies provided numerical ratings for a number of factors, which the institute tracked on separate indexes.

Most important is the Investment Attractiveness Index, which combines two other indexes—Best Practices Mineral Potential (geology) and Policy Perception (government attitudes). The institute weighs the IAI 60% for geology and 40% for public policy, roughly the same consideration companies reported for their investment decisions.

Here’s the top 10 IAI globally, with 2013 rankings in brackets:

1 Finland (4)
2 Saskatchewan (7)
3 Nevada (2)
4 Manitoba (13)
5 Western Australia (1)
6 Quebec (18)
7 Wyoming (11)
8 Newfoundland and Labrador (3)
9 Yukon (8)
10 Alaska (5)

Here are the Canadian runner-ups:

15 Northwest Territories (25)
21 New Brunswick (23)
22 Alberta (10)
23 Ontario (14)
28 British Columbia (16)
29 Nunavut (27)
42 Nova Scotia (47)

Prince Edward Island wasn’t included.

As for the bottom 10:

113 Sudan
114 Nigeria
115 Bulgaria
116 Guatemala
117 Egypt
118 Solomon Islands
119 Honduras
120 Kenya
121 Hungary
122 Malaysia

The 122 jurisdictions totalled 10 more than in 2013. For inclusion, the institute requires a minimum of 10 responses per jurisdiction.

The anonymous replies also included comments which, for Canadian provinces and territories, note serious but unsurprising concerns.

But for some people, the rankings rankled. B.C.’s 10th-place finish out of 12 Canadian jurisdictions doesn’t jibe with the province’s second-place status for mining investment, according to the Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia. Citing data from Natural Resources Canada, AME BC credited Ontario as Canada’s favourite for attracting investment. Fraser Institute respondents stuck that province with ninth place in Canada.

“Furthermore, one of the best indicators of success in exploration is seeing discoveries move through to mine development,” said AME BC president/CEO Gavin Dirom. “In recent years, we have seen a number of new major metal mines constructed in our province, including Copper Mountain in 2011, New Afton in 2012 and Mount Milligan in 2013. Also, Red Chris is being readied for commercial operations, and the KSM and Kitsault mine development projects have received environmental assessment certificates.”

The NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines noted the Northwest Territories’ considerable improvement and its breakaway territory’s slight slump. The organization vowed to continue working with federal and territorial governments “to improve the investment climate for exploration and mining in the two territories.”

Download the Fraser Institute Survey of Mining Companies 2014.

Yellowknife’s Giant mine bomber gets extended leave

January 26th, 2015

by Greg Klein | January 26, 2015

Sentenced to life imprisonment for killing nine strikebreakers in 1992, Roger Warren has been granted extended medical leave, Canadian Press reported January 26. Now 71, he had been on day parole since June after being released from a minimum security prison near Vancouver.

Yellowknife’s Giant mine bomber gets extended leave

In 1993 Warren, after agreeing to an RCMP lie detector test, admitted planting a bomb that killed the men during an acrimonious strike at Yellowknife’s Giant mine. He stated that he climbed down an unguarded shaft and connected explosives to a trip wire. A passing man car carrying nine workers detonated the bomb. Warren later tried to recant his confession but was convicted in 1995 of nine counts of second-degree murder. The judge called his actions “nothing less than an act of terrorism.”

Employees had walked off the job after the owner, Royal Oak Mines, called for cutbacks in wages and benefits due to a declining gold price. The bitterly divided town of 17,000 then experienced vandalism, arson, brawls and a near-riot following the company’s decision to bring in replacement workers and a private security force.

The union told media it was willing to tie wages to gold prices but wanted improvements in safety. “We just don’t want to see [Westray] happen here,” one striker told reporters, referring to the Nova Scotia mine accident that killed 26 underground workers in May 1992. Warren’s bomb went off three months later.

On behalf of the victims’ families, the Workers’ Compensation Board launched a $10-million lawsuit against Royal Oak, the security company, the union and the Northwest Territories government. In 2010, after 16 years of litigation, the federal Supreme Court dismissed the action.

The mine shut down in 1999 after Royal Oak went into receivership. The company left Canadian taxpayers with an estimated $903-million bill for a yet-to-begin plan to clean up 237,000 tonnes of arsenic trioxide.

“Giant was built before northern miners were required to post environmental cleanup bonds,” stated CP in March 2013. “In fact, the mess left at Giant is one of the reasons such legislation was drafted.”