Category Archives: miscellaneous

Saskatchewan suggests it should be new home of NEB board of governors

Province responds to federal report on modernization of the National Energy Board


Published on: June 13, 2017 | Last Updated: June 13, 2017 11:46 AM CST

 Dustin Duncan

Energy Minister Dustin Duncan TROY FLEECE / REGINA LEADER-POST

In response to a federal report on modernizing the National Energy Board (NEB), the provincial government suggests a Saskatchewan location for a new board of governors.

Late last year, federal Minister of Natural Resources Jim Carr established an expert panel to review the structure, role and mandate of the NEB. Following widespread consultations, it submitted its final report, Forward, Together: Enabling Canada’s Clean, Safe, and Secure Energy Future, in May 2017.

During the review, the Saskatchewan government shared three main interests with the panel — to gain greater access to tidewater for Canadian-produced crude oil, to prioritize moving toward pan-Canadian crude oil self-sufficiency, and to repair the global image of Canadian crude oil through promotion of the facts at home and abroad.

“Our government welcomes changes that will result in the approval of sound energy projects,” said Dustin Duncan, provincial energy and resources minister, in a news release issued Tuesday. “But those projects must be built in a timely manner for the benefit of all Canadians, including those who live and work in Saskatchewan.”

The provincial government maintains the NEB needs to separate broad policy concerns from the technical review process, while avoiding lengthy approval timelines for project proponents. One of the panel’s specific recommendations is to abolish the NEB and establish two separate bodies: the Canadian Energy Transmission Commission (CETC), to perform the technical review of pipeline projects within the federal jurisdiction; and the Canadian Energy Information Agency (CEIA), to provide data, information and analysis to both decision makers and the public.

The panel also recommends that the CETC be comprised of an independent board of governors located in Ottawa and hearing commissioners located anywhere in Canada.

“Our government supports the creation of two separate bodies, but we strongly disagree with the panel’s recommendation to situate a potential board of governors in Ottawa,” Duncan said.

“Saskatoon is the ideal location. Most major oil and gas pipelines pass through Saskatchewan and many companies have a major presence in our province, although none have headquarters in Saskatoon,” he added in the release. He suggested a Saskatoon location would allow close proximity to the energy expertise in this province and Alberta and contended that “locating the board in Saskatoon guards against concerns of partisanship and influence from lobby groups.”

The provincial government has submitted multiple comments primarily focusing on the ability of the NEB, or its successor, to approve energy projects using a non-partisan, science-based approach.




Rio Tinto CEO sees Canada as less business-friendly than in past

Rio Tinto CEO sees Canada as less business-friendly than in past


MONTREAL — Reuters

Published Tuesday, Jun. 13, 2017 8:43AM EDT

Last updated Tuesday, Jun. 13, 2017 8:48AM EDT


The chief executive of Anglo-Australian miner Rio Tinto , which owns iron ore, diamond and aluminum mines and processing facilities in Canada, said on Tuesday that it was becoming tougher to do business in the resource-rich country.

“You know mining well and you understand its value, but to be very frank it has been getting harder to do business here over the years – from employee relations to tax to managing land access,” Rio Tinto CEO Jean-Sebastien Jacques said in prepared remarks to be delivered at the International Economic Forum of the Americas in Montreal. Jacques did not elaborate on his comments.

Calling it the “biggest mining and metals company in Canada,” Jacques said Rio Tinto had paid $3.9-billion in Canadian taxes since 2011 while investing more than $8-billion.

Rio Tinto employs around 15,000 people in Canada at more than 35 sites, including the Iron Ore Company of Canada in Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador, the Diavik diamond mine in the Northwest Territories and an aluminum smelter in British Columbia.

A Quebec court ruled in 2014 that a $900-million lawsuit by two Canadian aboriginal communities against a subsidiary of Rio Tinto can proceed. The communities in eastern Canada have said that more than 50 years of iron ore mining in the region has disrupted their traditional way of life.

Jacques said that investment and growth drove wealth generation, which in turn created higher living standards. Fair trade was also key, he said.

“The danger in the current climate is that we focus on wealth distribution and not wealth creation. Both are absolutely critical, but without growth we will have no wealth created to fairly distribute,” he said.




Climate change researchers cancel expedition because of climate change – too much ice

Climate change researchers cancel expedition because of climate change

Icebreaker CCGS Amundsen diverted from science mission, continues search and rescue work

By Laura Glowacki, CBC News

Posted: Jun 12, 2017 2:06 PM CT Last Updated: Jun 12, 2017 4:41 PM CT

Icebreaker Amundsen
The CCGS Amundsen, an icebreaker with 40 scientists on board, was diverted from the first leg of a journey through the Arctic on Sunday to help search and rescue efforts off the coast of Newfoundland in the Strait of Belle Isle. (Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans)

A team of scientists had to abandon an expedition through Hudson Bay because of hazardous ice conditions off the coast of Newfoundland caused by climate change.

About 40 scientists from five Canadian universities were scheduled to use the icebreaker CCGS Amundsen for the first leg of a 133-day expedition across the Arctic. It’s part of a $17-million, four-year project led by the University of Manitoba that looks at both the effects of climate change as well as public health in remote communities.

Their trip began May 25 in Quebec City, but due to bad ice conditions off the coast of Newfoundland, the icebreaker was diverted from its course to help ferries and fishing boats navigate the Strait of Belle Isle, said David Barber, a climate change scientist at the University of Manitoba and leader of the Hudson Bay expedition called BaySys.

Thick, dense ice had travelled to the area down from the High Arctic, said Barber, which caused unsuspecting boats to become stuck and even take on water.

“The requirements for search and rescue trumped the requirements for science,” said Barber. “The search and rescue calls were coming in quite fast and furious.”

‘Very severe ice conditions’

According to the Canadian Coast Guard, the conditions were unlike anything ever seen before in the area.

“It was just extreme ice conditions that required everything that we’ve got in order to make sure we were able to provide the services,” said Julie Gascon, the coast guard’s assistant commissioner for the central and Arctic region.

Strong northeastern winds started packing in ice in late April and never stopped, said Gascon. The result was sea ice conditions treacherous for even an icebreaker to navigate.

“We never had any issues in the past of this nature,” she said. “Very severe ice conditions.”

ice off nfld June 8 2017
A photo taken on June 8 shows ice on the water near Newfoundland. (Environment Canada)

Eventually Barber decided leaving the area for Churchill would put lives in danger so he called off the first leg of the expedition.

“It was an extremely difficult decision to make but I believe it was the right one to make,” he said.

While assisting the Canadian Coast Guard with search and rescue, the scientists took advantage of their diversion to the Strait of Belle Isle, a waterway between Labrador and Newfoundland.

Barber and his team began using their equipment on board the icebreaker to take samples and analyze the ice.

They determined it was multi-year ice, not typical of the northeast coast of North America and most likely from the High Arctic. Chunks measured between five and eight metres thick.

“This is the first time we’ve actually seen ice from the High Arctic,” said Barber, who has studied the impacts of climate change on sea ice for decades.

“What happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay there. It comes south.”- David Barber, climate scientist

Typically when people think about climate change they think about thinning ice, but Barber points out the warming action also loosens ice and broken icebergs can travel long distances on ocean currents.

“It’s very much a climate-change driven phenomenon,” said Barber. “When you reduce the extent of the ice and reduce the thickness of it, it becomes more mobile.”

Environment and Climate Change Canada said ice conditions improved slightly on Monday in the Strait of Belle Isle but continue to be troubling off the northeast coast of Newfoundland, which is seeing a higher than normal concentration of ice.

“Typically there would be very little or no ice left in either of these areas at this time of year, let alone the thick ice pack we are currently seeing off the northeast coast of Newfoundland,” a spokesperson for the federal department said in an email.

Barber said the experience off Newfoundland’s coast provides a valuable lesson about climate change to the Canadian government.

“What happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay there. It comes south,” he said. “We’re simply ill-prepared.”

Barber hopes to resume the Quebec City to Churchill journey next year, while other scientists still plan on boarding the Amundsen for the second leg of the expedition, Churchill to Iqaluit, July 6.




National Energy Board plans new rules for pipeline parts

National Energy Board plans new rules for pipeline parts


CALGARY — Reuters

Published Monday, Jun. 12, 2017 4:37PM EDT

Last updated Monday, Jun. 12, 2017 4:38PM EDT


Canada’s National Energy Board (NEB) will push for a shift in standards for pipeline parts after TransCanada Corp and Enbridge Inc discovered some that they were using had been substandard, a senior regulatory official told Reuters.

The NEB’s changes must pass external standards committees that include the pipeline industry and would change the way manufacturers have been designing parts, making production more complicated, NEB chief engineer Iain Colquhoun said.

The NEB will set out precise measures after a multi-party workshop in June, Colquhoun said in an interview in late May.

“They’re big changes in philosophy because the standards that we are (currently) using evolved over many decades,”

The changes are unlikely to significantly affect pipeline operators, although parts manufacturers may see some increased costs as they try to meet new requirements.

The NEB in April warned about parts from Tecnoforge, a subsidiary of Italy’s Valvitalia SpA, and South Korea’s TK Corp, but did not name the companies using them.

An internal NEB memo seen by Reuters under access-to-information laws named TransCanada as the company using Tecnoforge fittings and noted it had two similar cases with other manufacturers.

Colquhoun, who spoke to Reuters after it had seen the memo, identified Enbridge as the company using TK Corp fittings.

TransCanada and Enbridge said in separate statements they acted immediately and proactively after discovering the issues and that all their pipes were safe. Valvitalia and TK Corp declined to comment, with the latter calling the issue “sensitive.”

Both firms discovered the substandard parts prior to putting them into operation, and the companies were not penalized.

Pipe parts are usually made stronger than needed, and the substandard ones had not caused safety issues, but the “repeated occurrence” of the matter demands broad action, according to the NEB memo, dated October 2016.

Colquhoun said the NEB would push for manufacturing processes in which strength was determined at the design level through more calculations in coming up with attributes such as thickness and diameter.

The NEB may also push for other changes to production processes, including in heat treatment, he said.

According to the NEB, TransCanada discovered a substandard Tecnoforge fitting in 2016 on a compressor station on its Nova Gas Transmission Ltd network, which spans the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia. The company has since removed at least 44 of its “several hundred” fittings from the maker installed since 2011, the NEB said.

According to the NEB, Enbridge discovered a substandard TK Corp part in 2012 on a minor pipeline system under the authority of the province of Alberta.

Enbridge said that it has replaced more than 400 fittings, although it did not name the pipeline system they had been on.




K+S Potash, Ducks Unlimited in $2.8 million project to protect wetland in Saskatchewan

K+S Potash, Ducks Unlimited in $2.8 million project to protect wetland in Saskatchewan

K+S Potash

June 5, 2017


Regina, Sask. – K+S Potash Canada (KSPC) has committed over $2.8 million in funding for wetland conservation through an agreement with Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) to ensure wetlands affected by the Bethune mine are offset through the restoration and preservation of wetlands across Saskatchewan. The agreement, based on a unique science-based formula developed by Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Environment in collaboration with DUC and KSPC, is the largest-known wetland industry offset in Saskatchewan’s history.

“Wetlands are one of the most important eco-systems on the planet and provide critical habitat for migratory birds including waterfowl,” explains Trevor Plews, Head of Conservation Programs for DUC in Saskatchewan. “Wetlands have been in decline for many years and because Saskatchewan is in the heart of waterfowl breeding habitat in North America, this offset agreement goes a long way to help mitigate habitat loss in this very important region.”

KSPC’s offset agreement is the largest mitigation payment DUC has ever received in Saskatchewan and will enable DUC to invest in areas that provide the greatest conservation value possible. Direct and indirect impact on 199 acres of wetlands near the Bethune mine site will be offset by restoring 361 acres of wetlands in DUC’s target landscapes in Saskatchewan.

Eric Cline, Vice President of Land and Sustainable Development for KSPC, says the agreement satisfies the ministry’s condition for approval of KSPC’s Environmental Impact Statement and does so through a credible third party. “It’s of benefit to have Ducks Unlimited Canada facilitate this agreement because their interest is to maximize the amount of quality wetlands in Saskatchewan,” says Cline. “This partnership with DUC is valuable to our company not only because it ensures the offset meets our commitment to the ministry, but also because it assures the public that the conservation plan is being implemented in a scientific way.”

While this landmark initiative demonstrates the power of collaboration and responsible environmental management in the province, the ministry hopes that other industry players will benefit from this large-scale “test case” of their formula-based approach.

“The lessons learned from this experience will help us further improve and develop this promising approach,” said Brant Kirychuk, Executive Director of the ministry’s Fish, Wildlife and Lands Branch. “I would like to congratulate and thank K+S Potash Canada and Ducks Unlimited Canada for being leaders and innovators in our quest for responsible development.”

This historic announcement corresponds with this year’s World Environment Day which is themed “Connecting People to Nature,” a call to action for people to protect the Earth that we share. “Protecting the Earth is everyone’s responsibility,” says Michael Champion, Head of Industry and Government Relations at DUC, “and we want to recognize the efforts of KSPC in doing their part as a good corporate citizen.”

About K+S Potash Canada GP

K+S Potash Canada GP (KSPC) is a K+S Group company with headquarters in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; a solution potash mine and production facility located near Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan; and a world-class potash handling and storage facility operated in partnership with Pacific Coast Terminals in Port Moody, British Columbia. Bethune mine, formerly known as the Legacy Project, is the first new potash mine in Saskatchewan in nearly fifty years. KSPC celebrated the Grand Opening of Bethune in May 2017 and expects to reach a production capacity of 2 million tonnes by the end of 2017. The Bethune mine has created new job opportunities for Saskatchewan workers and new business opportunities for Saskatchewan companies supplying goods and services to this major economic development. All sales and distribution of the potash produced at the Bethune mine will be carried out through the K+S Group’s experienced and well-established global distribution structures.

About Ducks Unlimited Canada

Ducks Unlimited Canada is the leader in wetland conservation. A registered charity, DUC partners with government, industry, non-profit organizations and landowners to conserve wetlands that are critical to waterfowl, wildlife and the environment.




Sask. mining rescue crews showcase emergency response skills

Sask. mining rescue crews showcase emergency response skills

By Rebekah Lesko

Global News

June 4, 2017

SMA mine rescue 2017

Mining rescue crews from across the province showcased their skills at the Saskatchewan Mine Rescue Skills Competition.

Mining crews from across Saskatchewan came to Saskatoon to show off their emergency response skills.

Teams from potash, coal, uranium and gold mines showcased their rescue skills in simulated scenarios.

If anyone knows how important emergency response training is, it’s Rod Greve.

Greve worked at the Lanigan potash mine for over 40 years and said they are there to help their fellow miners should the need ever arise.

“They want someone to be trained. It’s a highly dedicated group of people from all the mines that get together here,” said GREVE, who is a judge at the 49th annual Saskatchewan Mine Rescue Skills Competition.

“This training improves our community, our teams, our co-workers, everyone benefits from it.”

From fire, to first aid, the competition tests miner’s skills for future emergencies, skills that are even more important in remote regions.

“We need to have to have our own emergency response teams available because resources aren’t available like medical aid or ambulances and fire trucks, we don’t have the communities right next to us,” Camille Pouteaux, a Cameco Key Lake team member, said.

“Having the ability to offer rescue services at the sites are very important.”




New project aims to extract rare earth elements from uranium tailings

New project aims to extract rare earth elements from uranium tailings

Published on: June 5, 2017 | Last Updated: June 5, 2017 6:00 AM CST

 SRC rare earths from uranium tailings

Saskatchewan Research Council mineral division head Bryan Schreiner says a new pilot project to remove rare earth elements from uranium tailings could have significant benefits for the province. KAYLE NEIS / SASKATOON

New technology under development in Saskatoon could make it profitable for Saskatchewan-based mining companies to extract “significant” quantities of rare earth elements from uranium tailings solution that would otherwise go to waste.

The parallel processes being piloted by Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC), which started work on the project three years ago, involve concentrating the tailings solution and then using “cells” containing mixers to separate out each of the rare earth elements.

“It’s good for our uranium companies and it’s good for the province,” said Bryan Shreiner, who heads SRC’s minerals division. “And in terms of value for Canada and the rest of the world, rare earths are in demand.”

Rare earth elements are used to improve alloys and manufacture consumer electronics and other products. While the 17 elements are relatively abundant, they are difficult to produce because they almost never appear in significant concentrations.

SRC’s technology, the product of about three years’ work, could not only ease China’s stranglehold on the global market for rare earths, but make extracting the elements much cheaper than setting up a dedicated facility, Schreiner said.

“The value of the elements is quite high. And the other value proposition here is you’ve already crushed and ground and dissolved the material (to get uranium) so you don’t have to do that for the rare earths.”

Schreiner said funding for the project comes from the Crown corporation’s innovation fund. According to its latest annual report, SRC turned revenues of just under $70 million into $484 million in “direct economic benefits” for the province.

It remains unclear, however, if companies invested in the uranium sector will adopt the technology.

Saskatchewan’s uranium industry has been badly hurt by plummeting prices, the result of collapsing demand in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. It remains unclear if any will choose to invest limited capital in the new technology.

Cameco Corp. spokesman Gord Struthers said in an email that while the project is “very preliminary,” the Saskatoon-based uranium mining company has discussed the possibilities with SRC and is considering whether it can “take it further.”

“It’s an interesting idea that could add additional value to our milling operations,” Struthers wrote.

Schreiner said while challenges remain — SRC is comfortable with the separation process but needs to refine its technique for concentrating the tailings solution — there is little doubt Saskatchewan firms would find a market for rare earth elements.

However, “It has to be tried and tested because the companies aren’t really interested in something unless it’s pretty secure and pretty reliable.”




‘A huge mistake:’ Money manager slams Ottawa on softwood

‘A huge mistake:’ Money manager slams Ottawa on softwood

Noah Zivitz, Managing Editor, BNN

Jun3 1, 2017

The federal government’s reported plan to extend a round of support to Canada’s softwood lumber industry amid a festering trade dispute with the United States is getting a frosty reception from a Toronto-based money manager.

“This is the Liberal government again intervening in the market economy,” Baskin Wealth Management President David Baskin told BNN in an interview Thursday. “It’s sort of the industrial equivalent of No Child Left Behind.”

CTV News was first to report on the Liberals’ plan to extend a helping hand to the softwood industry. The total package is said to tally $867 million, the vast majority would be in the form of loans and loan guarantees. Natural Resource Minister Jim Carr, Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland and Minister of International Trade François-Philippe Champagne, will make an announcement regarding softwood lumber at 1 p.m. ET on Thursday.

The U.S. Commerce Department slapped the industry with countervailing duties ranging from three to 24 per cent in April. Commerce could announce anti-dumping duties later this month.

Baskin is adamant that the Liberals wouldn’t help their cause by providing the industry with an aid package.

“The softwood lumber industry was facing the Canadian dollar at par – and above par – and managed,” he said. “They’ve now had essentially a 25-per-cent price increase as a result of the Canadian dollar being at 74 cents US. You would think that would be enough help.”

“This undermines the government’s trade case…I think it’s a huge mistake.”


BHP Sees ‘Huge Demand’ Boost from China’s New Belt Road

Top Miner Sees ‘Huge Demand’ Boost from China’s New Silk Road

by  David Stringer

May 31, 2017, 9:43 PM CST June 1, 2017, 12:31 AM CST


  • Projects to add about 150 million tons of steel demand: BHP
  • Producer says has lifted force majeure on Escondida copper

Read about Belt Road Project HERE


China’s multi-billion dollarBelt and Road Initiative can deliver a major boost for commodities and will add about 150 million tons to global steel demand, according to BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s largest miner.

The plan to develop infrastructure and rebuild ancient trading routes from China to Europe overland and by sea has seen projects initiated worth about $1.3 trillion, according to Melbourne-based BHP, the biggest exporter of coking coal and the third-largest iron ore supplier. Investments worth $313 billion to $502 billion could be funneled to 62 Belt-Road countries over the next five years, Credit Suisse Group AG said last month.

“Everywhere where we see the infrastructure being built, on the back of that there will be economic development that will trigger copper demand, which will trigger energy demand,” BHP’s Chief Commercial Officer Arnoud Balhuizen told reporters Thursday in Melbourne. “Steel produced in China will be used along the road, and that of course is good for demand for our commodities.”

BHP on Thursday lifted force majeure restrictions at Chile’s Escondida copper mine, where workers carried out a 44-day strike earlier this year, Balhuizen told reporters. Coking coal sales continue to be subject to restrictions following a cyclone in Australia in March, he said.

china focus

The producer declined 0.7 percent to A$23.73 on Thursday in Sydney, extending its decline this year to 5.3 percent.

The “One Belt One Road” initiative promises “huge demand for resources, services and technology,” and is “an opportunity like no other,” Balhuizen said earlier in a speech. BHP gets about 43 percent of full-year revenue from China and a total of at least 68 percent from Asia, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

China’s plan, lauded by President Xi Jinping as a “project of the century,” has the potential to generate about 120 million tons of crude steel demand, according to Citigroup Inc. Increased appetite from infrastructure will support steel even as there’s a slowdown in China’s housing sector, Templeton Emerging Markets Group Executive Chairman Mark Mobius said last month in an interview.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plans for rural electrification, which aim to supply power to every citizen by 2019, and the drive to provide more affordable housing, will also boost commodities and are likely to “have a material impact on demand for coal, iron ore, copper and petroleum,” Balhuizen said in his speech.

BHP sees global demand for potash growing at 2 percent to 3 percent a year through 2030, as the world’s population rises and crop demand swells by 50 percent by 2050, he said. BHP may seek board approval for its Jansen potash project in Canada as early as next June, the producer said last month.



China’s Belt Road Initiative – It’s Huge

Chinese Spending Lures Countries to Its Belt and Road Initiative

By Bloomberg News

May 10, 2017

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s plan to revive an ancient trade route connecting the Middle Kingdom, Central Asia and Europe has morphed into a sweeping campaign to boost global trade and economic growth. While globalization is losing public support in the U.S. and Europe, Xi’s“Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) has met with increasing acceptance from both developing and developed countries hoping to cash in on Chinese largesse.

China silk road 1

Hundreds of leaders and dignitaries from 110 participant countries will gather at a summit in Beijing this month to discuss the grand plan. Countries along the routes account for 16 percent of the global economy today and about a fifth of global trade. But with about 43 percent of the world’s population, China is betting that’s set to increase.

Indeed, China’s outreach seems to have no geographic limits, with New Zealand and South Africa among those to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with China to jump on the “Belt and Road” bandwagon.

China silk road 2

From Bangladesh to Belarus, railways, refineries, bridges, industrial parks and much else is being built. In Colombo, a new city larger than Monaco is taking shape near Sri Lanka’s main port. With an estimated total investment of $13 billion spanning about 25 years, the new city is shaping up as the poster child for the China’s grand plan.

A freight route linking China’s eastern coast and London has already started operating. Stretching over 12,000 kilometers and passing through nine countries, the railway allows cargo to travel across the Eurasia continent in 18 days.

China silk road 3

But it’s not going to be all good news, if history is any guide. From Africa to Latin America, China has a checkered history when it comes to its foreign investments. In Venezuela, a high-speed railway project was abandoned. The Latin American country, also one of the largest recipients of Chinese lending, defaulted last year on a payment of principal in an oil-for-loan program due to a mounting economic crisis at home.

Even in Myanmar, where demand for Chinese money to develop infrastructure is huge, a $3.6 billion dam project was halted after local protests over environment concerns.

China silk road 4

Doubters claim the “Belt and Road Initiative” is all about China exporting its industrial overcapacity and seeking to generate new contracts for its bloated state-owned industries or worse, forcing more and more neighbors into its strategic orbit. Optimists see Chinese investment unlocking economic growth across a vast region with a young population. For Xi, this month’s summit is a chance to persuade a skeptical world that globalization indeed does have a new champion.




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