Category Archives: other minerals

Antarctica’s Larsen Ice Shelf Break-Up driven by Geological Heat Flow Not Climate Change


Antarctica’s Larsen Ice Shelf Break-Up driven by Geological Heat Flow Not Climate Change

Antarctic Larsen Ice Shelf 1
Figure 1) North tip of Antarctic Continent including Larsen Ice Shelf Outline (black line), very active West Antarctica Rift / Fault System (red lines), and currently erupting or semi-active volcanoes (red dots).

Progressive bottom melting and break-up of West Antarctica’s seafloor hugging Larsen Ice Shelf is fueled by heat and heated fluid flow from numerous very active geological features, and not climate change.

This ice shelf break-up process has been the focus of an absolute worldwide media frenzy contending man-made atmospheric global warming is at work in the northwest peninsula of Antarctica.

As evidence, media articles typically include tightly edited close-up photos of cracks forming on the surface of the Larsen Ice Shelf (Figure 2) accompanied by text laced with global warming alarmist catch phrases.

This “advertising / marketing” approach does in fact produce beautiful looking and expertly written articles. However, they lack subsidence, specifically a distinct absence of actual scientific data and observations supporting the purported strong connection to manmade atmospheric global warming.

Working level scientists familiar with, or actually performing research on, the Larsen Ice Shelf utilize an entirely different approach when speaking about or writing about what is fueling this glacial ice break-up.

They ascribe the break-up to poorly understood undefined natural forces (see quote below). Unfortunately, comments by these scientists are often buried deep in media articles and never seem to match the alarmist tone of the article’s headline.

“Scientists have been monitoring the rift on the ice shelf for decades. Researchers told NBC News that the calving event was “part of the natural evolution of the ice shelf,” but added there could be a link to changing climate, though they had no direct evidence of it.” (see here)

Antarctic Larsen Ice Shelf 2
Figure 2) An oblique view of crack in the Antarctic’s Larsen C ice shelf on November 10, 2016. (NBC News Article credit John Sonntag / NASA via EPA

This article discusses what more properly explains what is fueling the Larsen Ice Shelf break-up. A theory that is supported by actual scientific data and observations thereby strongly indicating that the above mentioned undefined natural forces are in fact geological.

Let’s begin by reviewing the map atop this article (Figure 1). This map is a Google Earth image of the local area surrounding, and immediately adjacent to, the Larsen Ice Shelf, here amended with proven active geological features.

If ever a picture told a thousand words this is it. The Larsen Ice Shelf lies in and among: twenty-six semi-active (non-erupting but heat-flowing) land volcanoes, four actively erupting land volcanoes, two proven semi-active seafloor volcano (seamounts), and a proven actively heat flowing major fault system named the West Antarctic Rift.

Not shown on this map are known seafloor hydro-thermal vents (hot seafloor geysers), likely heat emitting fractures, and prominent cone-shaped seafloor mountains that are most likely seamounts (ocean volcanoes).

This geological information paints a very clear and compelling picture that the Larsen Ice Shelf is positioned in an extremely active geological setting. In fact a strong case can be made that the Larsen Ice Shelf owes its very existence to a down-faulted low valley that has acted as a glacial ice container (see research on the Bentley Subglacial Trench of the West Antarctic Rift / Fault).

Next let’s review in more detail a few of the key very local areas on the Figure 1 map which will help clarify the power and recent activity of these areas.

First up, the Seal Nunataks area which is labeled on the Figure 1 map as “16 Semi-Active Volcanoes“.  In general, these volcanoes lie within and push up through the northern portion of the Larsen Ice Shelf (Figure 3).

More specifically, the Larsen Ice Shelf is formally divided into three sub-areas: northern “A” segment, central “B” segment, and southern “C” segment. The 16 Seal Nunataks‘ volcanoes are strongly aligned in a west to east fashion and are designated as the boundary between the Larsen “A” and B” segments.

This 50-mile-long and 10-mile-wide chain of visible land volcanoes has likely been continuously volcanically active for at least the last 123 years based on limited amounts of data from this remote and largely unmonitored area.

Each time humans have visited this area they have recorded obvious signs of heat and heated fluid flow in the form of: fresh lava flows on volcanoes, volcanic ash on new snow, and volcanic debris in relatively new glacial ice. Remember, these observations only document volcanic activity on exposed land surfaces, and not the associated volcanic activity occurring on the seafloor of this huge volcanic platform.

More modern research published in 2014 by Newcastle University is here interpreted to indicate that the Larsen “B” portion of the greater Larsen Ice Shelf pulsed a massive amount of heat in 2002. Research elevation instruments showed that a huge portion of the Larsen “B” area quickly rose up, likely in response to swelling of underlying deep earth lava pockets (mantle magma chambers).

This process heated the overlying uplifted ground. This heated ground then acted to bottom melt the overlying glaciers (quote below). This is an awesome display of the power geologically induced heat flow can have on huge expanses of glacial ice.

“Scientists led by Newcastle University in the UK studied the impact of the collapse of the giant Larsen B ice shelf in 2002, using Global Positioning System (GPS) stations to gauge how the Earth’s mantle responded to the relatively sudden loss of billions of tonnes of ice as glaciers accelerated. As expected, the bedrock rose without the weight but at a pace ‚Äì as much as 5 centimetres a year in places ‚Äì that was about five times the rate that could be attributed by the loss of ice mass alone”, said Matt King, now at the University of Tasmania (UTAS), who oversaw the work.

“It’s like the earth in 2002 was prodded by a stick, a very big stick, and we’ve been able to watch how it responded,” Professor King said. “We see the earth as being tremendously dynamic and always changing, responding to the forces.”  Such dynamism – involving rocks hundreds of kilometres below the surface moving “like honey” – could have implications for volcanoes in the region. Professor King said. (see here)

Antarctic Larsen Ice Shelf 3
Figure 3) Map of the Seal Nunataks 16 Semi-active volcanoes relative to the three Larsen Ice Shelf segments, “A”, “B”, and “C” (see here). Also, a historical aerial photo of several Seal Nunatak volcanic cones pushing up through the Larsen Ice Shelf.

It is clear that the vast Seal Nunataks’ volcanic plateau at the very least pulsed significant amounts of heat and likely heated fluid flow in the following years: 1893, 1968, 1982, 1985, 1988, 2002, 2010.

The next key local area on the Figure 1 map is portion labeled as “6 Semi-Active Volcanoes” of which two are seamounts (seafloor volcanoes) and four are land volcanoes. All of these geological features are known to be currently emitting heat and heated fluid flow, however the rate and volume of this flow is not well understood. The most noteworthy feature is Deception Island, which is a huge six-mile-wide collapsed land volcano (caldera).

This volcanic feature: extends a great distance outward and downward into the surrounding ocean, has been earthquake active in the years 1994 / 1995 / 1996, and has moderately erupted in the years 1820, 1906 / 1910 / 1967 / 1969 / 1992.

Early explorers used the harbor created by this collapsed volcano, however, on occasion they had to abandon their moorings when the seawater in the harbor boiled (see quote below). More modern research stations in the 1960s had to temporarily abandon the island due to moderate eruptions.

“The fifth volcano, off the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, is a crater that has been ruptured by the sea to form a circular harbor known as Deception Island. Beginning in the 1820s, it was used as shelter by sealing fleets from New England and later by whalers.

On occasion, water in that harbor has boiled, peeling off bottom paint from the hulls of ships that did not escape in time. An eruption a decade ago damaged research stations established there by both Britain and Chile.

This volcano and the two newly discovered ones on the opposite side of the peninsula, the longest on earth, are thought to be formed by lava released from a southeastward-moving section of the Pacific floor that is burrowing under the peninsula in the same process thought to have formed the Andean mountain system farther north, in South America.” (see here)

The last two key local areas on the Figure 1 map are labeled as “1 Erupting and 5 Semi-Active Volcanoes” and “3 Erupting Volcanoes. These two areas represent major currently erupting land volcanoes that are spewing huge amount of ash into the atmosphere, and most importantly, massive amounts of heat and heated fluid flow into the surrounding ocean (see here and here).

These ongoing eruptions all lie along, and are generated by, deep earth faulting associated with the northern extension of the West Antarctic Rift / Fault System (red lines on Figure 1 map). The reader is directed to previous Climate Change Dispatcharticles detailing heat flow and volcanic activity along this West Antarctic 5,000-mile-long fault system (see here and here)

Reviewing how mega-geological forces drive Earth’s internal heat engine also has direct bearing on what is fueling the Larsen Ice Shelf Break-up as follows:

  • Earth is undergoing an extremely active period of volcanic and earthquake activity during the last three years especially major deep ocean fault systems such as those associated with the Pacific Rim of Fire and Icelandic Mid-Atlantic Ocean Rift. It makes perfect sense that the West Antarctic Rift / Fault System which underlies the Larsen Ice Shelf has also become more active of during this time frame.
  • The 2015-2016 El Ni√±o Ocean “Warm Blob” has now been proven to be caused / generated by “natural forces”, and not manmade or other purely atmospheric forces. These natural forces are almost certainly geological as per numerous previous Climate Change Dispatch articles (see hereand here). If geological forces have the power to warm the entire Pacific Ocean, they can certainly act to warm the ocean beneath the Larsen Ice Shelf.
  • Climate scientists favoring manmade Global Warming continue to force fit all anomalous warming events into an atmospheric framework because this is the only abundant data source they have available. However, there is very little global atmospheric data that supports rapid local Larsen Ice Shelf melting or local rapid ocean warming. Most global atmospheric data indicates that the Antarctic atmosphere is cooling or not changing temperature.
  • The surface of our planet is 70% water and 90 % of all active volcanoes are present on the floor of Earth’s oceans. Quite amazingly only 3-5% of the ocean floors have been explored by human eyes, and virtually none of this area is monitored. This is especially true in the nearly unexplored / completely unmonitored deep regions of the oceans in and around the Larsen Ice Shelf.
  • It just makes sense that if major rift / fault zones that from the boundary of Earth’s outer crustal plates that have the power to move entire continents 1-2inches per year, certainly have the power to warm oceans as per the Plate Climatology Theory. The Weddell Sea which surrounds the Larsen Ice Shelf, no problem.

In summary huge amounts of research and other readily available information clearly indicates that the Larsen Ice shelf lies within a geologically active region. Media reports that do not mention this aspect relative to the potential cause of bottom melting and subsequent break-up of the Larsen “A”, “B”, and “C” glaciers are best characterized as “Fake News” and not “97% Proven / the Debate is Over” news.

Thankfully there are smaller media venues such as Climate Change Dispatch that provide scientists with a platform to present viable alternative explanations to complicated climate and climate-related events, specifically in this case…. Antarctica’s Larsen Ice Shelf Break-Up is Fueled by Geological Heat Flow and Not Climate Change.

James Edward Kamis is a Geologist and AAPG member of 42 years with a B.S. and M.S. in geology who has always been fascinated by the connection between Geology and Climate. More than 12 years of research / observation have convinced him that the Earth’s Heat Flow Engine, which drives the outer crustal plates, is also an important driver of the Earth’s climate. The Plate Climatology Theory ( was recently presented / published at the annual 2016 American Meteorological Society Conference in New Orleans, LA. (see here)


REFERENCES Warm Winds not Climate Change but from Geologically Warmed Ocean. Three Volcanoes North of Antarctica Erupt at Once Bristol Island Eruption May 1, 2016 Lamont Doherty Involvement in Operation Ice Bridge Antarctica Deception Island South Shetland Islands Antarctica Mantle Under Larsen Shelf Rises and Activates Volcanoes. Bentley Subglacial Trench in West Antarctica  Map Larsen Ice Shelf Deception Island and Bransfield Strait



Why Commodity Traders Are Fleeing the Business

Why Commodity Traders Are Fleeing the Business

The number of trading houses has dwindled, and the institutional, pure-play commodity hedge funds that remain are few.

By Shelley Goldberg

July 12, 2017, 3:00 AM CST July 12, 2017, 11:32 AM CST



Copper, the “beast” of commodities.

 Photographer: John Guillemin/Bloomberg

Profiting from commodity trading often requires a combination of market knowledge, luck, and most importantly, strong risk management. But the number of commodity trading houses has dwindled over the years, and the institutional, pure-play commodity hedge funds that remain — and actually make money — can be counted on two hands. Here is a list of some of the larger commodity blow-ups:


Phillip Brothers

The largest and most successful commodity trading house in its day caved, triggered by copper trading


Metallgesellschaft AG

The New York branch of this large German conglomerate lost $1.5 billion in heating oil and gasoline derivatives


Sumitomo Corp.

Yasuo Hamanaka blamed for $2.6 billion loss in copper scandal


Enron Corp.

Dissolves after misreporting natural gas trades, resulting in Arthur Andersen, a ‘Big 5’ accounting firm’s fall from grace



Broker of commodities and futures contracts files for bankruptcy after accounting fraud


Amaranth Advisors

Energy hedge fund folds after losing over $6 billion on natural gas futures


BlueGold Capital

One of the best-performing hedge funds in 2011, closed its doors in 2012, shrinking from $2 billion to $1.2 billion on crude oil bets


Brevan Howard Asset Management

One of the largest hedge funds globally. Closed its $630 million commodity fund after having run well over $1 billion of a $42 billion fund



The sister and energy trading arm of Phillip Brothers, ranked (1980) the 15thlargest U.S. company, dissolves


Vermillion Asset Management

Private-equity firm Carlyle Group LP split with the founders of its Vermillion commodity hedge fund, which shrank from $2 billion to less than $50 million.

Amid the mayhem, banks held tightly to their commodity desks in the belief that there was money to be made in this dynamic sector. The trend continued until the implementation of the Volcker rule, part of the Dodd-Frank Act, which went into effect in April 2014 and disallowed short-term proprietary trading of securities, derivatives, commodity futures and options for banks’ own accounts. As a result, banks pared down their commodity desks, but maintained the business.

Last week, however, Bloomberg reported that Goldman Sachs was “reviewing the direction of the business” after a multi-year slump and yet another quarter of weak commodity prices.

What happened?

In the 1990s boom years, commodity bid-ask spreads were so wide you could drive a freight truck through them. Volatility came and went, but when it came it was with a vengeance, and traders made and lost fortunes. Commodity portfolios could be up or down about 20 percent within months, if not weeks. Although advanced trading technologies and greater access to information have played a role in the narrowing of spreads, there are other reasons specific to the commodities market driving the decision to exit. Here are the main culprits:

  1. Low volatility: Gold bounces between $1,200 and $1,300 an ounce, WTI crude straddles $45 to $50 per barrel, and corn is wedged between $3.25 and $4 a bushel. Volatility is what traders live and breathe by, and the good old days of 60 percent and 80 percent are now hard to come by. Greater efficiency in commodity production and consumption, better logistics, substitutes and advancements in recycling have reduced the concern about global shortages. Previously, commodity curves could swing from a steep contango (normal curve) to a steep backwardation (inverted curve) overnight, and with seasonality added to the mix, curves resembled spaghetti.
  2. Correlation: Commodities have long been considered a good portfolio diversifier given their non-correlated returns with traditional asset classes. Yet today there’s greater evidence of positive correlations between equities and crude oil and Treasuries and gold.
  3. Crowded trades: These are positions that attract a large number of investors, typically in the same direction. Large commodity funds are known to hold huge positions, even if these only represent a small percent of their overall portfolio. And a decision to reverse the trade in unison can wipe out businesses. In efforts to eke out market inefficiencies, more sophisticated traders will structure complex derivatives with multiple legs (futures, options, swaps) requiring high-level expertise.
  4. Leverage: Margin requirements for commodities are much lower than for equities, meaning the potential for losses (and profits) is much greater in commodities.
  5. Liquidity: Some commodities lack liquidity, particularly when traded further out along the curve, to the extent there may be little to no volume in certain contracts. Futures exchanges will bootstrap contract values when the markets close, resulting in valuations that may not reflect physical markets and grossly swing the valuations on marked-to-market portfolios. Additionally, investment managers are restricted from exceeding a percentage of a contract’s open interest, meaning large funds are unable to trade the more niche commodities such as tin or cotton.
  6. Regulation: The Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission have struggled and competed for years over how to better regulate the commodities markets. The financial side is far more straightforward, but the physical side poses many insurmountable challenges. As such, the acts of “squeezing” markets through hoarding and other mechanisms still exist. While the word “manipulation” is verboten in the industry, it has reared its head over time. Even with heightened regulation, there’s still room for large players to maneuver prices — for example, Russians in platinum and palladium, cocoa via a London trader coined “Chocfinger,” and a handful of Houston traders with “inside” information on natural gas.
  7. Cartels: Price control is not only a fact in crude oil, with prices influenced by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries but with other, more loosely defined cartels that perpetuate in markets such as diamonds and potash.
  8. It’s downright difficult: Why was copper termed “the beast” of commodities, a name later applied to natural gas? Because it’s seriously challenging to make money trading commodities. For one, their idiosyncratic characteristics can make price forecasting practically impossible. Weather events such as hurricanes and droughts, and their ramifications, are difficult to predict. Unanticipated government policy, such as currency devaluation and the implementation of tariffs and quotas, can cause huge commodity price swings. And labor movements, particularly strikes, can turn an industry on its head. Finally, unlike equity prices, which tend to trend up gradually like a hot air balloon but face steep declines (typically from negative news), commodities have the reverse effect — prices typically descend gradually, but surge when there’s a sudden supply shortage.

What are the impacts? The number of participants in the sector will likely drop further, but largely from the fundamental side, as there’s still a good number of systematic commodity traders who aren’t concerned with supply and demand but only with the market’s technical aspects. This will keep volatility low and reduce liquidity in some of the smaller markets. But this is a structural trend that feasibly could reverse over time. The drop in the number of market makers will result in inefficient markets, more volatility and thus, more opportunity. And the reversal could come about faster should President Donald Trump succeed in jettisoning Dodd-Frank regulations.

(Corrects attribution of Goldman’s review of commodity operations in third paragraph.)

Bloomberg Prophets Professionals offering actionable insights on markets, the economy and monetary policy. Contributors may have a stake in the areas they write about.

To contact the author of this story:
Shelley Goldberg at

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Max Berley at


Helium infographic

Saskatchewan has a rare helium deposit. See Weil Group eyes growing helium market with $10-million plant in Mankota Saskatchewan It has be known for a while Helium Prospects in Southwest Saskatchewan by H.B. Sawatzky, R.G. Agarwal and W. Wilson – 1960

Helium Infographic

Further troubles lie ahead as Ottawa’s attempt at modernizing major resource project approval processes reveals a divided Canada

Further troubles lie ahead as Ottawa’s attempt at modernizing major resource project approval processes reveals a divided Canada

By Darrell Stonehouse

June 29, 2017, 1:21 p.m.

Kinder Morgan tanker at terminal

Image: Kinder Morgan Canada


Call it an exercise in herding cats.

Only one year into the federal government’s efforts to reshape Canada’s environmental and regulatory processes surrounding resource development, and it’s already revealed a country deeply divided on how to assess environmental concerns with new projects and how to regulate industry to mitigate any issues.

The federal government launched its multi-department review last June after instituting a temporary system in January for projects already under environmental assessment. The goal is to replace the environmental assessment legislation put in place by Stephen Harper’s Conservatives in 2012, while modernizing the National Energy Board (NEB), Fisheries Act, and Navigation Protection Act.

The rationale for the review is to “restore Canadians’ trust in environmental assessments,” said Catherine McKenna, the federal minister of environment and climate change.

“The review of Canada’s environmental and regulatory practices will ensure that decisions are based on science, facts and evidence,” added Kirsty Duncan, the federal minister of science.

Over the last year, the government has been gathering submissions and holding public hearings to get input from Canadians across the country. In early April, the expert panel reviewing the environmental assessment process released its recommendations. A similar report concerning the modernization of the NEB was released in mid-May.

The preliminary results from the environmental review show the challenges of trying to balance environmental stewardship with industrial growth.

“Views about federal environmental assessment across the various interests ranged from support to all-out opposition,” the environmental panel said in its report to the government.

The view from industry

Industry was looking for a number of things from the review, including assurances that any new regulations wouldn’t further harm the country’s competitiveness.

“Canada is competing globally for capital investment in our oil and gas resources, and it is imperative for the Canadian economy that Canada remain competitive with other jurisdictions,” Jim Campbell, Cenovus Energy’s vice-president of government and community affairs, told the task force on behalf of his company.

Campbell pointed to a recent study and survey showing the Canadian industry is falling behind competitors when it comes to competing for capital. “Primary reasons cited Canada’s decline include regulatory duplication and inconsistencies and complexity of environmental regulations,” he noted.

In its submission to the task force, Suncor Energy, like most others from industry who offered input, said the federal review process should dovetail with, rather than overlap, provincial and local review processes. The process should, “accent, not duplicate, provincial reviews,” said Suncor. “One project, one assessment. Duplicate reviews do not add additional protections and can add years to project applications.”

The federal assessment “should be a process to assess residual environmental risks in areas of federal jurisdiction,” Suncor added.

Cenovus, with most of its primary assets in Alberta, agreed primary responsibility for environmental assessments should remain with the provinces.

“Local regulators have the experience and technical expertise to best evaluate projects, work with local communities and perform follow-up monitoring and compliance,” noted Campbell.

Campbell also said federal and provincial environmental assessment processes should be streamlined by allowing for substitution and equivalency agreements based on the principles of the best-placed regulator to do the work and a single-window approach.

When it comes to addressing First Nations’ concerns, Suncor said the federal government, rather than industry, must take a leadership role, pointing out that the review “must ensure the Crown is upholding its duty to consult.”

“Proponents have the responsibility to support the Crown through direct engagement and partnership with affected communities, incorporating traditional knowledge through applications and developing projects in a sustainable manner,” Suncor added.

The oilsands giant said the people and communities closest to projects should be at the front of the line when it comes to consultations in environmental assessments.

“Reviews must allow those most directly affected by the outcome of a particular project to have the greatest opportunity to participate and have a voice in the process,” it noted. “Input from affected stakeholders can get diluted when the process is used for purposes other than gathering information on a specific project.”

Suncor and other resource companies and associations also said they don’t believe the review process should be hijacked by groups wanting to debate larger public concerns outside the boundaries of the project. Governments should first set public policy direction on these broader issues like climate change, and then the review process should ensure public policy standards are met.

“The review process is not the appropriate venue for debating broader public policy,” the company said.

Another key element for industry and provinces with resource-based economies in the review process was ensuring the designated projects section of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 remained in place. Projects including minerals mining (such as potash), linear developments (transmission lines and highways) that do not cross provincial boundaries, extraction of non-potable groundwater, in situ oilsands developments and natural gas facilities were removed from the list of projects requiring federal assessments in the 2012 legislation.

“Removing these projects from federal [environmental assessment] review saved time and cost by greatly reducing unnecessary duplication of [assessments] and other regulatory processes, reducing red tape for proponents while maintaining robust provincial environmental safeguards,” said the government of Saskatchewan in its submission. “The province advocates for the exclusion of such projects from federal review, recognizing mature and effective provincial environmental regulatory review processes.”

Green groups, First Nations look for greater participation in process

While industry looked to streamline the environmental assessment process and provide certainty to investors, environmentalists and First Nations looked for greater input into the process and for the federal government to expand the list of designated projects that require federal approval. Many also requested a climate test be included in the process.

West Coast Environmental Law said it was looking for a “next-generation assessment law” that accounted for the economic, ecological and social aspects of sustainability, that respected First Nations authority and governance, that provided for full public participation, and that connected the assessment, decision-making and action of different levels of government.

They also wanted the law to “address the causes and effects of climate change, include strategic and regional assessment as fundamental components, and to require appropriate assessment of the thousands of smaller projects currently not being studied.”

“This isn’t the time to make small adjustments to a deeply flawed process—we need a new law that ensures the health of Canadians and the environment, and this is our chance to get it right,” said Stephen Hazell, the director of conservation and general counsel at Nature Canada.

Recommendations favour expansion of federal role in assessments

The initial report from the expert panel is promising many of the big changes environmentalists and others who submitted opinions wanted. The first is a major expansion in the assessment process beyond the environmental impacts of a project.

“We outline that, in our view, assessment processes must move beyond the bio-physical environment to encompass all impacts likely to result from a project, both positive and negative. Therefore, what is now ‘environmental assessment’ should become ‘impact assessment,’” the panel said. “Changing the name of the federal process to impact assessment underscores the shift in thinking necessary to enable practitioners and Canadians to understand the substantive changes being proposed in our report.”

This new assessment process would cover what the panel calls the “five pillars of sustainability: environmental, social, economic, health and cultural impacts.”

While industry said it would like to see public input limited to those most affected by the project, the panel also sided with environmental groups wanting to see broader public input. The panel also said that more meaningful public participation in the assessment process is a must.

“An overarching criterion of public participation opportunities in impact assessment processes is that these opportunities must be meaningful,” the report added. “A meaningful participation process needs to have the inherent potential to influence decisions made throughout the assessment, provide inclusive and accessible opportunities for early and ongoing engagement from the public and indigenous groups, and provide the capacity required for active participation in the engagement.”

The panel said current rules regarding public participation are lacking and have been perceived as having been designed to “limit public participation in the assessment process.”

The panel believes the NEB’s adoption of the “standing test” has greatly hindered trust in its assessments.

“The degree to which this test has limited participation is evident through NEB participation data. The outcome of this is not an efficient assessment process or timely incorporation of public input into a decision-making process,” the panel said. “In the case of the Trans Mountain Expansion project review, a ministerial panel was convened after the NEB assessment process was completed, at least in part to hear from those who felt shut out of the initial process. In short, limiting public participation reduces the trust and confidence in assessment processes without bringing any obvious process efficiency.”

“The panel recommends that…legislation require that [an impact assessment] provide early and ongoing participation opportunities that are open to all,” the report said. “Results of public participation should have the potential to impact decisions.”

The expert panel also questioned the need for time limits on the review process, suggesting that instead, the time frame of the review process be project-specific. The current process, put in place in 2012, requires environmental assessments of projects that occur on federal lands, such as pipelines, to be completed within one or two years, depending on the project’s size and complexity.

“This has not met the objective of delivering cost- and time-certainty to proponents,” the report said. “Our recommended approach seeks to build public confidence in the assessment process. We believe that public trust can lead to more efficient and timely reviews. It may also support getting resources to market.”

The expert panel also recommended a number of ways to increase First Nations participation in the assessment process, including implementing the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), “especially with respect to the manner in which environmental assessment processes can be used to address potential impacts to potential or established aboriginal or treaty rights.”

The panel recognized that there are broader discussions that need to occur between the federal government and indigenous peoples with respect to nation-to-nation relationships, overlapping and unresolved claims to aboriginal rights and titles, reconciliation, treaty implementation and the broader implementation of UNDRIP. According to the panel, many of these discussions will be necessary prerequisites for the full and effective implementation of the recommendations contained in the report.

Among its recommendations regarding indigenous people, the panel suggested that indigenous peoples be included in “decision-making at all stages of the assessment process, in accordance with their own laws and customs.”

It also suggests First Nations be funded adequately to allow meaningful participation in the process and be given the time to review information.

The panel report defines the criteria for the type of projects that should be federally reviewed and limits the criteria of projects that are included for federal review in the designated projects list.

“Many participants favoured the continued use of a project list approach to trigger federal assessments because it is predictable and clear and places the focus on major resource projects,” wrote the panel.

“Requiring an assessment for projects with minor impacts was described as too burdensome and time-consuming for proponents and lacking proportionality. Participants also said, however, that the current project list is too focused on certain industries, such as mining, and should be revisited to ensure that the list more accurately reflects projects with the highest potential for adverse effects, with some participants indicating that in situ oilsands projects and hydraulic fracturing activities should be included.”

The committee recommended only projects that affect federal interests should be included on the list. This differs from the current approach that includes projects that may not affect matters of federal interest. And it said there should be an appropriate threshold for effects on federal interests so that a trivial impact does not trigger an assessment.

“A new project list should be created that would include only projects that are likely to adversely impact matters of federal interest in a way that is consequential for present and future generations,” said the committee.

On the issue of government jurisdiction, there was widespread support for the idea of “one project, one assessment.”

However, a key goal of the assessment process is to leverage the knowledge of all government levels.

“In Canada, many jurisdictions have the expertise, knowledge, best practices and capacity to contribute to impact assessments,” said the panel. “For example, the federal and provincial governments may focus on closely related issues, such as impacts to water quality versus impacts to a fishery. Yet indigenous groups also have relevant knowledge on these topics related to the practice of their aboriginal and treaty rights, their traditional and ongoing land use, and their laws, customs and institutions. Similarly, municipalities are the custodians of land use and the full range of local impacts that affect residents and their communities.”

The committee said it believes the best way to connect all these areas of expertise is through a co-operative approach.

“To date, the best examples of co-operation among jurisdictions have been joint-review panels backed up by general co-operation agreements between Canada and many provinces,” said the committee. “As such, expanding the co-operation model to include all relevant jurisdictions is the preferred method to carry out jurisdictional co-ordination.”

Climate change a sticky issue

The expert panel said the issue of climate change has proved difficult to address under existing environmental assessment regulations.

“Current processes and interim principles take into account some aspects of climate change, but there is an urgent national need for clarity and consistency on how to consider climate change in project and regional assessments,” it said.

The panel said criteria, modelling and methodology must be established to assess a project’s contribution to climate change, consider how climate change may impact the future environmental setting of a project, and consider a project’s or region’s long-term sustainability and resiliency in a changing environmental setting.

Industry is concerned the issue of climate change has sidelined project assessments and turned them into debates over government policy. The panel addressed this issue by recommending the federal government lead a strategic impact assessment or similar co-operative and collaborative mechanism on the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change to provide direction on how to implement the framework and related initiatives in future federal project and regional assessments.


How news organizations unintentionally misinform the public on guns, nuclear power, climate change, etc.

This story can easily be switched to topics of nuclear power, greenhouse gases, climate change, etc.


misinform mislead


How news organizations, including this one, unintentionally misinformed the public on guns

June 27,2017

Mike Wilson, Editor

The Dallas Morning News


Steve Doud, a subscriber from Plano, emailed me to say he’d read something in the June 21 Dallas Morning News that couldn’t possibly be true.

An eight-paragraph Washington Post article on page 10A reported on a national study about kids and guns. The last sentence said 4.2 percent of American kids have witnessed a shooting in the past year.

“Really?” Doud wrote. “Does it really sound believable that one kid out of every 24 has witnessed a shooting in the last year? I think not, unless it was on TV, in a movie, or in a video game. In that case it would probably be more like 100 percent.”

His instincts were right. The statistic was not.

Here is the unfortunate story of how a couple of teams of researchers and a whole bunch of news organizations, including this one, unintentionally but thoroughly misinformed the public.

It all started in 2015, when University of New Hampshire sociology professor David Finkelhor and two colleagues published a study called “Prevalence of Childhood Exposure to Violence, Crime, and Abuse.” They gathered data by conducting phone interviews with parents and kids around the country.

The Finkelhor study included a table showing the percentage of kids “witnessing or having indirect exposure” to different kinds of violence in the past year. The figure under “exposure to shooting” was 4 percent.

Those words — exposure to shooting — are going to become a problem in just a minute.

Earlier this month, researchers from the CDC and the University of Texas published a nationwide study of gun violence in the journal Pediatrics. They reported that, on average, 7,100 children under 18 were shot each year from 2012 to 2014, and that about 1,300 a year died. No one has questioned those stats.

The CDC-UT researchers also quoted the “exposure to shooting” statistic from the Finkelhor study, changing the wording — and, for some reason, the stat — just slightly:

“Recent evidence from the National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence indicates that 4.2 percent of children aged 0 to 17 in the United States have witnessed a shooting in the past year.”

The Washington Post wrote a piece about the CDC-UT study. Why not? Fascinating stuff! The story included the line about all those kids witnessing shootings.

The Dallas Morning News picked up a version of the Washington Post story.

And Steve Doud sent me an email.

When I got it, I asked editorial writer Michael Lindenberger to do some research. He contacted Finkelhor, who explained the origin of the 4 percent “exposure to shooting” stat.

According to Finkelhor, the actual question the researchers asked was, “At any time in (your child’s/your) life, (was your child/were you) in any place in real life where (he/she/you) could see or hear people being shot, bombs going off, or street riots?”

So the question was about much more than just shootings. But you never would have known from looking at the table.

Finkelhor said he understood why “exposure to shooting” might have misled the CDC-UT researchers even though his team provided the underlying question in the appendices. Linda Dahlberg, a CDC violence prevention researcher and co-author of the study featured in The Post and this newspaper, said her team didn’t notice anything indicating the statistic covered other things.

Then again, the Finkelhor study didn’t say anything about kids “witnessing” shootings; that wording was added by the CDC-UT team. Dahlberg said she’ll ask Pediatrics about running a correction.

All of this matters because scientific studies — and the way journalists report on them — can affect public opinion and ultimately public policy. The idea that one in 25 kids witnessed a shooting in the past year was reported around the world, and some of the world probably believed it.

No matter where you stand on guns or any other issue, we ought to be making decisions based on good information.

Finkelhor’s team caused confusion by mislabeling a complicated stat. The CDC-UT researchers should have found the information suspect. The Washington Post should have asked more questions about that line from the CDC-UT study.

And we should have been as skeptical of the Washington Post report as Steve Doud was.




Jim Pattison warns B.C. to stand down on threat of thermal coal levy

Jim Pattison warns B.C. to stand down on threat of thermal coal levy


VANCOUVER — The Globe and Mail

Published Tuesday, Jun. 27, 2017 5:06PM EDT

Last updated Tuesday, Jun. 27, 2017 5:08PM EDT

Jim Pattison 2011

B.C. billionaire Jim Pattison, the largest shareholder in a coal-exporting site in British Columbia, has a message for Victoria – keep your hands off thermal coal shipped from Westshore Terminals Investment Corp.

The BC Liberal government, which wants to impose a hefty carbon levy on thermal coal exports from B.C. ports, might be toppled as early as Thursday by an alliance of the BC NDP and Greens. The Greens support such a carbon tax, though BC NDP Leader John Horgan hasn’t made it a top political priority.

Industry observers say Mr. Horgan, should he become B.C. premier, is unlikely to act as swiftly on thermal coal as Premier Christy Clark pledged to do during the campaign for the May 9 provincial election. But Westshore still faces the political threat of a clampdown on thermal coal, which is used by power plants to generate electricity.

Mr. Pattison said that with the weak long-term outlook for consumption of thermal coal in North America, Westshore should be allowed to continue exporting to electricity producers in countries such as South Korea, Chile and Japan.

“Over time, thermal coal, in my opinion, will be replaced either by natural gas or renewable energy. But there’s lots of thermal coal in the world, and it is certainly legal to export. If we don’t ship it, somebody else will ship it,” he said in an interview, referring to coal suppliers such as Indonesia, Australia and Russia. “All you do is take jobs away from B.C. and Alberta, and American jobs, too.”

Westshore exports U.S. thermal coal that arrives by train at the shipping terminal south of Vancouver. Federally owned Ridley Terminals Inc., located in the Port of Prince Rupert in northwestern British Columbia, handles Alberta thermal coal. Both facilities also export Canadian metallurgical coal, a major steel-making ingredient.

Mr. Pattison, who owns a 30-per-cent stake in publicly traded Westshore, said the amount of thermal coal shipped from Canada is tiny compared with global supply.

“Thermal coal is certainly an important issue with the environment. We’re not producers of the coal, we’re in the business of shipping the coal. We have long-term contracts, and we follow the laws,” he said.

The 88-year-old billionaire said Westshore directors and executives oversee a valuable service that is a boost to the Canadian economy.

Westshore’s board includes former BC NDP premier Glen Clark, who is Jim Pattison Group president, and former Canadian Pacific Railway president William Stinson. Westshore’s management team is headed by Glenn Dudar, vice-president and general manager.

“I have a high regard for Glen Clark. He is a good man,” Mr. Pattison said. “And the guy who really knows his onions is Glenn Dudar.”

During Westshore’s annual meeting last week in Vancouver, Mr. Stinson criticized Ms. Clark for lobbying Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to have Ottawa intervene.

“On April 26, during the final days of campaigning for provincial re-election, B.C. Premier Christy Clark wrote a letter to Prime Minister Trudeau asking for a ban on U.S. thermal coal as a counter to recently reintroduced U.S. countervail duties against B.C. lumber companies,” Mr. Stinson told shareholders. “She also stated that if the federal government didn’t do something, she would. This was a direct attack against Westshore and its U.S. customers. She then broadened the proposed ban to all thermal coal, which puts thermal coal mines in Alberta and the Alberta government into the fray.”

Environmentalists say Westshore is trying to minimize its position in coal markets when it remains part of the problem. “Westshore is clearly trying to duck responsibility for its role in promoting a dirty, hazardous business,” said Clark Williams-Derry, director of energy finance at the Sightline Institute, a Seattle-based environmental think tank.

On May 2, Ms. Clark said that if Ottawa doesn’t take action, her BC Liberals would implement a carbon levy of $70 a tonne on thermal coal exports from British Columbia.

Mr. Stinson doubted that any B.C. government could legally slap a carbon tax on thermal coal at federally regulated ports in the province. “But this has caused some uncertainty in the investment community and for us, our employees, our U.S. customers and their customers,” he said.

The BC Liberals won 43 seats in the May 9 provincial election, compared with the BC NDP’s 41 seats and the Greens with victories in three ridings.




Visualizing Canada’s carbon flows

It’s the carbon, stupid: Visualizing Canada’s carbon flows

June 26, 2017, 1:16 p.m. |

Energy systems—the production and use of fuels and electricity—are under intense pressure to change for the good of the environment and the economy.

However, the flow of energy through these systems is not the problem.

Rather it is the flow of carbon, especially when those flows bring carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) to the atmosphere where they become greenhouse gases (GHGs).

Six months ago, Canadian Energy Systems Analysis Research (CESAR) released Sankey diagrams for Canada showing how energy flows, from the sources we extract from nature to the demands of society for fuels and electricity.

Today, CESAR released a new set of Sankey visualizations—the first of their kind—showing how carbon flows through the same fuel and electricity systems.

These new Sankey diagrams come with a brand new and improved web portal where the user can toggle between the energy and the carbon Sankeys for a given province or year to explore 1056 different Sankey diagrams.

The portal has a number of other new and useful features that users can learn about by checking out the brand new User’s Guide to Energy-Carbon Sankeys. Literally hours of fun for energy systems nerds!

The title of this post (originally published on the CESAR website) gives a nod to the 1992 US presidential election: Bill Clinton strategist James Carville outlining one of three campaign pillars for workers as “the economy, stupid.”

CESAR tries to highlight a few of the things that one can learn by focusing on carbon. For the record, in saying “stupid,” CESAR says it pointing to itself. Its focus, even the CESAR name, has been about energy, but the core problem is carbon.

Comparing the Energy and Carbon Sankeys

Figure 1 provides a side-by-side comparison of energy (Panel A) and carbon (Panel B) flows associated with the production and use of fuels and electricity in Canada in 2013. There are many similarities and some important differences between the two visualizations.

In CESAR Sankey diagrams, the nodes on the left-hand side represent the energy (Figure 1A) or carbon (Figure 1B) content of all the energy resources produced in (i.e. Primary energy or carbon) or imported into Canada.

CESAR carbon flow infographic
Figure 1: The flows of energy (A) and carbon (B) through the fuel and electricity systems of Canada in 2013.

The nodes in the middle portion of the Sankey represent the companies in the energy sectors. They convert the energy (and carbon, if present) into fuels and electricity that are then either exported or passed to a number of demand sectors.

These include transportation demands (personal and freight), building (residential, commercial and institutional), energy using industries (cement, agriculture, chemicals, etc), and non-energy uses (plastics and asphalt) Some recovered energy and carbon has little or no commercial value (e.g. petcoke), so it is stockpiled (mostly in northern Alberta) and allocated to an node called “stored energy” in these Sankey diagrams.

Since neither energy nor carbon can be created or destroyed (putting aside some nuclear reactions), the sum of all flows at the right side of the each diagram equals the sum of all the flows on the left side of each diagram.

In the energy Sankey (Figure 1A), the energy that was consumed (or lost by venting) through domestic processes is depicted as orange and grey flows lines that were either attributed to delivering the valuable end-use service (i.e. useful energy) or consumed as a “conversion loss” in the process of providing the fuel/electricity or end-use service. While all this energy still exists, it is highly dispersed (i.e. low exergy) and therefore of little economic value.

Exergy is the energy that is available to be used. A fuel that can create, on combustion, very high temperatures relative to the surroundings has high exergy since the differential temperature can do some valuable work.

In the C sankey (Figure 1B), the grey flows are predominantly in the form of carbon dioxide (CO2), the end product of fossil fuel combustion. However, some fossil carbon may be in the form of methane (CH4), a potent GHG that can leak to the atmosphere.

The dark grey flows on the right side of Figure 1B represent the flows of CO2 from the combustion of bio-based fuels.

Although similarities exist in the two Sankeys shown in Figure 1, there are substantial differences that reflect variations among feedstocks in their carbon: energy content.

As shown in Figure 2, the C content of energy feedstocks vary widely, from zero for nuclear, hydro, wind and solar to about 24 or 25 kgC/GJ for coal or biomass.

cesar figure-2

Figure 2: The carbon content of energy feedstocks in Canada’s fuel and electricity systems. The black lines represent the range of values for each feedstock type, while the bar shows the typical value.

Oil and most refined petroleum products tend to have 19-20 kgC/GJ while natural gas is about 14 kgC/GJ. Consequently, some of the energy flows do not appear on the carbon sankeys (nuclear, hydro, wind) while others (esp. coal, biomass) become proportionately larger relative to the flow for natural gas.

It is important to note that this C only accounts for the C that is contained within the energy feedstock itself; it does not provide information on how that C may contribute to GHG emissions. Nor does it reflect the life cycle emissions associated with recovering, refining and transporting each energy resource.

Insights from CESAR’s Carbon Sankeys 

So what can we learn from a closer study of the Carbon Sankey for Canada (Figure 1B), insights that could not be gained from the Energy Sankey (Figure 1A)?

  1. Visualizing CO2equivalents (CO2e).

To extract the maximum amount of energy from fossil fuels, they need to be combusted in the presence of oxygen to produce CO2. This reality is reflected in the light grey flows to ‘fossilCO2’ in the C ankey (Figure 1B). Each tC as CO2 contributes one tC as CO2 equivalent (CO2e) GHG emissions.

cesar -figure-3
Figure 3: Details of the C Sankey showing the origin of CO2 equivalents.

However, fugitive emissions of fossil C (especially gaseous methane) does occur in Canada’s fuel and electricity systems, and those flows are tracked within the CanESS model. When displayed in the Sankey diagram (Figure 1B or Figure 3 for a higher resolution perspective), the flows are small compared to “fossilCO2.”

However, methane is a potent GHG, with a global warming potential of 9.1 tC as CO2e per tC as CH4 (see footnote 1). Therefore, the CH4 C flows are multiplied by 9.1 to calculate their contribution to GHG emissions measured as tC as CO2e.

It is important to note that the C Sankey in Figure 1B only shows the GHG emissions coming from fossil C feedstocks. Process-based CO2 emissions such as that associated with cement or steel making are not shown in these Sankey diagrams, nor are the CH4 or N2O emissions associated with Canada’s agricultural systems or landfills.

  1. Biogenic carbon is treated differently.

In Figure 1B (or Figure 3), the dark grey flows on the right side of the Sankey diagram show the magnitude of biomass flows to the atmosphere as a result of their use as fuels. However, in agreement with international convention, these emissions do not contribute to Canada GHG emissions (CO2e in Figure 1B or 3).

The convention assumes that the plants from which this bio-carbon is obtained had recently (i.e. within the last year for crop plants, or the last century for trees) removed it from the atmosphere. Under international agreement, countries are expected to report C stock changes in their managed biological systems to ensure they are being sustainably managed.

Canada does report these numbers (see footnote 2), but the reported carbon stock changes are not counted in national totals for GHG emissions, nor are they shown in Figure 1B since those flow only include the biocarbon associated with fuel and electricity production and use.

  1. Following the carbon from source to demand.

Starting from the left side of the carbon Sankey for 2013 (Figure 1B) we can see that a total of 392 MtC entered the Canadian energy system that year. Canadian oil, gas and coal producers took 300 million tonnes of carbon out of the ground — 182 MtC in the form of crude oil, 78 MtC in the form of natural gas and 38 MtC in the form of coal.

In addition, 21 MtC in wood and agricultural biomass were used for energy, and an additional 72 MtC were imported in the form of petroleum, natural gas and coal.

The nodes on right side of the diagram show where all that carbon went. Half of the total carbon – fully 194 MtC – was exported as oil (130 MtC), gas (41 MtC) or coal (23 MtC). This carbon would almost all have ended up in the atmosphere when the exported fuels were burned, but the responsibility for those emissions rests with the importing country (primarily the US). Another 178 MtC, (including 21 MtC of “biogenic” carbon from biomass combustion) was emitted into the atmosphere in Canada, from power plant stacks, residential and commercial building chimneys, personal and commercial vehicle tailpipes, and industrial energy consumption, including the fossil fuel industry itself.

All totalled, 95% of the carbon taken out of the ground ends up in the atmosphere. The remainder is stored or sequestered, mostly in plastics and other non-consumable petrochemicals (16 Mt), with smaller quantities in oil sands tailings and petroleum coke stockpiles (7 MtC).

  1. Tracking fossil fuel CO2 emissions.

By focusing on the light grey flows in any of CESAR’s carbon Sankeys, users have a rapid and easy way to explore the origin of the emissions of fossil carbon. Hint: on the web portal, hover your cursor over the flow of interest and a pop-up will appear to giving you the number of MtC flowing through that part of the fuel and electricity system.

For example, in the 2013 carbon Sankey for Canada, the fuel and electricity industries can be seen to emit 59 MtC as CO2, or 38% of the 156 Mt of fossil C that Canada emitted to the atmosphere as CO2 in 2013.

The energy industry’s emissions were split evenly between power plants (29 Mt) and the oil and gas extraction and processing industry (30 Mt).

The remaining 62% of fossil CO2 emissions in 2013 (97 MtC) were associated with the demand sectors, and more than half of that (34% or 53 MtC) came from transportation, both personal and freight. Fossil carbon emissions from buildings accounted for 13% of 20 MtC and the remaining 16% (24 MtC) were from the energy using industries of Canada.

Overall, these visualizations reveal the rivers of carbon from their headwaters in the primary production of fossil fuels and biomass through to their final emission into the atmosphere from the smokestacks, chimneys and tailpipes of our industrial plants, buildings and vehicles.

In this post, CESAR provided a few directions for navigating these rivers and encourages readers to use the new portal to compare energy and carbon Sankeys, explore how they have changed with time, and how they compare among provinces (especially using the per capita option).


  1. The 9.1 value assumes 25 tCO2e per tCH4; see User’s Guide for details.
  2. According to Environment and Climate Change Canada’s 2017 National Inventory Report, if we don’t count the C stock losses that occur on managed lands as a result of major forest fires, Canada’s managed biological systems annually accumulate about 9.3 MtC/yr. 
    That is equivalent to about 34 Mt CO2 /yr of net removal from the atmosphere.

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.”




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.



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