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James Smith Cree Nation chief wants meeting with Shore Gold executives
Alex MacPherson, Saskatoon StarPhoenix
Published on: June 9, 2017 | Last Updated: June 9, 2017 5:10 PM CST
An aerial view of Shore Gold Inc.’s proposed diamond mine in the Fort à la Corne forest east of Prince Albert. Shore Gold Inc. / Saskatoon
The chief of a First Nation near a proposed diamond mine in the Fort à la Corne forest east of Prince Albert says he is “not impressed” with communication from the company behind the project, and wants to meet with its executives to discuss the project’s potential environmental impact.
James Smith Cree Nation Chief Wally Burns called for the meeting with Shore Gold Inc. days after the company announced it was in “preliminary negotiations” with an unnamed third party over its mineral properties and as a separate six-month consultation process with the provincial government comes to a close.
“All I’m asking is for them to come to my community and come and express their thoughts with my people,” Burns said, adding that the last Shore Gold executive he met with was its former vice-president of corporate affairs, who left the Saskatoon-based company in early 2012 as it worked to reduce costs in the face of global economic uncertainty.
Burns said while he is not opposed to the $2.5 billion-mine going ahead, the ongoing effects of the Husky Energy Inc. pipeline spill into the North Saskatchewan River last July made him more aware of the importance of preserving his band’s traditional hunting and fishing lands.
“I think my people have known this forest for a long, long time,” he said.
Shore Gold staked its first claim in the forest in 1995. The mine project received environmental approval from the federal government in 2014; former environment minister Leona Aglukkaq said at the time it was “not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects when (proposed) mitigation measures … are taken into account.”
The company has not, however, received environmental approval from the provincial government.
Earlier this year, the Saskatchewan government committed $137,000 to a second round of consultations with James Smith Cree Nation after a public review uncovered what a government official described as “issues that had not been addressed.”
Ministry of Environment spokesman Darby Semeniuk said in an email this week that the consultations began in early 2017 and are “on track.” Once the consultations are concluded, the ministry will “evaluate all pertinent information” before deciding whether to issued environmental approval for the mine, Semeniuk said.
Shore Gold president and CEO Ken MacNeill said the company has not heard from the James Smith Cree Nation since the groups exchanged letters earlier this year. However, MacNeill continued, “we can understand that because they’re doing an awful lot of work with the government and we fully support both sides on that.”
MacNeill did not specifically commit to meeting with Burns, but said the company is looking forward to hearing from James Smith Cree Nation. Shore Gold is also looking forward for a response from the Ministry of Environment, which has not to date made any further requests for information, he added.
Shore Gold’s communication efforts have also been criticized by some of its shareholders. At its annual meeting last June, a contentious proxy vote engineered by concerned shareholders came within a few percentage points of ousting three of the company’s directors. Shore Gold’s chairman deemed the vote illegal but allowed the results to stand.
You can’t handle the truth? An excellent Globe and Mail environmental commentary gets universally ignored
You can’t handle the truth? An excellent Globe and Mail environmental commentary gets universally ignored
May 15, 20175:50 AM
Sometimes it pays to troll through the news, even a grubby old-fashioned newspaper. I grabbed a hard copy of the Globe and Mail in a hotel lobby on a recent trip, enjoying the nostalgic feelings of smudged ink and that sweet, familiar irritation that the Starbucks table was too small to lay it out properly.
Luckily, the hard copy transcended my petty grievances handily. There was a gem of an article buried on P4 of the business section, which is too bad, because it was brilliant. It was on the opinion page of the Monday business section, the real estate equivalent of a house next to a meat packing plant, with the smallest, un-bolded headline font currently available on the market. This is a crying shame, because the article’s contents should form the cornerstone of environmental discussions for the next five years.
[Note: The article being referred-to can be found with a different title “It’s time to rethink our messaging about environmental change” HERE]
It didn’t help that the article first appeared in print and online with a bizarre title: “Why ‘green’ might not be the colour of money,” which was an unfortunately weird headline that gave no clue as to content. Most headlines consist of turbocharged hype that dials in on one sensational quote/statistic/inference in the article and waves it around like a head on a pike to attract eyeballs. Given the shelf life of non-sensational online stories, it’s no wonder the piece went nowhere before it somehow found a more useful title: “It’s time to rethink our messaging about environmental change.” But even this title is abysmal; the entire content of the piece is not about changing a message, but rethinking the work of the entire climate change industry. No wonder the Globe’s editors were unable to describe it correctly; it’s a concept that’s never been seen in public before.
The article was the work of two academics (Jennifer Lynes and Sarah Wolfe, both environmentally departmented professors from the University of Waterloo), who pointed out something that many of us feel deep down: that current efforts to promote environmental innovation and change are not working. The greenest segment of the population is getting greener, and the other 90 percent would totally love to help but sorry I just bought this SUV and a Greenpeace sticker on the back just would not work at all.
The analysis of the current stalemate was brief, but laser-sharp and accurate. Four simple points are made that should be enough to derail the current monolithic environment industry and start a new revolution, but they will have a hard time because the media couldn’t have cared less.
The article’s four pertinent points are: that only a fraction of the population is motivated by the health of the planet; that more information does not lead to more action; that scare tactics don’t work; and that environmental products have to be desirable before they become adopted. Each point is supported by logical and balanced reasons that are hard to argue with, which explains why the article was pointedly ignored by even its owner.
The piece is a refreshingly clear statement about where the environmental debate should be going. The agenda has been hijacked by people who make a very good living waging war against industry and consumers, and really couldn’t care less if they are doing anything constructive. An expensive war is being waged that makes most feel like hypocrites, behaviours are only marginally changing, and we need a reboot of the goal and the tactics needed to get there.
Can anyone imagine shrill organizations like the National Resources Defense Council, or 350.org, actually sitting down and having an intelligent conversation about these 4 points, all of which are undeniably true? It would never happen. Those types of anarchic cash sinkholes aren’t interested in progress, they are interested in a fight. The NRDC claims in its banner that it uses “law, science, and the support of 500000+ members” to “stop the assault on the environment.” 350.org claims to be “building a global climate movement” from the “bottom-up by people in 188 countries.”
They are doing nothing but providing employment for thousands of people who are very angry that society won’t play the way they want them to. They attack like Mongol hordes the infrastructure that average citizens relentlessly and unfailingly demand. That ever growing demand is the “assault on the environment,” a direct result of the bottom-up demand of “people in 188 countries.” There’s the problem, protesters.
Blocking a pipeline or convincing a pension fund not to invest in oil stocks does not have even the most infinitesimal impact on the amount of oil that will be consumed today, tomorrow, or in 20 years. They are feel good issues for the environmental industry because they demonstrate progress, which for the other 90% demonstrates nuisance.
There is no evidence that this environmental progress amounts to anything. The war that was waged against Keystone XL was long and ugly, and when Trump reversed the decision it hardly made the news, which it would have if it were the environmental catastrophe it was made out to be for half a decade. It was an artificial and ineffectively symbolic war created for media purposes, with the only true result being that a lot of money was absorbed in the middle. (Come to think of it that sums up investment banking as well. But I digress).
It is so sad that such a great story, from scientists who are as much scientists as the IPCC’s legions, was so widely ignored. The fact that it was speaks volumes about the current quality of the discussion – there is none. Environmental discussions have become religious discussions. The ten percent that are driving the climate change debate are trying to get the other 90 to adopt their god, but the commandments are way harder than the old Christian ones. Sure, I can promise not to kill anyone, but give up flying? Outta my way, weirdo.
Sincere environmentalists will want to take note of articles like these, and because they are thoughtful they will start to move down the proper axis, from destruction to construction, rather than the false battleground between good and bad that is currently being promoted.
Trudeau to Force a Hybrid Carbon Price on Holdout Provinces
by Josh Wingrove
May 18, 2017, 10:00 AM CST
(Photos added above for editorial comment by site)
Canada’s federal government will tax fossil fuels and cap industry emissions in any province that doesn’t bring in its own carbon price.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government revealed a “backstop” plan Thursday in Ottawa that would essentially force the minimum carbon price he announced last year onto holdouts. He’s also pledged to return any revenue, though has yet to determine whether the funds will go to provincial governments or directly to citizens and businesses.
Saskatchewan, home to mining giants Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. and Cameco Corp., is the foremost objector and has threatened legal action. The carbon price also comes amid warnings Canada could be at a competitive disadvantage with the U.S. under President Donald Trump’s administration.
The federal plan, detailed by Environment Minister Catherine McKenna’s office, is a mix of a carbon tax for consumers and a cap-and-trade system for major industry. It is akin to the system used in Alberta, Canada’s energy hub and biggest emitter.
Industrial firms emitting over 50 metric kilotons each year would face caps on emissions, paying fines if the cap is exceeded and earning credits, which could be sold to other firms, for staying under. The federal backstop would also include a tax on fossil fuels that amounts to 2.3 Canadian cents per liter of gasoline in 2018, rising to 11.6 cents per liter in 2022 (roughly 32 U.S. cents per gallon).
“Polluters should pay,” McKenna said in an interview. “And if you figure out how to innovate, you will pay less.”
Exemptions and Application
There are a series for exemptions, including for commercial buildings, hospitals and some farming activities. The tax on fuels kicks in next year, while the industrial “output-based pricing” begins Jan. 1, 2019.
The plan would only affect provinces that don’t design their own carbon-pricing regime, or those whose systems fall short of federal standards. Trudeau’s government is “evaluating” if it will send the tax revenue to people and businesses rather than to provincial governments. That gives skeptical premiers a choice: They can impose their own price and manage the revenue from it, or refuse and see the money flow to individuals and firms.
“We feel provinces are best able to determine what system makes sense for them,” McKenna said.
Trudeau announced last year that Canada would set a minimum carbon price of C$10 per metric ton in 2018, rising to C$50 per ton in 2022, and pledged the federal government wouldn’t use any of the revenue. Canada’s four most populous provinces already have some form of carbon price.
Wall and Trump
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, a conservative, has pledged a court battle over the federal plan. McKenna said she’s confident in her government’s legal position and called on the province to implement its own price.
Her chief of staff and parliamentary secretary met with Wall’s representatives early this week to discuss the issue, she said. “Saskatchewan had on the table a proposal that was not all that different to deal with heavy emitters,” she said. “My message is you have an opportunity to design a system that makes sense for you.”
Trudeau’s environment minister brushed aside concerns about the impact on business given the less proactive U.S. stance under Trump, saying industry has been consulted. “This is a system we believe actually does respond to those competitiveness concerns,” McKenna said.
The proposals detailed Thursday are part of what the government calls a technical paper, and it is taking public comments until the end of June before unveiling its final carbon pricing system.
Oil Drilling Numbers Double in First Quarter
Released on April 10, 2017
Saskatchewan’s petroleum industry is showing signs of a positive start for 2017 after results for drilling activity during the first three months of the year were more than double the figures of 2016.
“An increase of more than 450 wells drilled is an optimistic indicator for our oil industry and, by extension, Saskatchewan’s economic outlook for the year ahead,” Energy and Resources Minister Dustin Duncan said.
The number of wells drilled in the province from January to the end of March was 856, compared to 399 wells drilled during the same period in 2016.
“Continued oil field activity at this pace is encouraging news,” Duncan said. “It contributes positively to communities throughout our province and is part of our economic growth.”
Saskatchewan’s oil and gas industry is responsible for an estimated 15 per cent of the province’s gross domestic product. A total of 1,648 oil wells were drilled in Saskatchewan in 2016, which was down 10 per cent from 1,831 oil wells drilled in 2015.
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And a lot of the oil processed by these expansions will come from Saskatchewan and Alberta!
Trump cheers Exxon plan to spend $20B on Gulf Coast projects
DAVID KOENIG, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS 03.06.2017
Darren Woods, Exxon Mobil CEO, speaks during CERAWeek at the Hilton Americas,Monday, March 6, 2017, in Houston. (Melissa Phillip/Houston Chronicle via AP)
HOUSTON – President Donald Trump and Exxon Mobil Corp. exchanged praise for each other on Monday as the company announced plans to create thousands of jobs by spending $20 billion over 10 years on plants along the Gulf Coast.
Exxon’s plan started long before Trump entered the White House, however. It includes investments that began in 2013.
Exxon said Monday the work would create 12,000 permanent jobs — the energy giant currently has about 71,000 employees — and 35,000 construction jobs.
Exxon announced its plan in a news release in which CEO Darren Woods was quoted as saying that such big investments “require a pro-growth approach and a stable regulatory environment and we appreciate the President’s commitment to both.”
A few minutes later, the White House issued its own release about Trump congratulating Exxon. One paragraph in the White House release is nearly identical to a passage in Exxon’s.
The president followed up on Twitter, saying that “Buy American & hire American are the principals at the core of my agenda,” although he apparently meant that those are among his principles.
In his third tweet on Exxon, Trump wrote, “45,000 construction & manufacturing jobs in the U.S. Gulf Coast region. $20 billion investment. We are already winning again, America!”
In December, Trump plucked Exxon’s then-CEO, Rex Tillerson, to be his secretary of state. Tillerson and Trump met Monday shortly before the Exxon and White House press releases.
Woods, the new chairman and CEO, said Monday that Exxon would expand at several current plants and build a new one to create petroleum products for export.
Woods said the investment plan responds to the rising supply of natural gas. There has been a boom in production created by techniques such as fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, in shale formations like the Permian Basin of Texas and New Mexico.
Exxon recently agreed to buy rights to about 250,000 more acres, doubling its presence in the Permian at a cost of up to $6.6 billion — a huge bet on the hottest oil and gas field in the country.
Woods said hydraulic fracturing has “opened up a whole new energy future for the United States … (that) is turning the U.S. from energy importer to energy exporter.”
Exxon announced the spending plan at a major energy-industry conference in Houston that draws executives and oil ministers from around the world.
The company said it plans 10 expansion projects at refineries and chemical and liquefied natural gas plants around Beaumont and Baytown, Texas, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. It also wants to build a new chemicals plant at a location yet to be determined along the Gulf.
The sum of $20 billion would be roughly equal to Exxon’s total capital spending last year. The company announced last week that it plans to increase overall investments to an average of $25 billion a year from 2018 to 2020.
Shares of the Irving, Texas-based company rose 37 cents to close at $82.83. They have lost about 8 per cent so far this year.
Fri Mar 3, 2017 | 3:25pm EST
Keystone XL can be made from non-U.S. steel: White House
A depot used to store pipes for Transcanada Corp’s planned Keystone XL oil pipeline is seen in Gascoyne, North Dakota, January 25, 2017.REUTERS/Terray Sylvester
The Keystone XL oil pipeline does not need to be made from U.S. steel, despite an executive order by President Donald Trump days after he took office requiring domestic steel in new pipelines, the White House said on Friday.
“It’s specific to new pipelines or those that are being repaired,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters on Air Force One, when asked about a report by Politico that Keystone would not need to use U.S. steel, despite Trump’s executive order issued on Jan. 24.
“Since this one is already currently under construction, the steel is already literally sitting there, it’s hard to go back. Everything moving forward would fall under that executive order,” Sanders said. The southern leg of the Keystone project is completed and started pumping oil in 2013. Some pipe segments that could be used for Keystone XL, which would bring oil from Alberta, Canada to Nebraska, have already been built.
Former Democratic president Barack Obama rejected TranCanada Corp’s (TRP.TO
) multi-billion dollar Keystone XL pipeline, saying it would not benefit U.S. drivers and would contribute emissions linked to global warming.
Trump’s order expedited the path forward for TransCanada to reapply to build the line. Economists told Reuters days after Trump issued the order on U.S. steel requirements that it had many loopholes, would not be easily enforceable, and could violate international trade law.
Even if there were no loopholes, U.S. steelmakers would receive negligible benefit from Keystone XL, because they have limited ability to meet the stringent materials requirements for the project.
The office of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday said it welcomes the allowance of non-U.S. steel, calling it a “recognition that the integrated Canadian and U.S. steel industries are mutually beneficial.”
TransCanada said it was encouraged by the White House statement on non-U.S. steel and that its presidential permit application on Keystone was making its way through the approval process.
Canadian Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said on Twitter that allowing non-U.S. steel was “important for companies like Evraz Steel,” a local subsidiary of Russia’s Evraz PLC, which had signed on to provide 24 percent of the steel before Keystone XL’s rejection by Obama.
(Reporting by Melissa Fares on Air Force One, Ethan Lou in Calgary and Timothy Gardner in Washington; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)
Charts: Canadian oil exports reached record highs at the end of 2016
By Deborah Jaremko
March 2, 2017, 2:37 p.m.
Growing oilsands production from both mining and in situ projects contributed to Canadian crude oil exports reaching an all-time high in November 2016, the National Energy Board (NEB) says.
This surpassed the previous high set almost a year before, with volumes being curtailed in the intervening months in part because of the Fort McMurray wildfire disruption in spring of last year.
The November figure is also a 300,000 bbl/d increase from October 2016, the NEB says.
“Most of the increase was shipped on pipelines to the United States (U.S.) Midwest Region (PADD II), but marine exports to the U.S. East Coast (PADD I) and railed exports to the U.S. Gulf Coast (PADD III) also had notable increases,” the NEB says.
“Pipeline exports reached an all-time high of 2.99 million bbls/d, marine exports reached a 28-month high of 272,000 bbls/d, and railed exports reached a then 14-month high of 120,000 bbls/d.”
Encanto Potash and Muskowekwan First Nation sign new mining regulation agreement
ALEX MACPHERSON, SASKATOON STARPHOENIX
Published on: February 28, 2017 | Last Updated: February 28, 2017 5:04 PM CST
Muskowekwan First Nation Chief Reginald Bellerose, left, and Encanto Potash Corp. President and CEO Stavros Daskos.
BRYAN SCHLOSSER / REGINA LEADER-POST
Encanto Potash Corp. has signed an agreement with Muskowekwan First Nation and the provincial and federal governments that it says will pave the way for construction of its proposed potash mine on the reserve northeast of Regina.
The agreement is expected to lead to the first First Nations Commercial and Industrial Development Act (FNCIDA), legislation that applies existing provincial rules to large-scale projects on First Nations land, the Toronto-based company said in a news release.
“By achieving this milestone, the first ever for such a planned large scale operation in Canada, we have been breaking entirely new ground,” Muskowekwan Chief Reginald Bellerose said in a statement.
“(We are not only ensuring) that we ourselves are a significant resource player in Canada for generations to come, but paving the way for other First Nations to achieve self-source revenues and a self-dictated future full of promise.”
Encanto has been exploring the possibility of a potash mine in southern Saskatchewan for years. It signed a joint venture agreement with the First Nation in 2010; in January, it announced two new 20-year sales agreements with India-based firms.
Gary Deathe, Encanto’s director of corporate development, said in an email that the FNCIDA agreement is a “long awaited and important step” toward establishing the mine.
Encanto still needs to raise around $3 billion to cover its capital costs.
Because projects regulated under FNCIDA apply existing provincial regulations to First Nations land, “it gives investors and developers certainty by ensuring that they are dealing (with) … well known and understood (rules),” Encanto said in the news release.
“This represents another critical piece being in place to allow for the eventual development of the first potash mine on First Nation land in Canada and the first … to complete the FNCIDA,” Encanto president and CEO Stavros Daskos said in a statement.
Concerned Shore Gold shareholders renew quest to shake up diamond company’s board
ALEX MACPHERSON, SASKATOON STARPHOENIX
Published on: March 1, 2017 | Last Updated: March 1, 2017 6:00 AM CST
An aerial view of Shore Gold Inc.’s Star-Orion South Project east of Prince Albert. SASKATOON
A group of concerned Shore Gold Inc. shareholders are raising money to fund a legal battle after the Saskatoon-based diamond exploration and development company rejected their latest attempt to shake up its board of directors.
The Shore Gold Shareholders Association Inc. (SGFSA) plans to challenge the company’s refusal to publish and allow shareholders to vote on a proposal that two directors of its choosing be appointed to the board, according to the association’s chairman.
“We need to go to court and have a judge do two things,” David Wright said. “One, interpret the wording and intent of the law, and two, make a judgment whether or not … Shore must in fact publish our shareholder proposal.”
Shore Gold staked its first claim in the Fort à la Corne forest in 1995. It wants to build a diamond mine consisting of two large open pits and a processing plant on the property, known as Star-Orion-South, about 60 kilometres east of Prince Albert.
The SGFSA was formed in 2012 and consists of “progressive” investors representing “well above 10 per cent” of the company’s 294 million shares, who are concerned about its direction and efforts to communicate with its shareholders, according to Wright.
Members of the group came close to blocking the appointment of three Shore Gold directors at a tense meeting last June. Wright said the proxy vote was a shot “aimed at the wheelhouse.” Shore Gold’s chairman deemed it illegal but allowed the results to stand.
“We felt it appropriate that we have some direct say on their board of directors,” Wright said of the SGFSA’s proposals, which were filed this year and subsequently rejected based on differing interpretations of the Canada Business Corporations Act (CBCA).
Shore Gold President and CEO Kenneth MacNeill said Tuesday that the board is “always” looking at representation, and that while he and shareholders wish the company could be more transparent, public firms are bound by laws governing communications.
“I don’t see this as a hard stance,” MacNeill said of the company’s position. “I see this as we are following the (CBCA) rules and regulations that we need to follow … We’ve certainly responded very robustly to this and explained this to them.”
Meanwhile, Shore Gold is updating its “conservative” 2011 feasibility study. MacNeill did not provide a timeline but said it will “significantly” reduce capital costs and make the mine more attractive to potential financiers, joint venture partners and purchasers.
Shore Gold vice president of exploration and development George Read said the updated study will include better geological information, cheaper and more effective processing technologies and more efficient methods for opening the massive pits.
The company is also waiting for the province to finish consultations and issue environmental approval for the project. The province declined in January to say when a decision would be rendered. Shore Gold received approval from the federal government in 2014.
As that work continues, the SGFSA will canvass its members for the money it needs to pursue its case. Wright said the association simply wants to get its proposal in front of every Shore Gold shareholder and allow them to vote on it.
“I’m very hopeful that we will be able to raise the funding to mount that challenge, and I’m also very confident that we will win that challenge when in fact we do mount it,” he said.
Highest Average Weekly Earnings in Province’s History
Released on February 23, 2017
According to Statistics Canada numbers released today, Saskatchewan workers enjoyed the highest month-over-month percentage growth in average weekly earnings among the provinces in December 2016, up 2.2 per cent (seasonally adjusted) from the previous month to $1,010.37.
The national month-over-month increase was 1.0 per cent (seasonally adjusted).
For the first time in the province’s history, the average weekly earnings were above $1,000—and remain the third highest among the provinces.
“Saskatchewan people are taking home more money at the end of the week, and this is a reflection on our economy and the opportunities in our province,” Economy Minister Jeremy Harrison said. “The increased earnings show our wages are very competitive, and this remains an attraction for skilled workers to our province.”
With inflation factored in, Saskatchewan’s real wage increased by 1.2 per cent year-over-year while the national real wage declined by 0.3 per cent.
The province’s real wage ranked third highest among provinces in Canada.
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