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Category Archives: Resource Based Economy

Derek H. Burney: Good luck with these foreign policy challenges, Mr. Trudeau – National Post

Posted: October 27, 2019 at 2:47 pm

Foreign policy issues were not prominent during the election but there are now significant challenges ahead especially on trade, national security, climate change and relations with the U.S. and China that present opportunities that would enhance the national interest. As a general principle, instead of proclaiming smugly that the world needs more Canada, the government should assert clearly how and why Canada needs more from the world.

On trade, we need to concentrate on ratification of the USMCA. While Canadas influence on Congress will not be significant, we should not hesitate to register firmly with all American interlocutors in government and business that early ratification is very much in Americas interest, as well as that of Canada and Mexico. As demonstrated by the cut and run from northern Syria and the chaos that ensued, President Donald Trump may become even more impulsive should impeachment threats intensify in coming months. Any threat to abrogate NAFTA in the absence of ratification should be firmly resisted recognizing that ultimately this is a matter for Congress to decide.

The best way to temper our excessive dependence on the U.S. market and our vulnerability to the proclivities of American politics is trade diversification, not as a substitute but to provide more balanced and more certain opportunities for economic growth. Specifically, Canada should broaden its trade footprint in markets like the EU, Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam and others in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, where we have preferential trade agreements. We should also move swiftly to negotiate a free trade agreement with a post-Brexit Britain emulating as much as possible the provisions of the Canada-Europe Trade Agreement. As well, a new strategic priority on trade should be given to India and to the fast-growing economies of Africa.

On national security, we should explore the prospects of joining the U.S. ballistic missile defence system for North America. In todays world that would provide the essence of security and is an advantage on defence that many other countries would envy. It would also serve to rejuvenate the otherwise rather dormant NORAD. Canada should bolster its military in order to strengthen its commitment to NATO and give us needed credibility to help reposition NATOs purpose.

We should explore the prospects of joining the U.S. ballistic missile defence system for North America

Recognizing that cyber security is, according to many experts, the most serious threat to global stability, Canada needs to overhaul our strategy and our organizational capacity to manage this unrelenting challenge one posed against us most provocatively by China and Russia. In a similar vein, we need to repair serious breaches in our intelligence operations so as to deny further degradation of standing within the Five Eyes alliance exclusive intelligence sharing with the U.S., Australia, New Zealand and Britain.

On climate change, we should not allow our position to become a prisoner of inflexible, hyperbolic rhetoric. Canada is 1.6 per cent of the global emissions problem. We are and will continue to be a resource-based economy. Unless there are serious commitments by such major emitters as the U.S, China and India, there will be no realistic solution on a global scale. That is why it would be economic suicide for Canada to act unilaterally. A better tactic would be to encourage U.S. re-engagement as the first step towards timely and more realistic commitments from the U.S., China and India, among others. Instead of more self-congratulatory global conferences that do little to move the needle, the climate challenge calls for hard-headed negotiation by credible negotiators who can gauge the economic as well as the environmental implications of commitments, and not activists whose efforts may generate headlines but tend to be more aspirational than consequential.

Management of relations with the U.S. will always be a top priority for Canada

Management of relations with the U.S. will always be a top priority for Canada. Along with ratification of the USMCA and exploration of participation in the anti-ballistic missile system, we should seek to negotiate with the U.S. a more comprehensive Safe Third Country Agreement on refugees. The ultimate test of sovereignty for any country is the ability to control its borders. With the Trump administration there may be little scope for any pragmatic negotiation and even less in an election year but staunching the flow of illegal refugees into Canada is a key responsibility for the federal government.

Relations with China are deadlocked in the face of outright bullying by the Chinese authorities actions that contravene basic tenets of international law. Canada cannot avoid searching for ways to break the current imbroglio and return to a level of civility but we should never sublimate our fundamental concerns about human rights in order to curry favour with China. Nor should we adopt a rose-coloured view of Chinese behaviour. We have to learn to deal with the ascending and increasingly arrogant global giant as it is rather than as we would like it to be. That is the essence of diplomacy.

Given the lopsided nature of our trade relationship, we do have some leverage with China. If the U.S. succeeds in negotiating bilateral agreements on trade to curtail theft of intellectual property and to prevent forced diversification of foreign technology, Canada should move to secure similar assurances from China as well as improved prospects for access to the worlds second largest economy.

The fundamental pillars for any Canadian government are prosperity, security and national unity. Concrete foreign policy moves as suggested above would serve Canadian interests on each of these pillars and, at the same time, reinforce our basic democratic values.

Derek H. Burney, a former Canadian ambassador to the U.S. and chief of staff to Brian Mulroney, is the co-author of a new book: Braver Canada: Shaping Our Destiny in a Precarious World, published byMcGill-Queens University Press.

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Derek H. Burney: Good luck with these foreign policy challenges, Mr. Trudeau - National Post

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Yes, Reversing the Climate Crisis Will Be Profitable – Sierra Magazine

Posted: at 2:47 pm

Ibrahim AlHusseini, thefounder and CEO of the investment firm FullCycle Energy Fund, which aims to scout and back those companies most likely to solve the climate crisis, never thought his career would take an environmental turn. The Palestinian-American businessmanan early investor in Tesla and Ubergrew up as a refugee in Saudi Arabia. But after coming to America for college and realizing he had a knack for entrepreneurship, he found himself increasingly alarmed whenever hed travel back home to visit his parents. Saudi Arabia was a fast-deteriorating desertfull of dusty palm trees and locusts, whereas in the eighties it was super lush, AlHusseini told Sierra. Id go scuba diving in the same spot year after yearthat spot, too, over time went from lush, colorful, rich, and inspiring to barren, full of plastic, and devoid of life. It really woke me up.

He got to thinking, Whats the point of accumulating wealth if the things I care most about are fading away from the planet? I wasnt a politician or activist, but I knew how to build businesses and I knew how to invest, says ALHusseini, who in 2003 decided to take a year off and study climate science. When I went back to work, I decided that since the decisions that were made 30 years prior had resulted in the world I was then living in, I would make investment decisions thatll impact the world 30 years from now, based on my understanding of what the world needswhich is largely based on IPCC [UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] reports.

Sierra recently sat down with AlHusseini (a new friend of Jane Fondas!) to learn more about promising clean-tech ventures, the private sectors power to reverse the planetary crisis, and why the immigration issue is really a climate issue.

***

Sierra: Tell us about your inspiration for launching FullCycle in 2013.

Ibrahim AlHusseini: Growing up in the 80s as a Palestinian refugee in Saudi Arabia, I felt very unsafe geopolitically, and the idea of having a little power and respect in the world was very appealing. Most people dont realize how ubiquitous American media isI grew up watching Miami Vice, Dallas, Dynasty, and Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. As a child I was kind of indoctrinated in the idea that if you want to be validated/respected, that somehow is correlated with your net worth. So that was my goal, and it was only after moving to the US that I realized our modern world is built on systems. And many current structures were built at a time when we thought the world was infiniteits why weve been extracting old fossil fuels and cutting down trees, why we ended up with a generation that has to reconcile that: ours. So how do we quickly replace old, crummy infrastructure with new infrastructure that was designed in the 21st century, by scientists who understand we live on a finite planet with finite resources? And how do we make it profitable? Those are the questions that brought my entrepreneurial investment journey into the realm of climate.

What kinds of companies and technologies are you most excited about right now?

Tech that turns waste back into the elements that we can turn back into whatever the market needs. Im excited about Synova Power, which breaks down hydrocarbons to their component elements, so you can recombine them to create almost anything you wantyou can create virgin plastic out of plastic, and not use fossil fuels, so theres no more downcycling. There are also opportunities to turn component elements into biofuels, or into renewable natural gas. The point is that youre getting the efficiency of turning something that the world is currently burying in the ground or throwing into the ocean into a valuable resource that can perpetually be part of a closed-loop system thats taking us closer to a sustainable society.

You know and I know that sometimes we use the word we and that we is not really the encompassing weMalaysia has no idea about any of these narratives were considering, nor do India and Indonesia and almost the whole continent of Africa. So we have to work for the overall we and not just for the rich progressive bubble weand thats what I like again about this technology: It makes modern civilization less burdensome on the planet without trying to elevate the behavior of 11 billion people. Because the best that you and I can do as conscious, aware individuals is to have a lower carbon footprintby our existence we wont be carbon neutral, but we can reconcile that by making sure that modern civilization itself gets closer to carbon neutral.

There are also exciting probiotic mixtures that you can put into irrigation systems that make plant immune systems so much stronger, so they need 60 percent less herbicides and fungicides. It makes the soil sequester way more carbon without any big fancy technology. Using natural soil remediation in a natural mixture of probiotics.

"We have to work for the overall we and not just for the rich progressive bubble weand thats what I like again about this technology: It makes modern civilization less burdensome on the planet without trying to elevate the behavior of 11 billion people."

What are the advantages of coming at these issues from the private sector, rather than from a policy standpoint?

Youre making choices that are based on economic sustainability as well, so we can look at things for both carbon math and financial math, and only do things that work for both. Were not going to get the traction and scale we want if things are not profitablewe have to make it more profitable to reverse the climate crisis, so that investors are not giving us tiny little amounts of their portfolio, but rather big ones. You also dont have to have ideological debates in this space, because no one can deny that we need more fruits and veggies, or that waste management is not a net positive. Its a conversation that makes a lot of sense, and I always emphasize that technology inflection points are massive wealth opportunitieswhether were going from horse-and-buggy to car, or from paper to digital, or from a high-carbon to a low-carbon economy. Its not just a nice-to-have; were talking about the sustainability of life itself on the only home that we know. But who are the people who are going to benefit financially from that transition? Its amazing how amicable people are once dollar signs are involved.

Can you talk more about the return potential when it comes to climate-smart tech?

First, I want to make one important distinction, given the venture capital mindset in urban Californiaits too late for venture! The climate has no timeline for venture; were already there. And remember, low-carbon infrastructure isnt an app; were talking about a power plan! This is very complex hardware that is going to need to be built on a municipal scalein order for that to go from a lab to a pilot to demonstration to being commercially viable, were talking about 12 years. So Full Cycle only focuses on market-ready stuffwere here to accelerate the deployment of market-ready tech.

Climate is a race against time! How quickly can we transform our relationship to waste worldwide? Take waste managementit starts with closing landfills, because if we can turn garbage into money, no one throws money away! Were here to quickly condense the business plans of all these climate-smart technologies so they can replace existing systems. Were not VC; were a Private Equity firm investing in sustainable infrastructure. We back companies so they can build on RFPs [requests for proposals] quickly so they have the financing ready to go once they win those RFPs. That way instead of having, like, eight clean waste management plants by year 5, they have 48 plants by year 5and hopefully 850 by year 12, and then by year 20, they have 5500 plants all over the world, and in our lifetime, weve transformed our relationship to waste, and were saying things like, Can you believe people used to throw things away and itd end up in whale stomachs.

Where do you project well see the most growth in the clean energy sector?

The technologies that have to explode are in agricultural techits one of the biggest carbon-contributing industries. As we knew would happen, the electrification of transportation is upon us; its happening. We just have to make sure we create better infrastructuremake sure theres more places for us to plug in our carsso people cannot have that range anxiety. And of course, the more autonomous vehicles there are, the less people need to own cars. Waste is a huge one, too, especially because waste breaks down into methane and short-lived climate pollutants like HFCs (which are refrigerants) that are far more heat-trapping than CO2. We have to focus on those initiallyand because the supermarket doesnt have an incentive to fix those leaks, we need a new business model there.

What should consumers expect of businesses in the age of climate change, and whats a sign that a business is truly going above and beyond to address the climate crisis?

First of all, theres not enough time left for the Trump administration to lull businesses into thinking that all of the regulation reversals are going to show up in their bottom lines, and not enough time to take advantage of that before we correct it. Look at big car companieseven though Trump is trying to fight California in federal court, getting them to roll back their mileage emissions regulations, a lot of companies are saying, Listen, were not going to play along, because theyre smart enough to know that this is an anomaly, not the standard. So my advice to businesses is, dont change the trajectory of your business based on a year-and-a-half-left administration. And stop pretending youre an eco-hero for some kind of incremental behaviorits way too late for incrementalism; the house is on fire.

Speaking of the Trump administration, youve been a vocal critic of its immigration policies. A lot of self-proclaimed environmentalists are anti-immigration; can you talk about immigrations connection to the climate crisis?

Forty percent of the worlds population lives in the subtropicsand if you look at climate models, the subtropics are all going to have permanent droughts. Itll be virtually impossible to grow food there, and these are poor countriesthey wont be able to make up for it. Either theyll starve to death or migrate north. And when you have billions of people who need to migrate north, a steel barrier is not going to stop them. And you know whos going to break down that steel barrier? There are going to be enough people in America and Europe who are not going to let children starve to death and pretend this is not happening. We are going to break down that barrier from our end to let them in. Your only pragmatic solution is to keep nations stable by investing in clean infrastructure in their countries.

Immigrants are painted as these pariahs who are here to suck on the resources of wealthier, more developed nations. But I can speak for myself and the fellow immigrants I knowwe come from nations that do not have rule of law, that have dictatorships, that are not a meritocracy, that dont provide a system where anybody can be rewarded according to the degree that theyre willing to work and think and contributeand that contrast actually gives us a true appreciation of America.

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Yes, Reversing the Climate Crisis Will Be Profitable - Sierra Magazine

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The road to nowhere: Claims Ontario’s Ring of Fire is worth $60-billion are nonsense – The Globe and Mail

Posted: at 2:47 pm

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has talking points hes fond of repeating over and over again and one of his favourites is a pledge to build a billion-dollar road to a boggy, remote region of Northern Ontario known as the Ring of Fire.

When asked about the promise by a reporter at a plowing match in September, Mr. Ford repeated almost verbatim an infamous tweet from last years provincial election campaign: "If I have to hop on a bulldozer myself, were going to start building roads to the Ring of Fire.

Youre going to see me on that bulldozer, Mr. Ford declared, with a confident chuckle.

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The declaration by the Ontario premier is just one example of the big talk over the past decade by politicians of all stripes about the Ring of Fire.

DeBeers Victor

diamond mine

JOHN SOPINSKI/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

SOURCE: noront resources; geology.com

DeBeers Victor

diamond mine

JOHN SOPINSKI/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

SOURCE: noront resources; geology.com

DeBeers Victor

diamond mine

JOHN SOPINSKI/THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: noront resources; geology.com

The Ontario government has repeatedly played up the prospects for the region with breathless assertions about the supposedly stratospheric value of minerals in the ground, and an apparent bonanza of jobs and economic benefits that lie in wait for locals.

In a throne speech nine years ago, then-premier Dalton McGuintys Liberal government zeroed in on the Ring of Fire as one of the keys to reviving Ontarios sputtering economy.

In 2013, his successor, Kathleen Wynne, started claiming the mineral deposits were worth upwards of $60-billion.

That same year, Tony Clement, then federal minister responsible for northern Ontarios economic development, likened the financial impact of the Ring of Fire to Albertas oil sands. In an interview with Huffington Post Canada, Mr. Clement claimed the riches could generate as much as $120-billion for the economy.

During the 2018 provincial election campaign, Mr. Fords Progressive Conservatives promised to "finally, open up the incredible resources of our North, starting by cutting through the special-interest and bureaucratic delays blocking us from developing the Ring of Fire.

Theres only one problem with all these grand pronouncements about this crescent-shaped mineral discovery about 550 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay: Its mostly aspirational hogwash.

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The financial case for heavily indebted Ontario to invest in the Ring of Fire has always been questionable.

In 2014, the Wynne government pledged to spend $1-billion of taxpayers money to build an access road connecting the deposits to a provincial highway 300 kilometres to the south. But at least another $1-billion is needed for added industrial infrastructure such as bridges and electrical power. At the moment, nobody is willing to pick up that tab.

More importantly, there is no evidence that minerals in the Ring of Fire mostly chromite, which is used to make stainless steel, but also nickel, copper, palladium and platinum are worth anything near $60-billion. In fact, there may not be much of anything worth mining, for that matter, beyond one moderately promising nickel project.

No comprehensive study has ever been done that analyzes the costs of extracting minerals from the Ring of Fire and, ultimately, whether there is an investment case to do so. Despite years of boosterism from politicians and regional business leaders, industry experts say its highly unlikely it will ever live up to even a fraction of the hype.

Global demand for new sources of chromite, experts say, ranks between low and non-existent. And the company that holds more than three-quarters of the mining concessions in the Ring of Fire, tiny Noront Resources Ltd., has raised concerns about its ability to continue as a going concern.

CHROMITE WORLD MINE PRODUCTION AND RESERVES

RESERVES (SHIPPING GRADE)

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE:BARCHART;

U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY

WORLD MINE PRODUCTION AND RESERVES

RESERVES (SHIPPING GRADE)

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE:BARCHART;

U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY

CHROMITE WORLD MINE PRODUCTION AND RESERVES

RESERVES (SHIPPING GRADE)

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE:BARCHART; U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY

Patrick Ryan, a mining consultant with Mining For Facts, who has followed the chromite market for four decades, says the world is awash in the commodity, with no need for any new product from the Ring of Fire, or anywhere else.

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Its incomprehensible that this was ever a viable project, says Mr. Ryan. No one in their right mind would put a dime into it.

This past summer, it became clear that neither Premier Ford, nor anyone else, will be jumping on any bulldozers any time soon. In August, the Ontario government announced that a five-year effort to reach a framework agreement with a large group of First Nations on the sharing of economic benefits and the construction of a road to the Ring of Fire had failed. The province will instead try to reach accords on a piecemeal basis with nine individual First Nations, a process that will likely bog down the project for years to come.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeaus government hasnt shown much enthusiasm for investing in the Ring of Fire, either.

But at Queens Park, Mr. Fords government insist that all systems are still go. Even more committed to the cause is teetering Noront, with CEO Alan Coutts vowing in an interview with The Globe and Mail that 100 years of prosperity lie ahead for Ontarians.

The key to unlocking everything is a gravel road that is about 300 kilometres long, he says.

Alan Coutts, CEO of Noront Resources, seen here on Oct. 24, 2019, vows that '100 years of prosperity' lie ahead for Ontarians.

Christopher Katsarov

Its hard to think of a more hostile place in the country to operate a mine than the dense boreal forest and vast swampland around the James Bay Lowlands in Ontarios Far North. There are no access roads to the Ring of Fire and no power, and the tiny First Nations communities in the vicinity rely on airstrips for access to the outside world.

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Due to the extremely remote terrain, the area had been largely unexplored for much of its history. In the early 2000s, geologists looking for diamonds accidentally stumbled upon a kind of rock that typically houses base metals. In 2007, Noront discovered a rich nickel deposit, and the following year found what appeared to be a vast chromite deposit.

The company christened the region the Ring of Fire because it vaguely resembled a ring, and Noront employees had an affinity for the hit song of the same name by Johnny Cash. The discoveries prompted a kind of hysteria, as scores of prospectors engulfed the area. In 2009, about 100 junior mining companies had staked more than 8,000 claims. It was the biggest staking frenzy in Canada since the diamond rush of the early 1990s in the Northwest Territories.

Mohan Srivastava, a Toronto-based geostatistician, remembers the hype in the late-2000s as a kind of breathless excitement about how Ontario was destined to become a world hub for a rare and strategically important commodity."

In 2009, a large U.S. mining company took a big swing. Cleveland-based Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. (now Cleveland Cliffs Inc.) outmanoeuvred Noront and paid $350-million to win a takeover battle for a junior producer with the three most promising chromite finds in the region.

Over the next few years, Cliffs invested a further $200-million on the development, and vowed to spend about $3-billion to build a giant chromite mine and a smelter to process the ore. The company planned to use the chromite in its core stainless steel business. But it was soon under pressure from all sides: escalating costs, falling commodity prices, a failure to score a cheap electricity deal and the inability to get environmental permits amid opposition from First Nations.

Cliffs had also hoped both the Ontario government and the federal government would participate in a public-private partnership to help fund the more than $2-billion needed to build the critical road link and infrastructure, but the funds never materialized.

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Five years in, Cliffs threw up its hands, and sold its Ring of Fire assets at a 95-per-cent discount to Noront in 2014. Cliffs CEO, Lourenco Goncalves, told The Globe and Mail he had no hope the Ring of Fire would be developed in the next 50 years, calling it beyond the point of no return.

Around the time Cliffs was giving up, the Ring of Fire got an unexpected boost from an unlikely source: James Franklin, a respected geologist. The former chief scientist for the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC) mused that the Ring of Fire could contain $60-billion worth of minerals. He mentioned the figure in a talk at the 2013 Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) convention, a popular international mining conference held every year in Toronto.

Geologist Jim Franklin, seen here on Oct. 25, 2019, mused that the Ring of Fire could contain $60-billion worth of minerals.

Justin Tang

Mr. Franklin said he came up with this astronomical number by looking at all the public companies that had published resource estimates of their Ring of Fire discoveries. He simply added up the total projections for minerals in the ground from these reports, and calculated the value if the metals were sold at market prices.

But Mr. Franklin also readily admits the figure contained no analysis of costs or potential return, and no insight on whether any project should be developed.

"There might well be $60-billion worth of metal sitting in the ground, but it might cost you $80-billion to get it out, he said.

Even the most promotional of mining companies wouldnt dare print such a figure in a regulatory document, because it would be misleading to investors.

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If any company did the same kind of thing, they would have gotten slapped down by regulators," said Mr. Srivastava.

In the mining industry, geologists categorize deposits based on how sure they are that the metals found underground can be mined economically. Proven and probable is the highest bar, meaning metal that can be mined for a profit.

The vast majority of mines around the world are built off of a proven and probable resource. One notch below proven and probable is measured and indicated, a far less certain category in which economics have not been proved. Inferred is the lowest tier, essentially an educated guess.

No one sober would build a mine off an inferred resource, said Mr. Srivastava.

Mr. Franklin says about 70 per cent of his Ring of Fire estimate came from the inferred category, with the rest coming from measured and indicated. Now, he has second thoughts about including any of the inferred in his calculation.

I [did something] that youre not supposed to, he said.

Despite its shaky foundation, that $60-billion figure had a big impact on the public imagination. The number has been cited in scores of news articles and other media (including The Globe and Mail), rarely explaining how it was calculated or attributing its source.

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce in 2014 released studies predicting Ring of Fire would create 5,000 new jobs and a $9-billion boost to GDP, and said over its first 32 years of its development, it would generate more than $25-billion in economic activity across numerous sectors in Ontario.

Mr. Franklin says he has tried to stop the rampant use of the $60-billion figure, and raised concerns with a senior official in Ontarios Ministry of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry.

I contacted [them and said], You guys should do your own evaluation of this. You should not be using some number that I came up with at PDAC because we all know the unreliability of my number,' Mr. Franklin said. Its just not proper.

The $60-billion number does appear to have been dropped from most Ontario government statements in the past year or two, but officials havent pulled back their estimates or added context.

Mr. Franklin says if he could do his PDAC talk over again, he would have made it much clearer what the potential downsides and risks are of trying to develop the Ring of Fire. As someone who has worked as a consultant for Noront, and been to its mining camp, he has no illusions about the harsh realities of operating there.

Its an area thats just terrible to work in because its the worlds largest swamp, he said.

When youre [working on the ground] youre just gradually sinking into the swamp. Its hard to know where the lake stops and the land begins, Mr. Franklin said. Its about the worst place you can think of to try to work.

Noronts CEO, Mr. Coutts, isnt interested in talking about any potential downsides. Hes adamant the company will eventually have three mines in production, build a smelter in Sault Ste. Marie and employ hundreds of people -- all told, an investment of several billion dollars.

The reality is Noront doesnt have the money to do any of this. In fact, the company is in dire financial shape. It has US$47.8-million in debt, but is holding only US$4.1-million in cash. A US$32.8-million loan from Franco Nevada Corp. is coming due in April of next year. While Noront has held talks with Franco about an extension, in August it warned investors there is no assurance it will be able to repay or refinance the loan.

They need huge amounts of money, and they cant attract any money," said Mr. Ryan.

Theyre walking around talking about this stuff as if its real. I mean, its a penny stock. Why does anyone take them seriously?"

Heres another harsh reality Noront must face: Even if an access road into the Ring of Fire appeared tomorrow, it isnt in a position to move forward on any of its projects, because it hasnt proved they are viable. In its marketing materials, Noront flaunts a feasibility study conducted in 2012 on a nickel-copper-palladium project called Eagles Nest, which Mr. Coutts says will be its first mine.

Yet in the same breath, Mr. Coutts acknowledges that feasibility study is no longer valid. A lot has changed since 2012, including copper and nickel prices. The company assumed materially higher prices for both.

Mr. Coutts is optimistic that Eagles Nest could still be profitable, especially in light of significantly higher palladium prices, used in the manufacture of catalytic converters for autos. But the company has to conduct a new study to prove the investment case.

As for the much-hyped chromite deposits, while Cliffs once planned to build a massive chromite mine, called Black Thor, Noront has drastically scaled back its ambitions. Instead, it hopes to eventually develop a much smaller one, called Blackbird, and then possibly Black Thor. But the timeline for all of this is uncertain, and Noront has no proof that any of it is feasible.

Lost in all the hullabaloo is the harsh reality that there doesnt appear to be a broader economic case for building a chromite mine in the region, or any other place in the world, for that matter.

According to a May report by the U.S. Geological Survey, there are already enough proven chromite reserves in the world to last for centuries. South Africa and Kazakhstan dominate the production side of the market, and they provide China, which controls much of the worlds stainless steel market, a steady supply of cheap raw ore.

Mr. Coutts says the companys plan is to sell ferrochrome -- smelted chromite ore -- to the much smaller U.S. market. But even he admits that breaking into that market will be tough for an untested and unknown producer.

Youve got to establish yourself in the chrome world. You got to understand it. You got to prove yourself as a consistent high-quality producer, he said.

"[The Americans] are getting product right now from other suppliers that theyve taken for 20 or 30 years. Theyre comfortable with that. So theyre going to all of a sudden turn around, and the South African product that theyve been getting for the last 20 years from a consistent supplier, and go, Oh yeah, Ill buy it from Noront, who Ive never heard of, up in the Ring of Fire.

Another point of contention is whether building the much-vaunted road into the Ring of Fire would even suffice. Mr. Franklin says that trucks carrying heavy chromite would quickly wreck a gravel road. Only a railroad could support the weight, but a railroad would likely cost orders of magnitude more.

The all-season road will work just fine for nickel and base metals but it will not work for chromite, said Mr. Franklin. You just wouldnt do it by truck.

Mr. Coutts dismisses this as nonsense, and says that the road can easily handle the transportation of the chromite.

Doug Fords point man on the Ring of Fire is Greg Rickford. The Kenora-Rainy River MPP is Ontarios Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines. Hes also Minister of Indigenous Affairs. By all accounts, he should know the project well. He succeeded Mr. Clement as the minister who oversaw economic development in northern Ontario in Stephen Harpers government, and then served as Minister of Natural Resources.

While out of office from 2015 to 2018, Mr. Rickford served on Noronts board. (He says he has since sold his shares in the company.) He has also worked as a nurse and lawyer in the remote First Nations communities near the Ring of Fire, something he says gives him a window on the regions need for hope and jobs.

Mr. Rickford acknowledges the wild claims over the past decade including the promise of tens of billions of dollars in riches have raised expectations to dizzying heights.

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The road to nowhere: Claims Ontario's Ring of Fire is worth $60-billion are nonsense - The Globe and Mail

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New technologies and how to build a circular economy – Recycling International

Posted: at 2:47 pm

The year 2019 is shaping up as a tipping point for action to address the challenges surrounding global sustainability and waste management. This positive development comes as discussion among governments, researchers, not-for-profits and corporates is shifting towards a can do attitude to reducing waste and changing attitudes, behaviours and practices.

This article was published in Recycling Technology / Reading time: 5 min.

A new groundswell isunderway across the globe as corporates, communities and societies are movingfrom the linear economic approach of make, use, dispose to a circular economywhere the aspiration is to keep materials out of landfill and incinerators, andin use for as long as possible.

Realisation of the need to close the economic loop so that used materials and waste streams are treated as the renewable resources they truly are is dawning on decision-makers the world over. This coincides with increased scientific focus on, and business innovation around, viewing waste as a commodity to better manage long-term social, environmental and economic impacts.

For instance, new technology and capability derived from the Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology (SMaRT) at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney, Australia, can produce building panels from old clothing and textiles, as well as plastics, waste timber and glass.

This Microfactory technology can transform waste glass into engineered flat ceramic products, which have been used to make stools and table-tops, as well as for decorative purposes. They are now also being tested for flooring and walling applications.

It can also transformelectronic waste such as phones, laptops and printers into high-quality plasticfilaments for 3D printing, and to extract and reform metal alloys from printedcircuit boards, eliminating the need for conventional smelting technologies.

These scientificallydeveloped microrecycling processes can provide game-changing solutions toproduce materials from waste on a small scale, and demonstrate that a period ofdisruption is underway.

A key challenge is to harness the commercial appetite and opportunity to create value from the materials that end up in landfill to ensure societies divert at scale the waste that can be reformed into new, valued-added materials, products and manufacturing feedstock.

This involves actively working with companies and organisations seeking to enshrine circular economy principles in their operations so they can know who are the other participants in these new supply chains, understand where and how they fit in, and what the opportunities are.

The main difficulty is there are so many stakeholdersacross all the supply chains that there is no effective connectivity processfor circular economy participants. For example, an organisation with a wasteproblem might be able to send these materials to another company which is ableto use them in its operations, but there is no awareness of this win-winsolution within local economies.

Another challenge is the need to encourage designers andproducers of products, packaging and applicable services to build in from thevery beginning of the product lifecycle a consideration for how all of thematerials used will become part of the circular economy when an end-user has nofurther need for the product and treats it as waste.

Chinas National Sword policy banning other countries from sending their waste to that country is being replicated across Asia, and the silver lining in this development has been to cause an acceleration of positive reform around waste and recycling policy among many national, state and local governments.

In Australia, thenational government re-elected in May 2019 announced the countrys first-everministerial role for waste reduction, to be connected to its foreshadowedWaste Recycling Investment Plan. Each of the state governments in Australia nowalso has circular economy policies and statements, and is working hard tochange the value chain around waste.

Another positivedevelopment has been the establishment of dedicated initiatives to createnetworks and hubs that bring together the various stakeholders across supplychains so as to work together to find the opportunities necessary to makechanges that not only reduce waste but also ensure it can be valued and used asa renewable resource through circular solutions.

In the state of New South Wales (NSW), for example, weare working hard to close the loop wherever possible on materials in localeconomies by building awareness and new connections to create value-addedproducts through materials reuse or transformation, particularly for materialswhich can be directed into high-quality manufacturing solutions.

I was honoured to be appointed in March this year as theDirector of the new government-funded NSW Circular Economy Innovation Network, whichhas been tasked with helping drive this change across Australias largest state.

At an international level, there has been growingmomentum in this space. This type of work is perhaps best known through UNEnvironment, the World Economic Forum and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, withinitiatives such as the Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy. However,small-scale actions and solutions through market-based networks like ours arerequired to meet the needs of local businesses that make up the majority ofeconomies.

In March 2019, the European Commission adopted acomprehensive report on the implementation of the Circular Economy Action Plan,which presents its main achievements so far and sketches out future challengesto developing circular economies to reduce pressure on natural and freshwaterresources, as well as ecosystems.

To demonstrate the growing importance of circular economyprinciples, a new Technical Committee under the International Organization forStandardization was announced in July 2019 with the objective to help make theglobal circular economy a reality by steering local projects towards asustainable, agreed global standard.

Known as ISO/TC 323 Circular Economy, this TechnicalCommittee will develop requirements, frameworks, guidance and support tools,with the aim of ensuring implementation of UN Sustainable Development Goals.The Committee comprises experts from over 65 countries, with Australia sittingas an observer member.

So while there is growing concern around the need forgreater sustainability, I actually see 2019 as a tipping point year when themomentum of change is starting to crystallise the concept of a circulareconomy. This is a period of disruption we must have.

The bottom line is a circular economy creates local jobs,enhances the economy, and improves social and environmental wellbeing. The paceof change must accelerate into the next decade so we can live more sustainablyand harmoniously on our planet.

Would you like to share any interesting developments or article ideas with us? Don't hesitate to contact us.

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Five business tax credits scrapped; UCP abandons targeted programs in favour of lower corporate taxes – Calgary Herald

Posted: at 2:47 pm

Travis Toews, President of Treasury Board and Minister of Finance, talks with the media after a Conversation with Calgary Chamber on Wednesday, September 4, 2019. Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia CalgaryAzin Ghaffari / Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia Calgary

The UCP government will cancel a business tax credit program that had been widely praised by Alberta companies working in non-traditional sectors such as technology.

The future of the Alberta Investor Tax Credit which was introduced by the previous NDP government and provided a 30 per cent tax credit to investors who put money into targeted growth industries such as clean technology and digital animation has been up in the air since Premier Jason Kenneys government was elected in the spring.

In Thursdays provincial budget, the UCP confirmed it will eliminate the program, along with other targeted tax credits intended to support business and economic diversification in Alberta.

The Capital Investment Tax Credit, the Community Economic Development Corporation Tax Credit, the Capital Investment Tax Credit, the Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit and the Scientific Research and Experimental Development Tax Credit are all being cancelled, a move the government says will result in $400 million in savings by 2022-23.

The UCP said the programs have been hampered by red tape and have been shown to be a relatively inefficient way of delivering benefits to businesses.

It said its move to lower the corporate tax rate for all businesses to eight per cent from 12 per cent by 2022 is a better way to support job creation and grow the economy, since 100,000 Alberta companies will benefit from the tax cut while only 1,500 companies would have benefited from the tax credit programs.

The corporate tax cut translates into a net $2.4-billion revenue reduction for the government over four years.

We made a commitment to Albertans that we were going to implement initiatives that increase job opportunities and improve the economy, and thats why we implemented the Job Creation Tax Cut, Finance Minister Travis Toews told reporters. Research upon research upon research has demonstrated that as you improve the business environment, as you reduce the taxes in the business environment, you attract investment and create jobs in the long term.

Toews said reducing the corporate tax rate is expected to lead to $4 billion annually in increased investment in Alberta by 2022-23, and will encourage sustainable diversification of the economy without relying on government handouts.

However, not everyone believes an across-the-board tax cut is preferable to the cancelled tax credits.

Many people in Albertas burgeoning tech sector say the Investor Tax Credit in particular which had approved $28.1 million in tax credits by the end of 2018 and leveraged $94 million in investment for small and mid-sized businesses helped get much-needed venture capital into the hands of new industries in a province where investment dollars have typically gone to oil and gas.

The tech sector also benefited from the Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit, which put Alberta companies on a more level playing field with other provinces that have offered similar tax credits for years, said Trent Oster, CEO of Edmonton-based video game developer Beamdog.

On a dollar per dollar basis, we cant compete with Quebec, with B.C., with Winnipeg. Its actually a bad business decision for a video game company to do business in Alberta right now, so this (the cancellation of the tax credits) is so disappointing, Oster said. A four per cent corporate tax cut doesnt help establish a new industry, it just helps make existing industries more profitable.

Mike Holden, vice-president of policy and chief economist with the Business Council of Alberta, said his organization believes the governments move to cut the overall corporate tax rate is part of a good path forward that will enhance competitiveness and investment attractiveness in Alberta.

However, Holden added the Business Council is disappointed to see some of the tax credits, particularly the Alberta Investor Tax Credit, eliminated.

Technology and innovation is of strategic importance to the Alberta economy . . . its key to our long-term economic prosperity and competitiveness, Holden said. We would support some effort on a redesigned or improved policy that enables activity in that sector.

The Calgary Chamber of Commerce while a vocal supporter of lower corporate taxes had also been a supporter of the investor tax credit and had lobbied the previous NDP government to create the program.

The government said broad-based business tax cuts have already been proven to work in Alberta.

According to the budget document, a low-rate, broad-based corporate tax approach was provincial policy from 2001 to 2014 and, during that time, Alberta led all provinces in growth across nearly every industry sector with growth in non-resource sectors generally outpacing that in the resource sector.

astephenson@postmedia.com

Twitter: @AmandaMsteph

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KOESLAG: The agriculture sector has very real immigration needs – Toronto Sun

Posted: at 2:47 pm

Canadas immigration discussions continue to be centred on numbers. How many refugees? How many economic immigrants? How many family members?

At the same time the economic immigration policy has become increasingly focused on recruiting higher-skilled for jobs in urban centres.

But Canadas agriculture sector needs more people working in agriculture in rural Canada. So we need something different. We are looking for a made in Canada solution for our permanent labour shortage.

Why do we need this?

The agriculture supply chain is contributing $111 billion per year to the Canadian economy, over 6% of Canadas GDP. Thats more than $30 million per day, creating 2.3 million jobs. The mushroom sector contributes close to $1 billion a year to the economy with export increases of over $50 million last year alone.

Yet, there are 16,500 job vacancies on Canadian farms. This labour crisis is causing $2.9 billion lost sales to the economy. Mushroom farms have close to 20% job vacancy rate.

Many farms run ongoing ads and receive no applicants. Even though we pay competitive wages, offer stable work that provides a good quality of life in rural Canada. A wage survey conducted by the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) shows entry level mushroom harvesters start at minimum wage and after training, experienced workers can make up to $29 per hour. Supervisors earn between $35,000 to $80,000 annually.

The most in-demand jobs are our entry level harvester positions picking mushrooms. For occupations like this, the most difficult to find people for, these are classified as lower-skilled. So even when there are no Canadian applicants, and we already have a trained workforce of Agricultural Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs), there are very few immigration options that allow them to stay.

Farmers and processors recruit for something not included in the Canadian immigration merit-based point system. We need people interested in working in agriculture, with experience, who want to participate in rural Canadian life. We can prove this actually supports a very high level of retention.

What we propose in our Give Rural Canada a Chance report, is a new immigration program where rural Canada and agriculture are prioritized. A program that supports job matching of immigrants to regions and sectors with high job vacancies. Where an immigrant coming to Canada has a job from day one in rural Canada, working in an important industry that grows our food, so we can all go to the grocery store and eat Canadian food every day.

In many ways the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) already allows for job matching, while providing a Canadian first approach that we support. However, we need a permanent made-in-Canada Agri-Food solution, not a temporary program.

We are happy a new Agri-Food Immigration Pilot was announced this summer. Criteria is being finalized. This is a step in the right direction, but we need to make sure it allows real immigration access to workers wanting to work on the farm.

We believe work in rural Canada has value. We believe hard work on the farm has value. We want to support the TFWs on our farms to a clear pathway to citizenship because we want our workers who are employed in year-round jobs to be allowed to stay. In our new video, we show how we support farm workers, including family reunification.

Weve done the research and we have the plan to make this happen. Were ready for action.

We call on the Government of Canada and all political parties to work with us on a made in Canada solution to support farm workers, farmers, and safe and affordable Canadian food on our grocery shelves.

Ryan Koeslag is the executive VP for Canadian Mushroom Growers Association. Learn more at facebook.com/MushroomsGrowers

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Alberta delivers an orthodox budget that is short on long-term thinking – Financial Post

Posted: at 2:47 pm

Alberta Finance Minister Travis Toews protested too much.

This government is not driven by dogma, he said near the end of the first quarter of his 4,500-word budget speech on Thursday. We are pragmatic about economic intervention, not doctrinaire.

By way of evidence, Toews offered the United Conservative governments decision to create the Alberta Indigenous Opportunities Corp. and seed it with $1 billion to help First Nations become partners in energy and resource development.

He also padded his interventionist-if-necessary credentials by highlighting the $1.9 billion he anticipates extracting from large emitters to fund the development of green technology, and the $200 million he set aside for skills development and the commercialization of research.

But if the goal of the digression was to showcase Premier Jason Kenneys government as open-minded and flexible, it was as convincing as Clark Kent hiding his true identity behind a pair of glasses. The governments commitment to orthodoxy is impressive. The risk is that it freezes Alberta in time as the rest of the world moves on.

The provinces budget is a tribute to the doctrine of low taxes and balanced budgets. Toews aims to erase a $9-billion shortfall in four years almost entirely by cutting spending, while implementing a big corporate tax cut and crossing his fingers that oil prices hold steady.

And while the finance minister speaks more softly than his boss, he is no less dogmatic when it comes to airing regional grievances. Toews told reporters that he doubted there was a bridge or school anywhere in Canada that hasnt benefited from Alberta energy. He said he plans to agitate for changes to the equalization program so that it would come to the provinces aid when times are tough.

If hes serious about doing a deal on equalization, he might want to stop behaving like a disgruntled benefactor, lest his counterparts point out how much aid could be generated by charging a sales tax.

Toewss budget is replete with examples of how Albertas spending exceeds the average of Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec, yet says nothing about how little revenue the province seeks to collect from the countrys richest per-capita population. He did introduce a stealth increase by proposing to temporarily stop marking the basic income-tax deduction to inflation, but this would change little, as the finance department foresees taxes rising to 45 per cent of total revenue from 44 per cent currently.

Even if program spending growth is dramatically cut, the government must find a new source of stable revenues, David Dodge, the former Bank of Canada governor, said in a report on provincial finances earlier this year published by Bennett Jones, the law firm where he now works as an adviser. A provincial GST could help fill the gap without harming Albertas competitive position.

Albertas spending needed a trim to reflect the decline in oil royalties. Public debt charges surged 17 per cent between 2010 and 2018, according to Dodge and his co-author, Richard Dion. That was from a very low base, but still out of step with what was going on in the rest of the country. The second-biggest increase in public debt charges over that period was three per cent in Manitoba.

Tough economic times require tough policy decisions, said Sbastien Lavoie, chief economist at Laurentian Bank Securities. The bottom line for bond investors is that the UCP government can restore Albertas public finances, as long as the budget proposals are efficiently put into action.

Toews plans to drop the provincial tax on corporate income to eight per cent in 2022 from 11 per cent currently, restoring the Alberta advantage. The combined federal and provincial rate would be 23 per cent, compared with 27 per cent in British Columbia, 27 per cent in nearby Oregon, and 28 per cent in California. Assuming other jurisdictions resist the urge to race Alberta to the bottom, there will be only a few places in North America where companies pay lower rates on profits.

The weight of historical evidence overwhelmingly shows that when we improve our corporate tax advantage, our provincial (gross domestic product) goes up and our share of national GDP increases, Toews said in his budget speech.

If only it were so simple.

The budget matches the ministers confidence in the power of tax cuts, predicting economic growth of 2.7 per cent in 2020, much faster than the average forecast of nine private forecasters, which was 2.1 per cent. The technocrats appear less certain that lower rates will pay for themselves, however, stating that corporate-tax cut will provide companies a fillip of $4.7 billion, but at a net fiscal cost of $2.4 billion.

Relatively high-tax Quebec will lead the country in economic growth this year, according to Bank of Nova Scotia, a spot normally held in recent years by high-tax British Columbia. Confiscatory tax rates havent stopped California and Oregon from become two of the wealthiest places on the planet. One thing all of those places have in common is booming technology industries. Alberta should be in their league, but its not, mostly because its waiting for a catalyst to bring all of its intellectual property, entrepreneurs and capital together.

Its not obvious that one of the lowest corporate rates in North America will do that. Toews scrapped five tax credits aimed at helping startups achieve scale. Purists will applaud that decision. However, a less doctrinaire finance minister might have left them in place to enable a shift away from oil. But Toews made clear this week that a balanced budget matters more than to him than diversifying the economy.

Reducing the corporate tax does not provide any financial advantage before you are profitable, which is true of most new ventures in the initial years, said Robert Price, founder of Calgary-based Bde, a digital real-estate company. What is the bigger picture approach to successful economic diversification? The UCP tax change is short-term thinking.

Financial Post

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French President announces 3-pronged security partnership with India for Southern Indian Ocean – Economic Times

Posted: at 2:47 pm

NEW DELHI: French President Emmanuel Macron announced a three-pronged security partnership with India in the southern Indian Ocean in the backdrop of Chinas growing ambitions in the region.

French President Emmanuel Macron announced a three-pronged security partnership with India in the southern Indian Ocean in the backdrop of Chinas growing ambitions in the region.

Macron stated that India and France were sharing the analysis of joint maritime security in the southern Indian Ocean, working on a joint maritime surveillance in the region and looking at possible deployment of an Indian Navy maritime patrol vessel in Reunion Island from the first quarter of 2020.

In an indirect reference to Chinas designs on the western and southern Indian Ocean Region, the French President said in his speech, We must protect the Great Indo-Pacific space for no hegemony to reign. A security presence in the region is essential for building this freedom in sovereignty and for establishing a common agenda.

Together with India, we have been working with PM Modi on a shared ocean vision and strengthened our operational cooperation for stability and security in the region....It's an unprecedented movement, a very profound change. A few years ago we had never planned to engage with our Indian friends here in the same way as the operations we did recently. This is the reality of this strategic agenda that we share, he said.

Macron said, This common security agenda in the region is an agenda of maritime surveillance, protection of our marine areas, construction of a joint agenda to avoid any form of hegemony or intrusion and it is noted that the France is the 2nd largest maritime power in the world.

The French Presidents comments came at the event where ministers of India, France and Vanilla Islands (Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius and Seychelles in the western Indian Ocean) met to explore economic and development partnership. India was represented by the minister of state for external affairs V Muraleedharan at the first such ministerial meet.

India, in partnership with France, is keen to focus on port development, blue economy, trade, connectivity, tourism, skill development, hospitality and healthcare in this resource-rich region, said people aware of the matter. India is also eyeing gas deposits in the Mozambique Channel near Vanilla Islands.

The joint statement issued after Modis meeting with Macron on August 22 had indicated enhancement in the Indo-French partnership in the western Indian Ocean.

Based on a shared commitment to maintaining the freedom of navigation, particularly in the Indo-Pacific zone, maritime security cooperation between France and India is a domain of excellence in their strategic partnership, said the joint statement. surveillance in the region and looking at possible deployment of an Indian Navy maritime patrol vessel in Reunion Island from the first quarter of 2020.

In an indirect reference to Chinas designs on the western and southern Indian Ocean Region, the French President said in his speech, We must protect the Great Indo-Pacific space for no hegemony to reign. A security presence in the region is essential for building this freedom in sovereignty and for establishing a common agenda.

Together with India, we have been working with PM Modi on a shared ocean vision and strengthened our operational cooperation for stability and security in the region....It's an unprecedented movement, a very profound change. A few years ago we had never planned to engage with our Indian friends here in the same way as the operations we did recently. This is the reality of this strategic agenda that we share, he said.

Macron said, This common security agenda in the region is an agenda of maritime surveillance, protection of our marine areas, construction of a joint agenda to avoid any form of hegemony or intrusion and it is noted that the France is the 2nd largest maritime power in the world.

The French Presidents comments came at the event where ministers of India, France and Vanilla Islands (Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius and Seychelles in the western Indian Ocean) met to explore economic and development partnership. India was represented by the minister of state for external affairs V Muraleedharan at the first such ministerial meet.

India, in partnership with France, is keen to focus on port development, blue economy, trade, connectivity, tourism, skill development, hospitality and healthcare in this resource-rich region, said people aware of the matter. India is also eyeing gas deposits in the Mozambique Channel near Vanilla Islands.

Based on a shared commitment to maintaining the freedom of navigation, particularly in the Indo-Pacific zone, maritime security cooperation between France and India is a domain of excellence in their strategic partnership, said the joint statement.

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Heli-tours face headwind from Grand Teton National Park – Wyoming Tribune

Posted: at 2:47 pm

Helicopter pilot Tony Chambers wants to launch a scenic ride business from the Jackson Hole Airport in Grand Teton National Park, but faces a headwind from the preserve and other conservationists.

Chambers, a Hoback Junction resident who hangars his Robinson 44 four-seat helicopter in Pinedale, told WyoFile he has been working on securing an agreement with the Jackson Hole Airport Board to operate commercially from its airstrip. The Jackson Hole Airport is the only such facility located completely in a national park, and operates under a lease with the federal government. Various noise-related laws, stipulations and rules govern flights in and near park airspace.

Chambers business plan reflects Wyoming priorities, he said. I feel like Im following the states initiative to create other sectors of the economy, specifically in tourism and hospitality, he said. Im not applying for any kind of flights or tours in Grand Teton National Park.

The tours would fly over the park on departure and again before landing at the airport, however. Chambers said a standard tour, as currently proposed, would take place mostly over the Bridger-Teton National Forest east of the park.

Im trying to create something thats an asset to the community and not a thorn, Chambers said.

But some, including the park itself, already find the idea of scenic helicopter rides launching from and returning to the airport prickly.

Park Acting Superintendent Gopaul Noojibail outlined numerous problems his agency sees with the helicopter proposal in a letter. We oppose your project, he wrote to Chambers in correspondence dated July 11.

It was a helicopter rescue in the Tetons that spurred Chambers interest in flying, according to his story posted on his companys website Wind River Air, LLC.

He was camped above 11,000 feet at the Lower Saddle of the Grand Teton when a Park Service rescue ship flew above him and landed on the Upper Saddle, the account reads. And, at that moment, Tony knew that someday he too would be a capable helicopter pilot.

A Salt Lake City native who has lived in both Jackson and Sublette County, Chambers worked in construction and volunteered for years with Sublettes Tip Top Search and Rescue. He earned his commercial pilots license in 2017.

Since then, hes worked toward getting a non-tenant special use agreement to operate commercially from the Jackson Hole airport, he said. A standard helicopter tour proposed under his plan would pick people up at the airport and fly them east over park land and over part of the National Elk Refuge before carrying them above the national forest on the east side of Jackson Hole.

The airship would turn north and fly toward Moran at the north end of the valley. It would then return to the airport within about a half hour.

The routes would be similar to the existing [fixed-wing] operator Fly Jackson Hole, he said. You could make variations of that.

The Robinson 44, while in the valley, could be used for other operations, he said, such as helping with wildlife surveys or habitat photography. He has worked on aerial pipeline and power-line inspections with Sublette County Weed and Pest District, and envisions the chopper being useful for monitoring conservation easements, he said.

Im trying to figure out a way [to] make this a community asset, Chambers said.

Chambers said Airport Executive Director Jim Elwood told him to engage community members about his plan. Since then hes talked to two Jackson Town Council members, the owners of a remote guest ranch, Bridger-Teton officials, National Elk Refuge personnel and national park representatives, Chambers said.

Chambers engagements didnt produce a bushel of full-throated endorsements, according to his accounts of the meetings. Bridger-Teton officials said Chambers didnt need permission unless he was going to land on the forest which he is not he said. Over Forest Service wilderness areas, where Chambers said he does not intend to fly, aircraft are supposed to stay at least 2,000 feet above the ground.

Asked if he was disappointed in Grand Teton National Parks response, Chambers said very much so, But, he said, they have a resource to protect. Thats their job.

The National Park Service mandate is to conserve the scenery, natural and historic objects and wildlife and to provide for public enjoyment while leaving resources unimpaired for future generations.The agency considers sound intrusion as it seeks to fulfill that mission. In Grand Teton, a 1983 agreement allowing the Jackson Hole Airport to operate inside park boundaries has led to significant impacts from noise and airplane traffic, Noojibails letter states.

[M]ore than 28,000 operations (takeoff or landing) occur annually at the airport and result in well-documented impacts on the parks natural soundscape and other resources and values, the letter reads.

Because the airport receives FAA funding, laws prevent it from imposing many restrictions. Noojibail referenced the difficult position that puts the park and airport in.

Under current federal law, there is very little, if any, opportunity to impose additional noise or access restrictions on the use of the airport, he wrote. What authority Grand Teton does have to limit noise is restricted to flights inside the park and within a half mile of its borders, he wrote.

Flying over the park before landing or after taking off from Jackson Hole Airport are activities that are generally exempt from protective laws like the National Park Air Traffic Management Act of 2000. Because Chambers plan is to fly over the park only while leaving or arriving at the airport, the air traffic act likely wouldnt apply to him.

Finally, the acting superintendent pointed to safety worries and potential conflicts with fire or search-and-rescue operations.

Missions occur almost every day during the summer operating season on both an emergency and nonemergency basis, including highly complex mountain rescue and short haul operations in the Teton Range and surrounding areas, the letter reads. The addition of commercial air tours into the airspace could compromise airspace safety.

Officials cant stop him from using the airport, Chambers said.

They cant keep aircraft out of there, he told WyoFile. They do have a duty to allow commercial operations out of there. I think there is a duty there they have to perform.

He said he believes he could take off from another airport say at Pinedale pick up passengers in Jackson and take them on a scenic ride. I can do that all day long at the Jackson Hole Airport, he said.

Jackson Hole Airport Executive Director Jim Elwood confirmed Chambers assessment. He is correct, Elwood told WyoFile. He could fly from another location to the Jackson Hole Airport.

Also, the airport cant discriminate against any type of aircraft or circumstance of use, Elwood said. While a Town of Jackson ordinance requires a permit for operations based at the airport, the airport board cannot deny one as long as he meets requirements in the permit.

Those would likely include rules to avoid noise-sensitive areas of the park and specifications that restrict flights over park land to landing and take-of routes, Elwood said. A permit, however, doesnt assure a place to operate, at the heavily used strip and apron, he said.

The airport has not received an official request for a permit from Chambers.

Meantime the pilot said he wants to work with community members as recommended by Elwood and Noojibail. Im not trying to cram it down anybodys throat, Chambers said of his plan. Id like to proceed with Jackson Hole Airport Board for this permit.

The non-tenant permit would give me legitimacy, Chambers said. I want their blessing, he said of the airport board.

Because of high demand and limited space, theres not a lot of room at the airport to park a helicopter or even to land and take off. The airport aprons are usually crowded with private jets and airplanes, and many private users cannot rent hangar or apron space.

They cant guarantee me space out on the apron for me to operate from, Chambers said. But things could change, he said, and some day there may be an opportunity to park or even hangar a helicopter there.

Some conservationists are disturbed by Chambers plan. The National Parks Conservation Association opposes the permitting of helicopter air tours from the Jackson Hole Airport within Grand Teton National Park, Sharon Mader, the groups senior program manager in the Northern Rockies, wrote in an email.

Whether or not simply taking off and landing within the park, the impact is the same bringing disruptive noise to the tranquility of Grand Teton and surrounding public lands and residential neighborhoods, her email stated.

Another Jackson Town Council member, Jim Stanford, called Chambers last week and said in no uncertain terms he opposed the scenic flight plan, Chambers said.

Stanford said he told Chambers his plan was a lousy idea, the town councilman told WyoFile. It went against all of our community values and I pledged to do everything within my authority to deny his proposal.

Chambers agreed helicopters attract enmity. People dont like helicopters, he said.

It will be an impact, Chambers acknowledges of the flights.. They make a different noise than airplanes. Noise sensitivity is a thing up there.

Chambers said hes not afraid of controversy, but Im certainly not looking for it.

Jackson Hole successfully deterred a similar plan for helicopter tours 18 years ago. In response to that proposal, The Town of Jackson in 2001 ultimately passed a resolution in favor of a temporary ban on helicopter scenic tours in all of Teton County.

The proposed tours may disturb the peace and quiet of noise sensitive areas [and] may disturb and distress wildlife, the resolution reads.

Officials and a consortium of conservation groups sought a review of environmental, safety and economic impacts. U.S. Sens. Mike Enzi and Craig Thomas supported an FAA review and Gov. Jim Geringer also was on board, according to the resolution.

The uproar was loud and unanimous Heli-No! Stanford said, quoting a popular bumper sticker of the time. The writing was on the wall. Potential operators were dissuaded.

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State plan to allow drilling off KZN coast to be further delayed as activists fight back – News24

Posted: at 2:47 pm

Eni and Sasol are stopped in their tracks by appeals against offshore gas and oil exploration for now

Governments ambitious, potentially lucrative and controversial plan to allow deep-sea exploration drilling for oil and gas off the KwaZulu-Natal coast will most likely be further delayed as 47 interested and affected parties this week filed appeals against the process.

Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe told City Press that the approach taken by those appealing the process to obstruct each and every development was very selfish.

They are not thinking about the country, they are thinking about [their] narrow interests.

Nevertheless, the appeals process had to go ahead, he said, and he was still banking on game changing gas reserves being found.

Given South Africas stalled economic growth and high unemployment rate, government views the project as a way to create jobs, plump up state coffers, boost growth, stabilise hydrocarbon prices and decrease South Africas reliance on imported resources.

I am also hoping, wishing and praying that oil will be found so we dont have to go around begging everywhere in the world, said Mantashe.

Currently, Sasol pipes gas to South Africa from its Pande and Temane gas fields in southern Mozambique, but South Africa is intent on establishing a significant gas sector of its own to secure a stable, cheaper and cleaner energy mix.

Crude oil is South Africas largest import, making the country vulnerable to global events that affect oil prices and have a knock-on effect on the local economy.

If we get enough gas, we can save these coal power stations that we all dont want and change them into gas power stations, and keep the lights going and reduce emissions, Mantashe told City Press.

The importance of gas as an energy source is shown in this years updated Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), which outlines the countrys proposed energy mix. The IRP, which was released last week, looks to add a further 1 000MW in 2023 and 2 000MW by 2027 through gas.

According to the IRP, government has taken a policy position to support the development of gas infrastructure [and] convert all diesel-fired power plants to gas.

Searching for fossil fuels off the KZN coast

The 47 appeals have been collated into one 331-page document with which the interested and affected parties are challenging the authorisation by the department of energy and mineral resources to allow multinational energy corporation Eni and Sasol to drill up to six wells for exploration in two areas about 62km offshore from Richards Bay and Durban.

Among the appellants are a dive centre, academics, environmental nongovernmental organisations, a documentary production company, an architectural firm, marine biologists and an eThekwini ward committee. The appeals were lodged in terms of the National Environmental Management Act.

The areas of interest for the exploration drilling fall in what is known as Block ER236, with the northern area covering 1 717.50km2 and the southern area covering 2 905km2. Eni and Sasol hold the exploration rights.

According to the environmental impact assessment (EIA), Eni may drill four wells in the northern area and two wells in the southern area, but it may not drill all of them and further exploration will depend on the success or failure of the first drill. The drilling depth is 3 800m to 4 100m in the northern area and 5 100m in the south. Water depths in the northern area range from 1 500m to 2 100m. In the south, the range is between 2 600m and 3 000m. The drilling of one well is expected to take up to 71 days to complete.

The areas in question are of interest because of recent substantial gas discoveries in northern Mozambique.

The department of environmental affairs has up to 60 days to reach a decision that, according to environmentalists, could profoundly affect the lives of citizens, sea life and the ocean if the appeals against the drilling fail.

Environmental attorneys Adrian Pole and Kirsten Youens filed their appeal on behalf of Wildoceans (one of the programmes run by Wildtrust), which said it was disturbed by the quality of Enis EIA.

Wildoceans said it had the assessment reviewed by three experts, who concluded that deep-sea offshore oil exploration was a new frontier for the oil and gas industry and the frequency of wellhead blowouts was expected to be greater in deep, high-current locations.

Should a wellhead blowout occur, it would be nearly impossible for the relevant South African authorities to swiftly respond to such a catastrophe. The experts also said the risk assessment done by the EIA consultants significantly underrepresents the likely negative environmental impacts.

Furthermore, the experts described the multinationals oil spill modelling in the EIA as highly unrealistic, with the predicted outcomes presented as a worst-case scenario actually being closer to a best-case scenario.

Eni utilises individuals who are highly skilled and experienced in the oil and gas field, and says in its EIA that there are limited employment opportunities in the early stages of the project.

This outlook is anticipated to significantly change based on the success of the exploratory well. True potential is realised at the subsea field development stage of the lifecycle [analysis], the company said.

The South Durban Community Environmental Alliance is also against the projects. The groups appeal makes a detailed case against the proposed drilling, including the claim that Enis EIA contains a legally flawed assessment of risk and impacts of a catastrophic oil spill, and that the EIA report was fatally flawed because it failed to adequately assess socioeconomic impacts.

The economic impact of the proposed exploration on people who depend on the ocean for a living has not been considered, said the groups appeal submission.

READ: Sasol spends billions for gas

According to the activists, Enis own report recognised that an unplanned event such as a spill could result in a loss of access to marine-based income-generating activities. The EIA report is found wanting in a number of respects, and the risks associated with this lack of information are massive. Consequently, in the face of this incomplete information, the department of energy and mineral resources should not have granted environmental authorisation.

The appeal is almost certainly going to push back Enis anticipated plans to start the process next month, with a hope of finalising the appeal process before March.

According to governments Operation Phakisa website, South Africas coast and adjoining waters have possible resources of approximately 9 billion barrels of oil equivalent to 40 years of South African oil consumption.

We also have 11 billion oil equivalent barrels of natural gas, which is equal to 375 years of South African gas consumption. However, there is significant uncertainty about the extent of these resources.

A target has been set of drilling 30 exploration wells in 10 years, according to Operation Phakisa, which could, over the next 20 years, lead to the production of 370 000 barrels of oil and gas a day.

This is about 80% of current oil and gas imports. The result would be 130 000 jobs and a contribution of $2.2 billion (R32 billion) to the countrys GDP.

According to the department of environmental affairs, the responsibility of enforcing matters concerning pollution lies with the department of energy and mineral resources. In the event of an oil spill, environmental affairs spokesperson Albie Modise said there was an intergovernmental initiative under Operation Phakisa that would coordinate the action.

There is a basic incident management structure to respond to emergency incidents in a coordinated manner. Among other things, they must ensure effective use and deployment of available resources for all types of emergency incidents, said Modise.

He said that each appeal is decided on its own facts and merits.

Eni told City Press that wherever it operated, it undertook exploration activities according to international best practice standards and in accordance with local laws, within the parameters set out by competent authorities and agencies, and engages in dialogue with stakeholders following locally determined norms, as well as recognised best practices

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State plan to allow drilling off KZN coast to be further delayed as activists fight back - News24

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