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Friday, November 18, 2005

INCO Begins Shipping Labrador Ore to Ontario

News reports from across the nation are all touting INCO's success on moving its first shipments of nickel out of Labrador ahead of schedule. One very happy group, and rightfully so, are the folks in Sudbury where the nickel concentrate is about to land and be processed.

The following are a few excerpts from an article on the Northern Life website out of Sudbury, Ontario. You can just feel the joy.

“Inco's first shipment of nickel concentrate left Voisey's Bay, Labrador Wednesday making its way to Sudbury for processing.”

“More than six months ahead of schedule the first shipment will be transported to Quebec City before coming to the Copper Cliff smelter by rail…”

“Production at Voisey's Bay is expected to ramp up in the coming months which is good economic news for this area, since all nickel concentrate will be refined here for the next couple years until a refinery is constructed at Voisey's Bay.”

“The first phase of the Voisey's Bay project is expected to generate about 110 million pounds of nickel concentrate annually.”

Well, its really great news to hear that everything is going so well up there in Sudbury. I just hope INCO is equally as diligent in ensuring that the refinery at Voisey’s Bay and the Hydromet production smelter at Argentia are also put into production 6 months ahead of schedule.

These resources are being stripped out of the land in Labrador, which must contend with the enviromental impacts, and shipped to Ontario to provide jobs for the fine folks up there. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against the average working Joe in any Province. I also understand that the plan which was agreed upon by the company and the Province is being followed moving forward. Never the less I still believe that the people who must endure the impacts and who provide the resources should recieve the primary benefits as well.

I mean after all, six months early on a 110 million pound per year operation equals an extra 55 million pounds going out of province doesn’t it? Add to that the fact that ore will continue to ship to the Copper Cliff smelter for the next “couple of years” and the numbers don’t take long to add up.

What will the final tally of raw exported product be I wonder, 200 million pounds, 500 million pounds, dare I say more?

It makes me long for the day when the word on every politicians lips in Newfoundland and Labrador was, “not one teaspoon full will leave this province”.

I know, that term was brushed aside when the agreement to build the Hydromet facility in Argentia was inked and a large donation was made to Memorial University, but that didn't do much for Labrador and it certainly doesn’t mean we need to stop being vigilant on the issue.

The company swears that any ore shipped out of Labrador at the start of the operation will be bought back to the Province for processing, from other sources, at the end. My worry is, once the ore is gone from Labrador, what does the Province have as leverage to ensure that INCO stands by that agreement?

Does anyone remember back when negotiations were underway for this project? Back then INCO said it could not build a smelter in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador because it needed the ore to supply its operations in Ontario. They needed a new supply and like any reasonable business, they didn't want to see an existing smelter shut down with people thrown out of work if they didn't have to. Nothing wrong with that but that wasn't going to help the unemployed in this province so a deal was finally brokered that would see the Province "eventually" undertake processing. As a result, an experimental hydromet facility was built in Argentia with the promise of a production facility in a few years (bye the way, I still think if it was a all feasible, the facility should have been built in Labrador, but that's another issue)

Remembering these facts are important because when you consider that INCO is already scouring the earth looking for enough ore to keep its current smelters operating at full capacity one has to wonder where exactly they plan to find a supply for Argentia that will make up for the hundreds of millions of pounds that are being shipped out as I write this.

One also has to wonder what will evenually happen when the need arises to ship ore from other parts of the world to supply Canadian smelters. If it comes down to a choice of keeping Newfoundland and Labrador supplied or to continue to supply Ontario, who will win that fight? My guess is that with the political clout and influence the voters of Ontario wield, Newfoundland and Labrador might as well simply walk away and forget about it because, "not one teaspoon full will come into the Province".

9 comments:

BNB said...

Ya I remember those discussions for sure. We can certainly be forgiven for being cynical of promises given our past "agreements" with our country and provincial neighbours. Whenever we see resources leave like that we grit our teeth and clench our butt and say “Geeze I hope this goes as planned.” Sort of like rolling a boulder off a cliff between two houses. We know it can work, but once the momentum is behind it we can only sit and hope.

Here’s a toast to still having a place to live when this thing really starts to roll.

WJM said...

These resources are being stripped out of the land in Labrador, which must contend with the enviromental impacts, and shipped to Ontario to provide jobs for the fine folks up there.

This was exactly the same business model, with the same impact on Labrador, that Roger Grimes got pilloried for when he proposed it for the Grand River (so-called "Lower Churchill") hydro development.

This is also, although he will never admit it, exactly the same business model, with the same impact on Labrador, that Danny Williams is proposing for his version of the Grand River (so-called "Lower Churchill") hydro development.

Yet Danny Williams is a saint, and Roger Grimes is the devil. Why is that?

Will the people of Newfoundland stand up for Labrador when Danny Williams sells Labrador down its own river?


(And forget about a transmission line to Newfoundland. Danny's Boys have already scuttled it as uneconomical, which anyone could have told them even when Danny was in opposition complaining that Roger wasn't giving Newfoundland its Labrador infeed, either...)

Patriot said...

Hi WJM,

I usually don't respond to what I consider your anti-Island comments or perhaps its Labrador at all costs comments, but I don't detect that type of sentiment in this most recent statement.

So at the risk of having you tear a strip off of me, I proceed.


In my opinion you make some very reasonable comments here. I can't take issue with them at all but I do have one question for you. The reason I am asking is because I honestly don't know the answer.

You say that anyone could have told them that it is uneconomical to run power to the island. Do you have a cost breakdown or cost/benefit analysis that proves this statement.

I am curious because with the island scheduled to run out of baseline power requirements in the next 4 - 6 years and in light of the fac that other parts of the world like the island of Hong Kong are supplied power through underwater cables, the solution would appear to be connecting the island to the mainland.

The question is, is it more expensive to connect under water from Labrador to the island or to continue to build small development after small development on the island?

I am not arguing against your comment, I am really interested in your comments and any information you may have on this topic (bet you never thought you would hear me say that to you WJM)

Harry Boland said...

Newfies are NOT A RACE!!!

Thus, disliking Newfies does not make one racist!

Why is that so hard to understand, Myles? If you want to call me names, I don't mind, but at least be right about it. I am.

Anonymous said...

"Race
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

A race is a population of humans distinguished from other populations. The most widely used racial categories are based on visible traits (especially skin color and facial features). Conceptions of race, as well as specific racial groupings, vary by culture and time and are often controversial due to their impact on social identity hence identity politics."

Harry Boland said...

Proving my point. Newfoundlanders are lumped by geohraphy, no more a "race" than Dakotans or Idahoans. Hell, most of you (well, a lot of you) are as Irish as I am.

Call me an ethnocentric shmuck - that's correct. Call me anti-NFLD. Sure. Call me an asshole, if you will. All true.

But Racist? Hell, I would be if you were, but you're not, so I'm not.

Anyway, back to your regularly scheduled programming. By the way, you might want to consider that some of your backwater traditions, like sealing, are kind of why the rest of Canada treats you like bastard stepchildren.

Anonymous said...

"A race is a population of humans distinguished from other populations."

distinguished is the key. You know nothing about us. are Irish distinguished from English? VIsible characteristics are the 'most widely used' not the only characteristics. Ask the French in Canada. What about Poles. Do they look different? Is is racist to crap on them?

MrChills said...

Nice post.

I don’t see INCO speeding up the development of the Argentia smelter, which as you put it only, allows more of our raw resources to be processed outside of the province. If anything, the date might be pushed out for some unknown reason.

On another note

Harry,

What do your comments have to do with INCO and Voisey’s Bay? I cherish the right for someone to openly speak their mind, however, do us all a favour and post in the correct place.

Also, when posting - as you had one discussion shut down – keep your bigotry and choice of language to yourself. I was taught at a young age, that people generally only swear when they do not have the vocabulary or intellect to participate in a discussion.

As to the definition from Wikipedia, “A race is a population of humans distinguished from other populations…” If you are trying to convince anyone that Newfoundlanders are not a population that is distinguished from others than you are farther “out there” than I initially thought.

Hell, most of you (well, a lot of you) are as Irish as I am.

Who is claiming to be Irish? Unlike the majority of Americans, who feel the need to say, “well… I am one part Irish, one part German, my great, great, grandfather was Russian, etc…” I, like most from the Island consider ourselves 100% Newfoundlander. My family on both sides date back to the early 1600’s living on Islands off the coast of the main Island in Newfoundland. I would imagine that 400 years of bloodline in a place that was until recently it’s own nation would make me “distinguished from other populations”

If you actually look through all your posts and replace the word Newfie with Nigger, Spic, Towelhead or Jew, it might sink in a little easier for you to understand the intolerance of your words.

BNB said...

Definitions 2. and 3. from dictionary.com:

A group of people united or classified together on the basis of common history, nationality, or geographic distribution: the German race.

A genealogical line; a lineage.

Also from Webster's Encyclopaedic Dictionary:

A group of people with a common linguistic, political or national identity. N&L of course was a nation until 1949 and the sovereign identity is still obviously strong here.

So you confess to being an anti-NFLD, asshole, ethnocentric shmuck. I'm afraid you must include Racist in that long list of character flaws.

I did explain the context in another post.