Canada & Canadian Owned Mines In Foreign Countries Determine The Unacceptably High Risk & Loss Profile of Mines Globally

I am sure Mining Watch Canada and WMAN have long been aware of the stats and facts on Canadas global mining dominance which have appeared in the wake of the Mt. Polley TSF failure.

Looking at these stats in the context of my current work in analyzing  whether and how it is possible to move the unacceptably high global risk and loss profile of mines to levels that might shield against unlimited unfunded public liabilities  these numbers and facts are stunning.

They have implications for how U.S. and perhaps pronvicial law in Canada  needs to shield against public interest gaps in Canada’s legal structure for mining. .

They have implications for public interest advocacy and advocacy coalitions (mining watch groups and major voices like Sierra Club)

For those of  us numbers crunchers  and researchers  who sit in the dark drear bowels of government buildings pouring through records that may contain long hidden data   and who pour through compilations like ICOLD’s and WISE’s on TSF’s it puts a completely new light on interpretation and analysis.

“Over 75 per cent of the world’s exploration and mining companies are headquartered in Canada, and mining and energy investment is the third largest component of Canadian direct investment abroad. A leaked report by the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada, the biggest industry lobby group, confirms that Canadian mining corporations are responsible for almost half of all the documented mining-related rights violations around the world, and in the global South are implicated in four times as many violations as companies from other countries.”

“A recent Globe and Mail article reveals startling facts about Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) poverty-reduction aid funds being prioritized to countries that have deposits of mineral resources and are of “strategic” and “commercial” interest to Canada’s resource-extractive sector. According to Maude Barlow, CIDA has approved $50 million in projects linked to the mining industry since the Harper government took power (Common Dreams Op.Cit Mt. Polley Mining Disaster”

( I vetted this back to its source)

Canada has no equivalent to the U.S. Alien Torts Acts which allows injured and aggrieved persons in foreign operation to of U.S. Companies to seek remedy under U.S. Law. to the International Business Times, that leaked industry report found that of the 171 high-profile incidents of pollution, human rights violations, and unethical behavior, 34 percent were committed by Canadian companies.

The companies’ actions and the government’s inability to regulate them have gained Canada a reputation as “worst offenders in environmental, human rights and other abuses around the world.”

This is presumably how it came to be that the Canadian Government refused to hear the $2 billion in damages claimed  by the OMAI (Guyana)TSF failure victims and actually ended up being directed by the Guyana government to reimburse the Canadian mining company, its insurer ( Home) and all named parties for their legal defense costs even though the dam committee report  found gross and fundamental errors in design, management and construction of the TSF.  ( By the way Steven Vick, who is one of the three member Committee appointed to review Mt. Polley, was chair of the OMAI dam review committee. And Knights Piesold, original designer and long term consulting engineer on the failed Mt. Polley TSF also designed the OMAI dam and has a major footprint on TSF’s globally having designed over 400 TSF’s according to their website)

Rushing through volumes of studies & stats in my quest for numbers that may add more rigor to calculations on  what it would take (and whether it is possible) to shift the entire risk profile for TSF’s from its present global rate of 1.2% to something more like the fallure  rate of water dams (0.01%) I recall seeing that Canada has previously absorbed costs of $400 million and $69 million in two other  failures.

In his 2011 key note address at a conference on TASF’s Dr. A. Mac G. Robertson, owner of INFO Mine , the original “R” in SRK, the Principal consultant on the Bald Mountain analysis here in Maine,  and someone I respect immensely, presented his calculation that contrary to industry claims that new technology  has made mining safer, the risk profile of modern TSF’s was actually elevating 20 fold ever 30 years.

Mike Davies, AMEC, has framed that for the industry but also for we who are  legislators, regulators and advocates:

“{I}f one becomes a student of tailings impoundment case histories, an interesting conclusion arises. Tailings dam failures, each and every one, are entirely explainable in hindsight. These failures cannot be described as unpredictable accidents. There are no unknown loading causes, no mysterious soil mechanics, no “substantially different material behaviour” and definitely no acceptable failures. There is lack of design ability, poor stewardship (construction, operating or closure) or a combination of the two, in each and every case history. Tailings impoundment operational “upsets” or more catastrophic failures are a result of design and/or construction/operational management flaws – not “acts of god”.(Davies et ,al 2002)

ICOLD ( International Committeee on Large Dams is saying the same thing.

“The ICOLD Tailings Dams Committee has concluded that effective reduction of the cost of risk and failure can only be achieved by a commitment from Owners to the adequate and enforced application of available engineering technology to the design, construction and closure of tailings dams and impoundments over the entire period of  their operating life. “

Canada, Canadian Mines, Canadian Statutes and Regs are the key to preventing unfunded unlimited public liabilities world wide ( and from a risk finance point of view any real possibility of “polluter pays”.  If Canadian mining companies don’t change voluntarily or through force of law, the global risk and loss profile of  mines in general and TSF’s in particular will play out as Dr. Robertson has warned.

The unnamed dragon in Dr. Robertsons 2011 slide presentation in addition to standing for the threat of losing the social license to operate completely and/.or  the  treat  of onerous and poorly informed reactive legislation  is also, in light of these stats and facts, Canada itself and the policies of most of its provincial governments.

 beyond here be dragons

UPDATE 09/20/14

I just posted this end note addressed to Dr.Roberston and Jack Cassidy at the I Think MIning piece reprinting my email to  Mining Watch Canada and Western mines Alliance Network. (WMAN)


May I just add the end note here and address it to you Jack and to Dr. Robertson?

On the charts of ancient mariners where it once said at the edge of the known charted traveled seas “BEYOND HERE BE DRAGONS” we modern blue water mariners now travel routinely and with confidence..small crews and single handed sailors on small boats traversing once unknown oceans with giant freighters and huge pods of all kinds of whales and dolphins. All of us crossing together..

It was the mariners who ventured into that unknown who have made that possible.

You are the wise man in mining, Dr. Robertson. This moment in mining history needs you to lead the way into those uncharted and dreaded waters.

If you don’t chart the course for the essential legislative andlindustry partnership needed to fix that risk profile for TSF’s you yourself have called the MAY DAY on,.the folk who will do it will make it a tough voyage for all concerned.

It won’t be pretty.

It will be very disruptive unless you lead the way.

Your ebook with Shannon Is the blue print. West Australia has already put that work in law and regulation..

It is too late to still hope for a fix through a self regulated industry.

You can’t just leave it at marking the chart “beyond here be dragons”

Here I might add looking at Jacks chosen illustrations for his report of my email, a child learning braille

,which of us is having trouble seeing?

action not angst is the answer.

UPDATE  0/19/2014

This has now been reported at Info Mine’s blog “Ithink”

I apologize for offending Jacks sensibilities by including in the cites I used  human rights violations Canadas overseas mines have been implicated in.It was not central to my key point in my email to Mining Watch Canada and the Western Mining Alliance ( though it is a very large part of my larger “ministry” on mining).

Jacks reaction to that apparently overshadowed his thoughtful consideration of my main point. ( my fault I’m sure)

Please join the blog at Jack’s site.

We have a saying in Maine “You can’t get theyah from heeyah”

As I look at the risk and loss profile of mining globally I don’t really see how we change that overall profile one new permit, one new mine at a tme. Somehow correction of serious flawed mines already in operations has to go alongside that.  And as painful as it is for Jack who has in fact always called for best practice, best knowledge, best science..he & Dr. Roberston have “waited to ong at the fair” on their call for respomsble self regulation.  Dr Robertsons own 2011 key note address makes that perfectly ckear.  Some sort f well thought out collaborative public private partnership is needed to make this shift. It’s time to begin that collaborative work on what government has to do to force that shift.I hope jack & Dr. Robertson will make that call and lead that effort.

Here is the link to Mining Watch Canadascommentray on the leaked Industry report

(Ths is the report hyperlinked in the quote above)

Additional Studies Reports on Canadas Foreign Mines Profile

My focus in exploring Canadas dominance globally in mining is about whether its possible to shift the high risk profile of mining as a whole to more acceptable numbers,  My searches for numbers and stats keep mumping into reports I was not previously aware of that document the Canadians Governments direct implication in human rights abuses and other conduct in foreign nations.   With the spotlight here on Canadas global presence therefore We will be posting what we bump into on human rights abuses and conduct.

Canadas Presence in Latin America

Canadas Presence in Africa

“Some readers might be surprised therefore to learn that Canada – with a population less than one-tenth that of China’s and geographically about as far from Africa as one can get – has quietly grown to become one of the largest stakeholders in Africa’s mining sector – possibly the largest, depending on how you quantify it”

“According to these documents, in 2011 – the most recent year for which statistics are available – 155 Canadian companies were operating in 39 African countries. Their combined assets* totalled more than $30.8 billion, up from $26.5 billion in 2010.

“According to a December 2012 report drafted by the TSX, during the first nine months of 2012, 89% of all global mining equity financings were done on the TSX and TSX Venture (up one point from 2011). ”

“There are approximately 315-20 listed [mining] companies that are not African but are doing business in Africa”, says Bruce Shapiro, president of Mine Africa, a Canada-based business and marketing company. “Of those, over 50% are Canadian. So in terms of the companies that we would normally look at, we certainly dominate that market.”

About lindsaynewlandbowker

Bowker Associates, Science & Research In The Public Interest, is an independent non profit providing self initiated pro bono analysis on key issues with a potential for massive adverse environmental impact . Bowker Associates has been an internationally recognized and cited voice in analysis of the Samarco failure, its consequence, and the possibilties for recovery. In 2017 we partnered with Daveid M. Chambers, a world leader in responsible mining, in our third joint work on the economics of tailings failures. Bowker, L.N.; Chambers, D.M. In the Dark Shadow of the Supercycle Tailings Failure Risk & Public Liability Reach All Time Highs. Environments 2017, 4, 75. A peer reviewed journal published investigation of the cowboy economics of the supercycle and the resulting escalation on the number and magnitude of catastrophic failures. In 2016 we parnered with Dave Chambers in our 2nd joint work together looking at root causes of failures at a conference . Bowker, L.N.; Chambers, D.M. Root Causes of Tailings Management Failures: The Severity of Consequence of Failures Attributed to Overtopping 1915–2015. In Proceedings of the Protections 2016, Fort Collins, CO, USA, 14 June 2016. [Google Scholar] In 2015 Bowker Associates collaborated with geophysicist David M. Chambers to recompile global authoritative accounts of significant TSF failures in recorded history and to analyze these data in the context of global mining economics 1910-2010 ( Risk, Economics and Public Liability of TSF Failures, Bowker/Chambers July 2015) The third annual update of this globally referenced and used compilation was just released at Researchgate. ( In 2014 Bowker Associates commissioned globally respected geophysicist and hydrogeologist Dr. David Chambers to undertake two technical works: (1) development of technical go no go criteria for vetting mine applications tp:// and (2) a case study of Maine's Bald Mountain, an un mined low grade high risk VMS deposit demonstrating the efficacy and accuracy of two risk assessment tools in vetting mine proposals In Maine, Bowker Associates has deeply engaged and been a public voice in the Searsport DCP LPG Tank, The Cianbro proposal for a Private East West Toll Road, JD Irvings rolling pipeline of Bakken crude to its plant in St. John and review of Phase II plans at The Callahan Superfund site in Brooksville, Maine, and Maine's revisitation of mining in statute and regulation... Our only “client”: is always “the pubic interest”. Our model is to focus on only one or two issues at a time so that we have a substantive command of the relevant field as our foundation for ongoing engagement. Our core work is in envirommental risk management, science and technology as well as bringing any available “best practices” models to the fore. The legal and regulatory history/best models are also a major thrust of our work in building and evaluating public policy. Director/Principal Lindsay Newland Bowker, CPCU, ARM is a recognized expert in Environmental Risk Management., Heavy Construction Risk Management and Marine and Transit Risks and has more than 3 decades of engagement in buiding public policy. Appointed by Governor Mario Cuomo to New York State Banking Board (served 1986-1996); President New York Chapter Chartered Property and Casualty Insurers; Environmental Committee, Risk and Insurance Management Society; Director, Convenor/Co-Chair Bermuda Market Briefing "From Captive to Cats" Hamilton Bermuda. Published Articles of Significance The Risk Economics and Public Liability of Tailings Facility Failures, co-authored with David M. Chambers, July 2015 Beyond. Polarization: Superfund Reform in Perspective, Risk & Insurance Managing Risk For Loss Prevention & Cost Control (Jan. 24, 1997). Lead Hazards and Abatement Technologies in Construction: A Risk Management Approach CPCU Journal 1997 Employee Leasing: Liability in Limbo Risk Management June 1 1997 Environmental Audit Privilege and the Public interest Risk & Insurance Managing Risk For Loss Prevention & Cost Control, April 1997 Asbestos:Holes In Abatement Policies Need To Be Plugged, Lloyd’s Environmental Risk International, May 1993 Editor Published Letters Evironmental Risk Management Beware of Facile Policies Like Fetal Protection Business Insurance 1995(?) High Court Review May Increase Sale of Bank Annuities Business Insurances August 8, 1995 Professional Profiles Protecting the Big Apple’s Core Managing Risk For Loss Prevention & Control December 1996 Major Career Highlights First rigorous analysis showing Relationship Between declining ore grades and TSF Failures of increasing consequence ( July 2015) FIrst Documentation that Gentrification Has Same Impacts as Unassisted Displacement from Urban Renewal Sites Direted Court Ordered EIS of FHA Mortgage Scandal Created Nation's First Homeownership Program for Low Income People (SHIP) Created Earliest Geographic Information Systems Using Defense Technology Developed By IBM Designed and Conducted Parallel Census Count to Show Systematic undercount in minority neighborhoods Documented Bias in ISO Territory Rating Plans for Private Passenger Auto Insurance Using ISO's own Rating Techniques Demonstrated Inherent Bias in Mortgage Policies of Banks With Inner City Branches Demonstrated that NY Telephones Plan for Area Code Split To accommodate anticipated cell phone demand was not efficient and would exhaust in 5 years ( which it did) Undertook First Systematic Evaluation of Child Protective Services Caseload Using Multi Variate Analyic Techniques Developed Child Protective Caseload Management and Tracking System (CANTS) and directed implementation in 4 client states including Illinois, Florida and New York Created and Ran Office of Risk Management for NYC DEP the Nations largest Water & Sewer Authority . Designed, Created and Administered Nation's First Owner Controlled Insurance Program (OCIP)for High Risk Tunneling Education Masters NYU Graduate School of Public Administration BSC New School For Social Research Maine Public Schools Deering High School
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