Author Archives: prosperitysaskatchewan

THRONE SPEECH FOCUSES ON KEEPING SASKATCHEWAN STRONG

THRONE SPEECH FOCUSES ON KEEPING SASKATCHEWAN STRONG

Released on October 22, 2014

[Full speech here Throne Speech English 2014

Premier Brad Wall said his government will focus on keeping Saskatchewan strong during the 2014-15 legislative session which opened today with the Speech from the Throne.
“Saskatchewan is strong,” Wall said.  “In just the past few months, Saskatchewan hit an all-time high for population and job creation and an all-time low for unemployment.  This is very good news, especially with the amount of uncertainty today in the global economy.
“While there are certainly some challenges ahead with the falling oil prices, this session will focus on keeping Saskatchewan strong.”
Wall said the provincial government will carefully manage the province’s finances while continuing to make important investments.
“We know there is more work to be done, which is why we continue to fix highways, build new schools and hospitals and invest in programs that make life more affordable for all Saskatchewan people,” Wall said.  “For instance, we are continuing to increase the Seniors Income Plan benefit, which will have tripled by the end of this term.  We have introduced other programs to make life more affordable for students, for families and for people with disabilities and we have cut taxes to make life more affordable for everyone in Saskatchewan.”

Specific measures in outlined in the Throne Speech include:

  • An options paper and public consultation process on private liquor retailing in Saskatchewan;
  • A new growth tax incentive for manufacturers who create new jobs, including new head office jobs, in Saskatchewan;
  • Continued promotion of Saskatchewan to international markets;
  • Continued reduction of interprovincial trade barriers;
  • Increases in the number of Adult Basic Education seats and apprenticeship training seats;
  • Reintroduction of the Saskatchewan Infrastructure Growth Initiative to assist municipal infrastructure development and expansion of the program to First Nations;
  • Legislation to better protect patients’ privacy and medical records;
  • Legislation to help reduce wait times for organ transplants;
  • Legislation to increase the scope of services that can be provided by pharmacists;
  • Upgrades to internet access and speed at regional colleges throughout the province;
  • Improvements to high speed internet and cell phone service in hundreds of Saskatchewan communities;
  • Legislative changes to help police officers and the justice system better protect victims of domestic violence;
  • Expansion of the HUB crime reduction model;
  • A comprehensive review of child welfare legislation that will lead to improvements in laws that protect children;
  • Development of a Poverty Reduction Strategy that builds on the government’s significant efforts to reduce poverty;
  • Increased penalties for those who commit hunting violations; and
  • A special licence plate for the loved ones of Canadian Armed Forces personnel who died in service.

“Though a discussion on the potential of direct pay MRIs in Saskatchewan is not in the Throne Speech, I would expect there to be some further debate in the Legislature on that issue,” Wall said.  “We should remain open to discussing, examining and innovating in our health care system in a drive to improve patient outcomes.
“I look forward to a good debate on this and many other issues as our government continues working to keep Saskatchewan strong.”
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For more information, contact:
Kathy Young Executive Council Regina Phone: 306-787-0425 Email: kathy.young@gov.sk.ca Cell: 306-526-8927

Total SA related crash removes Kremlin oil ally

22 Oct 2014
National Post – (Latest Edition)
By Mat thew Campbe ll in London and Tara Patel in Paris
Bloomberg News
Crash removes Kremlin oil ally
Christophe de Margerie’s last act as chief executive of Total SA left no room for doubt about his feelings toward Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
In a Moscow speech hours before the plane crash that took his life Monday, Mr. de Margerie said U.S. and European Union sanctions on the country were “unfair and unproductive,” and that he opposed efforts to render it “isolated from the major global economic and political process.”
Appearing before a receptive audience that included Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and a host of Russian executives, he cited his work as co-chair of a Franco-Russian business body alongside Gennady Timchenko — a commodities billionaire who was one of the first targets of U.S. sanctions.
Mr. de Margerie died when his airplane struck a snowplow on a Moscow runway, ending the life of one of the oil industry’s most prominent figures.
The 63-year-old was returning to Paris when his private jet crashed in poor visibility while taking off from Vnukovo airport just before midnight. Three crew members were also killed.
Mr. de Margerie’s plane, a Dassault Aviation SA Falcon, struck an airport vehicle, caught fire and dropped back down on the runway, according to a statement from Russia’s Investigative Committee. The driver of the snowplow was drunk, the committee said, an accusation the man’s lawyer denied.
Mr. de Margerie’s death removes from the scene a businessman who rarely shied away from geopolitical debates and became one of Russia’s most outspoken allies in its efforts to avoid economic quarantine, willing to say what others only dared think. Although European corporate giants from Siemens AG to Renault SA have built close relationships with Russia, most business leaders have preferred to keep their lobbying private to avoid offending governments committed to punishing Mr. Putin.
“Christophe was an extraordinary individual who had nurtured his relationships with Russia and many other international players on a person-to-person basis,” said John Hofmeister, former U.S. president of Royal Dutch Shell PLC and now CEO of advocacy group Citizens for Affordable Energy. “The major players in Russia operate at multiple levels of visibility. Christophe was singular in his approach.”
Mr. de Margerie had good reason to oppose efforts to fray Russia’s economic ties with other major economies in the wake of its annexation of Crimea and the simmering civil war in Ukraine. Under his leadership, Total bet big on the world’s largest country by land mass, partnering with OAO Novatek to develop an Arctic gas-export terminal and hunting with OAO Lukoil for so-called tight oil deposits in Siberia.
Since taking over as CEO in 2007, Mr. de Margerie repeatedly told audiences at the endless conferences he attended around the world that meeting the growth in global energy demand would be impossible without Russia’s vast reserves.
After buying a stake in Novatek, Russia in 2013 became Total’s biggest source of production after Nigeria, the United Arab Emirates and Norway, providing about 9% of its daily oil output.
In May, Mr. de Margerie travelled to the annual St. Petersburg Economic Forum, an annual business conclave convened by Mr. Putin and shunned by American executives at the urging of President Barack Obama’s administration.
Russia wasn’t the first controversial country that Mr. de Margerie sought to do business with even at the risk of political opprobrium. Total was working on developing the giant South Pars natural gas project in Iran until sanctions designed to halt its nuclear program drove the company to pull out in 2009.
This year Mr. de Margerie said he’d like to re-enter the country as soon as political conditions allow. He met with Iranian president Hassan Rouhani along with other energy CEOs in Davos, Switzerland.
Total said in a statement that its board would meet in Paris to consider the appointment of a new CEO.
Explaining his stance on Russia in May of this year, Mr. de Margerie told reporters he believed economic sanctions were an ineffective way to resolve conflicts between countries. Businesses, he argued, could serve as diplomatic intermediaries in political disputes, and “the relationship between politics and companies is a good way to calm things.”

Foreign workers a ‘godsend’

22 Oct 2014
Leader-Post
BRUCE JOHNSTONE
LEADER-POST bjohnstone@leaderpost.com
Foreign workers a ‘godsend’
Newcomers in demand at Degelman
A lot has changed since Degelman Industries Ltd., started making rock pickers in company founder Wilf Degelman’s barn in 1962.
Now in its 53rd year of business, Degelman produces a wide range of agricultural and industrial equipment, including bulldozer blades, harrows, and tillage machines, from its 145,000-square-foot plant at 272 Industrial Drive north of Regina.
“In 1965, we moved into our current location and we’ve had about five expansions since then,” said Blair Flavel, general manager of Degelman Industries. “In the last few years, what we’ve been doing is adding a lot of equipment, a lot of robotic welders,” Flavel said.
“We’re trying to get more volume out of our company. We’re working seven days a week, 20 hours a day, Monday to Thursday, and then 12 hour shifts Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We’re currently using about five outside manufacturers to manufacture for us in various parts of Saskatchewan, Alberta and North Dakota,’’ he added.
“So, we’re definitely at capacity. We’re looking at other opportunities to address our capacity issues.”
Besides outsourcing and automation, the other thing Degelman has done to increase its capacity is hire foreign workers.
“We have about 255 employees at this location,” Flavel said. “We have about 200 (workers) on the shop floor and, in the last seven years, we’ve done an enormous amount of recruitment out of the Philippines. We probably have 100 employees and their employees who have immigrated from Manila to Degelman’s,” he said.
“They’ve really been a godsend. They’re experienced. They’ve been well-accepted into the workforce.” Unlike many food service companies and retailers that have used the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) program, all of Degelman’s foreign workers have been brought to Canada under the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP).
“We’re not hiring them for the next 18 months,” Flavel said. “We want these employees to have 25-year rings.”
Jeremy Harrison, minister responsible for trade, immigration, innovation and tourism, said the province would like to see the federal government increase the number of immigrants coming to the province under the SINP.
“What we need are permanent solutions to the labour shortage we have here,” Harrison said. “That means training more of our own folks, investing more in basic adult education and more in apprenticeship, and we’ve done all that. But it also means going abroad for more (foreign workers). That’s why we’ve asked for more SINP allocation from the feds and more from the new Express Entry program.”
Derek Lothian, vice-president of the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters and executive director of the Saskatchewan Manufacturing Council, who organized the plant tour as part of Manufacturing Month activities, said manufacturers would prefer to hire Canadian workers, but just can’t find them.
“They want to hire Saskatchewanians first and, where that fails, they want to hire Canadians. The immigration system is the last (resort) to get the product out the door.”
Flavel, who’s been with the company for 33 years, added that Degelman used to hire “farm boys” like himself but that source of workers has all but dried up. “That was the crop we were looking and that’s not there anymore.”

All Female E-Mail at BHP Shows Mine Shift From Boys’ Club

All Female E-Mail at BHP Shows Mine Shift From Boys’ Club

By David Stringer Oct 21, 2014 11:21 PM CT

Bloomberg

One of the biggest barriers to women moving into mining may be their perception of the industry, said Laura Tyler, asset president for BHP’s Cannington mine in Australia, the world’s largest silver and lead operation.

The e-mail Jacqui McGill received from one of her teams at a BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP) coal mine in northern Australia contained great news: output delays were down 75 percent in a year.

That wasn’t the only reason she let out a whoop of excitement. “I did my little yeehaw, because every single person on the e-mail was a woman in a production role,” said McGill, asset president for two of the world’s biggest mining company’s operations in Queensland’s Bowen Basin.

“That’s the first time that’s happened in my career,” McGill, an industry veteran of more than 20 years, said of the July e-mail. “I have plenty of men in my business in senior roles, but I thought, that’s critical mass.”

Mining remains the most male-dominated business, with men holding more than 90 percent of executive positions. That’s starting to change, as retiring employees help open the $1 trillion industry’s door to female successors.

“It lags behind, it’s historically been male,” U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez said Sept. 10 in an interview in Melbourne. “They are missing out on great talent. They are missing out on recruiting some of the best and the brightest.”

From female-only leadership training at Canada’s Goldcorp Inc. (GG) to scholarships offered by South Africa’s Lonmin Plc (LMI), the world’s third-largest platinum producer, mining companies are implementing initiatives aimed at guiding women into senior roles. London-based Rio Tinto Group (RIO), the second-biggest miner, has set a goal of having women make up 20 percent of its senior managers by 2015, from 14 percent last year.

Desert Nightlife

In the global mining industry, women hold 8 percent of executive committee positions reporting directly to the chief executive officer, according to a study by the gender-consulting company 20-first. That compares to 18 percent in the $2.9 trillion pharmaceutical industry, the best performer in the survey.

Efforts to attract women go beyond recruiting and career-development initiatives. OZ Minerals Ltd. (OZL), Australia’s third-biggest copper producer, no longer makes presentations at the nation’s main mining conference.

The Diggers & Dealers Mining Forum is held annually in Kalgoorlie, a desert city known for its raucous nightlife. Some bars near the conference employ topless bartenders, known locally as skimpies.

Excluding Women

“The entertainment provided by the town was not reflective of our values,” former Chief Executive Officer Terry Burgess, who left his position Oct. 17, said in an e-mailed response to questions.

It sends the wrong message for an industry seeking more women, according to Elizabeth Broderick, Australia’s sex discrimination commissioner. “When you participate in sexualized corporate entertainment, you are excluding women — and not only that, but potentially excluding men as well,” she said by phone from Sydney.

The forum doesn’t “conduct any function that could be seen as derogatory to women,” or “create anything at the event that could be seen as embarrassing or uncomfortable for any participant,” John Langford, a director of Palace Securities Pty, which runs and owns Diggers & Dealers, said in an e-mail. It has no control over events external to the forum, he said.

“We kind of walk the gender talk,” said Langford, pointing to the fact that the forum’s owner Kate Stokes and its only full-time employees, are women.

Ashok Parekh, owner of the city’s Palace Hotel, which hires skimpies in its bars, said delegates aren’t compelled to attend venues where partially clothed women are present. “You only go to those places if you want to go,” he said in an Aug. 6 interview at the forum. “Skimpies are basically a side issue.”

Gone Fishing

An aging workforce across the mining sector means producers worldwide face a lack of sufficient candidates for management positions and should seek a more diverse range of employees, including more women, according to Ernst & Young LLP. In Canada alone, about 20 percent of the mining workforce will be eligible to retire by 2018, the country’s Mining Industry Human Resources Council said in a report last year.

“We’ve been fishing from the same pool for a very long time, and it is exhausted,” Debbie Butler, a talent manager at Anglo American Plc (AAL) responsible for coal operations in Canada and Australia, told a Melbourne conference Sept. 22. “Our industry needs to focus on bringing new people into mining and this means looking beyond the traditional demographics.”

Glencore Plc (GLEN), the Swiss commodity producer and trader, in June appointed Patrice Merrin as its first female director, ending its status as the only company on the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index (UKX) with an all-male board. At Brazil’s Vale SA (VALE), which hired its first female worker in 1928, 13 percent of employees are women, according to its 2013 sustainability report.

Wealthiest Woman

Seeking to promote mining to young women, Gina Rinehart, Asia’s wealthiest woman and chairman of the Australian mining company Hancock Prospecting Pty, this month invited students at the private girls’ schools where she studied in Perth to take up work placements at her Roy Hill iron ore mine.

Gold producer St Barbara Ltd. (SBM)’s offer of additional parental leave is helping attract more women, Executive General Manager for People and Business Services Katie-Jeyn Romeyn said in an interview. The company has also reduced the salary gap.

Male workers at the Melbourne-based company earn an average of 11.7 percent more than women, down from 43 percent in 2007, she said. “Our target now will be to get that to 8 percent.” Across all Australian industries, the average wage gap is 18.2 percent, according to government data.

Horrified Father

One of the biggest barriers to women moving into mining may be their perception of the industry, said Laura Tyler, asset president for BHP’s Cannington mine in Australia, the world’s largest silver and lead operation.

“My father was particularly horrified when I told him I was going into mining, and I grew up on the edge of the Lancashire coalfields,” in England, said Tyler, who hires the same number of male and female graduates at the mine and began a mentorship program to accelerate women into leadership.

Increasing numbers of women in mining is creating opportunities for new businesses.

After seeing a pregnant colleague at an Anglo American coal mine in Queensland wearing a large, ill-fitting uniform to accommodate her bump, Kym Clark last year started a business selling luminous, high-visibility work clothing for women in mining and construction, including maternity wear.

Comfortable Men

“I noticed how comfortable all the men were in their high-viz, and how uncomfortable she looked,” said Clark, a former management accountant at Anglo, who began selling uniforms in November to Glencore, BHP and other customers.

Still, mining is behind every other industry, including oil and gas, in terms of gender diversity, according to a February report by Women in Mining U.K. and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.

Women occupy an average of 8 percent of board positions and 12 percent of management posts at mining companies with a market value of at least $500 million, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. This compares equivalent-sized food, beverage and tobacco companies where 13 percent of directors are female.

Appointing more women to key positions may boost mining companies’ income.

“There’s a significant correlation between bottom line profit and how well a company does and having more women and diversity in your senior roles,” said Ottawa-based Clare Beckton, executive director at Carleton University’s Center for Women in Politics and Public Leadership.

And with companies looking for ways to cut spending, mining crews with more female staff at BHP have lower maintenance costs, according to the company’s Tyler, its first female asset president. Diversity also breeds better team work, she said.

“The behavior is not quite as macho,” Tyler said. “It feels more like a team that you want to be a part of, than some teams that are all middle aged, white guys.”

To contact the reporter on this story: David Stringer in Melbourne at dstringer3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jason Rogers at jrogers73@bloomberg.net Keith Gosman, Will Wade

BHP well on way to achieve cost-cut, output targets: Andrew Mackenzie

BHP well on way to achieve cost-cut, output targets: Andrew Mackenzie
by: Matt Chambers
From: The Australian
October 23, 2014 12:00AM
BHP Billiton’s financial year is off to a strong start, with record production from three of its four- ­pillar businesses putting the miner in a prime position to beat productivity and production ­targets as it pursues a cost-cutting drive to offset slumping prices.
The world’s biggest miner is facing a $US7 billion ($7.9bn) price-led drop in full-year earnings if commodities and the Australian dollar remain at current prices, according to company data, something chief executive Andrew Mackenzie is putting relentless pressure on his people to mitigate through cost savings and productivity.
Mr Mackenzie has set a target of at least $US3.5bn of cost-cutting and productivity gains over the next three years to counter the price slide.
In yesterday’s first-quarter production report, BHP beat market expectations for coking coal and petroleum production as its austerity drive continued to deliver.
At its biggest money earner, West Australian iron ore, the company continued to push more low-cost volume on to a saturated market and make life hard for smaller players, but an investor site tour this month meant the market had already factored in the gains.
“Our relentless focus on productivity continues to yield strong results,” Mr Mackenzie said.
“We are very well positioned to reduce cash costs by more than $US2.3bn and deliver volume-­related productivity gains of at least $US1.2bn by the end of 2016-17.”
While BHP did not change any of its full-year guidance, the March quarter results show it can beat its own forecasts in iron ore, petroleum and coking coal if it maintains current rates and is not hit by severe weather.
BHP’s fourth pillar, copper, did not perform so well, missing expectations after a weak quarter at the big Escondida copper mine in Chile it owns with Rio Tinto.
At Escondida, it flagged deferred production this quarter ­because increased throughput meant water restrictions were now anticipated.
BHP also said there was a $US366 million cost blowout at the Escondida Organic Growth Project 1 to $US4.2bn approved during the period.
The increase “reflected ­challenges associated with contractor progress which have now been addressed,” BHP said.
This year’s accounts will also have a roughly $US700m writedown associated with the death of the Australian mining tax.
The on-paper charge actually signals BHP expects more profit and is a writedown of the deferred tax asset it was keeping on its book representing depreciation allowances under the Minerals Resource Rent Tax.
BHP’s best performing unit, when compared to market expectations, was petroleum, where ­increased US shale oil production grew output 4 per cent from the previous quarter to 67.4 million barrels of oil equivalent, beating Deutsche Bank and RBC expectations of a fall to 62 million.
If BHP can keep going at this rate it will produce 270 million barrels of oil equivalent, well up on guidance of 255 million. Coking coal was also a strong performer, with production ­increasing 7 per cent to 12.77 million tonnes after the Caval Ridge mine in Queensland came on line earlier than expected and its ­Illawarra mines in NSW, which are ­earmarked to become part of the company’s planned spin-out of non-core assets, performed well.
The performance beat market expectations of around 11 million tonnes and puts coal chief Dean Dalla Valle on track to produce 51 million tonnes of coking coal this financial year, up from guidance of 47 million tonnes.
In WA, where iron ore boss Jimmy Wilson is looking at ­extremely low-cost, infrastructure-light expansion of his mine, rail and port network, production grew 1 per cent from the previous quarter to 57.1 million tonnes.
Including minority partner interests, production was 62.4 million tonnes, just missing Deutsche expectations of 62.9 million but in line with RBC expectations.
If the Pilbara region’s cyclone season is a mild one and West Australian iron ore production can be sustained, annual production of 248 million tonnes would beat guidance of 245 million.
And if further productivity gains can be had, the production will be higher.
The strong results did little to move the dial for BHP investors. Shares rose 52c, or 1.5 per cent, to $34.27 yesterday on a strong day for miners when Rio rose 2.1 per cent and Fortescue Metals Group 3 per cent.

Sask. hosts largest diplomatic visit ever

21 Oct 2014
Leader-Post
BRUCE JOHNSTONE bjohnstone@leaderpost.com
LEADER-POST
Sask. hosts largest diplomatic visit ever
Economic mission to boost trade
Senior diplomats representing more than 50 countries, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, descended on the province this week as part of the first-ever Economic Mission to Saskatchewan, organized by House of Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer and the federal and provincial governments.
“This is the first time the economic forum has been hosted in Saskatchewan,” Scheer told reporters on Monday, the first day of the diplomats’ five-day visit to the province. “It’s the largest gathering of ambassadors and heads of mission in Saskatchewan’s history.”
Scheer said the mission was timed to coincide with the opening of the fall legislative session and Speech from the Throne on Wednesday, but also includes visits to Mosaic Potash’s solution mine at Belle Plaine, Evraz Steel mill and Brandt Industries manufacturing plant in Regina, research facilities at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, and SaskPower’s carbon capture and storage project at Boundary Dam power station in Estevan.
Scheer said the economic mission underscores the importance of having positive trade relations with the rest of the world, especially for an exporting province like Saskatchewan. “We’re an export province in an exporting country,” Scheer said.
Scheer said the mission will expose many ambassadors to the province for the first time and should help increase trade, investment and educational exchanges between the province and the 50 or so countries. “It’s very important that the ambassadors can … talk about the opportunities that exist here. They’ve been on the ground. They’ve visited the facilities. They’ve met with representatives of industry.”
Florence Chideya, ambassador of Zimbabwe since 2005 and dean of the diplomatic corps in Ottawa, said she would like to visit all the sites on the mission, but will concentrate on educational institutions, like the U of S.
“Our population is young and our population is hungry for knowledge, especially at (post-secondary) levels,” Chideya said. “Zimbabwe, in the continent of Africa, is No. 1 in terms of literacy — 97 per cent — and that will show you that our people want to move forward.”
While she shares concerns about the “brain drain” from Africa, Chideya said countries like Zimbabwe also benefit from the return of students from Canada, so there’s also a “brain gain.”
Veselko Grubiscic, Croatia’s ambassador to Canada and vice-dean of the European diplomatic corps in Ottawa, said Croatia, which is the newest member of the European Union, hopes to use the recently signed Canada-Europe trade agreement to increase trade and investment ties with Canada. “(CETA) is probably the most comprehensive trade agreement of all time and it’s going to be great for Canada and all the EU countries.”
Grubiscic, an engineer by training, said the CCS project in Estevan is the most interesting site for him, given Croatia’s reliance on coal-fired electricity generation.
“I never expected, when I was studying chemical engineering, that I’m going to see in Saskatchewan the top of innovative technology (in CCS in the world).”
The delegates will attend the official opening of the Legislative Assembly Wednesday and depart Regina on Thursday.

Loonie rises as China’s GDP beats expectations

Loonie rises as China’s GDP beats expectations
Malcolm Morrison
TORONTO — The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, Oct. 21 2014, 8:46 AM EDT
Last updated Tuesday, Oct. 21 2014, 8:48 AM EDT
The Canadian dollar was higher Tuesday while commodity prices headed higher in the wake of Chinese growth data that came within expectations.
The dollar gained 0.28 of a cent to 88.9 cents (U.S.) as China’s economic growth slowed to a five-year low of 7.3 per cent last quarter. That is lower than the 7.5-per-cent rate that had been targeted by Chinese leaders, who are trying to steer China toward growth based on domestic consumption instead of over-reliance on trade and investment.
But the number was broadly in line with expectations and higher than some estimates that had pegged growth at 7.2 per cent.
Other data showed growth in industrial production was largely stable, with a rate of 8.5 per cent year-over-year in the first three quarters, down 0.3 point from the first half. Growth in consumer spending cooled to 11.6 per cent in September, the fourth monthly decline in a row.
On the commodity markets, November crude gained 20 cents to $82.91 a barrel, December gold rose $3.90 to $1,248.60 an ounce while December copper was ahead two cents to $3.01 a pound.
It is a key week for the Canadian currency as the Bank of Canada delivers its next interest rate statement on Wednesday along with its latest monetary policy report containing its latest estimates for growth and inflation.
Canada’s central bank is expected to leave its key rate unchanged at 1 per cent, where it has been for over four years. Traders will focus on the morning news conference by Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz.
Also on Wednesday, Statistics Canada delivers the August read on retail sales.

Radiophobia increasing in Japan’s markets (again) #uranium

October 8, 2014

Radiophobia increasing in Japan’s markets (again)

http://www.hiroshimasyndrome.com/fukushima-commentary.html 

It wasn’t long after the nuclear accident before Tokyo stopped the production and sale of foods from Fukushima Prefecture.  Strict limits on radioactive content were mandated, and nothing would reach the marketplace that didn’t meet these standards. The rigidity of Tokyo’s rules was quite extreme. For example, if one bag of rice was found to exceed the limit, the entire harvest would barred from shipment and sale. Over the next two years, the safety of Fukushima foods found in Japan’s markets became beyond scientific question.

However, public rumors, as well as misinformation circulated through the internet, persuaded a significant fraction of the nation’s consumers to shun any and all foods produced in Fukushima Prefecture. The negative impact became so severe that in February, 2013, Tokyo’s Consumer Affairs Agency began surveying consumers and issuing biannual reports on what they found. In February of 2013, the Agency said 19.4% were cautious about Fukushima-produced foods. The dissidence dropped to 17.9% by August, and was down to 15.3% in February of this year. It seemed the government’s effort to counter the impact of public gossip in the marketplace was working.

However, the Agency’s report for August shows that radiophobic concerns have swelled to new heights. Fully 19.6% of Japan’s consumers are concerned about the safety of Fukushima’s foods. Further, 70% now say they “do care” or “tend to care” where their food is produced, a 4-point increase from February…the same percentage increase as with those shunning Fukushima foods. What’s more, nearly 25% of those who “care” say it is because they want to buy foods that do not contain radioactive substances, which is (again) a four point upsurge from February. In addition, 22.5% said the government limits are too high and the limits on the radioactive content of Fukushima foods should be lowered. Finally, many said they would avoid foods that have detectible radioactive isotopic levels below the existing standards. Meanwhile, only 21% of the total number of respondents knew that Japan’s safety standards were stricter than those in Europe or the United States.

Why has this sudden shift in opinion occurred? The Agency says there is no single reason, but point to two possibilities. The first is the increase in media reports of health effects being associated with low-level radiation, and the repeated broadcasting that even the tiniest level of exposure can cause cancer. The second reason concerns a specific graphic novel. Kumiko Bando, the agency’s secretary-general, said, “We haven’t been able to sufficiently analyze the results, but there were debates and media coverage on an incident involving the manga ‘Oishinbo’ just a few months ago. This may have affected the results.” In the April 28 and May 12 installments of the comic, the main characters were shown developing nosebleeds after visiting the Fukushima plant.

But, I would suggest a deeper, more significant source of the problem. Historical records show that the subject of radiation has been shunned by Japan’s educational system for more than 40 years. For three decades after WWII, the bombings, and aftermath, of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were taught in schools, spawning the Hiroshima Syndrome and skewing more than a generation’s understanding of radiation. But, even this ended about 40 years ago. It has been estimated that only 1-2% of the public has visited nuclear power plant information centers and learned some facts about radiation. In addition, some basic education on radiation has been generated since 3/11/11 with elementary school pamphlets. But the vast majority of the public in Japan only knows about radiation by word of mouth, based on the stories passed along concerning Hiroshima/Nagasaki. As with most persistent gossip-chains, exaggerations of health effects continually increased. Most Japanese do not know the important differences between Beta, Gamma and Alpha radiation. They are virtually unaware that we exist in a naturally radioactive universe, and all foods and water contain natural radioactive isotopes.

The Consumer Affairs Agency’s intent is admirable. But, statistics show their efforts have been in vain. The issue can only be resolved through science-based education. Teach the teachers so that they can teach the students. Anything less will do nothing more than maintain an unacceptable status quo.

References –

1 – http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2014/10/02/one-in-five-japanese-cautious-about-fukushima-food/

2 – http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201410020033

DOE Energy Calculator: Coal, Dynamite, Burritos, and Nuclear Candy #uranium

DOE Energy Calculator: Coal, Dynamite, Burritos, and Nuclear Candy

September 26, 2014

http://us.arevablog.com/2014/09/26/doe-energy-calculator-coal-dynamite-burritos-and-nuclear-candy/

The Department of Energy just posted an interesting online tool [see http://energy.gov/articles/how-much-do-you-consume ] for calculating the average amount of energy you consume each year in energy-equivalent terms of coal, dynamite, and burritos (yes, burritos).

Turns out the average American burns up the annual energy equivalent of 15,370 pounds of coal (7.7 tons), 165,033 sticks of dynamite, or 31,226 burritos for residential and transportation activities. Putting aside the dynamite and burrito comparisons for the moment, the data analysis makes the point that your energy use burns up about 41 pounds of coal a day, equaling your body weight every few days.

Yes, that coal burn and waste is an important issue for a nation pursuing challenging Act On Climate goals, which makes this alternative comparison – not mentioned in the DOE calculator – even more important …

The energy in 7.7 tons of coal is equal to about 4 inches of uranium nuclear fuel pellets the width of your little finger.

In other words, eight gummy-bear-size pieces of nuclear fuel would reliably power every hour of your life for a year – without climate impact emissions.

Even better, once you’ve used that nuclear fuel, you could recycle 96% of it into new nuclear fuel to keep powering your life and significantly reduce your waste stream for storage.

Two more comparisons: The energy in just a single ½”-long nuclear fuel pellet equals the energy in 3 barrels of oil, or 17,000 cubic feet of natural gas – again, without climate impact emissions.

So, what’s your energy choice : 4 inches of nuclear fuel a year, or 7.7 tons of coal, or 165,033 sticks of dynamite, or 31,226 burritos (117 burritos-a-day)?

We opt for reliable, on-demand, clean air nuclear energy … plus the occasional burrito.

Resilient Canadian oil industry faces less impact from lower prices

Resilient Canadian oil industry faces less impact from lower prices
Peter Tertzakian
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Monday, Oct. 20 2014, 5:00 AM EDT
Last updated Monday, Oct. 20 2014, 1:39 PM EDT
I knew my friend Nigel was refined when he ordered the vintage chardonnay. Standing amid the cocktail crowd, his aristocratic British accent repeated the question that had already gone viral in the suit-filled room, without any help from Twitter. “It’s all a conspiracy isn’t it,” he asked, “the Saudis are flooding the market with oil to pull down prices and prune America’s shale business, right?”
I took the bait. “In fact it’s more complicated than that,” I explained without showing my sarcasm. “Yes, the Saudis are trying to put the American oil industry out of business. But the Americans are flooding the market too, because they are trying to bankrupt the Russians. And the Russians are also pumping as hard as they can, because they are sore at the Americans about sanctions.”
I sensed the circular conspiracy theory was starting to compete with the chardonnay in Nigel’s head. “So you see,” I said tongue-in-cheek, “it is all a vicious spiral that’s going to take the price of oil down to zero.”
Nigel was mentally trying to connect the dots, which inevitably led to the other low-oil-price question du jour: “So, this 20-per-cent price drop is really bad for Canada right?”
I purposely gave him a puzzled look, because the notion that the Canadian oil industry will be impacted by low prices more than other producers is nonsense.
“Let’s think about this,” I said as I carefully explained the following facts to my friend. Canada’s oil and gas industry has had to live with the lowest oil and natural gas prices in the world for the past four years. At times we endured as low as $70 (U.S.) a barrel when most other producers in the world were getting up to $120. The average discount between 2010 and 2013 was $15 a barrel for light oil and $19 for the heavies. On top of massive price discounts, our industry had to adapt to a strong Canadian dollar between 2009 and 2013; regulatory tightening; and an endless barrage of public criticism that no other producing nation has had to endure. Despite these circumstances, Canada’s oil production over the past five years has grown by 760,000 barrels a day in the oil sands and 210,000 barrels in the lighter grades. And consider that no oil companies in Canada, other than those with irresponsibly high debt, shut in their production immediately after the financial crisis when prices dropped below $40 a barrel. That is resilience.
Discounted prices and market constraints were, and still are mostly unique to Canada, although the situation has much improved. An innovative spirit that responded to low prices and amplified regulatory costs led progressive companies in the industry to dramatically improve process efficiencies, streamline logistics and instill a mindset of cost discipline that accompanied a tough business environment. “Name me one oil producing jurisdiction that has been bathing in $110 a barrel oil for the past four years that has had to be become as responsive to environmental and price pressure as Canadians?”
“We are battle hardened here in Canada, Nigel,” I pointed out. “We’ve been undercutting world and American prices, boosting our output, expanding market access and improving profitability all at the same time. As a consequence of adapting to local circumstances, our oil output is likely on track to grow by another million barrels a day by 2020, regardless of this recent price drop. We now have access to a large number of U.S. refineries and are starting to export our oil to international markets through ports on three North American coasts.”
“Now I’m starting to understand,” Nigel said after an unusually long sip followed by five scratches behind his neck. His voice rising, he blurted: “It’s you polite, but wily Canadians that are at the root of the conspiracy to push oil prices down. You are driving world prices down with your discounts, volume growth and exports!”
I smiled. Like a good spy movie with a twist, Nigel had caught onto the conspiracy theory that Canadians keep as much a secret as the canoe they hide in their basement. “Of course,” he continued as he swirled his wine, “I get it now, YOU are driving prices down to punish Russia for Ukraine; to take market share from Venezuela, Mexico and Russia; and to punish the Americans for delaying Keystone XL.”
It was time to end this conversation. “Nigel my friend, now you are taking the silly conspiracy theories too far.” I clinked his glass of wine with my beer as I started to walk away. “Think harder about what’s important to Canadians: We are punishing the American oil industry, because Burger King bought Tim Horton’s.”
Peter Tertzakian is chief energy economist at ARC Financial Corp. in Calgary and the author of two best-selling books, A Thousand Barrels a Second and The End of Energy Obesity.
(Editor’s note: An earlier online story incorrectly stated that Canada’s oil production over the past five years has grown by 760 million barrels a day in the oil sands. In fact, the growth has been 760,000 barrels a day.)
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