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Tories mull a Chinese plan for Izok Corridor that could bring billions

Another massive Chinese-owned resource project is before Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s cabinet.[np_storybar title=”Main exploration projects in Canada’s Nunavut” link=”https://business.financialpost.com/2011/08/31/main-exploration-projects-in-canada%E2%80%99s-nunavut/”%5DHere are some of the main exploration projects in the giant Canadian territory of Nunavut, listed by company [/np_storybar]Some time in the new year, four federal ministers are to decide how to conduct an environmental review for the Izok Corridor proposal. It could bring many billions of dollars into the Arctic but would also see development of open-pit mines, roads, ports and other facilities in the centre of calving grounds for the fragile Bathurst caribou herd.Courtesy of MMG Minerals “This is going to be the biggest issue,” said Sally Fox, a spokeswoman for proponent MMG Minerals, a subsidiary of the Chinese state-owned Minmetals Resources Ltd.It would be hard to exaggerate the proposal’s scope. Centred at Izok Lake, about 260 kilometres southeast of Kugluktuk, the project would stretch throughout a vast swath of western Nunavut.Izok Lake would have five separate underground and open-pit mines producing lead, zinc and copper. Another site at High Lake, 300 kilometres to the northeast, would have another three mines.MMG also wants a processing plant that could handle 6,000 tonnes of ore a day, tank farms for 35 million litres of diesel, two permanent camps totalling 1,000 beds, airstrips and a 350-kilometre all-weather road with 70 bridges that would stretch from Izok Lake to Grays Bay on the central Arctic coast.MMG plans a port there that could accommodate ships of up to 50,000 tonnes that would make 16 round trips a year — both east and west — through the Northwest Passage.Izok Lake would be drained, the water dammed and diverted to a nearby lake. Three smaller lakes at High Lake would also be drained. Grays Bay would be substantially filled in.The result would be a project producing 180,000 tonnes of zinc and another 50,000 tonnes of copper a year.“That’s not insignificant,” Ms. Fox deadpanned.The deposits are an old story. Izok was discovered in the late 1970s and High Lake dates back to the 1950s. They had been owned by a half-dozen different companies before they were acquired by Minmetals in 2009.Their time has come, Ms. Fox said.“They’re very much about our future confidence in zinc,” she said from Melbourne, Australia, where MMG is headquartered. “We see in the next few years a number of major zinc mines will be coming off-line.”One of those is MMG’s own Century mine, which produces 500,000 tonnes of zinc annually. “Between the Izok Corridor project in Canada and our other project in Australia, we would be hoping that they would replace the zinc production of our Century mine,” Ms. Fox said.MMG estimates the Izok project would create about 1,100 jobs during construction and 710 permanent jobs. The mine life is estimated at 12 years, but Ms. Fox said exploration is likely to expand that.More than 400 individuals, organizations, aboriginal groups and governments registered concerns about the project with the Nunavut Impact Review Board.“Both the Izok Lake mine site and the High Lake mine site, as well as the route of the Izok corridor all-weather road, occur either near to or on the Bathurst calving ground,” the government of the Northwest Territories wrote. “The proposed project may cause significant adverse effects on the ecosystem and wildlife habitat,” Environment Canada wrote.“We are concerned that our hunting and harvesting rights will be in jeopardy if the project is allowed to proceed as is,” the Lutsel K’e Dene said.Many pointed out that the Bathurst herd has stabilized only recently after a 90% drop in the 1980s to today’s 32,000 animals. That drop was steep and sustained enough for aboriginal groups to stop hunting the herd and many are leery of anything that could impede its recovery.“The project may also cause some adverse socio-economic effects such as possible reductions and disruptions in harvesting opportunities,” the Kitikmeot Inuit Association wrote, despite acknowledging its members are most likely to benefit from mining jobs.The review board also expressed concern about the growing industrial footprint in western Nunavut. There are now nine mines operating or under review in the Kitikmeot region.On Dec. 14, the board recommended Northern Development Minister John Duncan call full public hearings on the project.Mr. Duncan and the three other ministries involved — transport, natural resources and fisheries and oceans — can send the project back to MMG and ask for changes, they can choose to let the board run hearings itself or they can decide the project’s effects would be broad enough to require the involvement of other governments in hearings.There’s no difference in length, who is able to appear or intervener funding between the two types of hearings, board chairman Ryan Barry said.Ms. Fox said MMG is aware of the centrality of caribou to residents in the area. “They’re absolutely essential to the local Inuit.”MMG has designed the road to make it as easy as possible for caribou to cross, she said, and the company is conducting field studies on how to further reduce the project’s potential impact.Ms. Fox said MMG is also aware of other potential stumbling blocks, such as Canadian sensitivity to major resource projects being owned by foreign governments. She said Minmet has left its Australian subsidiary alone to operate as it sees fit, despite the fact half of MMG’s board is from Minmet.“We’re a bit of a different model for Chinese investment,” Ms. Fox said. “We really run day-to-day quite separately.”MMG doesn’t expect the Harper government’s recent policy changes on investment by state-owned enterprises to affect Izok. The prime minister announced those changes at the same time Ottawa approved the takeovers of Nexen by China National Offshore Oil Co. and Progress Energy Resources Corp. by Malaysia’s Petronas.“We’re not acquiring and operating assets that are producing,” she said. “We’re in there as a long-term investor in a project that has been seen as quite marginal by others.“The Harper government has noted the importance of mineral investment in this region and the importance of that to unlock benefits for the local communities. We certainly see that we’re very aligned in our strategy with that.”However Ottawa decides to tackle the questions over Izok, mine production is a long way off. MMG plans to ask for permission to start preliminary work on-site before the regulatory process is over, but even that wouldn’t be until late 2014. The earliest the mines could be producing would be 2018.Mr. Duncan has no deadline to respond to the board’s request for a review. But, as the board notes in its letter to him, the ball is now in his court. “The (board) looks forward to receiving your decision and will respond in a timely and efficient manner to your direction once received.” read more

Canada not concerned for own deal as EU US trade talks take

ENNISKILLEN — The start of free-trade talks between the European Union and the United States are no cause for great concern to Canadian negotiators trying to reach their own deal with the EU, a senior official says.“I wouldn’t say there’s a concern there,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly.“I mean, we’re down into the final rounds of discussion, and it’s always difficult at the end.”Potentially compounding those difficulties is the fact that European negotiators will now direct most of their attention to a trade agreement with the Americans.U.S. President Barack Obama hinted at the rocky road ahead for American and European negotiators.“There are going to be sensitivities on both sides. There are going to be politics on both sides,” Obama said Monday.“But if we can look beyond the narrow concerns to stay focused on the big picture, the economic and strategic importance of this partnership, I’m hopeful we can achieve the kind of high-standard, comprehensive agreement that the global trading system is looking to us to develop.”Obama added he’s sure he and EU leaders will have to step in sometimes to break deadlocks in the negotiations.“It is important that we get it right. And that means resisting the temptation to downsize our ambitions or avoid tough issues just for the sake of getting a deal,” Obama said.“We’re going to give a strong mandate to our negotiators, but occasionally I suspect we’re going to have to intervene and break through some logjams. Nevertheless, I’m confident that we can get it done.” Jose Manuel Barroso, president of European Commission, also spoke of the difficult task facing negotiators.“Integrating two of the most developed, most sophisticated and certainly the largest economies in the world can never be an easy task,” Barroso said.“But we will find convincing answers to legitimate concerns. We will find solutions to thorny issues. We will keep our eyes on the prize, and we will succeed.”British Prime Minister David Cameron, who is chairing the G8 summit in Northern Ireland where the start of the talks was announced, underscored the potential magnitude of a U.S.-EU trade deal.“We’re talking about what could be the biggest bilateral trade deal in history, a deal that will have a greater impact than all the other trade deals on the table put together,” Cameron said.“We must maintain that political will in the months ahead. This is a once-in-a-generation prize, and we are determined to seize it.”Among the obstacles believed to be standing in the way of a free-trade deal between Canada and the EU is access to European markets for Canadian beef.France and Ireland — two major beef producers — are said to object to the amount of beef Canada wants allowed into Europe.Harper was in both countries ahead of the G8 summit in Northern Ireland.The Canadian Press read more

Flaherty extends tax break for manufacturers in bid to help Canada compete

BRAMPTON, Ont. — Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has announced a two-year extension to a program that allows manufacturers to write off eligible investments in new machinery faster.Details of the plan to extend the program to 2015 were announced at an auto parts plant in Brampton, Ont.Flaherty said that about 25,000 businesses in Canada have used the accelerated capital cost allowance program to buy new machinery.Flaherty says the measure, which involves a straight line 50% depreciation rate instead of a declining one, helps make Canada more competitive globally.The head of the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters association says the tax provision gives companies the capital they need to invest in improvements.

McDonalds Canada halts temporary foreign worker program during audit over abuse claims

VICTORIA — McDonald’s Canada is putting its temporary foreign workers program on hold while a third party conducts an audit on its use of the plan.Stung by recent criticism of its use of foreign workers, the restaurant chain’s vice-president of human resources Len Jillard says the firm needs to pause the program to prove to Canadians it’s is not abusing the program or its workers.Jillard, in an exclusive interview with The Canadian Press, says McDonald’s has already informed the federal government about its plans, including federal Employment Minister Jason Kenney.In Winnipeg today, Kenney warned that employers who abuse the temporary foreign workers program could face fraud charges and possible jail time.Three McDonald’s franchises in Victoria and a pizza restaurant in Weyburn, Saskatchewan are at the centre of program abuse allegations involving Canadian employees alleging foreign workers were given priority work status and in some cases took their jobs.McDonald’s is in the process of taking full ownership of the three Victoria franchises from the Victoria operator who previously held an 80% share in the three outlets. read more

Rogers Communications Inc attempts to block 670M Glentel Inc sale to BCE

BURNABY, B.C. — Rogers Communications Inc. has filed an application to block its rival, BCE Inc., from buying wireless phone retailer Glentel Inc. in a previously announced deal valued at $670 million in stock, cash and debt.Glentel said it received notice of Rogers’ proposed injunction Wednesday from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.According to the mobile retailer, Rogers claims that Glentel requires its approval for the BCE acquisition.Rogers did not immediately comment on its application.Glentel sells wireless products and services from a variety of carriers including Bell Mobility, Rogers Wireless, Chatr, Fido, SaskTel and Virgin Mobile. It said the BCE deal does not affect its distribution contract with Rogers, which it has held for 25 years.BCE looks to solidify retail footprint with purchase of Glentel“Rogers’ claim is without merit and we will certainly defend against it,” Glentel said in a statement.“Approval of the acquisition is up to Glentel’s shareholders, not one of our many suppliers, and we look forward to closing the acquisition in early 2015.”The company added that if Rogers does not approve of this transaction, it can end its agreement with Glentel.“Rogers has the right to remove their products from our Canadian stores if they choose or to terminate its agreement with us, but has no right under its agreement to block the acquisition of Glentel,” it said.The deal, which was announced last month, has already received approval from Glentel’s board of directors. The Skidmore family, which holds a 37% stake in Glentel, has also signed agreements with Bell supporting the sale. The acquisition still requires approval from shareholders. A special meeting has been scheduled for Jan. 12.Glentel has nearly 500 retail locations across Canada. It also operates 735 locations in the U.S. and 147 in Australia and the Philippines.The Canadian Press read more

European and US aviation bodies certify Bombardier CSeries 100 aircraft finally clearing

MONTREAL — Bombardier Inc. says aviation authorities in Europe and the United States have now certified its CS100 series passenger planes, clearing the way for delivery of the aircraft to Swiss International Air Lines by the end of the month.The Swiss carrier is scheduled to be the first to put the plane into commercial service in July.Certification from the Federal Aviation Administration in the U.S. and the European Aviation Safety Agency follows a similar decision by Transport Canada in December 2015.Montreal-based Bombardier has a lot riding on the success of the CSeries aircraft, which is two years behind schedule and has incurred about US$2 billion in cost overruns.Bombardier received a major boost in late April when Delta Air Lines placed a firm order for 75 CS100 aircraft with options for another 50 in a deal the company said was worth approximately US$5.6 billion.Bombardier said delivery of the aircraft to Delta, one of the largest airlines in the world, is expected to begin in 2018.On Monday, Premier Philippe Couillard said Quebec is on track to finalize its US$1 billion investment in Bombardier’s CSeries program and that a deal should be in place by the end of the month.Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau earlier said the government continues to talk with Bombardier about providing US$1 billion in funding.Bombardier Inc exec fires back at competitors trying to ‘cast doubt’ on CSeries, says plane here to stayQuebec aims to finalize $1B Bombardier CSeries deal by end of June read more

Key foreign currency quotations

Quotations for key foreign currencies in terms of the Canadian dollar. Quotations are nominal, for information purposes only.Canadian dollar value on Wednesday, the previous day, three-months and one-year: Currency Wed Tue 3 months Year U.S. dollar 1.2264 1.2371 1.3461 1.2847 British Pound 1.6008 1.6094 1.7354 1.7248 Japanese Yen 0.0113 0.0114 0.0123 0.0126 Euro in U.S. 1.1928 1.1909 1.1270 1.1246 Euro in Cdn 1.4628 1.4733 1.5170 1.4448Quotations provided by the Bank of Canada

Ten ex PSD officers jailed

Another former PSD officer was freed from the case by the Panadura High Court. The former PSD officers were attached to the security staff of former President Chandrika Kumaratunga. The former PSD members were charged with unlawful assembly, organizing, intimidating and robbing the property worth of Rs. 3.6 million from the house of Rookantha Goonatillake. The Panadura High Court today sentenced to jail 10 former Presidential Security Division (PSD) officers over their involvement in the harassment of popular singers Rukantha Gunatillaka and Chandralekha Perera several years ago.The 10 former PSD officers were given 4 1/2 year jail terms and were also ordered to pay compensation to the victims. The musician’s wife Chandralekha Perera was also harassed. The incident took place in the year 2000 during the presidency of Chandrika Kumaratunga.Fearing for their lives, Rookantha Goonatillake and his family left the country following the incident and lived in the United States. (Colombo Gazette) read more

Wallapatta worth Rs 93 million seized at BIA

A local passenger who had attempted to smuggle over Rs 9 million worth of wallapatta (Gyrinops Walla) was arrested at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) today.The customs department said that the 43 year old man was arrested at the departure lounge of the airport with 23.3 kg of wallapatta chips valued at Rs. 9.3 Million. He had attempted to take the stock to the United Arab Emirates when he was arrested. Investigations are being carried out by the Deputy Director of Customs Mihira Piyaratnaand his team.

Top Singaporean Minister here to boost bilateral relations with Sri Lanka

Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S Iswaran is to visit Sri Lanka to strengthen bilateral relations and open up business opportunities for Singapore companies in the fast-growing market, Channel News Asia reported today.Iswaran will visit Colombo and Trincomalee today to Thursday, the Singapore Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said. Sri Lanka was Singapore’s 39th largest trading partner in 2015, with bilateral trade amounting to S$2.05 billion. Foreign direct investment from Singapore to Sri Lanka amounted to S$656 million as of 2014, MTI said. (Colombo Gazette) While in Colombo, he will attend the Sri Lanka-Singapore Business Forum with Minister for Development Strategies and International Trade, Malik Samarawickrama on Jun 1. Iswaran will also call on Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Minister for Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathuideen, and Minister of Megapolis and Western Development Champika Ranawaka. On Jun 2, Iswaran will travel to Trincomalee where he will visit Singapore subsidiary Prima Ceylon Flour Mill Complex, the largest integrated flour milling complex in Sri Lanka. He will also call on Chief Minister of the Eastern Province Ahamed Nazeer.A business delegation of 28 Singapore companies, led by International Enterprise (IE) Singapore and the Singapore Business Federation (SBF), will also be in Colombo to explore business opportunities there. read more