Thursday, January 31, 2013

Branding in the Crowsnest Pass

You pick, the new municipal brand is here Naturally Rewarding versus the previous Mountain Freedom.

Mountain Freedom came out in 2007 at a cost of roughly $35,000 Naturally Rewarding today at a cost of roughly $50,000.

On the right hand side is your chance to choose which you prefer.

Also you get to read some interesting comments from Sasha's blog on the show at the Elk's Hall tonight.

Want to read more about the branding in the Crowsnest Pass available at


One Councillor's comments on the Centre sale

With the hotel development, all I can say at the moment is that last Tuesday council approved the CAO to enter into a sale and construction agreement with Medican General Contractors. Because it is still a conditional contract we have been advised by our solicitor that we cannot release any specifics at this time and without the agreement of the other party. I want this finalized as much as anyone but both sides are combing the contract for the minute details. I will say that I am very happy with what I see in this contract including sale price and timelines. I am keen to see this project move ahead. The developers are planning an open house on Feb. 12 but that is still tentative.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Crowsnest Centre Site we all want to know the answers?

Here is your chance to ask questions regarding the sale of the Crowsnest Centre site.

If the following information is not released by the end of the day on Monday Feb 4, I will be filing a FOIP request to hopefully obtain the information. Any reasonable questions provided by my readers will be added to the list, please leave a comment including your question.

1. Selling price of land.
2. How much of the payment is made up front and if not all of the payment, when will the balance be paid.
3. Is the site sold has one parcel.
4. Development what is required by the developer and when
5. Old hospital and nursing home building will they be torn down and when
6. Will the municipality incur any costs for the demolition of the old hospital and nursing home
7. Will the developers be required to pay "Off-Site" levies
8. Will the municipality incur any Infrastructure costs on or connected to the site
9. Was there any agreement made between the municipality and purchaser to waive any municipal taxation on either a temporary or permanent basis.
10. Was there any agreement made to waive any other municipal costs than the one's already listed above
11. Is there any requirement for the municipality to pursue either Federal or Provincial grants to assist with development of the site.
12. Are there any escape clauses to the agreement for either the Municipality or the purchaser if yes for what reason and how much notice would be required.
13. Will the municipality be incurring any of the cost of removing the debris to either the Passburg or Lundbreck landfill sites.
14. Does the agreement include a security deposit to guarantee commitments made by the Purchaser/Developer. 

Riversdale Resources finding the money

From today's Wall Street Journal

Riversdale Hires Macquarie, Nomura to Lead $63.4 Million IPO

Riversdale Resources Pty Ltd. has picked Macquarie and Nomura as lead managers for its around 60 million Australian dollar (US$63.4 million) initial public offering, as management look to repeat their success with Mozambique-focused Riversdale Mining—this time in North America.
Bloomberg News
A bucket wheel reclaimer operates on a coal stockpile site at the Onahama port in Japan.
The Sydney-based company, which is headed by Steve Mallyon and Michael O’Keeffe, hopes to join the Australian Securities Exchange by the end of June and provide investors with exposure to one of the few companies focused on coking coal mining.
Riversdale recently struck its second deal to acquire coal reserves in North America, buying a resource in Canada’s Alberta province estimated at around 400 million tons of metallurgical coal used in steelmaking.
In an interview with Deal Journal Australia earlier this month, Mr. Mallyon said the company was seeking banks with strengths in multiple markets, especially Australia, Asia and North America, to lead the IPO.
“We are happy with the result as it will enable us to secure global distribution particularly in Canada where Macquarie is very strong and also into Asia with Nomura,” Mr. Mallyon said Tuesday.
Funds raised in an IPO would be used partly for the A$47 million acquisition of the Grassy Mountain deposit in Alberta from Consol Energy Inc. CNX +2.48% and Devon Energy Corp. DVN +3.48%, together with some other coal properties nearby.
An IPO would also help pay for a full feasibility study into a mine at Grassy Mountain capable of producing around two million tons of coal a year, broadly split between hard coking coal and pulverized coal injection, or PCI. Grassy Mountain is estimated to have recoverable reserves of around 50 million tons of coal, meaning any mine there could operate for around three decades.
An added attraction is its location around 6 kilometers from a rail line connecting either the Westshore coal export terminals in Vancouver or, further to the north, the Ridley terminals at Prince Rupert.
The acquisition comes almost exactly a year after Riversdale Resources snapped upnearly 10,000 acres of land in Alaska’s Mat-Su Valley containing high-quality bituminous coal after bidding highest in an auction run on behalf of the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority.
Work began on the Chickaloon project in Alaska last year-once mined a century ago to supply the U.S. Navy, which needed coal to power their Pacific fleet-and Riversdale hopes to be able to export coal in future to Asian steel mills, likely through nearby Port McKenzie.
Some of the money raised in an IPO would be used to help further the Chickaloon project’s development.
Riversdale has been targeting North American coal assets, in part because it can tap a large labor pool of experienced coal miners stateside. That contrasts with a skills shortage in Australia due to the heavy investment taking place in developing resources such as iron ore, coal and natural gas.
Mr. Mallyon and Mr. O’Keeffe, who is Riversdale Resources’s chairman, are well known to Australian investors for the growth and eventual sale of Mozambique-focused Riversdale Mining to Rio Tinto PLC in 2011 for nearly US$4 billion.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Devon donates land for the ski hill

Here is some good news for the Pass, Devon was and is a very good corporate citizen for the Crowsnest Pass. Sad to see them leaving our community but it was good having them.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Premier Redford to prepare us for the bad news budget.

From today's Edmonton Journal.

Remember the election when everybody but the Tories stated that their projections on the price of oil were unrealistic? Does not seem that long ago does it? Anybody seen that bumper sticker "Please give us another boom and we promise we won't piss it away"

EDMONTON - Premier Alison Redford is dusting off a political tactic perfected by predecessor Ralph Klein.
She will address Albertans in a state-of-the-province-style TV address Thursday night.
The pre-recorded, eight-minute segment will be broadcast at the end of the CTV supper hour news in Edmonton and Calgary. Redford will focus on the effect of rapidly falling resource revenues on Alberta’s finances.
In a message to Progressive Conservative party members Wednesday afternoon, Redford said the address will “begin a conversation with Albertans about the challenges” the province faces.
Since late December, she and her cabinet ministers have publicly warned that Alberta’s landlocked heavy oil is earning about $50 a barrel less than the world’s benchmark for sweet crude, which has walloped provincial revenues.
In her comment to party members, Redford said that Albertans gave the government a “clear mandate to keep investing in services that support our families and our communities” in the April election. “You told us to continue building the new roads, schools and health facilities we need. And we are listening,” she said in the statement.
“Despite falling oil revenues, I give you my commitment that as we deliver our long-term economic plan for Alberta, we will be thoughtful in our approach and we will deliver on these priorities. In this year’s budget, we’ll hold the line on our spending and we’ll live within our means.”
This will be the first time that Redford has communicated to Albertans through a televised speech since becoming premier in October 2011. The premier’s spokesman, Stefan Baranski, said that the address will cost $55,000, which covers both production and airtime expenses.
“It’s legitimate for the premier of the province to speak directly to Albertans when the times call for it and these are one of those times,” Baranski said.
As premier, Klein regularly addressed Albertans through annual televised speeches.
Premier Ed Stelmach did not continue the tradition of making an annual speech in the new year when he took office in 2007. But he did use television in October 2007 in an address in advance of rolling out a new royalty regime for the energy sector.
Stelmach also used television two years later in an 18-minute speech focused on the province’s economic challenges. He used the address to ask public sector workers to agree to a two-year wage freeze.
Redford’s plan for a televised address surprised opposition parties. But Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith said she was looking forward to hearing what Redford says.
Smith said her party has been asking about declining oil prices, and their impact on the budget, since last spring’s legislature session.
“Ever since that moment, we’ve been receiving mixed messages,” Smith said. “We haven’t been able to get a straight answer out of her or her finance minister for months on what the plan is to deal with the budget crisis and, beyond that, what the plan is to get Alberta’s books back in order. Hopefully, we’ll get a little more clarity tomorrow evening.”
Liberal Leader Raj Sherman said he found it troubling that Redford was going on TV instead of communicating her government’s plans through a throne speech.
The government announced last week that the spring session, beginning March 5, will be a continuation of the fall sitting, which means there will be no throne speech outlining the government’s agenda and priorities.
“I find it disappointing that she’s actually curtailed democracy and hiding behind a camera somewhere in a room,” Sherman said.
NDP Leader Brian Mason said he believes the premier is trying to soften the pain of the budget to be delivered March 7. “She promised Albertans in the election there would be no service cuts and she promised there would be no tax increases,” Mason said.
“She’s very likely to break both of those promises in this budget. I think the cuts we’re going to see are very serious.”
Redford’s speech will air at 6:52 p.m. on CTV.
Redford’s address will be shown again later Thursday on CTV2 at 7:52 p.m. and 11:52 p.m. It will also air on that same channel at 11:52 a.m. Friday.

Highway upgrade in the Crowsnest Pass

Mayor Decoux has been talking about significant upgrades to Highway 3 going through the Crowsnest Pass.
Story on CBC today link below, I thought he was talking about re-routing Highway 3, maybe with budget constraints in Edmonton the following is just the first step.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

New owners of the Crowsnest Centre Site

Medican General Contractors out of Medicine Hat

Welcome to the Crowsnest Pass

Big news more is here! The Crowsnest Centre Site is sold.

Last night CAO Myron Thompson in his report to council stated that there should be an announcement this week on the old Crowsnest Centre site.

I am told that some time in just a matter of days we will be receiving another rousing issue of the Mayor's corner, gloating about all the good things they have done or going to do for our community.

Keep in mind this is an election year, the local politicians at least the one's seeking re-election will be spending the next seven months convincing us that they are critical to maintaining the "momentum" moving forward. Come September/October we are going to hear again and again how important it will be that there  be continuity within the council ranks. To keep the confidence of the Coal miners, Hotel developers, Quebec manufacturers, and to conclude the Annexation process in our community.

I believe that the people in the Crowsnest Pass are too smart to buy this very old political game. At the end of the day is any company that's serious about spending ten's of millions up to $5-600 million to develop mines, hotels, or manufacturing plants in the Crowsnest Pass, going to back out because the make up of council changes? I don't think so.

If local council's were that important to this process wouldn't the Riversdale group have the MD of Ranchlands council on board?

Note: Latest Update on the Crowsnest Centre Site From the Pass Promoter's very own Joni MacFarlane

A large construction company has just been awarded the sale and contract of the former Crowsnest Centre site.
Council voted unanimously on Jan. 22 to enter into a sale and construction agreement with Medican General Contractors.
Started in Medicine Hat as a concrete company, Medican began building single-family homes and condominiums and was one of the first builders to introduce luxury condos for homeowners aged 40 and up.
They’ve now expanded across the country with completed condo developments in Quebec, Saskatchewan, B.C. and Alberta.
The municipality said details of the sale would be released to the public shortly.

Monday, January 21, 2013

G+P meeting update on Fire Master plan, Riversdale and Annexation

For those that have the time and the interest tomorrow afternoon at 2pm the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass Fire and Rescue Service Master Plan, will be presented by Albert Headrick, Director of Protective and Community Services to council. It will be very interesting to see what the results are of the mess that was created in this community in 2012, and all the taxpayers dollars (whether they be Municipal or Provincial they are all tax payers money) that was spent.

Back in the Fall, Bill Kovach President of the Ratepayers Association requested information regarding the Fire Departments he was told at that time by the Mayor that the questions would be answered by the Fire and Rescue Master Plan that administration would be bringing forth prior to Christmas. Well it was on the agenda for today in a surprising turn of events the CAO asked that it be moved to "In Camera" due to some sensitive issues that had to be talked about, he also informed council that it would be coming back to the G+P on Feb 19.

The Mayor also informed Council that Riversdale Resources will be coming to the Pass on Feb 6, to meet with council, media, business leaders and finally the public. I was a little surprised when he asked the rest of council if they have met Riversdale all responded "No".

In other news council was informed that Municipal Affairs will be coming down to meet with them on Feb 13 regarding the road map for annexation, Mayor Decoux suggested that the MD of Ranchlands be invited, then in a very neighborly type fashion he suggested that all the other MD's bordering the MD of Ranchlands be invited. After all he stated we don't want to gobble up all of Ranchlands, I wonder how the MD of Ranchlands will feel about being invited to an all you can eat buffet where they are the main course.

Bingay Mine-More Information on a new mine in the Elk Valley

For all those people that are interested in coal mining return to the Crowsnest Pass, click on the following link it provides a lot of information about a new mine in the Elk Valley and the process that a company must go through prior to mining.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Macleans, great article on the Crowsnest Pass

Great article on the Crowsnest Pass just one more example of the greatest place in the world to live. Wonderful to see stories like this that will attract people to our area especially in a Canadian icon such has Macleans.

Photos illuminate Booming Ice Chasm

Stunning pictures offer glimpse of frozen cave below the Alberta-B.C. border
by Ryan Mallough on Monday, January 14, 2013 10:36am -
Photographs by Francois-Xavier De Ruydts
The Booming Ice Chasm, named for its ringing echoes, was first explored back in 2008, by a team from the Alberta Speleological Society led by Chas Yonge. Yonge stumbled on the chasm’s entrance, near Crow’s Nest Pass on the southern end of the Alberta-British Columbia border, by accident while en route to an established cave. In July, Vancouver-based photographer Francois-Xavier De Ruydtsjoined the only expedition to explore, survey and photograph a new passage there.
“I have never seen anything like it before,” says De Ruydts. “The ground is made up of hard, blue and very thick ice that forms a slide straight to the bottom of the cave.”
“Being in such a place is indescribable,” adds the 31-year-old. “The ice on the ground is so transparent. You feel like you’re flying.”
De Ruydts’ pictures will help explorers further understand the caves. “The headlamps used by cavers aren’t powerful enough to get a good view of the cave,” says De Ruydts, who brought portable lights for the shoot. “The photos allowed us to get a real sense of the size of the room for the first time.”
The chasm is known as a “cold-trap” cave because the cold winter air sinks to the bottom and is unable to circulate. This phenomenon insulates the cave from any warmer air, keeping temperatures below freezing and making ice present year-round. Slight temperature variations can alter the ice thickness from one to two metres between summer and winter. “It’s not a place frozen in time,” says De Ruydts, “but definitely a dynamic environment.”

Friday, January 18, 2013

Thunder in the valley deferred again?

The following article appears in this week's Pass Promoter the link to the story written by Joni MacFarlane is at the bottom of the Post

Rum Runner Days’ fate in limbo

A brief and ultimately indecisive discussion took place last week on the fate and funding of Rum Runner Days festivities.
During budget discussions, administration recommended municipal funding for 2013 Rum Runner Days be reduced to $4,500 from $40,000. The recommendation was made to match annual funding levels given to other community organizations who put on events such as Bellecrest Days, Canada Day and Pumpkins in the Park, said Chief Administrative Officer Myron Thompson.
“Without a community events strategy in place or without external organizations coming forward to take some initiative, we feel that this funding reduction could be considered,” Thompson said.
Last year, council decided to put off the popular Thunder in the Valley fireworks show, citing safety and financial concerns.
A reduced Rum Runner Days weekend was held and the financial report released in November, showed that it cost taxpayers $44,000 plus a municipal contribution of $40,000.
On Jan. 17, some council members said they needed to have a discussion on the issue when they had more time.
Mayor Bruce Decoux questioned how Rum Runner Days had become so heavily funded compared to other community events.
Marion Vanoni, director of finance and corporate services, told council she was involved in the event since 1981 when a committee of the Crowsnest Pass Chamber of Commerce organized it.
Eventually, she said, as the event grew, the Chamber asked for council’s support.
“At that point, our committee switched from being under the auspices of the Chamber of Commerce to be more overlooked by the council, simply because of the type of event with the fireworks and the need to try and put more money into keeping people… for the whole weekend,” said Vanoni. “As that evolved, more participation in kind came from the municipality funding as you see it now. We were considered to be more of a draw for outside people to come in, more economic, as opposed to Coleman and Bellevue which were more local community-knit events.”
Mayor Decoux agreed council would need more time to discuss funding levels but stressed that council did not cancel the fireworks display.
“There seems to be a misconception here. This council deferred Rum Runner fireworks for a year. That means for that year it was cancelled. It was deferred until another year,” said Mayor Decoux. “Due to circumstances, we no longer have the ability to put on the fireworks locally but there are many, many fireworks experts available. That does not preclude that Rum Runners’ group from raising money and hiring a group to do that… I hate to see that thing disappear forever… There’s nothing that says they cannot stage the whole thing again under the new bylaws, under the new safety precautions that are in place.”
Mayor Decoux went on to say that he had hoped to stage a Jamboree next summer in conjunction with Rum Runner Days, but “the Exhibition group backed out until after the inspection that was instigated by the Ratepayers group”.
Councillor Saindon, who was Chair of the 2012 Rum Runner Days, said there had been no response from committee members to an email sent out on Jan. 10.
“This is up to the public, this is a volunteer situation, this is not a council endeavour,” said Mayor Decoux. “If the public wishes to hold it, that’s fine. The rules and regulations and safety precautions are in place as is required by the province and it’s up to the Rum Runners [committee].”

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Coal Mining it's not so easy, what do you get for $4 billion

Couple of stories in today's Financial Post an actual producing coal mine would be a great success story for the Crowsnest Pass no question, but has you can see from the following two articles it not always as easy as just spending a lot of money.  

Rio Tinto chief Albanese’s downfall a cautionary tale of bad acquisitions

When Tom Albanese made the rounds in 2007 to promote his US$38-billion takeover of Alcan Inc., the chief executive of Rio Tinto Ltd. always told a good story.
He talked about the phenomenal growth rates of emerging markets, and his belief that China would transition from a being a net exporter of aluminum into an importer as its domestic production could not keep up with demand. As that happened, he was confident aluminum would outperform other commodities.
Simon Dawson/Bloomberg
Simon Dawson/BloombergMr. Albanese’s replacement is Sam Walsh, who headed up the company’s iron ore unit.
Despite his best efforts, Mr. Albanese was never able to convince the many skeptics among his shareholder base. They worried that Alcan was a classic example of the debt-fueled, top-of-the-market acquisition that always comes back to haunt the CEO who makes it.
Of course, they were right.
Mr. Albanese lost his job on Thursday as London-based Rio announced up to US$11-billion of writedowns on its aluminum business and a US$3-billion writedown on recently acquired coal assets in Mozambique.
Rio Tinto has now taken a mind-boggling US$30-billion (give or take) of Alcan-related writedowns, which is more than three-quarters of the total acquisition value. The deal is, if nothing else, a cautionary tale for executives to avoid getting carried away during a bull market.
The trigger that ultimately led to Mr. Albanese’s ouster was the surprise writedown in Mozambique. Rio acquired control of the assets less than two years ago for about US$4-billion, and is now having to write off most of their value because of coal recovery problems and infrastructure constraints. Writedowns on Alcan are nothing new and hardly surprising anymore, but the Mozambique debacle was more than the board could tolerate.
BMO Capital Markets analyst Tony Robson noted that Mr. Albanese provided a “steady hand” in guiding Rio Tinto in recent years following the “disastrous” Alcan acquisition. That is unquestionably true, as he fixed the balance sheet and made some smart investments. But Alcan was always going to hang over him.
His call on aluminum could not have been more wrong. While demand for the lightweight metal is growing at a healthy pace (roughly 4% to 5% per year), the problem is on the supply side, where huge output growth (particularly in China) has overwhelmed the market. Producers have curtailed more than one million tonnes of higher-cost output to try to balance supply and demand, but prices have stagnated. Aluminum is worth roughly US90¢ a pound today, compared to an average of more than US$1.20 in the first half of 2008. Even at that price, Rio did not make a significant profit in its aluminum business.
Mr. Albanese’s replacement is Sam Walsh, who headed up the company’s iron ore unit. This is appropriate, because Rio Tinto essentially has become an iron ore company in recent years. Roughly 80% of the miner’s profits come from iron ore, and that imbalance can be traced partly back to Alcan. Rio sold a number of assets to pay down debt from the Alcan takeover, and aluminum earnings never balanced the portfolio — EBITDA from aluminum was just US$556-million in the first half of 2012, a tiny fraction of the company’s overall EBITDA of US$10.1-billion.
Whatever Mr. Walsh does, it will be tough for Rio to transition back into a more diversified miner. The company hopes the giant Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine in Mongolia will help, though that is a high-risk project that is facing nationalistic threats.
But Mr. Walsh may not need or want to put a personal stamp on the company. Staying the course and avoiding bad acquisitions could be enough to keep investors happy after the turbulent Albanese years.

The industry’s record on acquisitions is appalling, and Rio is not alone in destroying shareholder value
LONDON — Rio Tinto Group, the second-biggest mining company, will take about US$14 billion of writedowns for failed deals in aluminum and coal led by Chief Executive Officer Tom Albanese, who will leave after more than 30 years.
The 55-year-old New Jersey native is leaving as a result of the US$38 billion cash takeover of Alcan Inc. in 2007, a deal that soured as China’s emergence as the world’s largest aluminum producer left Western rivals with few markets to chase. Albanese’s second-biggest deal, the A$3.9 billion (US$4.1 billion) purchase of Mozambique coal producer Riversdale Mining Ltd. in 2011, also deteriorated after coal prices fell.

The board picked Sam Walsh, the 63-year-old head of Rio’s iron ore unit, to turn around the London-based company, that had already cut the value of its Alcan purchase by $8.9 billion last year. The Alcan takeover, which also cost Albanese and Chief Financial Officer Guy Elliott their annual bonus, saw Rio’s debt rise as much as 19-fold and forced the company to seek a $19.5 billion deal with Aluminum Corp. of China that Rio later aborted.
“This was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Paul Phillips, a Melbourne-based fund manager with Perennial Growth Management Pty who holds Rio shares, said by phone. “I’m surprised Albanese has been there throughout all of this.”
Rio dropped 2.6% to 33.66 pounds at 9:10 a.m. in London after declining as much as 4.6% and the company’s bonds led declines in European credit markets.
Alaska-trained Albanese had until now survived the consequences of his disastrous US$38 billion acquisition of Alcan in 2007, a bruising top-of-the-market deal when Rio was under pressure from rivals to bulk up or be bought.
The deal, just two months after Albanese took the reins, turned bad as markets crumbled and aluminium prices slumped, battering Rio’s balance sheet, nearly forcing it into the arms of Chinese state-owned Chinalco and triggering a US$15 billion rights issue. Rio has since seen years of losses in aluminium and taken billions in impairments – it had already taken an US$8.9 billion charge on those struggling assets a year ago.
Walsh was welcomed by investors and analysts on Thursday as a safe pair of hands, but many also questioned whether a 63-year-old veteran would be a long-term solution, raising concerns over management at a group that also announced the departure of its chief financial officer last July.
Walsh, who heads the unit that generated 78% of Rio’s net income in 2011, will move to London from Perth in his new role. Under Walsh, iron ore is expanding to churn out 360 million metric tons by 2015 from its mines in Australia’s Pilbara region.
“Sam Walsh is well regarded,” said Ric Ronge, who helps manage about US$1.1 billion in stocks, including Rio and BHP Billiton Ltd., at Pengana Global Resources Fund in Melbourne. “Iron ore is about 80% of Rio’s earnings – so he’s basically in charge of the bulk of the company’s earnings power. It makes sense that he would probably be the person to step-up if they were looking for an internal appointment.”
“It’s another black mark in terms of (Albanese’s) M&A record and I suppose, given the magnitude of this writedown … I’m not surprised that he’s stepping down with this, nor am I surprised that Doug Ritchie is,” analyst Jeff Largey at Macquarie said.
Rio had planned to shrink the aluminium arm, cutting back one of the world’s largest producers of the metal by hiving off most of its Australian and New Zealand assets. But industry sources say it has not been mobbed by buyers.
Further damaging his reputation as a dealmaker, Albanese spearheaded a US$4 billion deal to buy Mozambique-focused coal miner Riversdale in 2011, fighting off rival bidders. There, however, like many other miners in the region, Rio has struggled with the challenge of getting coal from pit to port.
Rail and port bottlenecks are the main headache for miners eager to cash in on Mozambique’s coal rush, but it could take a decade for many of the current infrastructure projects to come to fruition on a scale to meet industry demands.
Alcan was always a bad deal, and Albanese was lucky not to carry the can for it back in 2008
 “(Alcan) was always a bad deal, and Albanese was lucky not to carry the can for it back in 2008,” one of Rio Tinto’s 10 largest investors said. “Mozambique is more of a surprise, but the industry’s record on acquisitions is appalling, and Rio is not alone in destroying shareholder value.”
Anglo American is facing potential writedowns linked to its Minas Rio iron ore acquisition in Brazil, a project set to cost more than three times initial estimates. BHP Billiton , meanwhile, failed to clinch three ambitious bids under its current boss – including two tilts at Rio – but then splashed out US$17 billion on two shale gas takeovers in the United States just before gas prices slumped.
Like Albanese, BHP Chief Executive Marius Kloppers forfeited his bonus last year after BHP took a US$2.8 billion charge on the value of its shale gas assets.
Much like Anglo, which appointed a mining engineer as chief executive earlier this month, Rio will now be led by a veteran operations man. Walsh was already in charge of the division that accounts for nearly 80% of profits and his appointment hints at a back-to-basics strategy that could turn Rio’s back on big deals.
Walsh joined Rio Tinto in 1991 after 20 years in the auto industry working for General Motors and Nissan Australia and rose up Rio’s management ranks before being appointed to head its biggest division, iron ore, in 2004.
Walsh is also a more chummy presence than Albanese, who rarely veered from the script. A lover of the great outdoors who walked across remote Alaska snowfields staking mining claims after college, these days he is more often found on Britain’s canals in his own narrow boat.
News of Albanese’s departure and the writedown, almost as large as the group’s underlying profit in 2011, took the market by surprise, knocking Rio shares in early trade. At 1040 GMT the stock was 1.8% lower, having been down as much as 4.5% earlier in the day.
“I wasn’t expecting the US$14 billion writedown,” said Tim Schroeders, a portfolio manager at Pengana Capital, which owns Rio Tinto shares. He said the departures pointed to a company under pressure to do a better job of managing its purse strings.
“I think it’s clearly a case of the board’s laid down the law in terms of stricter accountability than we had pre-(crisis),” he said.
Rio said the writedowns include a charge of around US$3 billion relating to the Mozambique business – virtually its entire original price tag – as well as reductions in the carrying values of Rio’s aluminium assets in the range of US$10 billion to US$11 billion.
The group also expects to report a number of smaller asset writedowns in the order of US$500 million. The final figures will be included in Rio Tinto’s full-year results on Feb. 14.
“It is non-cash, it doesn’t impact valuation, it doesn’t impact the earnings near term. But (flagship Mongolian copper-gold mine) Oyu Tolgoi’s still to plan,” said one London analyst who declined to be named. “For me, it’s clearly negative, but it’s not the end of the world.”
Neither Albanese nor Ritchie, who will leave in July, will take lump-sum payments, and both will forfeit bonuses on departure, including outstanding bonus share entitlements earned in previous years.
Albanese is not the only chief executive on the way out of a major mining company. BHP has said it is seeking a replacement for chief executive Marius Kloppers, and Anglo American earlier this month replaced chief executive Cynthia Carroll.
© Thomson Reuters 2013

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Taxpayers dollars at work in the Crowsnest Pass

If you have not had the chance check out the Crowsnest Pass Ratepayers Associations Facebook page at the following address. Some very interesting information regarding the use of consultants/contractors from April 1 to early December 2012.

Picking out a few of the highlights:

Sure Call----After hours on call service----$3,400 (despite the fact that we pay municipal employees to be on call after hours.)

Friesen Tokar----Administration building renovations architecultural services---$22,904.91----(carpets and a security wall so the public can not see in)

Studio Group-----Branding Project----$23,325----(was Mountain Freedom that bad?)

Dave Mitchell & Associates------Fire Hall location study-----$9,500 (with a Director of Protective Services with ??? of knowledge and a Full time fire chief)

Inferno Safety-----Contract Firemen to Nov 30th-----$66,800-----(The mess that just keeps getting worse)  

Transitional Services-----Interim Manager of Enforcement----$69,957 (How did the municipality get by without this position for it’s first 30 years of existence)

Animal Damage Control-----Rodent Control----$7,992.25----(Remember the councilor at the public forum talking about the silly rumors gopher hunters)

Zorro Fencing------Fencing-----$15,379.48---(Part of this was the fence at the swimming pool is there any of my readers that sat at the pool this summer and thought that fence really needed replacing)

Ed D’Antoni------Contract Operations Manger-----$43,170----(Another part of the revolving door process of administrators, the second of three Operations managers in 2012)

Crow Lock and Key----Mtce repairs doors and locks-----$6,069.56----(Must have replaced a lot of locks in 2012

Park Enterprises-----Safety codes inspection fees-----$86,382.96-----(Didn’t the municipality hire a Building Inspector at the start of 2012?)

Sonny’s Lock and Key----Lock and door repairs----$1,165.28-----(Wow over $7200 of locks changed last year)
Before anybody tells me I realize that some of these costs were cover by grants from Edmonton, let us not lose site that it is all taxpayers money.

Last week Albert Headrick informed council that the Peace Officers were well on their way to being self sufficient, when CAO Myron Thompson met with the Ratepayers prior to Christmas he informed them that the cost of the program to date was $343,555, and that the municipality had received $70,000 of revenue in that same timeframe (80% of which it keeps)  

Monday, January 14, 2013

Transparency in the Crowsnest Pass-looking for the answers.

The following is a site that my fellow blogger John Prince has posted the link to, looking for transparency in the Crowsnest Pass maybe it's here.  Take a moment and check it out.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Fort Macleod police training centre

Another example of why Alberta is in trouble financially.

Fort Macleod gets $10M for loss of police college

Alberta Conservatives testing the water on tax increases.

The Alberta PC's are running in to all kinds of financial problems, what can be expected when spending is clipping along at 59% more than it was in 2005. Remember the promises during the election about balanced budgets based on $99 a barrel oil, which the opposition and all the experts stated was unrealistic. Well guess what folks we were told what the politicians wanted us to believe and we lapped it up.
Over the last week you have seen some fairly high level government officials talking about the possibility of tax increases, this is what the politicians call a "trial balloon" if the public reacts strongly the leader can come out and deny tax increases if the public does not react we all know full well what will happen.

Below is the link to contact the Premier and voice your opinions on tax increases

Riversdale Speeds up Australia IPO Plan after Canada Coal Buy

More news on the return of coal mining to the Crowsnest Pass.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

With the possible return of Coal Mining to the Crowsnest Pass

Now we are all caught up in the possible return of coal mining to the Crowsnest Pass, there will obviously be debate for and against hopefully the public will be provided with all the necessary information to make informed decisions.
I was emailed  the following link today that offers some information on the "New" mine that Centermount Coal Ltd is attempting to develop north of Elkford.
It's from a group know has "kootenay Think Twice" If anybody on the other side of this issue would like me to post links to their information I would be glad to.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Who is Riversdale Resources?

Who is Riversdale Resources? I have been asked this question by a lot of people already, news travels fast.

So I would recommend that everybody check the following out for themselves, welcome them to the Crowsnest Pass and hope their venture works for all of us:

Note: John Prince did an excellent write up on today's municipal media presentation: 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Crowsnest Pass major announcement.

Well the press release is a little late this information has been on the blogs for the last couple of days and the Pass Herald facebook site since Saturday but never the less still good news. For more on this story John Pundyk wrote an excellent article available in both the Pass Herald and the Elk Valley Herald. 

Riversdale Resources Limited Enters Into Agreement to Acquire Coking Coal Development Portfolio in Canada
Riversdale Resources Limited, a public unlisted entity based in Sydney, Australia, has entered into an agreement to acquire a portfolio of coal assets from Devon Energy and Consol Energy located in the Crowsnest Pass area of southwest Alberta, Canada.
The portfolio, comprising over 35,000 acres in total, includes the Grassy Mountain Project located near the towns of Blairmore and Coleman and adjacent to a large capacity rail system already established for coal transport to the existing west coast ports of Westshore Terminal near Vancouver and Ridley near Prince Rupert Sound. Grassy Mountain is an advanced project that has been the subject of substantial exploration and feasibility work including approximately 364 drill holes, two trial pits and a 54,000 tonne bulk sample.  Currently Grassy Mountain has a Canadian 43-101 resource of 192 million tonnes and a reserve of 55 million tonnes although Riversdale sees the potential to expand this further.  Additionally, Grassy Mountain is located in a Category 4 zone under the Alberta Coal Development Policy.
 A earlier feasibility study for Grassy Mountain outlined a open pit development plan to produce approximately 2 million tonnes per annum of both metallurgical and thermal coal over a 28 year life with moderate upfront capital and an FOB cash cost for the first 12 years of US$85 – US$90 per tonne. Riversdale has been working with Norwest Corporation from Calgary, McElroy Bryan from Australia and two recognised Australian based coal quality consultants in undertaking its review of the portfolio. As a result, Riversdale has commenced work to evaluate the potential for a 4 million tonne per annum mine producing primarily a hard coking coal with a secondary PCI product. Riversdale believes such a project will be possible through the use of modern coal mining and washing techniques which have advanced significantly since the earlier feasibility work. 
In addition to Grassy Mountain Riversdale has acquired the Bellevue, Adanac and Lynx coal exploration leases which currently contain an additional 160 million tonnes of estimated resources and an extensive package of freehold land accumulated by the vendors over the past 30 years. The portfolio provides Riversdale an exciting opportunity to look at multiple developments in the region which has a long history of coal mining.
Riversdale has entered into an agreement to acquire the coal properties and freehold land assets for a total of US$ 49.5 million (A$ 47.6 million) payable by the end of June 2013.  Of the total amount, approximately US$35 million (A$ 33.6 million) is attributable to the Grassy Mountain Project. 
The Chairman of Riversdale, Michael O'Keeffe stated "the acquisition of the Crowsnest Pass assets concludes an outstanding first year of exploration and development for our company with a targeted program at our Chickaloon project in Alaska identifying a number of promising coking coal seams. The Crowsnest Pass assets will propel Riversdale into becoming a major force in high quality metallurgical coal production from multiple assets.”
Crowsnest Pass Mayor Bruce Decoux is thrilled with today’s announcement.  “One of this Council’s priorities has been to broaden our economic base and strengthen our local economy.”  The Municipality’s hard work with Riversdale is certain to generate great economic spin off for our community and region,” says Decoux  
Over the last few months Crowsnest Pass Mayor, Council and Administration have been working to support Riversdale and to ensure confidence in the strength and vibrancy of our community.  “We are confident that the support we provided to Riversdale helped pave the way for this initiative to come to fruition” said Decoux.  “We are excited that the Crowsnest Pass will soon be home to a highly reputable international coal mining group and that all citizens in our community will reap benefits,” added Decoux.
Background on Riversdale
Riversdale is an Australian public unlisted company with approximately 70 shareholders. The company was created by the former senior management of Riversdale Mining Limited, an ASX company acquired by Rio Tinto Limited in 2011. Riversdale currently has a 10 year lease over the Chickaloon Coking Coal Project in Alaska and is looking to develop a significant steel making materials business with a focus on high grade metallurgical coal in stable sovereign environments.
The board and senior management of Riversdale comprises:
Michael O'Keeffe (Chairman) - previously Chairman of Riversdale Mining Limited and former Managing Director of Glencore Australia
Steve Mallyon (Managing Director) - previously Managing Director of Riversdale Mining Limited and former Managing Director of RBC Capital Markets Australia
Gary Lawler (Non Executive Director) - former Director of Riversdale Mining Limited and Senior M&A Partner of Ashurst 
Tony Redman (Non Executive Director) - former Director of Riversdale Mining Limited and former Chairman of Anglo American Coal
Anthony Martin (Chief Financial Officer) - former Riversdale Mining Limitada Country Manager (Mozambique)
Russell Dann (President, Riversdale North America) - former Regional Director of Queensland Government Mines and Energy Agency)
 Steve Mallyon.                                          Anthony Martin
Managing Director                                     Chief Financial Officer
A media availability is scheduled for Tuesday, January 8th between 10 am and 12 noon at the Municipal Administrative offices.  Mayor Bruce Decoux will be available to speak on this announcement.
Steve Mallyon from Riversdale Resources will be available to speak to media via telephone on January 8th between 2 pm and 5 pm, mountain standard time at +61 407 464 529.
The Municipality will be hosting a welcoming reception in early February at which time  Riversdale Resources representative will be in attendance and available to speak with media.

More coal mining interest in the Elk Valley

Company out of Singapore looking at an area in the Elk Valley

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Coal Mining back in the Crowsnest Pass

I am sure by now most people have read the "Earth Shattering News" on my fellow blogger's site and the follow up story announcing the Consol energy conditional sale to Riversdale Resources of the Grassy Mountain property for $24 million.

Good news for the Pass? absolutely. Had a big chat about this last night with a number of friends and starting asking questions which led to lots of debate and more questions.

For those that do not know Grassy Mountain, it is just a few kilometers North of the golf course in Blairmore, from what I am told it was an active mine until the late 1950's (If I am making a mistake let me know). The coal rights to this area have been owned for years by Consol Energy out of Pittsburgh.

Who is Consol energy? Big American company based in Pittsburgh which own twelve mines in the Eastern US and is also a big gas producer, apparently they have been having some financial difficulties and have taken a path of selling of non-producing assets. Therefore the sale of their Western Canada assets in late December to Riversdale Resources.

Who is Riversdale Resources? Australian company set up in 2011 by two former executives from Riversdale Mining (Michael O'Keeffe and Steve Mallyon) who had sold a large mine in Africa to Rio Tinto. There goal with Riversdale Resources is to develop new projects in North America. 

Does Riversdale Resources operate any mines presently? No, but in early 2012 they did acquire the exploration rights to an area in Alaska  for $3 million for the nearly 10,000-acre Chickaloon coal deposit in the Mat-Su Valley.

Doing a little research on this property in Alaska came across the following site  notice the name? That leads to one of the other questions thrown around about our area, will the environmentalists react to a proposed mine at Grassy Mountain? I expect there will be a lot of reaction from both environmentalists and recreation users.

How long does it take to get a mine to production? that will depend on the various government regulators,  how aggressive the buyers are,  market demand and how much opposition comes forth.

Looking at other new mines I can think of two examples, over in the Elk Valley we have the Bingay Creek Coal Mine 21km north of Elkford testing in 2006 determined that it had sufficient enough resources to get serious. In 2009 this property was sold to Centermount Coal Ltd which now anticipates starting construction  in 2014 and production in 2016 of one million tonnes a year and going up to two million tonnes a year eventually.
Up at Hinton Coalspur as been actively working in the area since 2009 they are now in the midst of the approval process for what will eventually be one of North America's largest mines they hope to start construction this year and be in production in 2015 starting at one and a half million tonnes a year going up to eventually twelve million tonnes a year.

Timelines from these two projects above, one right next door to us and one in Hinton 5-10 years seems realistic to get to first production.

30 million tonnes does not seem like a lot of coal to be developing a mine? Your right the Bingay creek mine which is planned to max out it's volume at 2 million tonnes a year has reserves of 170 million the Coalspur operation has reserves of 1.7 billion tonnes. That either means that Riversdale is anticipating finding more coal when they do further exploration, or it's going to be a very small low producing mine.

Good thing for the Pass? that remains to be seen we will all get to judge that as the company does it's exploration and reveals it's future plans to the community.  Done right absolutely we need the jobs, the tax base etc.

Will and should the local politicians get all the credit for this? The local politicians role in this issue to this point will be at most a few shaken hands and we would love to see you in our community statements. The local role will increase when and if this project unfolds.
Up to now this is all about a market place (met coal) that is anticipated to be strong for the foreseeable future, a new Australian company that is attempting to acquire coal assets in North America. Because of that strong coal market and an industry that measures profits by the billions these kinds of acquisitions are very common right now.