Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Sex and the Ring of Fire: How to lose friends and alienate people

This is not a website about mining (for a good website about mining, see Republic of Mining). It is, in fact, a website about railways. However, since the future of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission might rely on transporting chromite from the proposed Ring of Fire, the two topics do intersect.

KWG Resources' recent decision to be represented by a pair of bikini-clad spokesmodels has become one of the most sustained news stories surrounding the sluggish development of the Ring of Fire. The video, which has now been viewed nearly 100,000 times on YouTube, has been boosted by this media coverage, but it remains to be seen whether it will help or hinder KWG's efforts in the James Bay Lowlands.

Women in the mining industry are upset that the video erases what progress has been made towards gender equality in what has traditionally been a male-dominated sector. Equally perplexing is what relevance the video has to the issues surrounding the Ring of Fire in the first place. As Melanie Paradis of Earnscliffe Strategy Group told Northern Ontario Business:
“There is nothing shocking about a video with two young women in bikini tops and shorts. What is shocking is how remarkably disconnected this video is from the realities of the Canadian mining industry. Sex might sell, but it definitely doesn’t build mines.”
Further, First Nations groups are distancing themselves from KWG's marketing, a move which further shows the growing tensions between bands and mining companies in what was supposed to be  a great opportunity to bring all groups together in a resource extraction project. Native people living in remote areas of Northern Ontario have long been one of the most disadvantaged groups of people in the country. By including their voices in the Ring of Fire development plans from the beginning, the potential revenues from the extraction of chromite were supposed to offer new opportunities to these communities.

Regardless of whether KWG's video is judged to be tasteful or not, it has caused many people to question not only their association with the company, but whether KWG is taking the project seriously enough. If the predictions are correct, the Ring of Fire could bring untold riches to mining companies, Native groups, Ontario Northland and the wider Canadian company. If the predictions are correct, the time for fun and games is over and it is time for the hard and serious work to begin.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Rails in Eastern Ontario

Recent trips have taken me (briefly) to both Kingston and Smiths Falls, allowing for some different railway photography.

Inspection at Smiths Falls / Inspection à Smiths Falls

"Spirit of Sir John A"

Friday, August 12, 2016

Wynne commits to ONTC future

Refurbishment of the Polar Bear Express continues, but the Northlander is still dead.

>>>Wynne commits to ONTC future | North Bay Nugget<<<

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

'Sex sells': Mining company defends use of bikini video to promote Ontario's Ring of Fire

While there is indeed good economic potential in the development of the Ring of Fire, progress is slow. Furthermore, the project could bring huge benefits to rail transportation in the North, not to mention a whole new era of cooperation between First Nations and Bay Street. Despite this, the media coverage of the project is relegated to media in Northern Ontario or within the mining industry itself.

In a bid to promote the project to a broader audience, KWG Resources has published a series of "Mining Minute" videos to promote the project to a wider audience (although the view counts on Youtube are modest to say the least).

One particular episode has attracted criticism for showing bikini-clad spokeswomen explaining the benefits of the project. While the company claims that this is a great marketing tool (and within the industry it might be), it makes them appear dated and old-fashioned. Further, it sends a very negative message for women who are thinking of entering the mining industry: how will their colleagues view them? As equals or as entertainment?

In the long-term plan to develop the Ring of Fire, this video is likely to have no effect whatsoever.  However, it does call into question the image that KWG is trying to project.

>>>'Sex sells': Mining company defends use of bikini video to promote Ontario's Ring of Fire - CBC News<<<

Friday, July 22, 2016

Fed train aid goes off the rails

Transport minister Marc Garneau has dealt a blow to hopes of the return of the Sault Ste. Marie to Heart passenger rail service. Speaking in the Soo, Garneau stated that the proposal announced recently does not meet the criteria for the funding set out by Transport Canada because most communities along the route are served by roads (albeit ones operated by private logging companies).

Garneau also suggested that the rail proposal would fit better within the portfolio of Aboriginal Affairs, but it remains unclear how high a priority funding a rail link would be in the already overstretched government department.

>>>Fed train aid goes off the rails | Sault Star<<<