Canadian Mining Journal


DOING SOME DIGGING (November 07, 2002)

We have long known there is a lot of hot air in Ottawa. Too bad that heat source can't be captured and used to warm...

We have long known there is a lot of hot air in Ottawa. Too bad that heat source can’t be captured and used to warm the houses of Ontario this winter. Since the generating and distribution of electricity was privatized last May, Ontario customers have seen an almost three-fold increase in residential rates. The June-August bill that arrived with a thud at our home was double the previous one. The "unbundled charges" amounted to an astonishing 45% of the total. The most recent bill was no less. Although our usage dropped about 20%, the total cost of those fewer kilowatts went up 40%.

We will survive the several hundred extra dollars that it costs to heat and light this dwelling, but how is industry going to survive? We can turn our thermostat down, but smelters can’t run at lower temperatures. We can forego Christmas lights on our house, but underground mines can’t turn off the ventilation. Nor can a mine relocate its orebody to a province with cheaper power rates.

Reducing energy consumption has been a priority of Ontario mines, mills and smelters for years. But it’s just not possible to cut electricity use as fast as the rates are rising. Either the provincial government has to come up with a program to mitigate the cost or the last one out of the mine will have to turn off the fans.

How is your operation coping? We would welcome letters or e-mail with both your horror stories and your successes. Perhaps through sharing experiences, we can create a collective voice for reasonable rates.

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