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If you are thinking of getting a Chinchilla as a pet, learn as much as you can about the care involved with your new Chinchilla.

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Diabetes Vegetarian Diet

is a very serious disease which a lot of attention. Diet control is one of the most important factors that can keep this disease in check. Many people find that diabetes vegetarian diet which mostly excludes cholesterol and saturated fats can help the diabetic patient to live quite a normal life. There is no standard diabetes vegetarian diet that can be applicable to everyone. But you will find that most of the diabetes vegetarian diet options will involve foods which do not contain fat or starch. In this way, potatoes will be excluded, so will be rice, bread, butter, and so on.
Then there is the vegan diet. This is a stricter form of a diabetes vegetarian diet. Here you do not eat anything that comes from animals, including eggs and milk. A vegetarian diet is overall very healthy if you include whole grains, fruits, and legumes which are high in fiber content. A diabetic person will be highly profited from the vegetarian diet because it promotes absorption of nutrients without the harm of animal fats, cholesterol or carbohydrates.

Vegetarian Diet Will Not Cure Diabetes
You should not think at any time that a diabetes vegetarian diet will actually cure diabetes. No, a diet will not be able to do this. However, strict control over the diet will keep diabetes in check. There is no actual cure for diabetes, but it is very possible to keep the sugar in total control with the help of medicines and a proper diet.
If you are non-vegetarian, you should consult a doctor before you change your diet to that of a vegetarian. The transition should be done in a proper way so your body will not be depleted of any major nutrients in the process. Each non-vegetarian food has its counterpart in vegetarian foods. You should learn to trade places between non-vegetarian and vegetarian food in such a way that your intake always stays balanced.

Learn To Recognize the Merits and Demerits of Each Food
When you have diabetes you should learn to recognize which food is beneficial and which food can be harmful to you. All the foods can be grouped in such a way that you could easily tell how many calories, nutrients, carbohydrates and so on. Once you know this, you will be able to judge what to consume and how much to consume so your diabetes will always stay within control.

What is the Difference Between Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova?

As a Belorussian-American, I can’t tell you how many times I have been asked this question. A lot of people in the US only know of Russia and if they heard of the other three countries they really don’t really know much about them.

Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova are all countries that used to be or the USSR. In 1991 all of these countries became independent from one another. Before communism, all of these counties were ruled by the Tsar. Because Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova were all under the same government for so long the counties and the people are very much alike. Being from Eastern Europe and traveling through all these countries I could tell you that the only thing that divides them other then the borders and their pride are the languages.

Ethnically, most Eastern Europeans are Slavic people. They share the same facial features. Culturally they are the same as well, with the same customs, religion, tradition, and food. Out of the four, Moldova is the most different. It has a completely different language that is more similar to Romanian then Russian. However, most Moldavians can speak Russian. Moldova also has a more distinct culture. Ukraine and Belarus also have their own languages, however, they are very similar to Russia. The languages could be described as a mix of Polish and Russian.

These four counties have a lot on common, however, after being united for so long these people are desperate to differentiate themselves from each other. Today they are trying to build their own identities and unique cultures.

Best Hybrid Car

It would be simple to figure out which of the existing automobiles nowadays were ranked with the finest energy efficiency ratings in gasoline-powered auto engines, model style, and those rated with the finest safety attributes per auto class. There is a wide opinion spread of rankings that can be provided by most key automobile manufacturers’ reviews.

It would most likely be hard, if not impossible to discover very same rankings for the dual-powered hybrid automobile that is emerging like gangbusters in the automobile marketplace nowadays. It would also be near impossible to figure out which of these models would be regarded as or ranked as the greatest hybrid car available on the market these days due to the fact with the energy saving attributes that save men and women funds at the gas pumps, all of these hybrid car models are a winner.
The very best hybrid vehicle would offer versatility and style to the consumer. With mild hybrid and full hybrid auto models available, there is an excellent selection of capabilities that consumers can choose that will meet their individual driving wants and styles. Some of these hybrid automobile varieties have the capability of driving from a dead begin on electrical energy, whilst others demand the gas-powered motor feature to engage first to perform this portion of the drive train operation.

There are 3 components in all of the hybrid cars that are manufactured nowadays. To be deemed a hybrid automobile, the automobile needs to have a gas-powered automobile engine, an electrical motor, and an automobile battery or battery pack underneath the hood. The manner that these components function together or singularly to move your automobile further down the highway depend greatly on the sort of hybrid it is. The greatest hybrid vehicle would be 1 that employed all three, but if that is not typical of your driving style, you will get better fuel usage by way of the mild hybrid style which would render the auto far more economical.

The ease in use would also qualify a hybrid automobile into getting regarded as 1 of the very best on the marketplace right now. The keyless operation alternative is an extremely valued feature that most buyers would prefer not to do without having. These hybrid automobiles do not have a normal ignition switch but feature state-of-the-art technology in a push-button ignition switch. All hybrid cars that have this feature built into their consoles will undoubtedly be considered on the greatest hybrid automobile list that any individual creates.

Yet another feature that would be difficult to vote on, in this finest hybrid dual-powered car list would be the hybrids that give you a touch screen with interactive displays that give you a realm of data at your fingertips. The energy effective energy vehicles give multi-dimensional info across the console of the automobile, where you can tell at a glance what the climate manage temperature is, or the radio settings are.

The simplistic pampering that these hybrid vehicles offer you can give automobile owners back the manager that they have in their cars. Drivers can now stay informed on the flow of power that goes by means of the electrical components and can now tell when this flow is affecting fuel consumption. With so a lot of modes of operation to maintain you informed and entertained, the hybrid automobile is hard to separate if you are attempting to identify which 1 of the several manufactured brands are the greatest car in its class.

How to Pick the Right College

Mary, the “mom”

It’s started. The search for the perfect college for my son. One that has a good reputation, but not so good that he can’t get in. One that is fun for him, but not too fun (for us). One that is far enough away that he feels as though he’s gone away, but not too far (for me). Other considerations for him are good food in the cafeteria, decent dorms, sports teams he can get excited about, a high ratio of girls to boys, and lest I forget, courses in his area of academic interest. Other considerations for us are tuition costs, tuition costs, and tuition costs.

As we start to look at various schools it has become apparent that he could probably be quite happy at any number of them. So, how does one decide? Rach, how did you decide where you wanted to go to college? “Dad”, how did the Valkyrie decide? Any suggestions for us?

Rach, the “teen”

Looking for colleges was the easiest part of “the process.” Lucky for me, my high school has a service called Naviance – it’s a web-based program that helps students find colleges. You enter a lot of data about what you want – majors, location, the ratio of girls and boys, sports teams, everything, it even lets you enter your test scores and gives you a little map that shows how likely it is that you’re going to be accepted. Despite what the map said, I applied to eight very competitive schools. Only one of which was not on the east coast (I like it here).

Deciding on a college was the hardest thing about “the process.” I was accepted to four, waitlisted at two, and rejected at two. The schools I was accepted to were great, but when I visited they didn’t seem right. The two schools that did feel right were, of course, one that I had been waitlisted on and one that had flat out rejected me (I cried for two hours when I got the little envelope). And so I wrote the most important email of my life, telling the waitlist school that I still really wanted to be there. The next day I got a phone call telling me that that email got me accepted (best day ever!).

So, you guys are in for it. My parents drove me to many a college and were part of the process at all times. They were all kinds of moral support when I was writing essays (write them now, not later), and sending applications, and getting big and small envelopes back. My one word of advice is, start filling out applications in September, no matter when the deadline is. In the end, I chose what college felt right. I made a pro-con list of schools, but it was really the gut feeling that leads me to my final decision.

Brad, the “dad”

Actually, “Mom,” we did pretty much what you’re already doing. First, we talked with the Valk about what she seriously would like to study in depth …and it was amazing how many of her areas of interest withered under the heat-lamp of four long years. That discussion included what the heck she was planning to do with all of this passionately acquired knowledge when it came to, y’know, like, a job. Because as fun as we wanted college to be, we made it clear: this wasn’t going to be a 48-month all-expenses-paid vacation. Not at these prices.

Once that was done, we pulled out a map and decided how wide the circle would be. We live in Southern California; so our contention was that she could choose just about any field and find a top-flight school that taught that subject somewhere in our half of the state. Within our home town was too close, but two towns over were okay. More than three hours driving distance was too far, but she could manage about 200 miles because Grandma had given her a used car for graduation. Farther than that and it would be too hard to come home and do laundry on the weekends, she said. And then, after a moment, she added, “Oh, and to see you, of course.” Once we had drawn the “doughnut,” we started studying up on what schools fell within that circle.

What we didn’t do was add many other restrictions at this early stage. Private college, state colleges, state universities …didn’t matter. It just mattered that we get a clean list of eight (an arbitrary number) or more colleges “inside the circle” that could give her a good and applicable education. We got that list by flogging the Internet, reading a bunch of current-edition books standing up and reading fast in the local Borders or Barnes & Noble). And when we’d narrowed the list somewhat, we started asking friends, colleagues, co-workers, and relatives, if they knew anybody who had attended one of our ‘candidate’ schools. Maybe because our ‘doughnut’ was relatively local, we had a high hit-rate. And THEN, when the list was narrowed down to four…the visits, the tours, the talk about cost. And by the way, “Mom,” speaking of cost, private schools and state schools may or may not be more affordable than you think; don’t jump to conclusions.

Oh, and good luck! Because this is actually the fun part. It gets really rough a few months from now after you’ve made your decisions…when you have to start actually applying to the schools of your choice. But that’s a whole different subject.

Breaking Up and Breaking Down

Brad, the “dad”

The Valkyrie, newly 18 years old (Happy Birthday, kid!), has been dating for about six months now. I think I’ve done pretty well with it so far: after years of threatening to answer the door while cleaning my gun, or simply staring wordlessly and growling at any boy who so much as crosses the property line, I’ve actually been friendly and polite and non-violent with her Gentleman Callers. It isn’t a long list and they seem like good guys so far. She’s made some good decisions and I’m proud of her…

But she just had her first break-up. She called in tears in the middle of this week because Bruno (not his real name, I’m sorry to say) had been “pressuring” her and she didn’t have the time or the interest in “getting more serious,” especially not in the middle of her first year of college. So she called it off. And he apparently said something that hurt her. And now, of course, I want to kill him.

The homicidal tendencies I can handle – probably. But more to the point…how do I help her? I have a whole brain full of Useful Advice, and of course, I want to hear every single detail of what happened. What kind of “pressure” did he exert? What does “more serious” mean? What did that little creep say to her, and where does he live? But…is any of this really any of my business? Does she really need my advice, or want it? (And no, she hasn’t asked…but when has that ever stopped me from ‘helping’ before?) So far she’s given us precious few details, but clearly, she’s hurt…and here I am, completely unable to help and not sure what I could do if she wanted me to.

Being a “good listener” in this situation is completely unsatisfying…even more so because she’s not saying anything to listen to. Am I doing the right thing by just letting her deal with this herself – as she says she wants to – or am I falling short at a truly important time: not her first boyfriend, but her first break-up?

I could use some advice, “Mom” and “Daughter.”

Rach, the “older teen”

Breakups suck.

The first boy (and so far the only) who broke my heart, broke it over the internet. We’d been together for a few months, and I was really into him. Apparently, he wasn’t as into me. Needless to say, I slammed my laptop shut and started crying so loudly that my parents ran into the room, thinking something fell on me.

We lived a few minutes from each other, and we took the same bus to school. And we saw each other between most classes in high school. So my parents and I decided that it would be best if I stayed home and cried for the next two days (to recover from the trauma of an internet breakup).

All in all, breakups can be the hardest thing teens experience. My parents were there for me, and they let me cry at them for two solid days. They treated me like a princess until I was done crying because they knew how much he meant to me. After the crying stopped, everything went back to normal. Except, they have never asked what caused the breakup, and they never threatened him, or even spoken of him again. It worked well for me, I never spoke to him again, and never had any reason to.

So, “Dad”, it’s good to see that your daughter handled her really sucky situation well, she knew that she was being pressured and she knows where her limits are. So, tell her that. Tell her that she will always be strong and that she does not need a boy who treats her badly (as we can assume he did if he was pressuring). But, most of all, “Dad”, tell her she’s way too good for anyone. And once the crying stops, let it stop. Don’t ask about it, unless she brings it up. I know it’s unsatisfying, but it’s better for her if you don’t push it.

Mary, the “mom”

Poor Valkyrie!

Rach is right, breakups suck.

We haven’t gone through this with our kids yet and it’s been a quarter century since I went through a breakup myself (although I really do remember how awful it felt). A friend of mine just went through this with her daughter, but she was so much younger (13) and the boy had been such a part of the family, that the situation was quite different.

So, I am going to have to defer to Rach on this. I think her advice is excellent. I do think the situation of the Valkyrie being away at school makes it even harder for you to just “be supportive”, but maybe she’ll come home this weekend and you can pamper her without asking questions. (Remember, chocolate is always good for pampering.) For now, you’ll just have to convey that support over the phone.

Good luck!

Lauren, the “younger teen”

This is a little out of my playing field, but I do have some advice. I know when I’m really upset about something, I don’t want to talk about it at first. So I would say be supportive to start without trying to discuss the break-up. Call her, maybe go visit her or have her come home this weekend. Let her think it over herself to start – she may be able to handle it on her own. If she does come home over the weekend, do some things as a family and then maybe send the girls out to do something. She may want to talk to her mom and/or sister first – girl to girl or woman to woman (since she’s somewhere in between).

After a little bit of time has passed, I would try to talk to her about it. Once she has a bit of a handle on it she may be more willing to talk about the break-up and what happened leading up to it. For now, try to be there if she is ready to talk but don’t push it, let her think on her own.

This may be a little off topic but when reading your post I thought of a Gilmore Girls episode in which Rory, the daughter, breaks up with her first boyfriend. Her mother wants to hear what happened and she keeps pushing her to talk about it, but Rory doesn’t want to yet. She runs away to her grandparent’s house just so she can think it out herself first but by the end of the episode, she is comfortable talking to her mom about it.

So here’s my advice, but Rach is probably more informed in this area since she herself has been through it.

Late to Bed, Early to Rise

Rach, the “older teen”

Sleeping is a big issue for me. In high school, I was exhausted in the spring after all the work I had been doing with the school musical. And in the fall, watching TV and doing homework weren’t exactly the most tiring activities, so I stayed up later and did more nothing.

My parents never really hassled me about it. If I was still watching TV at 11 or 12 then they would tell me that I should get some sleep soon. Or, if I was in bed before dinner, they just let me sleep. I guess all the sleep I got sort of balanced out.

I’ve been working on a more normal sleep schedule, now. I go to bed more or less consistently on weeknights, and I take naps between classes if I feel like I need it. I’ve noticed: as teens get older they sort of realize how much sleep their bodies need. So, sleep becomes something much more important than it was as a younger teen.

I’m wondering how you deal with sleep schedules at your house? I haven’t had a “bedtime” in years… is that still a thing now that you have teens?

Brad, the “dad”

It’s amazing how “bedtime” and “maturity” have become inextricably entwined here in my little kingdom. Looking back, I realize this is where we first starting losing control – or, more accurately, the illusion of control: when we stopped enforcing reasonable bedtimes. But you’re right, Rach: as the kids get older, parents feel oddly guilty about tucking them in, and it’s the first place where even ‘easy’ kids take a stand, no matter how impractical…

Meanwhile, this particular conflict made for middle-school early-morning hours that were pure, unadulterated hell. Getting the girls up and running was darn near impossible. There were some classic days where they stumped off to school carrying most of their clothes rather than wearing them because of they just…could…not…WAKE UP. And for some reason, “I told you so” didn’t have much effect on changing their sleepy-times.

Our solution? We came to accept, and even encourage, the Miracle of The Nap. Yes, there’s a certain maturity-edge there, too: “Don’t treat me like a baby!” But I was more than happy to lead by example. If I had to stay up late or pull an all-nighter to work on a project (a feat that, trust me, gets harder and harder as the decades pile up), I would make a point of proudly catching a few winks during my natural creative/energy downtime (for me? About 4:00 p.m.). And if one of the girls pulled the same late-night antics, it was easier to enforce a late-afternoon lie-down than cut the power to their bedrooms and strap them to the mattress, just to get them asleep by 11:00.

And it still works. They may not get eight hours in a row, but by and large, they do get closer to eight hours of sleep out of every 24…and in the process, they’ve become more flexible in their planning and more aware of when they really need rest-time. And there are generally fewer arguments about lights-out and wake-ups.

Consider it. The Miracle of the Nap. It’s not just a good idea…it’s a law of nature.

Mary, the “mom”

Our teens have a bedtime on school nights, but it’s not a time that we mandated, it’s one they agreed to. Unfortunately, it’s also not a time by which they are actually in bed very often. So, rather than serving as “bedtime”, it serves as the time at which mom and/or dad start nagging that they should be in bed.

I know they’re tired. In just the last week, each of them has made a comment about having a light homework night and planning to get to bed early. Somehow, that never happens.

As a “night owl”, I am a terrible example. I blame it on bio-rhythms. I guess that’s just an excuse and if I really wanted to change, I could. The fact is that I don’t really know whether I could change or not, because I’ve never tried. I like staying up late. (Really bad example.)

Unfortunately, also like their mother, our teens never nap. With the exception of a few times when I’ve been really sick, I haven’t had a nap since I was two, even when the kids were babies and I’d be up half the night. I just can’t nap.

So, while I’d like to believe that, like Rach, my kids will start listening to their bodies as they mature and regulate their sleep schedule, I suspect that instead, they will follow they’re mother’s bad example. But hey, I get a lot done in a day, how bad can it be?

Lauren, the “younger teen”

Normally I get to bed between 10:00 and 10:30. I don’t have a real bedtime per se, but at 10:30 my parents will start to push me to get to bed. I always feel tired. It’s a rare occasion when I don’t feel ready to fall asleep right then and there. Unfortunately, my busy schedule doesn’t allow for naps or earlier bedtime. The not getting home from dance until 9:30 and still having to eat and shower makes it hard.

Napping sounds like a great solution, but I don’t think too many teen schedules allow it. I wish sometimes I had time to nap, but I don’t. I also don’t think I’ve napped since I was 2. I was never big on napping as a little kid and now since I want to, I don’t have the time to.

Teens seem to stay up later than they should give they have to get up at those ungodly school times. Mornings are hell for me. My alarm goes off, I turn it off, roll back over, go to sleep, my mom comes and wakes me up. Then later on my mom calls the time, I reply “oh, crap” because I’m not ready, My make-up has to be finished before I go out, I miss the bus every other day, so I go to my neighbor’s house because they get on after me. They don’t even look up when I come anymore, and, knock on wood, I’ve never missed it at their house.

So maybe as teens, we need more sleep than as kids, but of course, end up getting less… a lot less!

Make Your Car Clean and Beautiful: Benefits of Steam Car Wash

Is not amazing how steam auto wash can make your auto clean and lovely? With the hectic schedules that people have every day, they seldom uncover the time to clean their own vehicles. That is why the demand for car wash services has quickly elevated in a couple of years’ time span. More vehicle wash businesses in different areas have  Steam Car Washopened to serve automobile owners. But for other people who are not that busy, they nonetheless select to have their automobile cleaned by auto detailing shops since of the positive aspects of steam vehicle wash. Steam car wash does not only save their time and energy from cleaning their own vehicles but provides them several advantages that give the best results. It is vital for this approach to have the appropriate equipment which includes the steam cleaning system to fulfill the satisfaction of every consumer and that of your business as properly.

Steam auto wash cleaners have various components that each and everyone works for a complex and distinctive task in cleaning a vehicle. The usual equipment for steam automobile wash makes use of boilers to heat water that can generate steam. The steam is highly effective in washing a vehicle since it can clean different sorts of car surfaces. In impact, you won’t need tough and hazardous chemicals to clean your vehicle anymore. This alone makes it possible  Steam Car Washfor you to save up the price of buying the chemicals. Steam washers can simply eradicate all kinds of dirt that would be hard for you to remove with a mop or cleaning cloth. By means of a steam auto wash, dirt from hidden or difficult-to-reach areas can be efficiently cleaned. Though modern day pressure washers are offered, a lot of nonetheless pick steam-washing equipment simply because it doesn’t call for abrasive chemicals that emit hazardous substances. You do not also trigger pollution to the environment and people too. These days, numerous car shops have been employing green cleaning supplies with steam washers that are friendly to the environment. With such, folks are also able to avoid wasting too much water while cleaning the automobile. Another benefit of a steam cleaner is its multipurpose feature. You can also use it for the home and other surfaces that can withstand high temperatures. Carpets can be successfully cleaned by means of the steam washer that can clean as rapidly as achievable. This is a great advantage that can save you a lot of cash and time from cleaning the traditional or tough way.

 Steam Car Wash

It is also vital to know that there are some steam cleaners with unique attributes. Those units for industrial purposes normally have added capabilities such as getting high-pressure levels and temperature ranges. This kind is not suggested for property use due to the fact it is designed to function continuously for hours. On the other hand, vapor steam machines are the type that is a lot more proper for house applications. It is advantageous to have steam car wash equipment that has self-cleaning capabilities. With steam washers, you do not have to devote a lot of time cleaning the boiler because it doesn’t need to. It is even greater to just clean the boiler a few times to stop damages on the parts. In any way, regardless of whether it is the auto, residence or carpet that you need to clean, the steam vehicle wash equipment provides the best results for a clean and lovely surface that is like brand new.

Hal Quinn, U.S. mining’s advocate in Washington and beyond

Hal P. Quinn, the president and CEO of the National Mining Association, believes the people employed in U.S. mining is the strongest asset the industry possesses.

In a recent interview with Mineweb, Quinn expressed confidence the new Republican-controlled Senate may accord the U.S. mining industry the access, the airing of concerns and the vetting of legislation that the industry has come to rely on in the U.S. House.

Convincing both houses of Congress that streamlining of mining permitting on the federal level is vital to the future of U.S. manufacturing and related industries is one of Quinn’s foremost goals over the next two years as a new U.S. President is chosen in 2016.

Appointed as chief of the National Mining Association in 2008, Attorney Quinn has been working in and around the mining industry for more than 25 years ever since he joined the Mining and Reclamation Council of America as legal counsel in the 1980s, which was subsequently merged into the National Coal Association in 1987, and then merged with the American Mining Congress in 1995, becoming the National Mining Association.

When asked what he likes most about mining, Quinn declared, “I really enjoy the people. I think that’s the strongest asset our industry has; they’re all very innovative and dedicated. When you’re working for an industry that is so essential to everybody’s standard of living and providing for the needs of society, you really have to feel good about the people you’re representing to have a policy environment that is going to help them be successful.

“Because you know that, when it all comes down it, if the mining industry is not successful, then this country is not going to succeed. Whether we’re talking about energy, manufacturing, infrastructure, technology, national defense, that’s what we’re all about. We’re part of that. We’re the front end of the supply chain on all that.”

In many cases relationships already existed with the aforementioned sectors, Quinn acknowledged. “What we’ve been striving to do over the past five or six years is to strengthen them and tie them closer together. There are a lot of issues that all these sectors of the economy, these industries, have in common.

“But I think what we’ve done over the last four, five years is drill down and show them that we have specific needs, too, and that it’s in their interest in helping us be successful in formulating the right policies to support us remaining competitive and moving forward so we can feed their sectors with the minerals, metals and materials they need so they can be competitive,” he said. “Our Minerals Make Life Campaign, that’s really what that’s all about is that, one, particularly with the policymakers and influencers, is drawing that connection between mining and key sectors of our economy tighter, showing them that connection. And also then reaching out to those sectors as third-party validators of what we’re advocating and what we’re saying, how critical we are to their success.”

When asked if a GOP-controlled Congress will really help mining, Quinn responded, “What we stand for and what we’re advocating, in our view, is not really a partisan issue. We view our interests as perfectly aligned with the public interest, so we don’t think it should depend on partisanship. At the same time, we have to realize there may be different viewpoints about how we reach those objectives and whether some of the policies we’re advocating may not be uniformly viewed as necessary for us to be successful.

“I think a GOP-controlled Congress now aligns both houses under the same party who will set an agenda about what are the priorities, public policy-wise, for the country,” Quinn observed. “We know that in the House of Representatives over the past several years the public policies that we’ve been advocating have been getting a full, thorough and consistent treatment. With a Republican controlled Senate, our hope is that they will be given similar treatment over there in terms of aired, vetted, and acted upon.”

Permitting and Best Practices
When asked by Mineweb if Congress really can do much to improve a permitting process controlled by the Obama Administration, Quinn responded, “They can impact that because they can set some expectations and accountability into the process, particularly at the federal level.

“We have some very good, effective and efficient innovative systems at the state level. Where we see quite a bit of delay is when we’re laying the federal level over top of that and there’s quite a bit of overlap and duplication,” he noted.

“Over the last two Congresses we have legislation passed, the Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act, that really embodies best practices for an efficient and thorough permitting review and really sets out expectations in terms of timelines, allows the project proponents to agree with the lead federal agency on timeframes for reaching key decision points throughout the process,” Quinn added.

“We think those are best practices and they’re out there already, but they’re not required under the law but they are recognized. So the legislation we’ve advanced for the last two years, Congress has said ‘let’s put those in place’ and that’s the template you have to follow. Let’s stop having a system that allows permit applications and projects to remain in limbo because nobody is willing to make a decision one way or the other,” he stressed.

“And let’s cut back on the duplication and let the environmental analyses and assessments that are going on at the state level be utilized on the federal level and we don’t have to do a whole new analysis in most cases; maybe in some there’s going to be some gaps that have to be filled,” Quinn acknowledged. “But let’s focus on those rather than have the federal level try to duplicate what the state’s already been doing with respect to the environmental performance of that particular operation.”

“Best practices continue to evolve. I think what companies bring to the table when they put in an application to get the authorizations they need is they reflect those best practices in their application. So there are places where you might not need additional regulations, but you evolve your practices to be better positioned to meet the expectations of the law; that’s where the two shall meet.

“It’s not a matter of self-regulation as it is accommodating the evolving nature of best practices and bringing those forward as the industry continues to improve on its environmental performance. The expectation of what is expected of us is heightened, but at the same time we expect that the regulators will improve their process to recognize that and move forward without delay on these things because we’re bringing forward better practices, better technology and better risk assessment,” Quinn stressed.

When asked if U.S. mining companies will consider adopting the Minerals Council of Australia Water Accounting Framework for the Minerals Industry, Quinn counselled, “I think a lot of the companies are evaluating that as they look at the projects that they’re putting forward is what are going to be the needs of that project, whether it’s water consumption or other resource implications. Somehow that information will be digested for purposes of putting forward your project application about how you’re going to meet expectations on minimizing or avoiding unnecessary impacts on particular resources.”

Possibility of More EPA, Other Agency Power Grabs
In the wake of successful efforts by the EPA to retract federal Clean Water Act permits for coal companies, as well as the agency’s desire to pre-empt the filing of any federal mining application permits by the Pebble Partnership in Bristol Bay, Alaska, Quinn suggested, “This (Obama) Administration has been very aggressive in stretching what they believe is the breadth and extent of the existing law.

“We’ve seen that in the permitting process with respect to revoking permits that have been issued by another agency, and then in anticipation of new projects coming on line, suggesting that they can actually zone areas out from a federal level before anybody can even come forward with a full-blown mine plan and application and say ‘Here’s my project and here’s how I propose to address the issues of concern under the law.’

“The Arch Coal permit revocation a few years back is one example of retroactive action. The Pebble situation is clearly an example of a prospective carving out of ‘no-go’ zones well before the information’s available to evaluate properly how a very attractive project that’s needed would have impacts and whether they could be avoided or mitigated or addressed in a reasonable fashion,” he remarked.

“There’s another dimension to this, too, which is how often the agencies change their interpretations of existing rules or laws, which poses another challenge for a capital-intensive industry,” Quinn commented. “When you’re putting a lot of capital in the ground, you have to sustain that they may come up with a new interpretation of the law; and you’re saying, ‘I can’t retrofit this operation to do that.’

“And there has to be an understanding that going forward it might be something that’s reasonable to consider, but is some cases that’s not going to be technically or economically practicable at all.”

The priorities for mining in dealing with Congress and the Obama Administration identified by Quinn include a focus on getting improvements to the permitting system. “If we’re not allowed to find it, produce it and deliver it, we got a big problem here in the country,” he said.

“If it’s taken seven to 10 years to get permits and our peers are doing it in one to three years, we’re lagging behind and we have the highest standards in place right now,” Quinn asserted. “Canada and Australia, who are constantly trying to improve their systems, they really fully understand what the value is of the resource industries to their entire supply chains and the economies of their countries.

“We certainly need to be thinking about that here in terms of supply chains to the key sectors for our economy because of the manufacturers and technology folks are all looking to have more secure and more simplified supply chains. If we become increasingly reliant on sources that are further away and subject to, not only the unknown, but the unknown unknowns that keeps them up at night.

“When a mining permit takes 10 years in this country to get, it’s not a matter of just hurting the mining industry, that’s hurting manufacturing, that’s hurting energy, that’s hurting technology. It’s not good for anybody,” Quinn stressed.

Strategizing Against Mining Opponents
Over the years, opponents of mining have become increasingly sophisticated in their attacks on mining; “that’s something we’re always thinking about and anticipate,” Quinn acknowledged. “You can see it at various levels where they’ll go after the key pieces of the upstream aspects of our business on our exploration and mining side and then downstream to the beneficiation and refining side, and even, at times, looking at initiatives that are going to affect the markets for the products.”

“The requirements to address all these things effectively require more resources and it’s a little bit difficult at times because we got to figure out what our core competencies are and then what we need to execute on those core competencies,” he explained. “So there’s some things that you’re just not going to be able to spend as much time on because you can try to do everything and do it mediocre, or you try to do the most important things and do them well and do them successfully and that’s always a day-to-day challenge.”

Quinn’s Goals for NMA
When asked to define his goals for NMA, Quinn responded, “The goals are to continue to craft a very positive policy environment so the industry can not only remain competitive, but be successful—that helps the rest of the country succeed.

“We constantly look (at) each year and throughout the year (we ask ourselves) what are the major priorities in terms of policy issues that are going to impede our meeting that objective of allowing the industry to perform to its full potential and then what are enabling policies that will improve the situation,” he explained. “There are ones that are going to be half the battle because they’re going to hurt us.

“It could be the Clean Water Act permitting system and the changes or policies. It could be the Clean Air Act. It could be the RCRA, how they deal with solid waste,” he noted.

“The other side is: What are the things out there that have been neglected that we need to bring up front and say, ‘This is something that our country has not paid enough attention to, and that, in my mind, would be the permitting system’.

“We have a world-class resource base, but we’re being shackled by a worst-in-class permitting system,” Quinn declared. “There’s no reason for that, particularly as we see our peers continually improve their process. Our message is nobody should ever confuse the length of the process with the quality of the review or the thoroughness of the review. They’re not necessarily related at all and we need to bring some accountability into the system.

“There are policies that we want to advance that I call ‘enabling in nature’, to improve the situation and there are other areas we’re in, particularly in this administration’s aggressive regulatory agenda, where we’re trying to hold off or derail or shape what we call ‘disabling policies’; those that will harm our competitive position and our ability to do business, and at the same time do not really offer any material improvement in public benefits, whether it’s environment or otherwise,” he stressed.

“One of our consistent values is safety. …CORESafety is a management system,” Quinn stressed. “CORESafety is based on risk assessment: anticipating where the risks will be and marshalling the resources to address them adequately, so it’s all about preventing and we continue to push that. Our membership has embraced that.

“It’s completely available to the entire industry. Our goal is 0:50:5, zero fatalities and a 50% reduction in injuries within five years,” said Quinn. “We’re seeing improvement. It’s not solely because of CORESafety, but we think CORESafety, when the leadership of our industry brought that forward, it provided a very valuable tool and pathway for the industry as a whole on the journey to zero harm.”

“We developed a curriculum for safety that we believe is more contemporary; it’s not just about ‘let’s study the mine safety law’. It’s more about ‘here’s the tools you use to sustain continuous improvement in safety’,” he noted. “Our view is ‘how well you want to run your business starts with how well you protect your people.’”

Mining sector must dig deep to find profitability

PwC’s mining report, SA Mine 2014, reveals that there is still value in South Africa’s mining industry despite significant decreases in profitability, declining market capitalisation and regulatory uncertainty.

Released on Tuesday, the report explains how the industry had not only been plagued by labour unrest locally but also faced challenges, like rising cost pressures and lower prices, which had a global impact.

Of the three main revenue generating commodities in South Africa, the report cites gold as the only commodity to have gained in real-rand price terms over the last ten years. But, even so, gold has dropped by nearly 50% since its ten-year high in 2011. Platinum, in comparison, has fallen to its lowest real price in the last decade, with a 68% decline on its highest price in 2008 and a 40% decrease since its 2011 highs. Coal has dropped 52% from its 2011 high.

While a weakened rand has somewhat shielded the mining industry from these declines over the past year, with rand prices remaining flat, it will not have a positive impact in the long term as it is inflationary.

Mining

It is under these conditions, along with increasing costs and regulatory issues (arising from the new mining charter and mining tax regime, which is currently under review, for instance), that South African mining companies have to dig deep to find ways to be profitable.

“When you’re facing double-digit increases in your electricity prices every year, and when labour costs – considering that our industry is still significantly labour intensive – continue to increase it creates a challenging environment,” said PwC energy and mining assurance partner Dion Shango at the report’s launch. “That’s why it is tough [for mining companies] to maintain or improve margins at the moment.”

The numbers
The report, which is based on the financial results of 37 companies (with a market captialisation of over R200 million that have a primary listing on the JSE), shows that while the declining trend in market capitalisation temporarily halted – increasing marginally from R597 billion to R675 billion as at June 30 2014) – market capitalisation fell by 19% in the next quarter to R545 billion as at September 30 2014.

Combined Income statement of Surveyed Companies

*Numbers does not reflect impact of the strike for Amplats and Lonmin. Comparatives includes their 2012 strike

Nevertheless, companies managed to maintain relatively strong balance sheets, with stable liquidity. Revenue increased by R36 billion last year, with the top 10 companies accounting for 81% (R29 billion) of the revenue increase. And operating expenses increased by 14%, which is lower than the 16% seen in the previous financial year. It is noteworthy, however, that the full impact of the five-month strike on the platinum belt, which ended in June, has not been included in the reported results analysed in the survey, except for that of Impala Platinum.

“Gearing for local companies is sitting at around 13% whereas for global companies it’s about 28%. Only five companies in our survey had a gearing ratio above 28%,” said Andries Rossouw, who is also a PwC energy and mining assurance partner.

However, net profit reduced by 80% from R27 billion to R6 billion, despite an EBITDA improvement of 9% last year. This was due to the substantial impairment charges, which were up 137.8% over the prior year at R49 billion.

Mining

“EBTDA margins should be in excess of 35% in order to cover capital expenditure for the future. The platinum sector is well below that and would have had to borrow to fund their capex,” said Rossouw, adding that most companies that had impairments were outside of South Africa.

It is no surprise then that many of the companies in the survey had to increase their gearing in order to fund sustaining capital expenditure and, in some instances, operating losses. This was evidenced by a net borrowing outflow of R23 billion after an inflow in the prior year of R29 billion.

On the bright side, the report showed that safety remains a key priority for mining companies with a substantial decrease in fatalities and lost time injuries over the last ten years.

The report also showed that mining is still a valuable sector to the country and its people, showing an 11% increase in value created for all its stakeholders from R129 billion to R14 billion. It should be noted, however, that only a third of the companies surveyed – accounting for 77% of the total revenue of all companies analysed – provided readily available value added statements.

Most notable of these is that distributions to shareholders decreased by 7 percentage points from R29 billion to R19 billion, further pointing towards limited scope for short-term returns to investors as companies reinvest funds in the form of acquisitions and capital acquisitions. Investors looking for short-terms returns will therefore shy away from the mining sector and therein lies the problem faced by company boards that need to make decisions regarding the best strategy for remaining profitability in the trying times.

Mining

“There are differing views out there as to whether this low commodity price environment is the perfect time to invest, or whether management and boards out there should be holding back somewhat to (wait for a couple more years) to so see whether there is going to be further losses or high costs to be incurred by mining companies,” said PwC’s Shango.

Other key findings from the report

  • The low platinum basket price is unsustainable with South Africa accounting for more than 70% of global supply. At current price levels, a number of operations are marginal
  • Coal retains its positions as the leading South African commodity, representing 29% of mining revenue for the year, compared to 28% in the prior year. Gold decreased from 20% to 14% despite stable production.
  • The high percentage of value received by employees is not sustainable and is expected to move back to a longer-term average of 30% through either a return to profitability or, if that is not possible, through a decrease in the number of employees.
  • The mining industry currently exceeds the minimum empowerment levels of board representation required by the mining charter, with 41% of board members being Historically Disadvantaged South Africans (HDSA) (down from 43% percent in the prior period), and 18% being females (up from 17% in the prior period). The mining charter requires a minimum of 40% HDSA and 10% female representation respectively, by December 2014.

Two Palestinians and an international activist arrested at Kufr Qaddum demonstration

Around 150 Palestinians, together with Israeli and international activists, participated in Kufr Qaddoum’s weekly demonstration against the closure of the road leading to Nablus.

After midday prayers, protesters marched from the center of the village up the main road, but they were soon blocked by Israeli border police who threw stun grenades at the crowd. Clashes ensued for half an hour, after which Israeli forces retreated. Soon after, border police agents suddenly reappeared at the scene and, whilst throwing stun grenades, arrested two Palestinians and one international activist. The Palestinians were beaten up causing nose bleeding, whilst the international activist was punch in his face twice. The three of them were blindfolded and taken to Ariel Police Station.

Two Palestinians and an international activist arrested at Kufr Qaddum demonstration

The demonstration ended at around 14:30h when protesters marched down back to the village.

Kufr Qaddum, a small town of 3,500 inhabitants, is situated in the northern West Bank, between Nablus and Qalqiliya. Kufr Qaddum’s total land area used to consist of nearly 19,000 dunams, of which 11,000 are now under total Israeli control. Village’s lands have been repeatedly confiscated to build and expand the settlement of Qedumim. Furthermore, the village has been effectively besieged since the beginning of the Second Intifada, when the main and only entrance to the village was blocked by the army. The main road has been, since then, closed, forcing residents to travel around an extra 15 km to get to Nablus.

Two Palestinians and an international activist arrested at Kufr Qaddum demonstration

Since 2011, residents of Kufr Qaddum have been resisting the land grab and the road closure by holding weekly demonstrations. The Israeli army often violently suppresses the protests shooting tear gas canisters and stun grenades.

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