SEATTLE — Microsoft is “very bullish” on Vancouver and is lobbying the federal and provincial governments to make increased investments in what it sees as a city with a bright future as a technology hub, the company’s president said Tuesday.“We have made clear that we think of Vancouver as a second home,” Microsoft president Brad Smith said in an interview at the Cascadia Innovation Corridor Conference in Seattle.“We’re growing and I would hope that we’d have continuing opportunities to grow in Vancouver.”The Washington-based technology company anticipates growing beyond the 750 jobs it initially expected to create in Vancouver when it opened its Microsoft Canada Excellence Centre in June 2016, he said.The centre, now known as Microsoft Canada, currently employs 800 workers across product development, sales and marketing, and retail and office work, said a spokesman.Smith said he sees continuing opportunities to grow in the city and doesn’t see a cap to the number of jobs the company could create there.He stopped short of saying the company could open a second headquarters in the city, but said “it makes sense” for Vancouver to set it sights on wooing Seattle-based tech giant Amazon.com Inc. to open its proposed second headquarters there.The ecommerce giant announced this month that it is seeking to build a second headquarters in North America. Expected to be equal to its Seattle campus, the new headquarters would likely require a US$5 billion investment in construction and up to 50,000 jobs, the company said.Smith said only Amazon knows what location will work for its company, but stressed that Vancouver “is a great home for technology and technology companies.”The Microsoft president is one of the biggest proponents of the Cascadia Innovation Corridor — an agreement signed by B.C. and Washington state nearly one year ago to grow high-tech industries and strengthen collaboration across the region.In May, Microsoft hosted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the Microsoft CEO Summit and raised the issue of making an innovation supercluster within Vancouver and B.C.The federal government is committing $950 million to a supercluster program that will give funding to up to five industry-led consortia in a wide variety of sectors, including clean technology, and health and biosciences.“I think the reaction from the Ottawa delegation was that they hadn’t expected to travel to Seattle and hear a pitch that was basically sounding like it was coming from the British Columbia Chamber of Commerce,” Smith said.He’s also pushing for Canada to help ease transportation between Seattle and Vancouver, hoping regular seaplane service will begin between the two cities next year.“Frankly there was little reason not to have it in place this year,” he said. “I think it’s not unreasonable to say we need to move faster in getting that done.”Longer-term, he wants to see a high-speed rail system between Vancouver and Seattle. Washington state has budgeted funds for a feasibility study and Microsoft has donated US$50,000 toward the study.“We’re hopeful that there will now be some participation in that on the B.C. and Canadian side of the border.”Follow @AleksSagan on Twitter.
Latest issue of International Mining Project News available (October 23): With the US dollar weakening and the gold price climbing ever higher, many mining companies are making decisive moves on the road to production. This is evident in Project News, with 15 gold projects in the prefeasibility stage and 12 in feasibility. Further along the development line, there is news of Barrick Gold buying Xstrata’s 70% interest in the El Morro gold-copper project, located in the Atacama Region of Chile. The project has total Measured and Indicated resources of around 8.3 Moz of gold and 6,300 MIb of copper. Also, Mwana Africa has poured its first gold, following completion of Phase 1 of its refurbishment program, at the Freda Rebecca mine in Zimbabwe. Away from gold, Vale has signed an investment agreement with the state of Minas Gerais in Brazil, in order to expand its iron ore production capacity in the state. It has also set out an investment budget for 2010, involving capital expenditures of $12.9 billion for sustaining its existing global operations, and to foster growth through research and development and project execution. In Mexico, Goldcorp’s new Peñasquito mine has produced its first lead and zinc concentrates. Throughout its mine life Peñasquito will produce both lead and zinc concentrates, with most of the gold and silver production coming from the lead concentrates. All components of the operation – from the mine to the crusher, to the grinding mills, flotation cells, concentrate filters and on to the tailings facilities – have now been operated and commissioned, and initial ramp-up is proceeding as expected. Overall, progress at the mine remains on track for completion of commissioning for the Line 1 processing circuit by year-end. Mwana Africa’s first gold pour in Phase 1 – 180 oz – is part of production that is forecast to increase to 30,000 oz/y of gold by the end of 2009. Planning for Phase 2, which is expected to increase output to in excess of 50,000 oz/y, is well advanced.In British Columbia, Canada, Terrane Metals has the results of the feasibility update study for its 100%-owned Mt. Milligan copper-gold project. The 2009 study was prepared by Wardrop to update a 2008 study to construct a 60,000 t/d copper flotation process plant and open-pit mine at Mt. Milligan. The study is a key component of a 14 month – $21.5 million Modified Project Execution Plan to advance the project through the completion of key pre-construction-related activities.Back to the Vale news, the company says that the investment plan continues to reflect its focus on organic growth for its strategy: 76.6% of the budget is allocated to finance R&D and greenfield and brownfield project execution against an average of 71.1% over the last five years. Given its existing assets and those which will come on stream in the near future, Vale expects to maintain production growing at a brisk pace. This capex budget represents an increase of 29.3% over the $10 billion invested in the last year ended at June 30, 2009.Although iron ore and nickel will continue to be the company’s main businesses, it plans to boost the production capacity of copper, coal and fertilizers, creating a more diversified portfolio of worldclass assets. Given the current project pipeline, it expects to reach the following production flows in 2014: 450 Mt of iron ore, 380,000 t of nickel, 650,000 t of copper, 30 Mt of coal, 3.1 Mt of potash and 6.6 Mt of phosphate rock. To enhance the competitiveness of its operations, it will continue to invest a sizeable amount of funds in its railroads, maritime terminals, shipping and power generation.To receive the full 40+ page report, subscriptions to this service can be registered and paid for on-line (SUBSCRIBE TO IM PROJECT NEWS BUTTON), or contact email@example.com for a free trial copy.