Archive | Mining Conflict and Opposition

Column: Resource-driven treaties often botched – by Tom Villemaire (Sudbury Star – August 22, 2017)

A copper strike in northeastern Ontario is one such example

In the late 1840s, the near north Ontario experienced a copper mining boom, but it didn’t come without problems.

The use of copper was exploding, thanks to the nascent industries of hydro-electric power and telegraphy, both of which drove demand for copper through the roof. This all came together in the 1830s — in 1831, Michael Faraday created an electric generator and in 1832 Pavel Schilling came up with the earliest working version of an electrical telegraph.

All this was taking place in Europe, but the technology — and the demand for copper — would soon affect the world, including the remote areas of what would become the province of Ontario. Continue Reading →

Canadian bishops call out their country’s mining companies for destructive practices abroad – by Dean Dettloff (America: The Jesuit Review – August 15, 2017)

Canadian mining companies with operations abroad need to be more heavily regulated at home, says a recent letter from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (C.C.C.B.) addressed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“We, as Canadians, are among the privileged,” the letter says. “We cannot remain indifferent to the cry of the poor or to the repercussions of environmental degradation on our common home. We cannot accept the unethical way Canadian mining companies have been operating in Latin America or other regions of the world, taking the absence of effective regulatory schemes as a reason to shirk their ethical responsibilities.”

Written by Most Rev. Douglas Crosby, O.M.I., the bishop of Hamilton and president of the C.C.C.B., the letter was also sent to Canadian officials Chrystia Freeland, the minister of foreign affairs; James Gordon Carr, the minister of natural resources; and Carolyn Bennett, the minister of indigenous and Northern affairs. Continue Reading →

Artists, hippies, miners — Patagonia divided over hamlet’s economic future – by Lucas Waldron (Arizona Daily Star – August 13, 2017)

Patagonia has one bar, one coffee shop, one gas station. And customers at nearly all of them are divided between those in favor of a new mining project in this tiny southeastern-Arizona town and those against it.

Roughly half of Patagonia’s 900 residents support Arizona Mining Inc., a Canadian company that recently bought land near town for exploratory drilling. The rest oppose the mining company, seeking to preserve the region’s unique rare wildlife and steer the economy away from mineral extraction and toward environmental restoration.

Arizona Mining Inc. has vowed to create an estimated 500 jobs through a mine it plans to have up and running in 2020. In July, the company predicted the mine will extract 10,000 tons of minerals per day and could be viable for eight years. Continue Reading →

B.C. environmental group urges stop to Ajax Mine project over water-safety concerns – by Mike Hager (Globe and Mail – August 14, 2017)

VANCOUVER – An environmental group is asking the local bureaucrat in charge of Kamloops’ drinking water to stop a controversial billion-dollar mining project that could soon be approved by the provincial government.

The University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Centre mailed a letter to the local drinking-water officer Monday alleging previous environmental studies done on the Ajax Mine proposal, owned by the Polish firm KGHM, did not take into account how toxic chemicals from the open-pit copper and gold mine could contaminate surface water to leach into a nearby creek and two aquifers that provide drinking water to more than 100 residents. A Vancouver-based representative of the company was unavailable for comment on Friday.

The province is expected to issue its environmental assessment certificate as early as this fall, but this independent bureaucrat has the power to order the company to stop the project until it properly addresses the risks posed to the local water supply, according to Calvin Sandborn, the legal director of the UVic centre leading the campaign to stop the mine. Continue Reading →

Maliseet leaders to attend mining ministers conference in St. Andrews – by By Matthew Bingley (CBC News New Brunswick – August 14, 2017)

Leaders opposed to proposed Sisson Brook Mine

Indigenous people who are opposed to the Sisson mine project are teaming up with other advocacy groups to try to sway mining ministers at a national conference this week in St. Andrews.

The Energy and Mines Ministers’ Conference will gather mining and energy ministers from every Canadian jurisdiction. The conference is held annually as a means to bolster the industry within the country.

The province is hosting the meeting not long after the controversial Sisson mine received federal environmental approval. Now, a delegation of conservationists, Indigenous leaders, and mining advocates plan on rubbing elbows with those ministers. Continue Reading →

B.C. First Nation to battle Taseko Mines in court – by Wendy Stueck (Globe and Mail – July 31, 2017)

VANCOUVER – The Tsilhqot’in National Government and Taseko Mines Ltd. are scheduled to face off in a Victoria court Monday, marking the latest stage in a long-running battle over a proposed open-pit mine the company wants to build near Fish Lake, also known as Teztan Biny.

The Tsilhqot’in National Government (TNG) will ask the B.C. Supreme Court for an injunction to stop exploration work Taseko wants to do at the site, about 125 kilometres southwest of Williams Lake, B.C. The site lies just outside an area to which the TNG have aboriginal title – as confirmed in a landmark 2014 decision by the Supreme Court of Canada – and within a broader area subject to aboriginal claim.

The standoff between TNG and Taseko sets up a conflict between the provincial and federal governments and a potential headache for the B.C.’s NDP-Green alliance. A permit for exploration work, including drilling test pits and buildings roads, was issued July 14, while B.C.’s former Liberal government was still in office and several Tsilhqot’in communities were under evacuation orders because of raging wildfires. Continue Reading →

First Nations in Victoria court to stop mining permit – by Sarah Petrescu (Victoria Times Colonist – August 1, 2017)

First Nations leaders, elders and community groups gathered on the Victoria courthouse steps Monday morning in support of Tsilhqot’in First Nations chiefs hoping to overturn a drilling permit issued to Taseko Mines in the last days of the B.C. Liberal government.

“We’re here to stop this permit and I think we will,” said Chief Russell Myers Ross from the Yunesit’in First Nation, who was joined by Chief Roger William from the Xeni Gwet’in First Nation.

The Tsilhqot’in are petitioning the Supreme Court for an interlocutory injunction to stop exploratory drilling around Teztan Biny (Fish) Lake, a traditional hunting, fishing, medicine gathering and spiritual region. Continue Reading →

Future of US mining: House minerals subcommittee looking for ideas to foster domestic mining – by Shane Lasley (North of 60 Mining News – July 2017)

U.S. House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources sought input on how to foster a more robust domestic mining sector during a July 20 hearing, “Seeking Innovative Solutions for the Future of Hardrock Mining.”

“Hardrock mining on federal land in the United States has a storied past, a challenging present and multiple needs for reform,” Subcommittee Chairman Paul Gosar, R-Arizona, said. “From rocks to roads, rare earths to green technologies, and iron ore to wind farms, all infrastructure projects rely upon a mining operation.”

While everybody at the hearing agreed that the domestic mining sector is in need of reform, there were vastly different views about what needs to be done. Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-California, ranking member of the subcommittee, made the case for modernizing the Mining Law of 1872, suggesting this law that allows the staking of mining claims on federal lands is outdated. Continue Reading →

Battle brewing over niobium mine bid near James Bay – by Ainslie Cruickshank (Toronto Star – July 30, 2017)

Moose Cree First Nation says protecting lands could help Canada meet climate, UN biodiversity commitments.

A battle is brewing just south of James Bay between Moose Cree First Nation and a resource company that wants to develop the world’s next niobium mine in the heart of its traditional territory.

For now, NioBay Metal Inc. wants a drilling permit to confirm the results of an exploration program undertaken in the 1960s. Down the road, the company has plans to develop an underground mine to produce niobium, a metal that helps make lighter, stronger steel.

NioBay says the mine will cause minimal environmental damage and offers big benefits for Moose Cree, but the First Nation fears otherwise. The proposed mine site sits near the shore of the South Bluff Creek, a culturally significant area for Moose Cree members that borders the North French River Watershed, a region they consider protected. Now, they want the province to protect it too. Continue Reading →

Protesters dig in against Taiwan mining rules – by Chris Horton (Nikkei Asian Review – July 25, 2017)

Aborigines and environmentalists attack Asia Cement rights extension

TAIPEI — Outside a metro station in Taiwan’s capital, musician Nabu Husungan Istanda sits shirtless in his wheelchair, smoking a cigarette while chewing betel nut. The evening traffic zips by, while young Taiwanese of both indigenous and Chinese ancestry laugh and dance arm-in-arm in a circle next to a protest site they are occupying.

Aboriginal Taiwanese and environmental activists have found themselves opposed on other issues, including development and hunting rights, but are fighting together against a mine producing materials for cement in Taroko Gorge, one of the country’s most famous scenic areas.

“We didn’t know any of these young people before, now we’re working together,” said Nabu, an ethnic Bunun. “We’ve become friends.” The new friends were brought together by a 20-year extension of mining rights held by Asia Cement, one of the country’s largest cement producers, in Sincheng Township, Hualien County, at the mouth of Taroko National Park. Continue Reading →

Hostile climate for miners means companies need to ‘think big’ – by Jon Yeomans (The Telegraph – July 9, 2017)

Who’d have sympathy for a mining company? Miners’ track records in the environment, in helping the communities upon which they depend, and in making money for shareholders have been poor, sometimes disastrous, for years.

So few people will shed tears for the mining companies that are currently getting it in the neck left, right and centre. From Africa to the Far East, governments are on the march – and the miners are in retreat.

Earlier this year the Philippines shut half its mines in one fell swoop, blaming environmental violations. In Indonesia, US giant Freeport is battling to hold on to its Grasberg copper mine. In South Africa, a punitive new mining charter could drive through strict new ‘black empowerment’ targets for miners and freeze foreign investment in the process. Continue Reading →

Why a B.C. court is hearing a Guatemala mining case – by Hayley Woodin (Business Vancouver – June 27, 2017)

Three years of legal wrangling lands Tahoe Resources lawsuit back in BC Supreme Court

It took three years and three courts to determine where to sue Tahoe Resources Inc. (TSX:THO; NYSE:TAHO) for battery and negligence. The original lawsuit – a response to a violent altercation at a Tahoe subsidiary’s Guatemalan mine site – was filed in June 2014, then set aside, as lawyers on both sides of the case argued whether British Columbia or Guatemala was the more appropriate forum for the suit.

In 2015, the Supreme Court of British Columbia ruled it was the latter; earlier this year, the BC Court of Appeal decided it was the former. Most recently, Tahoe applied for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada. The court’s decision not to hear the case means the lawsuit will proceed in British Columbia.

“We’re of course disappointed that the Supreme Court took a pass,” said Edie Hofmeister, vice-president of corporate affairs and general counsel at Tahoe. “We’re kind of at Square 1 here, really.” Square 1 meaning Tahoe will now respond to the original notice of claim filed three years ago, though with one notable difference: three of the seven plaintiffs who first filed the suit settled with the company in April. Continue Reading →

Grand Canyon is our home. Uranium mining has no place here – by Carletta Tilousi (The Guardian – June 26, 2017)

Carletta Tilousi is a member of the Havasupai tribal council.

The Havasupai – “people of the blue-green waters” – live in Supai Village, located at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Today our lives and water are being threatened by international uranium mining companies because the US government and its 1872 mining law permit uranium mining on federal lands that surround the Grand Canyon.

In 1986, the Kaibab national forest authorized a Canadian-based uranium company to open Canyon mine, a uranium mine near the south rim of Grand Canyon national park. The Havasupai tribe challenged the decision but lost in the ninth circuit court of appeals. Miners were just starting to drill Canyon mine’s shaft in 1991 when falling uranium prices caused the company to shut it down for more than two decades.

Havasupai ancestors share stories of the sacredness of the Grand Canyon and all the mountains that surround it. They have instructed us to protect the waters and the mountains from any environmental contamination. That’s why we stand firm against any uranium mining in the Grand Canyon region. Continue Reading →

Battle escalates over mining moratorium near BWCAW – by John Myers (Duluth News Tribune – June 2, 2017)

Conservation, hunting and angling groups are battling back against U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan’s effort to undo a moratorium on mining on federal land near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

Groups such as the Izaak Walton League of America and Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters kickstarted a campaign this week for supporters to call Nolan’s offices and tell the Democrat from Crosby to leave the two-year mining ban and a proposed environmental review in place.

On Thursday, Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters ratcheted up the debate by purchasing a full-page ad in the News Tribune. They’ve also scheduled a noon rally Friday in front of Nolan’s Duluth office. Continue Reading →

After Rainforest Victory for Brazil’s Environmentalists, a Mining Battle Looms – by R.T. Watson (Bloomberg News – June 21, 2017)

Opponents of unbridled development of Brazil’s Amazon region scored a victory this week when environmentalists fronted by supermodel Gisele Bundchen persuaded President Michel Temer to veto legislation that would have removed protections on more than 1 million acres. A battle over Amazon land about 300 times that size may be looming.

The mining ministry has proposed legislation that would end a nearly 40-year ban on foreign-owned mining companies operating on land near the roughly 16,000-kilometer (10,000-mile) border. The zone, which extends about 150 kilometers inland, accounts for 27 percent of Brazil’s national territory, according to the mining ministry.

Because most of Brazil’s western border also incorporates parts of the world’s largest rainforest, the amount of Amazon biome in the border zone would total more than 1.7 million square kilometers, an area about the size of Alaska, or more than twice the size of Texas. Continue Reading →