Inside the world’s oldest gem market in Pakistan, home to terrorist financiers and drug smugglers
“Twenty-thousand dollars.” That’s how much Jalil says the blood-red ruby he is holding is worth. “It’s not my best,” says the 47-year-old gem trader. “My best pieces I only show to people holding a bag of cash.” A hush descends over the small group of men huddled around a lamp in Jalil’s shop.
The ruby, three near-flawless carats, glimmers with a surreal clarity. Other gemstones lie scattered on crisp white sheets of paper—sapphires from Kashmir, emeralds from Afghanistan’s Panjshir Valley, citrine and aquamarine—making the dark, windowless office feel like a cave of treasures. Read the rest of this entry »
The UN Human Rights Committee is shaming Canada for its human rights record, which hasn’t improved much in the last decade.
On Thursday, the committee released its first review of Canada in 10 years — and the first ever under Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The findings claim that the government has failed on a host of issues ranging from missing and murdered Aboriginal women, its treatment of refugees, to its overly broad anti-terror legislation, Bill C-51.
The seven-page report comes after more than 26 human rights organizations submitted their concerns about Canada and provided testimony in front of the 18-person committee in Geneva earlier this month. The committee calls on the federal government to launch a national inquiry into the missing and murdered women, while making note of “persisting inequalities between men and women” in Canada, and asking the government to consider overturning Bill C-51.
The report is quick to point out that Canada has failed to create a way for its recommendations to be carried out at all. “The Committee regrets the lack of an appropriate mechanism in the State party to implement views of the committee,” it says. Read the rest of this entry »
If you thought Shenhua and Adani had raised hackles with their plans to develop new coal mines in controversial parts of Australia, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
In a move likely to enrage environmental campaigners, BHP Billiton quietly flagged on Wednesday that it would soon start production of coal at the Haju mine in Indonesian Borneo. Haju will initially produce about 1 million tonnes of coal a year, which is pretty small compared to the coal mines BHP already operates in Queensland.
But Haju could be the start of a much larger coal project for BHP in Indonesian Borneo known as IndoMet, which is believed to have potential to produce around 5 million tonnes of coal per year, if it is ever fully developed.
That remains a big “if” given the depressed prices for coal, but Wednesday’s confirmation that first production will begin within 12 months will be a blow to environmental campaigners who have lobbied BHP and its joint venture partner Adaro Energy for the best part of a decade to abandon the project. Read the rest of this entry »
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday (July 17th) sent a message to the organizers and participants of a Vatican meeting that is looking at the often highly negative impact of mining operations on local communities. Organized by the Pontifical Council for Justice and peace, the 3-day meeting is being attended by representatives from communities impacted by mining operations across the world.
In his message sent to the Council’s President, Cardinal Peter Turkson, the Pope spoke of the cry for justice coming from these communities for their lost lands, the violence, threats, corruption, the trampled human rights, the dire working conditions, and sometimes the slavery and human trafficking as well as the pollution of water, air and soil.
The Pope urged the entire mining sector to carry out a radical paradigm shift to improve the situation in many countries. He said all parties needed to adopt a behaviour that is inspired by the fact that we make up one human family and engage in a sincere and respectful dialogue to deal with this crisis.
A press conference was held in the Vatican earlier on Friday to illustrate the theme of this meeting on the impact of mining operations which is “United with God listen to the cry.” Read the rest of this entry »
System used to treat water from tailings after the mine closes is unreliable and untested: report
A Sisson mine cost review commissioned by the provincial government goes a step beyond looking at the numbers, pointing out that the system proposed to treat tailings water after the open-pit mine shuts down is “known to fail.”
Engineering firm Amec Foster Wheeler was hired by the Department of Energy and Mines to review the costs for water treatment and restoring the tungsten and molybdenum mine after it closes.
But the company’s report, which was obtained by CBC News through the Right to Information Act, also said “there are some concerns regarding design of the post-closure water treatment process.”
“Curtain systems in pit lakes have been known to fail, especially in freeze-thaw,” the report from April 2015 said. “Therefore the idea of a floating baffle curtain wall may not be feasible.” Read the rest of this entry »
Peruvian police razed dozens of illegal gold mining camps at the edge of an Amazonian nature reserve this week, part of a renewed bid to halt the spread of wildcatting in a remote rainforest region.
The stings at the edge of the Tambopata National Reserve were the first in the southeastern region of Madre de Dios since a crackdown let up in December.
Another six operations planned for the rest of the year – about the same pace as in 2014 – could sap a fledgling rebound in gold output from Peru, the world’s fifth biggest producer and exporter.
Production from wildcat miners in Madre de Dios, who sell their ore up the supply chain, made up about 10 percent of national production before President Ollanta Humala launched the harshest crackdown yet on illegal gold mining last year.
In a two-day operation that ended late Tuesday, police burned down more than 50 mining camps, detained six people on suspicions of human trafficking, and blew up dozens of motors that power makeshift dredges in alluvial mining pits. Read the rest of this entry »
The riches that lie buried beneath the soil, the bounty of the oceans and our countless other resources are a blessing and a curse. Throughout history there have been powers eager to grab as much as they can while giving back as little as possible. In recent times the tensions in the mining industry exploded into the Marikana tragedy. Next week at the Durban Film Festival a documentary that is making waves internationally brings it down to a standoff between two cousins and the titanium of the pristine Wild Coast.
Two cousins, one proposed mining project on tribal land and a battle of epic proportions. That’s the story of The Shore Break, a landmark film by Producers Ryley Grunenwald and Odette Geldenhuys.
In the Amadiba area, on South Africa’s stunning Wild Coast, the Pondo people have tended their traditional way of life for centuries. Nonhle, a young local eco-tour guide, is a staunch supporter of her people and the endangered environment on which their livelihood and culture depend. Read the rest of this entry »
LAUNCESTON, Australia, July 14 (Reuters) – A planned Chinese-owned coal mine in Australia has become the latest example in a long line of mud-slinging trumping sensible debate.
While it makes for great headlines, there are few things less edifying than seeing politicians, business and community leaders flinging gratuitous insults at each other.
The stoush is over the Australian federal government’s approval of a A$1 billion ($746 million) coal mine being developed by China Shenhua Energy Co in the Liverpool Plains region of New South Wales state.
It would be something of an understatement to say the 10-million tonne a year project has been controversial, with its approval showing splits in the ruling Liberal National coalition, while prompting threats of civil disobedience from farmers and legal action from a variety of opponents.
The main issue is that the proposed mine, known as Watermark, is in prime agricultural land and there is concern that not only will it take up land that could be used for farming, but also that the mine will deplete or degrade the region’s underground water table. Read the rest of this entry »
Taku Tlingit reinforce cultural ties to land in discussion on transboundary mines
Lillian Petershoare’s family fishes the Taku River and has done so for decades. A new generation is now learning the tradition. John Morris “grew up on the Taku until I was 15 years old; I knew no other place.”
Barbara Cadiente-Nelson read a passage by Elizabeth Nyman: “This river, this watershed … know who you are and, if you permit it, it will tell you.”
Tlingit men and women whose lineage can be traced to the Taku River area spoke on their connection to the water and the land during a daylong boat trip down the Taku River on Sunday. The cruise was organized by the Douglas Indian Association.
The trip was meant to “put us on the same boat” — drawing a link between Tlingit connection to the land and the need for mainstream awareness and protection of its resources, said the DIA’s Morris, addressing the diverse group of passengers on the catamaran. Read the rest of this entry »
Almost one year after an unprecedented spill from a mine tailings pond in Canada’s largely pristine province of British Columbia, its government has given the green light for the mine to reopen — worrying environmentalists who say a number of other northern B.C. copper and gold mines are in various phases of approval, and could threaten downstream fishing communities in southeastern Alaska.
The provincial government on Thursday approved a restart of Imperial Metal’s Mount Polley mine, which has been closed since its waste dam failed last August and released 6.6 billion gallons of toxic tailings including arsenic, lead and nickel into salmon-producing lakes and streams of the Fraser River watershed.
Residents of southeastern Alaska, many of whom depend on fishing and tourism for their livelihoods, expressed concern at the announcement.
“The British Columbia and Canadian governments seem to be glossing over the Mount Polley disaster by ignoring recommendations of mining experts who studied the dam failure and warned that the province should stop allowing the same risky tailings dam technology,” said an emailed statement from Heather Hardcastle, a commercial fisherman from Juneau, Alaska, and campaign coordinator for Salmon Beyond Borders. Read the rest of this entry »
Two British Canadian ministries announced Thursday that they are allowing Imperial Metals Corporation to re-open Mount Polley mine after last August’s tailings dam failure, which released billions of gallons of toxic tailings and contaminated water into the Quesnel Lake watershed. Southeast Alaskans concerned about Canada’s mining boom decried the move, saying the authorization ignores detailed recommendations of an independent review panel whose report was released earlier this year.
This is the first of three steps Mount Polley will need to begin operating as it did this time last year, said Minister of Energy and Mines Bill Bennett and Minister of Environment Mary Polak in a press release. They’ve granted the company the ability to begin conditional operations; it will not be able to release water from the site.
“In the early fall, the company will need a second conditional permit to treat and discharge water in order for operations to continue. Lastly, the company must submit a long-term water treatment and discharge plan to government by June 30, 2016. The mine will not be authorized to continue to operate long-term if it fails to complete either of the last two steps,” Bennett said in the press release. Read the rest of this entry »
Malena Marvin is the Executive Director of Southeast Alaska Conservation Council.
Walk up to most houses in rural Southeast Alaska, including ours, and the first thing you see is an impossibly long row of battered XtraTuf rubber boots. There are boots for the family, the friends who stopped by to chat, extras for the summer folks who came to visit or work as crew, and probably a pair or two with mysterious origins. Together, they tell a story of a certain way of life, one lived by the tidelines and on the water, and one defined by adventure and hard work outdoors.
Wrangellite or Skagwegian, Republican or Democrat, Native or newcomer, our families are diverse. But our family values in this place do have a few common elements. Jars full of berries and fish are the obvious one. A commitment to taking care of friends and neighbors is another. I also look across the islands and fjords of our region and see that few of us are more than one degree of separation from a family whose livelihood depends on fishing or tourism dollars.
It’s in reverence to our unique way of life, to these things that unify us, that today I’m asking Gov. Bill Walker to work harder for clean water, and to walk his talk about putting Alaska’s fish first when it comes to policy. Read the rest of this entry »
In Russia’s fertile Black Earth region, eco-activists struggle to protect their communities from a state-backed nickel-mining project.
NOVOHOPYORSK, Russia — It’s almost midnight when I arrive in the town of Novokhopyorsk, located deep in the bucolic heart of central Russia’s Black Earth region, so-called for its famously fertile soil. The curtains in a nearby home twitch as I step out of the car — late-night visitors are a rare sight in the rural community.
Surrounded by lush countryside and rolling fields, Novokhopyorsk, population 6,380, has become the unlikely setting of what is arguably modern Russia’s most stubborn protest movement.
The Kremlin may have quashed the mainly middle-class political demonstrations that rocked Moscow in 2011 and 2012, but environmental issues are stirring dissent in Russia’s heartland, creating new problems for the authorities as the war in Ukraine rumbles on and economic instability rises. Read the rest of this entry »
ASSOCIATED PRESS – SUPERIOR, Ariz. — Outside of an aging mining town in the mountains east of Phoenix, a copper company has burrowed a shaft 1.3 miles into the high desert landscape in what is believed to be the deepest such mine in the U.S.
Resolution Copper Mining says the mine will usher in a new era of prosperity for Arizona, bringing in the equivalent of roughly a $1 billion worth of revenue annually for about 60 years in a state still trying to emerge from the housing bust.
The mine also will use approximately 18,000 acre feet of water annually, enough to supply about 40,000 homes. And it will claim nearly 5-square miles on the edge of nearby Superior to store mining waste that can be toxic.
The plan has angered conservationists, residents and Native American tribes who argue the mine will cause irreparable harm to land coveted for its beauty, biodiversity and sanctity.
Tribes say the project could destroy part of a historic ridge where dozens of Apache warriors leapt to their deaths to avoid surrendering to U.S. Calvary during western expansion. Read the rest of this entry »
Mine is owned by same company that operates Mount Polley
A gold and copper mine in northwestern B.C. that still faces angry opposition from its neighbours in Alaska has received approval for a full operating permit from the provincial government.
B.C. Minister of Energy and Mines Bill Bennett announced Friday that the Red Chris Mine, owned by Imperial Metals, will soon be in full production, despite environmental concerns from First Nations, environmental groups and Alaskans, who are downstream from the mine site.
Those worries were magnified last summer, when a tailings pond collapsed at the Mount Polley mine, another Imperial Metals-owned mine in interior B.C.
Bennett said he’s confident the Red Chris Mine, located about 130 kilometres from the Alaska border, won’t experience a similar breach because the tailings storage facility has undergone three independent reviews.
He noted the mine has operated successfully for months on a temporary permit while officials monitored the facility. Read the rest of this entry »