27th May 2015

Industry Warns Copper Boom at Risk – by John Quigley (Bloomberg News – May 26, 2015)


Peru tightened security and closed schools in the country’s south as unions began a 48-hour protest as part of the biggest wave of mining opposition in three years.

A contingent of riot police guarded the main square of Arequipa, the biggest southern city, and shop windows were partially shuttered, Radio Programas reported. Police and army officers patrolled the Tambo Valley, the site of Southern Copper Corp.’s Tia Maria copper project.

Peru’s goal of becoming a copper powerhouse is being threatened by violent protests against Tia Maria in the past two months, according to Carlos Galvez, president of Peru’s National Society of Mining, Petroleum and Energy. The upheaval could reduce mining investment to “very close to zero” by 2018, down from a record $9.7 billion in 2013, unless the government defends new projects, he said in an interview in Lima Tuesday.

Peru, the world’s third-biggest copper producer, is poised to increase output of the metal 73 percent in the next three years on new capacity from Freeport-McMoRan Inc. and MMG Ltd. Investment needed to sustain the expansion is on hold because of protests by local groups opposed to mining, Galvez said. Read the rest of this entry »

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27th May 2015

Kidnappings highlight security risks for miners (Northern Miner – May 26, 2015)

The Northern Miner, first published in 1915, during the Cobalt Silver Rush, is considered Canada’s leading authority on the mining industry.

In the first four months of this year alone, kidnapping incidents have touched Torex Gold Resources (TSX: TGX) and Goldcorp (TSX: G; NYSE: GG) in Mexico’s Guerrero state, and Pan African Minerals’ Tambao manganese mine in Burkina Faso.

The headlines have been alarming for mining companies and for investors, especially since many kidnapping incidents are unreported.

“For every incident that you see in the press, there are numerous that never make it to the light of day,” says Chris Arehart, global product manager for kidnap and ransom and crime insurance at Chubb Insurance Group.

Mining companies are uniquely exposed to kidnapping risks because they often operate in remote areas, in countries with low political stability, and attract attention by bringing in big equipment and hiring a lot of locals.

The risks vary from country to country and even from region to region within countries. But kidnappings are much more common in countries with low political stability, where law enforcement is corrupt, inept, ill-trained or underfunded, and where the judicial system may also be corrupt, and laws not as stringent. Read the rest of this entry »

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26th May 2015

How the violence at Southern Copper’s Tia Maria mining project could have been avoided – by Robert Spence (Mining Global – May 25, 2015)


The government of Peru declared a state of emergency on Saturday, calling in national police and armed forces to maintain order as protests at the Tia Maria copper project turned violent.

According to CNN, one protester appeared to be dead from wounds to the head as others battled with police who lobbed tear gas at them.

The announcement follows almost two months of increasingly violent protests against the $1.4 billion copper mining project as oppositions fear the mine will pollute the environment and do very little for the local economy.

“We don’t want the mine,” said Enrique Torres Alvarez, an 85-year-old farmer attending a rally in Cocachacra’s main square. “It will ruin our land, and that will be the end of the farming.”

Development of Tia Maria, which is owned by Southern Copper, a subsidiary of Grupo Mexico, has been suspended since 2011 due to protests.

Earlier this month, Southern Copper CEO Oscar Gonzalez Rocha asked for all parties involved to “present their concerns and fears, identify solutions … and define the responsibilities that all must assume in a reasonable timeframe.” Read the rest of this entry »

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25th May 2015

Peru Declares 2-Month Martial Law in Area of Disputed Copper Mine – by Robert Kozak (Wall Street Journal – May 23, 2015)


Residents have protested Southern Copper’s plans to set up Tia Maria mine

LIMA, Peru—The government of President Ollanta Humala on Saturday started a two-month period of martial law in the southern state of Arequipa, where local residents are protesting against a plan by Southern Copper Corp. to set up a copper mine known as Tia Maria.

Under the state of emergency, police can enter houses without search warrants, while meetings and marches can be broken up, as the government aims to end almost two months of often-violent protests in the region about 650 miles south of Lima.

Local residents have blocked roads and clashed with police since late March, saying the $1.4 billion Tia Maria project will contaminate water and the air. The government last year approved the company’s environmental study, and the company says it can operate a clean mine.

“In line with what is established in the constitution and the decree declaring a state of emergency, the national police with the backing of the armed forces will be charged with maintaining public order,” Prime Minister Pedro Cateriano said late Friday.

Jose Ramos Carrera, mayor of the municipality of Punta de Bombón, said many local residents will continue to oppose the Tia Maria project. Read the rest of this entry »

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25th May 2015

Nickel Mine, Lead Bullets: Maya Q’eqchi’ seek justice in Guatemala and Canada – by Sandra Cuffe (Mongabay.com – May 19, 2015)


German Chub faces the judge as he responds calmly and evenly to question after question during cross-examination. He uses his arms to lift himself up and shift a little in his wheelchair. Other young Maya Q’eqchi’ men had to carry him up the stairs to the second-floor courtroom in Puerto Barrios, a bustling Caribbean port city in eastern Guatemala.

Five and a half years ago, Chub was playing soccer in the community of La Unión, in the department of Izabal, when security guards from the Guatemalan Nickel Company (CGN), a mining corporation, showed up, he told the court. Chub heard a commotion coming from the direction of company-owned hospital property and approached the fence separating the company complex from the soccer field to see what was going on, he said.

“I saw Mynor Padilla pointing his pistol at me,” Chub testified. “When I turned around, I heard the gunshot.”

Chub is one of several Maya Q’eqchi’ community members shot on September 27, 2009 during a crackdown on protests over threats that a group would be evicted from its ancestral lands near CGN’s Fenix ferro-nickel mining project. Chub is paralyzed from the chest down as a result, and doctors determined it too risky to remove the bullet lodged near his spine. Read the rest of this entry »

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20th May 2015

Protests Force Mining Billionaire German Larrea To Halt $1.4 Billion Copper Project In Peru – by Dolia Estevez (Forbes Magazine – May 20, 2015)


Fifty days of protests against the $1.4 billion Tía María copper mining project in southern Peru forced Grupo Mexico , owned by Mexican mining billionaire German Larrea Mota Velasco, to call for a two-month truce, Peruvian and Mexican media reported.

Oscar Gonzalez Rocha, CEO and President of Southern Copper, a subsidiary of Grupo Mexico, announced Friday a 60-day “pause” on the Tía María project to allow the parties involved to present “their concerns and fears, identify solutions, agree on a path to move forward and define responsibilities that all must assume in a reasonable time,” EFE reported from Lima.

Carlos Galvez, president of Peru’s National Society of Mining, Petroleum and Energy (SNMPE), a non-profit business association, supported the truce. “No project can be imposed by force; a truce would be the most appropriate,” said Galvez, according to Mexico’s El Economista.

But the announcement did not stop community and civil groups in seven regions in Southern Peru, the world’s third-biggest copper producer, from calling for a 48-hour stoppage on May 27 and 28 to demand the total annulment of the mining project.

Protests against the Tía María project, controlled by Southern Copper, a Grupo Mexico affiliate, took a turn for the worse in late March when communities in the Arequipa region, not far from Peru’s southern border with Chile, expressed fears that the yearly production of 120,000 tons of copper cathodes will pollute their land and water. Read the rest of this entry »

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20th May 2015

Op-ed: ‘Zombie’ Canadian mining company, Infinito Gold, stalks Costa Rica – by Rick Arnold (Tico Times – May 20, 2015)


Rick Arnold is a retired Canadian social activist who has lived and worked in Costa Rica.

Most of us are familiar with zombies featured in scary B movies, otherwise known as the living dead. Now a recent study by Tony Simon, co-founder of the Canadian entity Venture Capital Markets Association, has found that there are some 588 junior resource firms with negative working capital (more dead than alive) listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange Venture Exchange (TSXV).

These include Infinito Gold, the Calgary-based mining company that is still fighting over its defunct open-pit gold mine project in Costa Rica.

This appears to be contrary to the Venture Exchange’s continued listing requirements, which stipulate that firms have to be able to show at least 50,000 Canadian dollars ($41,000) in working capital (more alive than dead). Mr. Simon uses the term “zombie company” for corporations bleeding red ink and suggests that the TSXV follow its own rules and de-list them right away (and protect the small investor).

Mr. Simon has Infinito Gold sitting at #587 on his “zombie” list — sporting the second greatest negative working capital, a whopping negative $127 million. Read the rest of this entry »

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19th May 2015

UPDATE 3-Peru strike spares output at top copper and gold mines – by Mitra Taj and Marco Aquino (Reuters U.S. – May 18, 2015)


May 18 (Reuters) – Peru’s production of copper and gold was largely unaffected by a national strike on Monday as unionized workers declined to down tools for fear of losing their jobs and companies used replacements.

Walk-outs at some mines, however, might have curbed silver, tin and iron output, according to unions in Peru, the world’s third biggest copper, silver, zinc and tin producer and the seventh-ranked gold producer.

The strike, organized by the National Mining Federation that represents about 20,000 workers, aimed to press the government to tighten restrictions on firings and the use of contract workers.

But plans for an ambitious stoppage across Peru were upended after the government declared the strike unfounded and companies threatened to dismiss strikers or ordered contract workers to fill in, said federation head Ricardo Juarez.

Copper output from Peru’s four top producers, Antamina, Southern Copper, Cerro Verde and Antapaccay, was normal, union bosses at the mines said. The mines together produced about a million tonnes of the red metal last year, or more than three quarters of Peru’s total copper output. Read the rest of this entry »

posted in International Media Resource Articles, Latin America Mining, Mining Conflict, Mining Labour Issues and History - Sudbury and Global | 0 Comments

19th May 2015

The worldwide crackdown on NGOs – by Lawrence Solomon (National Post – May 19, 2015)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

In Canada, China, India, Israel, Russia and in other countries around the world, governments are cracking down on foreign-funded NGOs operating in their countries. These crackdowns are inevitable and understandable, and in all cases come down to one factor: Governments, whether democratic or dictatorial, don’t like foreign forces interfering in their domestic politics.

The crackdowns typically take the form of beefing up laws and regulations, or creating new ones, to require more disclosure on the activities of NGOs. An exception is China’s proposed Foreign NGO Management Law, now in Second Reading in its legislature, where the Public Security Department of China’s State Council — its cabinet — would assume responsibility for approving the funding and the activities of all NGOs in receipt of foreign funds, to guard against purposes ranging from the political to the religious to the economic. Unlike other countries, China’s NGO law isn’t about disclosure but about censorship and control.

In one country — the United States — there is no talk of crackdowns, not because the U.S. is blasé about foreign-funded NGOs but because it has long had strict laws on the books.

In the 1930s, Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) after he realized that the American Nazis — then a potent force in U.S. politics — were being funded by Hitler’s Germany. Read the rest of this entry »

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19th May 2015

The financial case against Australia’s largest coal mine – by Jennifer Rankin (The Guardian – May 14, 2015)


The Guardian is a well-known left-wing British broadsheet. (Stan Sudol – RepublicOfMining.com)

The threat of the Carmichael mine to the environment is clear but as coal prices fall, bad economics could be the strongest case against the project, experts say

The case against building Australia’s largest coal mine has focused on the threats of runaway climate change and ruin of the Great Barrier Reef. But finances may yet prove the key.

Leading economists and City analysts are baffled by plans from India’s Adani Group to build the A$16.5bn (£8.4bn, $13.2bn) Carmichael mine and Abbot Point port expansion – just as coal prices have collapsed.

If the Carmichael project fails to convince investors, it could jeopardise plans for at least eight other mega mines in the coal-rich Galilee basin. Read the rest of this entry »

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14th May 2015

7 Police wounded in growing protest against Peru mining project (Fox News Latino – May 13, 2015)


Seven police were wounded in fresh clashes with local residents protesting Southern Copper’s Tia Maria mine project in the Peruvian province of Islay, part of the southern region of Arequipa.

National Police Gen. Enrique Blanco told Radio Programas del Peru that slingshot-fired rocks struck the police Tuesday in Cocachacra, where earlier that morning officers took down barricades blocking the entrance to the town, the epicenter of anti-mining protests that have left three dead and more than 200 injured.

He said four of the officers were taken by helicopter to a hospital in the regional capital of Arequipa, whose inhabitants launched a 72-hour protest action Tuesday in support of the 52-day-old “indefinite strike” in Islay.

In Lima, Peru’s government suspended talks with Southern Copper, a unit of Mexican mining giant Grupo Mexico, due to suspicion of possible secret negotiations between the mining company and protest organizers aimed at lifting the strike in exchange for monetary compensation.

The national government also froze the bank accounts of municipalities opposed to the project to prevent them from bankrolling the protests. Read the rest of this entry »

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8th May 2015

Peru Sends 2,000 Police as Copper Project Protests Spread – by John Quigley (Bloomberg News – April 8, 2015)


Peru sent police reinforcements to the Islay province as protests against Southern Copper Corp.’s Tia Maria mine project spread to more towns.

About 2,000 officers are being transferred to the coastal province in southern Peru as street protests against the project entered a 47th day, Interior Minister Jose Perez told reporters.

Southern Copper’s plans to build the $1.4 billion mine in the mountains above Islay’s Tambo Valley, about 780 kilometers (485 miles) south of Lima, are opposed by local farmers concerned that water and air pollution will damage their crops. One person died and four police officers were injured in clashes this week as the unrest spread to the seaside town of Mollendo.

President Ollanta Humala weighed options for declaring a state of emergency in Islay at a meeting Thursday. “We don’t rule out any decision that needs to be taken,” Perez said. “We’re prepared for this decision. More police are arriving at this moment.”

Police used a loader to clear boulders and rocks strewn across the highway between the port town of Matarani and Mollendo, where demonstrators set fire to buses Thursday, according to Canal N. Images broadcast by the Lima-based television station showed protesters blockading a highway Friday as tires burned along the side of the road. Read the rest of this entry »

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8th May 2015

Peru may declare state of emergency in province hit by anti-mining protests (Fox News Latino – May 7, 2015)


Peru’s government is studying the possibility of declaring a state of emergency in the southern province of Islay, where protests against Southern Copper’s Tia Maria project have left two dead and nearly 200 injured in recent weeks.

President Ollanta Humala’s administration is considering adopting a different strategy in response to the clashes in Islay, a province in the Arequipa region where local farmers launched an “indefinite strike” 45 days ago, Energy and Mines Minister Rosa Maria Ortiz told Radio Programas del Peru on Thursday.

“(Declaring a state of emergency) is one of the possibilities being considered. We haven’t decided yet. We’re going to continue discussing this matter at the Cabinet level and with the president,” Ortiz said.

She lamented that negotiations between the government and opponents of the copper project broke down once again on Thursday, when local authorities and grassroots leaders in Islay abandoned the talks without reaching an agreement.

The minister blamed the mine opponents for the failure of the talks, saying they had demanded cancelation of the project as a pre-condition. Read the rest of this entry »

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7th May 2015

Special Report: Why gold threatens Ivory Coast’s peace – by Joe Bavier (Reuters U.S. – May 7, 2015)


GAMINA, IVORY COAST – (Reuters) – Nestled among the cocoa plantations of western Ivory Coast is a gold mine that does not feature on any official maps. It is not run by an industrial mining company, nor does it pay taxes to the central government.

The unlicensed mine is a key part of a lucrative business empire headed by the deputy commander of the West African nation’s elite Republican Guard, United Nations investigators allege. He is one of the principal players in a network of senior officers – former rebel commanders who have integrated into the Ivorian army – that has seized control of mines that generate tens of millions of dollars a year, and that engages in illegal taxation, smuggling and racketeering, they say.

Interviews with more than two dozen military insiders, diplomats, U.N. officials, local authorities, analysts and miners also reveal that the network of former rebels continues to maintain loyalist fighters under their exclusive control. A confidential U.N. arms inventory, reviewed by Reuters, showed that one former rebel commander possesses enough weapons – from surface-to-air missiles to millions of rounds of ammunition – to outgun the Ivorian army.

A senior Ivorian army officer said that the network represents a parallel force within the military that threatens the stability of the country, which has emerged from a 2011 civil war as one of Africa’s fastest growing economies. Read the rest of this entry »

posted in Africa Mining, Gold and Silver, International Media Resource Articles, Mining Conflict | 0 Comments

5th May 2015

The Environmental Disaster That is the Gold Industry (Smithsonian Magazine – February 14, 2014)


The mining industry has had a devastating impact on ecosystems worldwide. Is there any hope in sight?

A global campaign to boycott what activists are calling “dirty gold” gained its 100th official follower three days before Valentine’s Day.

The pledge was launched in 2004 by the environmental group Earthworks, which has asked retail companies not to carry gold that was produced through environmentally and socially destructive mining practices. Eight of the ten largest jewelry retailers in the United States have now made the pledge, including Tiffany & Co., Target and Helzberg Diamonds. The No Dirty Gold campaign is anchored in its “golden rules,” a set of criteria encouraging the metal mining industry to respect human rights and the natural environment.

While the list of retailers aligned in their opposition to dirty gold continues to grow longer, most gold remains quite filthy. The majority of the world’s gold is extracted from open pit mines, where huge volumes of earth are scoured away and processed for trace elements. Earthworks estimates that, to produce enough raw gold to make a single ring, 20 tons of rock and soil are dislodged and discarded.

Much of this waste carries with it mercury and cyanide, which are used to extract the gold from the rock. The resulting erosion clogs streams and rivers and can eventually taint marine ecosystems far downstream of the mine site. Read the rest of this entry »

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