1st April 2015

Illegal mining in Latin America: Minecraft (The Economist – September 16, 2014)


BONANZA, a tropical town in north-eastern Nicaragua, has attracted gold miners since 1880. Still true to its name, it yields over a thousand kilos of the metal every year. But it is a dangerous place. Last month heavy rain triggered a landslide, trapping 29 miners inside. Seven still remained unaccounted for by the time rescue workers abandoned the search.

The miners who died in Bonanza were informal workers, working on the basis that they sold any gold they found to Hemco, a Colombian-owned company which formally operates the concession. Informal mining is not necessarily illegal, but whether operating on the fringes of, or far outside, the law, workers run great risks. Twelve wildcat miners died in Colombia in May after a landslide at an illegal gold mine. In July eight died in Honduras.

Gold is not the only commodity to lure unlicensed prospectors but it has a particular appeal. Its price more than doubled between 2008 and 2011 (it has since come down again). In Madre de Dios, a jungle region in south-east Peru where 97% of local gold production in 2011 came from illegal mining, miners can earn $75 a day, up to five times the amount they might expect as a farm labourer. In Colombia nine out of ten gold mines are unlicensed. Low start-up costs mean miners can work in very small groups—although organised criminal groups also operate illegal mines at much bigger scale. Mercury, which is typically used to separate gold from ore, is cheap and readily available.

It is not only those underground who face danger. In Colombia, armed groups have muscled their way into the mining business, using violence to settle their disputes. Read the rest of this entry »

posted in International Media Resource Articles, Latin America Mining, Mining Conflict, Mining Environmental Accidents | 0 Comments

30th March 2015

Southern Copper Cancels Peru Project Over “Anti-Mining Terrorism” (Latin American Herald Tribune – March 30, 2015)


LIMA – Southern Copper Corp. has decided to cancel its Tia Maria copper project in southern Peru because of “anti-mining terrorism” in the area.

“After evaluating the complete politicization of the (Tambo) Valley and the lack of decisiveness by the relevant authorities … I’m here to announce the cancelation of the Tia Maria project and the total withdrawal of our investment from the Arequipa region,” Southern Copper’s spokesman in Peru, Julio Morriberon, told RPP Noticias radio.

The announcement will be made official by top management via the “relevant procedures before the relevant agencies,” he said. “We’ve done our best as a company and as people to carry out a project that was going to bring great benefits for Tambo and for Peru,” Morriberon said.

Southern Copper, a unit of Mexico City-based Grupo Mexico, had been planning to invest some $1.2 billion in the construction of Tia Maria, which has an estimated mine life of 18 years and had been projected to produce 120,000 metric tons of copper cathodes annually from the start of operations in 2016.

The project had been halted for two years after peasant protests in 2011 in the small town of Islay left three dead and 44 wounded, and as a result the Peruvian government did not award construction permits until the beginning of this year. Read the rest of this entry »

posted in Copper, International Media Resource Articles, Latin America Mining, Mining Conflict | 0 Comments

30th March 2015

Mine your own business: Plan Nord’s disastrous consequences – by Jasreet Kaur (McGill Daily – March 30, 2015)


With recent austerity measures affecting many economic sectors within Quebec, the provincial government is desperately looking for new sources of income. The precious metal industry is still profitable, and mining developments such as Plan Nord could bring investors to the province, acting as a safety net to protect people from the ongoing cuts. However, this would not come without a cost that would be shouldered by current and future generations.

The benefits of invasive projects such as Plan Nord are often only measured by their immediate value, leaving out negative externalities. Plan Nord is expected to cause substantial environmental damage to the region, due both to the resource extraction the project would entail, as well as its magnitude. In addition to the environmental damage, however, the project will have significant negative impacts on the local communities in the North, particularly with regards to women.

Plan Nord was initially proposed by the Liberal government led by Jean Charest in 2011, but was shut down by Pauline Marois after the Parti Québécois (PQ) came into power in 2012. The PQ has traditionally held an antagonistic position toward the mining sector. Recently, however, with the comeback of the Liberals, a revised version of the project has started to gain steam once again.

This version, which encompasses 72 per cent of the land area of Quebec, an area twice the size of France, is expected to create significant economic benefits for the province, including the creation of 20,000 jobs. Read the rest of this entry »

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26th March 2015

First Nations oppose Noront, Cliffs deal in Ring of Fire – by Jody Porter (CBC News Thunder Bay – March 26, 2015)


‘We’re not in such a rush. We’re willing to do this well,” Eabametoong Chief Elizabeth Atlookan says

Plans by Noront Resources to buy Cliffs’ chromite assets in northern Ontario’s Ring of Fire mining area are a “barrier to future opportunities” and a “threat to aboriginal and treaty rights,” say First Nations chiefs opposed to the deal.

Noront announced the $20-million deal on Monday. The purchase requires court approval and won’t be finalized until at least mid-April because Cliffs’ Quebec subsidiary is in restructuring proceedings under the Companies’s Creditors Arrangement Act.

The Matawa Chiefs Council, representing the eight First Nations closest to the proposed mine sites, went public Wednesday with plans to stall the deal before it is finalized.

“Our rights to the chromite deposit are recognized by the fact that the province and mining companies have already made promises to share revenues and benefits from development,” said Neskantaga Chief Peter Moonias. “We should have had a voice in the sale.” Read the rest of this entry »

posted in Aboriginal and Inuit Mining, Canadian Media Resource Articles, Mining Conflict, Ontario Mining, Ontario's Ring of Fire Mineral Discovery | 0 Comments

26th March 2015

PRECIOUS-Gold hits 3-1/2 week high as Yemen air strikes rattle markets – by Jan Harvey (Reuters U.S. – March 26, 2015)


LONDON, March 26 (Reuters) – Gold rallied to a 3-1/2 week high on Thursday and silver rose nearly 3 percent as escalating tensions in the Middle East knocked stocks and the dollar and drove investors into assets seen as lower risk, like bullion and German bonds.

European stocks tumbled 1.3 percent, the dollar fell and oil prices leapt 6 percent after Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Arab allies launched air strikes in Yemen to counter Iran-allied forces besieging the southern city of Aden.

Spot gold hit a peak of $1,219.40 an ounce and was up 1.2 percent at $1,210.30 at 1028 GMT, while U.S. gold futures for April delivery were up $12.70 an ounce at $1,209.70.

That extended a rally in gold to a seventh session, its longest winning streak since 2012. Soft U.S. data earlier this week boosted expectations the Federal Reserve would keep interest rates low for the time being, lifting gold.

“Overnight we have seen risk aversion because of what’s going on in the Middle East, and the dollar is weak, because data has been weaker,” ABN Amro analyst Georgette Boele said. “The combination of dollar weakness and risk aversion is normally one where gold should do well.” Read the rest of this entry »

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

25th March 2015

Police clash with opponents of $1.4 bln copper mine in Peru – by Mitra Taj and Marco Aquino (Reuters India – March 25, 2015)


(Reuters) – Police in Peru fired tear gas and rubber bullets on Tuesday at opponents of Southern Copper’s $1.4 billion proposed Tia Maria mine in protests that threatened to further delay the project.

The company said early last month that it expected to receive a building permit by the end of March following the government’s key approval of its environmental plan last year. Peru had rejected Southern Copper’s first environmental plan amid a wave of protests that turned deadly in 2011.

Protesters on Tuesday called for the government to nix the project because they say it will pollute agricultural valleys, said rice farmer and activist Juan Carrasco, 58. “We’re going to keep protesting tomorrow and everyday until Tia Maria leaves,” Carrasco said.

Three protesters were wounded and two arrested in the clashes in Peru’s southern region of Arequipa, said local police chief Enrique Blanco. TV images showed police firing tear gas at a crowd on a highway and protesters running into nearby fields.

Blanco said between 600 and 700 protesters, mostly women, took part in the march on Tuesday – the second day of protests. Carrasco said there were at least 3,000. Read the rest of this entry »

posted in Copper, International Media Resource Articles, Latin America Mining, Mining Conflict | 0 Comments

24th March 2015

Nevsun Resources Ltd describes reported attack on Eritrea mine as ‘act of vandalism’ – by Claire Brownell and Peter Koven (National Post – March 24, 2015)

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

Nevsun Resources Ltd. is describing an attack on its Bisha mine in Eritrea as an “ act of vandalism,” an account that contrasts starkly with African media reports saying the mine was bombed by Ethiopan fighter jets.

In a statement released Sunday, Nevsun said vandals caused minor damage to the base of a tailings thickener at the mine during the night shift on Friday, releasing water into the plant area.

But the Ethiopian news site Tigrai Online said it had confirmed a report that the Ethiopian air force bombed the mine on Friday. Sudanese newspaper Al-Sahafa was the first to report that the attack was a military operation from Ethiopia.

“The Bisha gold mine which is about 150 km from the city of Asmara is on fire and a huge fire and smoke can be seen from far away,” the reports claimed.

But Haywood Securities analyst Stefan Ioannou said he believes Nevsun’s account over the online news report. He noted that the company’s shares opened just 3% lower than Friday’s closing price of $4.55 on the Toronto Stock Exchange, suggesting most investors weren’t taking reports of an air strike very seriously either. Read the rest of this entry »

posted in Africa Mining, Canada Mining, Canadian Media Resource Articles, Mining Conflict | 0 Comments

20th March 2015

Latin American Bishops Petition Inter-American Commission On Human Rights To Hold Mining Companies Accountable For Economic And Environmental Harm

March 19, 2015 – WASHINGTON—The U.S. and Canadian governments must hold mining companies from their countries that operate in Latin America to laws and standards that protect indigenous communities and vulnerable groups, as well as local economies and the environment, said representatives of the bishops of Latin America in a hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), March 19. The hearing was held in response to a petition filed by the Consejo Episcopal Latinoamericano (CELAM) and other member institutions of the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network, which represents bishops’ conferences, religious men and women and Catholic relief agencies throughout Latin America.

Archbishop Pedro Barreto of Peru and Bishop Alvaro Ramazzini of Guatemala represented CELAM, along with Father Peter Hughes and Enrique Pinilla of its Department of Justice and Solidarity. Bishop Donald Bolen, who heads the Peace and Justice Commission at the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), as well as Archbishop Timothy Broglio, archbishop for the Military Services, were present at the hearing to express support.

A petition provided an overview of the issues pertaining to extractives in a number of Latin American countries, outlining calamitous public health and environmental consequences of mining operations by U.S. and Canadian multinationals. The testimony at the hearing focused on six countries, Brazil ,Guatemala, Peru, Ecuador, Honduras and Mexico, and focused on key themes including violence and criminalization of human rights defenders and the need for a new model of sustainable development. Read the rest of this entry »

posted in Canada Mining, Latin America Mining, Mining and Oil Sector Image, Mining Conflict, United States Mining and History | 0 Comments

19th March 2015

Mining Revival Spurs Tensions Over Environment in Upper Midwest – by Matthew Dolan (Wall Street Journal – March 18, 2015)


Remote rural community in Michigan divided over benefits of a proposed limestone project

REXTON, Mich.—In a small, sparsely populated community on Michigan’s remote northern peninsula, a crop of red-letter lawn signs have sprouted through the snow carrying a simple protest: “No mining.”

The placards in Rexton are the latest salvo in a battle among local residents that has been spurred by a nascent revival of mining in the upper Midwest. While some welcome the industry for the jobs it promises to bring, other members of the community fear it could harm the environment and spoil the area’s rural lifestyle.

On Thursday, the issue is expected to come to a head when Michigan’s director of national resources decides whether the state should sell a 10,000-acre parcel of publicly owned forest for a proposed limestone mine operated by Canadian company Graymont. It would be the largest chunk of state-held land ever sold by Michigan, with state documents putting the value of the deal in land sale and exchanges at about $4.5 million plus future mineral royalties.

Choosing sides in the debate over the sale of the parcel prized for its hunting and snowmobiling possibilities has divided the generations. Financially struggling younger workers with families have voiced support for the growing mining industry, while retirees who moved to the Upper Peninsula worry about protecting a quieter life. Read the rest of this entry »

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27th February 2015

Pebble Mine debate in Alaska: EPA becomes target by planning for rare ‘veto’ – by Joby Warrick (Washington Post – February 15, 2015)


Just north of Iliamna Lake in southwestern Alaska is an empty expanse of marsh and shrub that conceals one of the world’s great buried fortunes: A mile-thick layer of virgin ore said to contain at least 6.7 million pounds — or $120 billion worth — of gold.

As fate would have it, a second treasure sits precisely atop the first: the spawning ground for the planet’s biggest runs of sockeye salmon, the lifeline of a fishery that generates $500 million a year.

Between the two is the Obama administration, which has all but decided that only one of the treasures can be brought to market. How the White House came to side with fish over gold is a complex tale that involves millionaire activists, Alaska Natives, lawsuits and one politically explosive question: Can the federal government say no to a property owner before he has a chance to explain what he wants to do?

As early as this spring, the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to invoke a rarely used legal authority to bar a Canadian company, Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd., from beginning work on its proposed Pebble Mine, citing risks to salmon and to Alaska’s pristine Bristol Bay, 150 miles downstream.

The EPA’s position is supported by a broad coalition of conservationists, fishermen and tribal groups — and, most opinion polls show, by a majority of Alaskans. Read the rest of this entry »

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12th February 2015

Indigenous Canadians Are Fighting the Uranium Mining Industry – by Michael Toledano (Vice Canada – February 11, 2015)


This post originally appeared on VICE Canada.

On November 22, 2014, a small group of Dene trappers called the Northern Trappers Alliance set up a checkpoint on Saskatchewan’s Highway 955, allowing locals to pass while blockading the industrial traffic of tar sands and uranium exploration companies. On December 1, officers of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police descended on the site with an injunction from the province and forcibly dismantled the blockade.

Eighty days later, the trappers remain camped on the side of the highway in weather that has routinely dipped below -40 C. They are constructing a permanent cabin on the site that will be a meeting place for Dene people and northern land defenders.

“We want industry to get the hell out of here and stop this killing,” said Don Montgrand, who has been at the encampment since day one and was named as one of its leaders on the police injunction. “We want this industry to get the hell out before we lose any more people here. We lose kids, adults, teenagers.”

“They’re willing to stay as long as it takes to get the point across that any of this kind of development is not going to be welcomed,” said Candyce Paul, the alliance’s spokesperson and a member of the anti-nuclear Committee for the Future Generations. “It’s indefinite.” Read the rest of this entry »

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12th February 2015

Mining’s alternative summit: Painting a different picture of Africa’s most conflicted industry – by Rebecca Davis (Daily Maverick – February 12, 2015)


How can you tell the difference between the Mining Indaba and the Alternative Mining Indaba? One trick is to look for people who are actually miners, or who come from mining-affected communities. If there are any around, chances are good that you’re at the Alternative incarnation. Another trick is to ask people if they paid up to R23,000 for a ticket to the event. If the answer is ‘yes’, then they’re at the Mining Indaba. REBECCA DAVIS has been at the other one.

In 2002, a young man called Fortunate Siziba was walking home in Mapanzure, Zimbabwe, at night when he fell into an open, unsecured, un-lit pit previously used for chrome mining. The pit was 17 metres deep. Siziba was left partially blind.

In 2012, nine-year-old Asa Mpofu fell into an open, unsecured, un-lit chrome mining pit in the same area. She drowned.

In neither case was any compensation paid by the chrome mine operators, or even an apology given. The most assistance that Siziba received from the mine operator was to be transported “in the bucket of a front-loader” to a nearby clinic.

Over the course of a few days at the Alternative Mining Indaba, you hear so many of these kinds of stories that it becomes hard to keep track of each individual case. The atmosphere here is a world apart from that in the glitzy exhibition halls of the Cape Town International Convention Centre, just a few kilometres down the road, where the Mining Indaba is taking place. Read the rest of this entry »

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20th January 2015

Mining firm takes on B.C. environmental group in defamation court battle – by Tamsyn Burgmann (Canadian Press/CTV News – January 19, 2015)


VANCOUVER — Criticism of a proposed mine by an environmental group and allegations of defamation by the project’s owner have landed both parties in British Columbia Supreme Court.

Taseko Mines Ltd. (TSX:TKO) launched the lawsuit after the Wilderness Committee made claims during a 2012 public comment period that the New Prosperity mine could destroy Fish Lake. The proposed gold and copper mine, 125 kilometres southwest of Williams Lake, was undergoing a federal environmental assessment when the statements were made.

Taseko lawyer Roger McConachie told court on Monday the company’s civil complaint is based on five articles published by the non-profit organization, which were emailed to supporters and posted online starting in January 2012.

“You will hear submissions related to corporate entitlement to have its reputation protected by a defamation lawsuit,” said McConachie, noting he expects to spend weeks presenting evidence.

The material involves libellous descriptions of the proposed project, a letter-writing tool that encouraged re-publication of the organization’s claims and statements the company was pursuing a lawsuit with the purpose of silencing public debate, McConachie argued. Read the rest of this entry »

posted in British Columbia Mining, Canadian Media Resource Articles, Mining Conflict | Comments Off

12th January 2015

Robert Friedland’s mining showdown in South Africa – by Geoffrey York (Globe and Mail – January 10, 2015)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

MOKOPANE, SOUTH AFRICA — The two men took the cash from an envelope, counted it carefully and spread it on the table in front of Raesetsa Makgabo in her village home. It was exactly 5,250 South African rand (about $450 U.S.).

She says she remembers vividly what the men said next: They told her to take the money and allow the Canadian mining company to begin drilling on her maize fields – or lose her monthly pension.

Illiterate and unable to read the document in front of her, but fearful of losing the $120 monthly pension that was her main income, the 82-year-old villager took the pen and marked the agreement with a humble X beside her name. The two men, including an official from Ivanhoe Mines Ltd., signed the document dated May 10, 2011. Then the drilling began.

Ivanhoe’s $1.7-billion project, forecast to become the world’s biggest new platinum mine, is crucial to the fate of the Vancouver-based company – and to thousands of impoverished villagers near the site.

Ivanhoe says its Platreef mine will provide 10,000 direct and indirect jobs, along with a minority ownership stake for 150,000 residents and employees under South Africa’s black-empowerment rules. Read the rest of this entry »

posted in Africa Mining, Canada Mining, Canadian Media Resource Articles, Chromium/Platinum Group Metals, Mining Conflict | Comments Off

9th January 2015

Pebble Mine 2014 Year in Review: “And Then There Were Lawyers . . . .” – by Joel Reynolds (Huffington Post – January 5, 2015)


Joel Reynolds Become is the Western Director and Senior attorney, NRDC, Los Angeles.

When someday the story of the Pebble Mine is told, 2014 may be best remembered as the year when all that remained of the once formidable Pebble Partnership was a bunch of lawyers for hire. By the end of 2014, all of the mining giants and their funding – Mitsubishi, Anglo American, and Rio Tinto – were gone, leaving only Northern Dynasty Minerals to keep the reckless vision of the Pebble Mine alive.

The Partnership’s new CEO is a lawyer from the Washington, D.C. law firm of Steptoe and Johnson, and mining activities have ground to a halt.

By the end of 2014, Pebble’s public face had become lawsuits and lobbying against EPA, targeting its authority to do what Alaskans had petitioned it to do – i.e., to protect Alaska’s wild salmon fishery. Three lawsuits had been filed against the agency, and legislation to constrain the agency’s review of the Pebble project had been introduced in both houses of Congress.

Once again, permit applications – promised by Pebble for years – were never filed.

Some of the highlights of 2014: Read the rest of this entry »

posted in International Media Resource Articles, Mining Conflict, United States Mining and History | Comments Off

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