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 »

posted in Aboriginal and Inuit Mining, Gold and Silver, Mining Conflict, United States Mining and History | 0 Comments

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 »

posted in Aboriginal and Inuit Mining, Canada Mining, Canadian Media Resource Articles, Mining Conflict | 0 Comments

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 »

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

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 »

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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 »

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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 »

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6th January 2015

Polish farmers threaten uprising over opencast coalmine – by Arthur Neslen (The Guardian – December 31, 2014)


Heinz unites with farmers in rebellion against plan to build a vast lignite mine and power plant on farming land in western Poland

Krobia, Miejska and Poniec, Poland – Farmers in western Poland are warning of civil unrest if a vast coalmine and power plant are given the go-ahead, with thousands of people at risk of being forcibly relocated.

At risk are the food exports for which the Krobia and Miejska Górka region is known – including tomatoes, and sugar beet destined for Heinz Ketchup on UK supermarket shelves – and a windfarm which campaigners say would have to be demolished to make way for the brown lignite mine.

Experts say that 22 villages could be destroyed by the opencast mine proposed by Polish energy company PAK. The mine would cover 11,900 hectares of land (29,400 acres) and include a 1,000MW coal plant, leaving up to 5,800 people subject to compulsory purchase orders of their land.

Many farmers in the area have ties to the land stretching back several generations, and say they will not leave without a fight. Sitting in his farm with friends and family, Janusz Mackowiak, a moustachioed former MP for Poland’s Agricultural party, told the Guardian that thousands of local people had already protested against the mining project, and more would join in if plans are escalated next year. Read the rest of this entry »

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22nd December 2014

Massive B.C. gold mine near Alaska border gets environmental approval – by Terri Theodore (Canadian Press/Vancouver Province – December 20, 2014)


VANCOUVER — The federal government approved the environmental assessment application on Friday for the massive KSM gold and copper mine in northwestern British Columbia near the Alaska border.

The mine, which is owned by Seabridge Gold Inc. (TSX:SEA), is considered the largest undeveloped gold reserve in the world and also has copper, silver and molybdenum deposits.

The project would be just 35 kilometres from the Alaska border, and in August the state took the rare step of asking the Canadian government for involvement in the approval process over concerns for its rivers and fish.

But the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency concluded in its report that the KSM project isn’t likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects.

Seabridge CEO Rudi Fronk said the company was confident it would receive the approval because it has spent six years and $200 million working with government, local First Nations and the state of Alaska. The company conducted 40 working group sessions with federal and provincial regulators, First Nations and American regulators, he said. Read the rest of this entry »

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17th December 2014

Obama tightens environmental noose around resource-rich Alaska – by Dorothy Kosich (Mineweb.com – December 17, 2014)


Will the president’s permanent ban on oil & gas development in Alaska’s Bristol Bay weaken Northern Dynasty’s chances for Pebble project approval?

RENO (MINEWEB) – Pebble Partnership CEO Tom Collier told Mineweb Tuesday that the decision by President Barack Obana to indefinitely withdraw more than 52,000 square miles of waters off Alaska’s coastline (including Bristol Bay) from oil and gas exploration or drilling “doesn’t apply to us at all”.

In a video release from the White House, Obama called Bristol Bay one of the country’s great natural resources, which is “something too precious for us to be putting out to the highest bidder”.

“It supports about $2 billion in the commercial fishing industry,” he said. “It supplies America with 40% of its wild-caught seafood.” Bristol Bay also hosts one of the world’s largest wild salmon runs and is home to threatened species and the endangered North Pacific Right Whale.

However, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and the incoming chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said, “I think we all recognize that these are some of our state’s richest fishing waters. What I do not understand is why this decision could not be made within the context of the administration’s upcoming plan for offshore leasing—or least announced at the same time.” Read the rest of this entry »

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15th December 2014

Cree walkers against uranium mining arrive in Montreal after 850 km walk (CBC News Montreal – December 15, 2014)


Group delivers message to environmental protection agency on final day of hearings into uranium mining

A group of Cree protesters have reached their final destination after completing an 850-km march to protest against uranium exploration and mining in Quebec.

The group arrived in downtown Montreal today to deliver a message to the province’s environmental protection agency, known as the BAPE, which is holding the last of a series of public hearings on uranium exploration. They will make a presentation at the hearings this evening.

About 20 people made the full journey, walking an average of about 30 km a day over a three-weeks period, often in frigid temperatures.

The group left Mistissini, Que., a town northeast of Chibougamau, in the James Bay region, in late November. Youth Grand Chief Joshua Iserhoff said those they met along the way overwhelmingly supported a ban on uranium mining.

Uranium extraction has been on the table in Mistissini since 2006. A Boucherville-based company, Strateco Resources, has invested $120 million into developing a uranium mine in Mistissini in the last ten years. Read the rest of this entry »

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15th December 2014

UN, aid groups overstretched by crisis in Congo’s mining heartland – by Aaron Ross (Reuters Africa – December 14, 2014)


PWETO, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters) – Faced with a dearth of United Nations peacekeepers, lack of funding and competition from other global crises, relief agencies are struggling to contain a growing humanitarian disaster in Democratic Republic of Congo’s mining heartland.

More than a decade after the official end of a 1998-2003 war that killed millions of people in Congo, mostly from hunger and disease, donors are keen to switch from emergency aid to longer-term development projects in the vast central African country.

But the deteriorating situation in the copper and cobalt-rich southeastern province of Katanga, which the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) labelled “catastrophic” last month, throws into sharp relief the gaping humanitarian needs.

The number of displaced people in Katanga has leapt to nearly 600,000, from 55,000 three years ago, mostly due to violence by armed groups, including the secessionist movement Bakata Katanga.

The crisis has taken Congo’s humanitarian community by surprise after a decade spent focusing on the eastern border provinces of North and South Kivu, a volatile patchwork of rebel and militia fiefdoms that never fully emerged from the war.

“Suddenly, we turn to a zone where there is a major crisis in the process of developing but where there are not enough humanitarian actors,” Moustapha Soumaré, the U.N.’s humanitarian coordinator in Congo, told Reuters. Read the rest of this entry »

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11th December 2014

Editorial: Friendly Manitoba, slow Manitoba – by John Cumming (Northern Miner – December 10, 2014)

The Northern Miner, first published in 1915, during the Cobalt Silver Rush, is considered Canada’s leading authority on the mining industry. Editor John Cumming MSc (Geol) is one of the country’s most well respected mining journalists.  jcumming@northernminer.com

One of the hottest topics on the sidelines of the recent Manitoba Mining and Minerals Convention in Winnipeg was the provincial lawsuit launched by two prospectors against the Manitoba government for allegedly failing in its “duty to consult” with the Manto Sipi Cree First Nation community near the duo’s mineral claims, which effectively ruined their business.

The statement of claim filed in October by Manitoba prospectors James Campbell in Winnipeg and Peter Dunlop in The Pas may stem from a bureaucratic nightmare that directly impacts only a handful of people, but it’s the kind of conflict that is becoming all too common across Manitoba and Canada.

For that reason, the plaintiffs say they have drawn sympathy and moral support from mining industry professionals and associations across Manitoba and beyond.

The lawsuit centres around Campbell and Dunlop’s Godslith lithium claims in the Gods Lake region of northeastern Manitoba. While the ground had seen earlier exploration by companies such as Inco, Dunlop staked the ground in 1988 and transferred it to Campbell in 2004, who in turn optioned it to Golden Virtue Resources (formerly named First Lithium Resources) in 2009. Read the rest of this entry »

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5th December 2014

Congress Raids Ancestral Native American Lands With Defense Bill [Resolution Copper] – by Michael McAuliff (Huffington Post – December 3, 2014)


WASHINGTON — When Terry Rambler, the chairman of the San Carlos Apache Tribe, woke up Wednesday in Washington, D.C., it was to learn that Congress was deciding to give away a large part of his ancestral homeland to a foreign mining company.

Rambler came to the nation’s capital for the White House Tribal Nations Conference, an event described in a press announcement as an opportunity to engage the president, cabinet officials and the White House Council on Native American Affairs “on key issues facing tribes including respecting tribal sovereignty and upholding treaty and trust responsibilities,” among other things.

Rambler felt things got off to an unfortunate, if familiar, start when he learned that the House and Senate Armed Services Committee had decided to use the lame-duck session of Congress and the National Defense Authorization Act to give 2,400 acres of the Tonto National Forest in Arizona to a subsidiary of the Australian-English mining giant Rio Tinto.

“Of all people, Apaches and Indians should understand, because we’ve gone though this so many times in our history,” Rambler said.

Rambler knew there was a possibility that supporters of the move — which failed twice on the House floor last year — would slip the deal into the must-pass legislation, but aides and officials involved had declined to reveal it. Even Tuesday evening, when Republicans and Democrats on the House Armed Services Committee released summaries of the bill, the land deal was left out. Read the rest of this entry »

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

21st November 2014

EXCLUSIVE-Foreign firms challenge Poland over access to mine concessions – by Adrian Krajewski and Anna Koper (Reuters India – November 21, 2014)


WARSAW, Nov 21 (Reuters) – Two foreign-owned mining firms have challenged the Polish government over what they see as the unfair allocation of copper and potash extraction permits to state-controlled miner KGHM.

Poland’s environment ministry, which allocates concessions, denied it gave preferential treatment to KGHM over Canadian Miedzi Copper, which has filed a lawsuit, or British firm Darley Energy, which has submitted an appeal.

KGHM, Europe’s second-largest copper producer and an industrial champion for Poland, is 31.8-percent owned by the state. It said it did not limit competition.

Whatever the outcome, the row could rattle foreign investors at a time when Poland’s resource sector, struggling with low prices on the world market, badly needs investment.

The government is also anxious to bring investors into shale gas, which it hopes will reduce its reliance on imported Russian gas. But a number of firms have pulled out, citing difficult geology and unclear regulations. Read the rest of this entry »

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17th November 2014

Florence copper leaching project stalls – by Howard Fischer Capitol Media Services (Arizona Daily Star – November 15, 2014)


PHOENIX — A state board has blocked construction of a controversial copper leaching operation beneath Florence — at least in the form it was proposed.

The Arizona Water Quality Appeals Board accepted the findings of an administrative law judge, who concluded that the state Department of Environmental Quality’s permit allowing Curis Resources to pump acid into the ground would not adequately protect water quality. The judge’s report found a series of shortcomings.

But board members did not kill the project outright. They rejected Diane Mihalsky’s recommendation that the permit for Florence Copper Inc. be entirely voided, concluding that would place an “unnecessary burden” on both the company and the DEQ. Instead, they agreed to give the state and Curis a chance to change the operating plan — and the conditions DEQ is imposing — to put the proposed mining operation in compliance with state laws and regulations.

DEQ spokesman Mark Shafer defended his agency’s original decision as justified.

“We issued an environmentally protective permit,” he said, but acknowledged the judge disagreed. “Given that, we think the appeals board made the correct decision in remanding the case back to DEQ to take a look at it again.” Read the rest of this entry »

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

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