Archive | Mining Conflict

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 →

Western tensions stoked as mining interests seek to lift ban on claims – by Daniel Rothberg (Las Vegas Sun – June 19, 2017)

In 2012, then-President Barack Obama issued a 20-year ban on mining claims near the Grand Canyon. The move halted future uranium extraction projects in the region, a win for environmentalists and local tribes that had fought against the industry for years.

But some elected officials in Arizona and Utah disputed their claims of contamination risk, arguing that the ban would unnecessarily sacrifice jobs for overblown environmental concerns. With President Donald Trump swinging the pendulum toward economic development, opponents of the ban are asking the administration to lift it.

Their request and Trump’s reconsideration of nuclear policy in the West have stoked debate over how environmental concerns should be weighed against economic potential. That tension underlies discussions about everything from increasing nuclear testing to storing nuclear waste in Yucca Mountain, only 90 miles from Las Vegas. And it highlights the inescapable nature of the West’s nuclear legacy. Continue Reading →

Tanzanian Government Accuses Acacia of Mining Gold Illegally – by Omar Mohammed, Helen Nyambura-Mwaura and Thomas Biesheuvel (Bloomberg News – June 12, 2017)

Tanzania’s government accused Acacia Mining Plc of operating illegally in the East African country and said mining companies have been evading taxes. Acacia’s shares slumped.

An audit ordered by President John Magufuli in March found that Acacia had been conducting business in Tanzania “contrary to the law,” Nehemiah Osoro, chairman of a committee of academics, lawyers and economists that conducted the probe, said at a briefing Tuesday in the commercial capital, Dar es Salaam. The audit covered mineral exports over the past 19 years.

“We should summon them and demand that they pay us back our money,” Magufuli said after receiving the committee’s report. “If they accept that they stole from us and seek forgiveness in front of God and the angels and all Tanzanians and enter into negotiations, we are ready to do business.” Continue Reading →

Mohave County asks feds to review ban on mining uranium near the Grand Canyon – by Ron Dungan (The Arizona Republic – June 7, 2017)

The Mojave County Board of Supervisors asked Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke this week to consider lifting a 20-year uranium mining ban on public lands in northern Arizona.

The supervisors said in letters to Zinke that mining would restore jobs and pump money into the local economy, and asked the Interior Department to consider the status of the ban while he reviews 27 national monuments, including Grand Canyon-Parashant.

“This ban took away much needed growth and jobs from our area,” one of the letters said. “We are requesting that your office look into this ban and if necessary start a process with public comments to withdraw the ban.” The board endorsed the letter Monday on a unanimous vote. The final version of the letter was mailed Wednesday. Continue Reading →

Priorities of coral and coal clash in Aussie Sunshine State ( – May 31, 2017)

Front Page

The Associated Press – CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — As many Australians grapple with how to save their Great Barrier Reef from global warming, others are preoccupied with building one of the world’s biggest coal mines nearby. Coal mining and environmental tourism are both cash cows for the state of Queensland, a resource-rich northeast playground that promotes itself as Australia’s “Sunshine State.”

But the Carmichael coal project, a massive 22 billion Australian dollar ($16.5 billion) mine that Indian resource billionaire Gautam Adani hopes to start work on this year in the remote Galilee Basin, has created an extraordinary clash between the resource and environment sectors.

Those concerned by the environmental cost of the colossal development are particularly irked that federal and state governments have considered subsidizing Adani’s entry into an already-crowded Australian coal mining industry. Continue Reading →

Will Trump Overturn the Ban on Uranium Mining Around the Grand Canyon? – by Antonia Noori Farzan (Phoenix New Times – May 28, 2017)

The news that President Donald Trump is planning to review and possibly scrap some of the national monuments put in place by his predecessor makes it clear — if it wasn’t already — that he’s not a big fan of anything that President Obama did, or of the outdoors. (Aside from golf courses, that is.)

So it’s understandable that environmentalists are worried that the Obama administration’s moratorium on uranium mining in the area surrounding the Grand Canyon could be up next on the chopping block. That moratorium was announced by the Department of the Interior in 2012, and banned new uranium claims until 2032. Existing claims and mines were unaffected.

It was great news to environmental groups like the Grand Canyon Trust, the Sierra Club, and the League of Conservation Voters, who had spent years pointing out the environmental hazards of uranium mining — particularly the threat of polluting the Colorado River, which provides water to 40 million people in Arizona and the Southwest. Continue Reading →

Adani’s $16.5 Billion Aussie Mine Rattled by Tax Deal Delay – by Perry Williams (Bloomberg News – May 24, 2017)

India’s Adani Group could walk away from its $16.5 billion Carmichael coal project in Australia unless a royalties deal can be reached with the state government, according to federal Resources Minister Matthew Canavan.

The Queensland government’s failure to agree the terms of the royalty regime for the mine may jeopardize the development in the state’s Galilee Basin, Canavan said in a phone interview on Wednesday. Adani was due to make a final investment decision on May 29 for the Carmichael mine, but delayed that on Monday citing uncertainty over royalty payments.

Adani’s approval for the project “is contingent on the Queensland government coming to a decision on their royalties policy,” Canavan said. “You can’t expect Adani to make a multi-billion dollar decision if they don’t know what tax they will pay. The ball is now in the Queensland government’s court.” Continue Reading →

EPA uranium hearings: A tale of two cities – by John D. Taylor (Rapid City Journal – May 16, 2017)

HOT SPRINGS – On a gray Wednesday when a little mni wichoni (Lakota for life-giving water) was falling from the skies, a group of about 40 protesters marched from Centennial Park to the Mueller Center shouting “Mni Wichoni, water is life,” and “No uranium mining in the Black Hills,” along the way.

The protesters – including Sarah Peterson and Mary Helen Pederson, from the local group, It’s All About the Water, as well as a contingent of Oglala Lakota elders, children and adults from Pine Ridge, Rapid City and other locations, along with a veterans group, all part of the Clean Water Alliance of the Black Hills – were concerned about the threats they believe AzaragaUranium/Powertech’s plans for the Dewey Burdock in situ leaching uranium mining project will bring to the area, particularly the dry region’s water resources.

After praying, the contingent descended on the Mueller Center to share their concerns about the project with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), at the fourth of five scheduled public hearings EPA would hold on the company’s plans and the two draft permits the agency has issued to Azarga/Powertech, along with the Clean Water Act exemption the one permit will require. Continue Reading →

Bus-Burning Protesters Are Latest Threat to Lonmin Comeback – by Kevin Crowley (Bloomberg News – May 12, 2017)

Just as Lonmin Plc Chief Executive Ben Magara puts out one fire, another one lights up. After Lonmin spent 70 percent of its cash in the last three months of 2016 following a labor dispute at the platinum miner’s biggest shaft, Magara, 49, donned a hard hat and mining overalls to meet workers every day in February to ease tensions. The efforts proved successful and he reported in March that production was back on track.

But the relief was shortlived. Violent community protests around the company’s Marikana operations forced it to temporarily close two smaller shafts last week, amid concerns for workers’ safety. A bus was later set on fire.

The protests are just the latest in a litany of social and labor disputes threatening to overshadow Magara’s turnaround efforts when Lonmin publishes half-year results on Monday. The South African platinum producer, which last reported an annual profit in 2013 and has seen its share price decline about 97 percent since then, is under growing pressure to prove it can make money. Continue Reading →

Guinea town’s unrest a cautionary tale for African mining – by Tim Cocks (Reuters U.S. – May 12, 2017)

BOKE, GUINEA – When the frustration of youths in this Guinean mining town finally erupted, they looted shops, pillaged government buildings and smashed up dozens of vehicles, dispersing only when police opened fire.

“It was an immense crowd,” said Lieutenant Souare Abdoul, a fireman who had to shelter in a council building in Boke while young men tore out furniture, emptied a safe, stole computers and scattered hundreds of files across the floor.

“You could see they were angry and they wanted to destroy this place,” he added, walking on a carpet of papers and shattered glass. Only after gendarmes opened fire were the council staff able to escape. Continue Reading →

FEATURE-Indian villagers see no shine in gold rush – by Rina Chandran (Reuters U.K. – May 3, 2017)

SONAKHAN, India, May 3 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The village of Sonakhan in the eastern Indian state of Chhattisgarh hardly looks like the site of a gold rush.

There are no gun-toting ruffians, nor squalid camps of desperate fortune seekers. The dusty village with its distinct reddish soil, is a collection of modest brick homes and small patches of cultivated land amid scraggly forest.

But the village, a two-hour drive from the capital Raipur, could soon be enveloped by India’s first private gold mine. Residents of Sonakhan – ‘sona’ is gold in Hindi – sift for flecks of gold on the banks of the river Jonk during the monsoon rains. They voice fears the mine will up-end their lives. Continue Reading →

Guatemala murder acquittal could have far-reaching Canadian consequences – by Marina Jimenez (Toronto Star – April 10, 2017)

In a decision that could have far-reaching implications in Canadian courts, a Guatemalan judge acquitted a former security guard employed by a subsidiary of a Canadian mining company of murder on Thursday.

Mynor Padilla, 53, had been charged in the shooting death of Adolfo Ich, a Mayan Q’eqchi’, at a Sept. 27, 2009 protest on contested land at Fenix nickel mine in El Estor, eastern Guatemala. At the time, Padilla was employed by Compania Guatemalteca de Niquel (CGN), then a subsidiary of HudBay Minerals Inc., based in Toronto.

Padilla, a former high-ranking member of the military, was also acquitted in the shooting of another man, German Chub, who was left a paraplegic with one functioning lung. Continue Reading →

Environmental lawsuits pile up as PolyMet mine crawls forward – by Dan Kraker (Minnesota Public Radio News – March 31, 2017)

There will be plenty of work in Minnesota in the coming months and years for environmental attorneys. Four lawsuits have already been filed that could potentially delay the PolyMet copper-nickel mining project proposed for northeastern Minnesota. And several more are expected if the state eventually grants the mine the permits it needs to begin construction.

The suits are a key tool for environmental groups trying to block the controversial project. Some of the plaintiffs, including the Sierra Club and Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, are well-funded organizations and no strangers to litigation.

Others are small, grassroots groups, like the Save Lake Superior Association and Save our Sky Blue Waters, which along with the Duluth chapter of the Izaak Walton League filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the U.S. Forest Service’s recent approval of a land exchange with PolyMet. Continue Reading →