Archive | Mining Environmental Accidents, Pollution and Abandoned Mines

Australian-first centre tackles mining scars on WA landscape – by Emma Young (WA Today – April 27, 2017)

An Australian-first project has lured scientists to Perth from across the globe to work with resources companies on restoring huge tracts of WA land left barren after mining is done. The $6.7 million new centre at Curtin University is led by botanist Kingsley Dixon, former director of science at Kings Park and 2016 WA Scientist of the Year.

He said while Australia had strict approvals processes and mine regulation, the end of a mine’s life was far less scrutinised. “A report by the Australia Institute in March showed Australia had 60,000 abandoned mines where the miner has walked away because it’s too hard to patch the hole, put back the veg,” he said.

“Now a federal inquiry happening into how we got this so wrong. “And in this state the scale of the problem is colossal. There are few other mining activities in the world on this scale.” Continue Reading →

Barrick’s bad day: Shares fall 10% as investor confidence shaken by third cyanide spill at Argentine mine – by Sunny Freeman (Financial Post – April 26, 2017)

Barrick Gold Corp.’s third cyanide spill in two years at its Argentine operation was among a number of environmental and social concerns that took centre stage at its annual general meeting Tuesday, the stock’s worst day in six months.

Barrick president Kelvin Dushnisky told shareholders that a cyanide pipeline rupture on Mar.28 at its Veladero mine posed no risk to people or the environment.

“However, this was the third incident at Veladero leach pad in the last 18 months and that is completely unacceptable,” Dushnisky said. “These incidents weaken our partnerships and the trust that underpin them.” Continue Reading →

Canada’s a global leader on clean air – by Lorrie Goldstein (Toronto Sun – April 20, 2017)

The question now is whether carbon pricing to reduce greenhouse gases is
worth the added cost to Canadians in terms of the higher taxes and prices
they will have to pay for almost all goods and services, considering that
Canada produces only 1.6% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

A Fraser Institute study released Thursday comes as a welcome breath of fresh air to Canadians tired of being harangued by politicians and so-called “green” activists as environmental laggards. The study shows a dramatic improvement in Canadian air quality since 1970, despite economic growth, an increasing population and greater energy consumption, making Canada a world leader in reducing air pollution.

It won’t change the debate over man-made climate change because the Fraser Institute is talking about traditional sources of air pollution, rather than industrial greenhouse gases – primarily carbon dioxide – linked to global warming.

But the study by University of Guelph economics professor Ross McKitrick and economist Elmira Aliakbari entitled, “Canada’s Air Quality since 1970: An Environmental Success Story” lives up to its name. Continue Reading →

Approval of Mount Polley mine waste dumping irks critics – by Yvette Brend (CBC News B.C. – April 18, 2017)

Mount Polley Mining Corporation has been granted permission to drain treated mining waste water into Quesnel Lake, a massive glacial lake that provides drinking water to residents of Likely B.C., northeast of Williams Lake.

Approval of the long-term waste water management plan came April 7, despite a disaster that put the water at risk in 2014 and a provincial investigation into the spill that is not yet complete. “The timing is absolutely surprising,” said Ugo Lapointe of Mining Watch Canada, who pointed out the news release came on a Friday afternoon before the launching of the B.C. election.

Quesnel Lake, famed for trophy-sized rainbow trout, is feared at risk by locals who describe it as the deepest fjord lake on earth, and who protest any dump of mining waste, treated or otherwise, which can carry toxic elements and heavy metals such as arsenic and lead or zinc. Continue Reading →

BHP-Vale Mine Restart Hinges on Deal With Small-Town Mayor – by R.T. Watson (Bloomberg News – April 13, 2017)

A 34-year-old mayor of a small Brazilian city stands between a giant mine and its plans to resume operations after a disastrous dam collapse.

By refusing to sign off on the use of river water, Leris Braga is delaying permit approvals that would allow the BHP Billiton Ltd.-Vale SA iron venture to rehire thousands of workers and start generating cash again for debt repayments. While that makes Braga a villain for bondholders and unemployed locals, he says he’s only trying to get the company to meet its responsibilities.

“The city of Santa Barbara isn’t going to receive one cent,” he said in an interview from his offices in the more than 300-year-old mining town. “I’m not trying to make some exchange for the document they need.” Continue Reading →

[Arizona Mining] FROM THE EDITOR: State needs help filling gaping holes from mining (Green Valley News – April 16, 2017)

There are trade-offs when you live in a mining state. Mining brings jobs, feeds economies, and pulls minerals out of the ground that make our lives better. But in Arizona’s case, mining also leaves tens of thousands of gaping, abandoned holes across the landscape.

Nearly 30 years ago, a group of Green Valley men decided to do something about it. You read about them in our paper last Sunday. The group calls themselves the Hazardous Abandoned Mine Finders, and they have plotted the locations and posted warning signs at about 10,000 shafts in Southern Arizona.

For much of that time, they did it with the blessing of several government agencies, who often provided the signs. Now, they’ve been pushed aside in favor of … well, pretty much nothing. Continue Reading →

[Arizona Mining] Abandoned mines going unmarked; agencies pull support from GV group – by David Rookhuyzen (Green Valley New – April 9, 2017)

For nearly 30 years, an informal group of local desert rats has traipsed across Southern Arizona on a mission to find and mark dangerous abandoned mines. While that group is still around and eager to work, the government has backed off on its support, hampering efforts.

The Hazardous Abandoned Mine Finders, a group of nine men founded by Fred Fielder, has gone out nearly weekly since 1989 to pinpoint mine shafts across Pima, Santa Cruz and Cochise counties and erect warning signs. In nearly three decades, the Green Valley crew has posted about 10,000 signs at shafts that were once mining operations. They’ve marked up to 14 in one day, and in 1996, the group put up 667 signs.

“If you are out there and see one of these signs, the odds are 90 percent that we put that there,” according to Marlin White, the group’s current leader. Continue Reading →

The Kola Mining and Metallurgy Combine: Northwest Russia polluter posts impressive cuts in harmful emissions – by Anna Kireeva ( – April 12, 2017)

In a surprising development, the Kola Mining and Metallurgy Company –which for decades has stubbornly fouled air over Northwest Russia and Scandinavia – last year reduced its emissions of harmful sulfur dioxide by more than 20 percent.

The KMMC, a daughter company of the giant Norilsk Nickel, reported last week that its sulfur dioxide emissions for 2016 totaled 119,700 tons, which is 35,000 tons less than the previous year.

The new emissions figures seem to reverse a rise in the toxic heavy metal pollution that began in 2011. That year, the KMMC posted figures as high as 134,000 tons a year. They rose in subsequent years, plateauing at a towering 154,900 tons in 2015. Continue Reading →

Barrick needs to reassure investors after Veladero mine mishaps – by Nicole Mordant and Susan Taylor (Reuters U.S. – April 12, 2017)

TORONTO – Barrick Gold must take steps to safeguard investor confidence by ensuring there are no more operating mishaps at its mines after a third incident in 18 months at its big Argentina mine, analysts said.

Argentine regulators told Barrick last week that it must overhaul environmental and operating processes at its Veladero mine, where operations have been partially suspended, after a cyanide solution spill on March 28.

“We are absolutely committed to making Veladero a mine that all of our stakeholders can be proud of and our resolve has not wavered,” Barrick spokesman Andy Lloyd said on Tuesday. Veladero is Argentina’s largest gold mine and Barrick’s third largest contributor to output. Veladero’s income was $220 million in 2016, up 2 percent from 2015. Revenue in 2016 was $685 million, down from $720 million in 2015. Continue Reading →

Water scarcity, pollution to take shine off Latin American mining sector – by Cecilia Jamasmie ( – April 11, 2017)

Water supply concerns and pollution in Latin America will drive increasingly strict environmental regulations in the region over the coming years, which in turn will also make miners’ life more difficult, a report by BMI Research shows.

According to the analysts, in addition to raising costs for mining companies and delaying certain projects, the focus on the amount of water used by the extraction industry will heightened social pressure on firms operating in the area.

A recent example of this trend is what happened in El Salvador, which last month passed a law that bans all mining for gold and other metals in the country, in an effort to protect its environment, particularly its water streams. Continue Reading →

What’s Changed on the Ground Since the Mount Polley Mine Disaster? – by Christopher Pollon (The – April 12, 2017)

There are more than 120 tailings dams across British Columbia today, holding back a century of toxic mining detritus. Unless this number can be reduced, an average of two B.C. dams are predicted to fail in each coming decade.

The way to avoid this was laid out clearly in the wake of the Mount Polley mine disaster. For taxpayers and the environment to be protected, an independent review panel of three geotechnical experts concluded B.C. must move to safer ways of processing and storing tailings — the chemical and metal-rich byproducts of mineral processing.

Rejecting the notion that “business as usual can continue,” the review panel was clear that economic considerations must not trump long-term safety concerns. But even after multiple investigations and dozens of recommendations adopted by the B.C. government, there are indications that business as usual continues. Continue Reading →

Could a virus spell the end of acid rock drainage? (Mining Technology – February 6, 2017)

Microbes play a huge part in mining, both good and bad. But thanks to a new study by the University of British Columbia, which successfully identified and isolated the microbes responsible for acid rock drainage, the good may soon outweigh the bad. Molly Lempriere finds out what microbes to look for.

Microbes are an intrinsic element of the mining process, bringing both beneficial and dangerous side-effects. Naturally occurring micro-organisms are inevitably exposed during excavation, causing chemical reactions that vary from site to site.

Companies as large as Vale and Rio Tinto have begun to use microbes to their advantage with biomining techniques that capitalise on waning resources as regulations tighten. Research into microbes at mine sites continues to yield benefits; one new study by the University of British Columbia (UBC) has managed to identify and isolate microbes involved in acid rock drainage (ARD). Continue Reading →

Thornton Joins Barrick Top Brass in Argentina After Rupture – by Danielle Bochove and Jonathan Gilbert (Bloomberg News – April 10, 2017)

Barrick Gold Corp. Executive Chairman John Thornton flew to Argentina after authorities threatened to rescind the license for the Veladero mine on the same day the company agreed to sell half the asset.

Thornton joined President Kelvin Dushnisky, Chief Operating Officer Richard Williams and Chief Financial Officer Catherine Raw in meetings with local managers in Buenos Aires as the world’s top gold producer deals with the fallout from the third incident involving cyanide solution in two years.

“It underscores how seriously the company and the management team takes this issue,” Andy Lloyd, a spokesman for Barrick, said by telephone from Toronto. On Thursday, Barrick announced a $960 million deal with China’s Shandong Gold Group for a 50 percent stake in Veladero. Continue Reading →

IN DEPTH: 60 years later, Alaska still calling B.C. to task on a mine leak flowing through its river – by Francis Plourde and Maryse Zeidler (CBC News BC – April 5, 2017)

In a quiet corner of B.C., a mine that shut down 60 years ago has been slowly leaking acid runoff into a river that flows into Alaska. Officials there are working to change that.

In 1957, the Tulsequah Chief mine on the shores of the Taku River in northwest B.C. closed its doors, leaving behind acid mine drainage — the acidic water created at mining sites that can then drain into waterways, which critics say can harm fish and other wildlife.

The drainage is a big concern for Alaskans given the location of the mine — next to one of the most important salmon rivers in the U.S. The Alaskan government has tried dozens of times to compel B.C. officials to do something about the drainage since the mine closed. Continue Reading →

UPDATE 1-Argentine province to suspend some Barrick activities -report (Reuters Africa – March 30, 2017)

BUENOS AIRES/TORONTO, March 30 (Reuters) – Argentina’s San Juan province ordered Barrick Gold Corp to suspend some activities at its Veladero mine after a pipe carrying gold-bearing solution ruptured on the leach pad, state-run news agency Telam reported on Thursday.

Reuters could not immediately reach the provincial government to confirm the report. A spokesman for Barrick said the Toronto-based company was confirming its understanding of the order.

Barrick said on Wednesday that a monitoring system at the mine had detected a rupture on the pipe on Tuesday night. The issue was “quickly corrected,” it added, following procedures to contain and mitigate the situation. All solution was contained within the operating facility and there was no impact to people or the environment, Barrick said in the statement. Continue Reading →