Archive | Mining Environmental, Water Shortage and Land Reclamation/Revegetation Issues

Exclusive: Mitsui, Cobra in talks with BHP over desalination plant – sources – by Gram Slattery (Reuters U.S. – August 10, 2017)

https://www.reuters.com/

SANTIAGO (Reuters) – A consortium made up of Mitsui & Co and Grupo Cobra is in exclusive talks with BHP Billiton Plc to build an $800 million desalination plant at its Spence copper mine in Chile, two sources with knowledge of the process told Reuters this week.

This means BHP, the world’s biggest mining house, is advancing the contracting process for a planned $2.5 billion expansion at Spence, a project that has been on ice for years.

A number of other companies bid on constructing the plant, including a consortium of Canada’s Brookfield Asset Management and Spain’s Acciona, but BHP has selected the Mitsui group to go ahead with bilateral negotiations, said the sources, who requested anonymity because the matter is private. Continue Reading →

Alaska, Canada must safeguard fisheries from B.C. mining operations – by Dale Kelley and Louise Stutes (Alaska Dispatch News – August 3, 2017)

https://www.adn.com/

Rep. Louise Stutes serves Alaska House District 32, which includes Kodiak, Cordova and Yakutat. Dale Kelley has been executive director of the Alaska Trollers Association for nearly 30 years. She serves on the boards of several state and national fisheries organizations and federal advisory groups.

Legislators and fishing representatives may appear to have very different jobs, but the reality is that we are both charged with looking out for the best interests of the hard-working people we represent.

One issue of mutual concern is making sure Alaska communities do not suffer harm from Canadian mines under development in our shared watersheds. And, should the unthinkable occur, we want the responsible parties to clean up the mess and reimburse any losses. Currently, Alaska has no binding agreement with Canada to ensure that happens. Continue Reading →

Mining microbes could unlock wealth, clean tailings – by Mary Katherine Keown (Sudbury Star – August 3, 2017)

http://www.thesudburystar.com/

With luck, ingenuity and some scientific know-how, Sudbury’s tailings ponds could become a new source nickel, copper and zinc. Researchers from Laurentian University, the University of Toronto and the University of British Columbia met at the Vale Living with Lakes Centre on Wednesday at a symposium to discuss biomining research.

“The topic of discussion is developing technologies that aim to remediate waste and effluent waters from mining operations in Sudbury and British Columbia,” Vlad Papangelakis, a professor at the University of Toronto and the project lead of the biomining research, said Wednesday. “We hope to recover some value from locked metals in these residues that will offset the processing costs.”

The value of residual nickel in Sudbury tailings amounts to $7 billion, according to recent world nickel prices. “There is significant economic interest, therefore, to use the eco-friendly processes being developed by (biomining) for remediation and base metal extraction,” symposium organizers said in a release. Continue Reading →

Millions of Orchids Are Blooming in an Abandoned Iron Mine – by Michelle Z. Donahue (National Geographic – May 12, 2016)

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/

The plants are thriving in a wetland that sprang up after the mine was shuttered in the 1970s.

A vacationer heading to Lake Placid on State Route 3 could be forgiven for barely glancing at a group of dilapidated buildings on the way through Star Lake, New York. Those structures are all that remain of what was once the world’s largest open-pit iron mine.

But hidden in a wooded marsh directly across the street, curious road trippers would find an even more startling deposit: Millions of orchids have been thriving for over 60 years on the blighted industrial waste site.

The colorful flowers are growing atop a wetland that formed at the base of a pile of tailings—crushed rock left over when iron ore is extracted from its surroundings. As part of her research, graduate student Grete Bader tallied up the plants within 20 predefined plots, and her work suggests wildflowers now cover the hundred-acre wetland. Continue Reading →

Environment at risk from clean energy switch, says World Bank – by Henry Sanderson (Financial Times – July 18, 2017)

https://www.ft.com/

A transition from fossil fuels to mitigate the impacts of climate change will require large amounts of metals and rare earth elements that could create environmental challenges, the World Bank has warned.

Technologies needed to meet the Paris climate agreement from wind, solar, and electricity systems are “more material-intensive” than our current fossil-fuel supply systems, a report by the bank said.

The mining or extraction of metals and rare earth elements could create environmental problems in terms of energy, water and land use, the report said. Continue Reading →

After Rainforest Victory for Brazil’s Environmentalists, a Mining Battle Looms – by R.T. Watson (Bloomberg News – June 21, 2017)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

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 →

Urbanisation and sustainability: Can sand mining ever be green? – by Molly Lempriere (Verkict – June 20, 2017)

https://www.verdict.co.uk/

As urbanisation increases so does the demand for sand in construction, making it the most mined resource on earth. The result has been widespread ecological devastation, as riverbanks and waterways are stripped of their foundations.

With no population decline in sight, can sand mining be made sustainable? Demand for sand is high as rapid urbanisation in China and India has created a boom for the mining industry. Fuelled by this, illegal mining has grown, unnoticed and unchecked around the world, destroying ecosystems, waterways and beaches.

Though a seemingly plentiful resource, only certain kinds of sands are actually useful for construction purposes. Desert sand, for example, isn’t suitable for either construction or use as silicon due to its worn, rounded edges, so instead it is river banks and beaches that are being plundered. Continue Reading →

People and Wildlife Are Both Casualties of Illicit Mining – by Richard Ruggiero (National Geographic – May 24, 2017)

http://voices.nationalgeographic.com/

Central Africa’s natural treasures are a blessing. They are also a curse.

A Voice for Elephants – The vast Congo Basin — spanning six Central African countries – supports more than 10,000 animal and 600 tree species, many of which are unique to this area. The region represents the second largest contiguous moist tropical forest in the world and provides critical habitat to the last populations of several globally important species, including African forest elephants and three of the world’s four species of great apes.

Despite its vast size and relative intactness, Congo’s forest area and wildlife are under severe threat. Between 2002 and 2011, forest elephants experienced a devastating 62 percent population decline and a 30-percent loss of range. The Grauer’s gorilla — the world’s largest primate — which is only found in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), suffered staggering declines.

In the span of one generation, their numbers dropped by 77 percent across their range. In Kahuzi-Biega National Park, they fared even worse — plummeting by 87 percent. Continue Reading →

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

http://www.watoday.com.au/

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 →

Global Warming Costs Mount as Heatwave Hits Chile’s Glaciers – by Laura Millan Lombrana (Bloomberg News – April 27, 2017)

https://www.bloombergquint.com/

(Bloomberg) — High, high up in the Andes mountains above Chile’s capital, at the foot of the glaciers that date from the last ice age, the temperatures were almost balmy this summer. That threatens long-term water supplies to the city of seven million spread out on the plain below.

At the Olivares Alfa glacier, 4,420 meters above sea level, temperatures rose above 10 Celsius on several days in January and rarely fell below zero, said Andres Rivera, a glaciologist at the Center of Scientific Studies in Valdivia. “It is not rare to have above-zero temperatures during summer, but high temperatures day and night, for several days in a row, that was unprecedented,” Rivera said.

The glaciers that supply much of Santiago’s water over the hot, dry summer months shrunk by a quarter to 380 square kilometers in the 30 years to 2013/14, according to a study by the Universidad de Chile. Continue Reading →

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

http://www.mining.com/

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 →

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

http://www.mining-technology.com/

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 →

The green revolution; a double-edged sword for metal markets – by Andy Home (Reuters U.S. – April 5, 2017)

http://www.reuters.com/

On March 29, El Salvador made a little bit of history. The tiny Central American country passed a law banning all exploration, mining and processing of metals. Without exception. It is the first nation to do so.

The decision, which enjoys broad popular support, is all the more remarkable given the parlous state of the country’s economy. But in a public debate that pitted water supplies against economics, water won.

The decision will not affect any metals supply chain. There are no major mines in the country, although one was planned. El Salvador has specific issues with water. Its Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources estimates that 90 percent of surface water is contaminated. Continue Reading →

Sapphire rush overwhelms remote Madagascar rainforests – by Edward Carver (Toronto Star – April 2, 2017)

https://www.thestar.com/

The Associated Press – ANTANANARIVO, MADAGASCAR—A sapphire rush has brought tens of thousands of people into the remote rainforests of eastern Madagascar, disfiguring a protected environmental area and prompting calls for military intervention.

More high-quality sapphires have been found in the biodiverse area known as Corridor Ankeniheny-Zahamena in the past six months than were found in the entire country over the past 20 years, according to Vincent Pardieu, a French gemologist who has been visiting mines there for more than a decade and was in the area last month.

“I can tell you this is big,” Pardieu said. Gem trade shows around the world now have “nice, big, super-clean sapphires” from the region. “It’s the most important discovery in Madagascar for the past 20 or 30 years.” Continue Reading →

El Salvador, Prizing Water Over Gold, Bans All Metal Mining – by Gene Palumbo and Elisabeth Malkin (New York Times – March 29, 2017)

https://www.nytimes.com/

SAN SALVADOR — Lawmakers in El Salvador voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to prohibit all mining for gold and other metals, making the country the first in the world to impose a nationwide ban on metal mining, environmental activists said.

Declaring that El Salvador’s fragile environment could not sustain metal mining operations, legislators across the political spectrum approved the ban, which had broad support, particularly from the influential Roman Catholic Church.

Supporters said the law was needed to protect the country’s dwindling supply of clean water. “Today in El Salvador, water won out over gold,” Johnny Wright Sol, a legislator from the center-right Arena party, wrote on Twitter. Continue Reading →