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

Amazon rainforest deforestation: ‘Almost 10 per cent’ due to development around mines – by Nick Kilvert (Australian Broadcasting Corporation – October 18, 2017)

http://www.abc.net.au/

Almost 10 per cent of clearing in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest is being driven by unregulated development around mine sites, a new study has found. Researchers analysed satellite data from 2005 to 2015, contrasting areas within a 70-kilometre radius of mine sites, with areas not proximal to mines.

In the study published today in Nature Communications, they found that an extra 11,670 square-kilometres of Amazon rainforest had been cleared where mines were within that radius.

“This is an unregulated source of deforestation, we didn’t know it existed and we assumed it was much smaller than what our results have shown,” said lead author Dr Laura Sonter of the University of Vermont’s Gund Institute. Continue Reading →

Brazil abandons controversial bid to mine Amazon natural reserve after vehement criticism from conservationists (South China Morning Post – September 26, 2017)

http://www.scmp.com/

Agence France-Presse – The Brazilian government backed off a controversial proposal to authorise private companies to mine a sprawling Amazon reserve Monday after blistering domestic and international criticism.

President Michel Temer’s office will issue a new decree on Tuesday that “restores the conditions of the area, according to the document that instituted the reserve in 1984”, the Ministry of Mines and Energy said in a statement.

Last week, environmental activist group Greenpeace said at least 14 illegal mines and eight clandestine landing strips were already being used by miners in the Denmark-sized reserve known as Renca in the eastern Amazon. Continue Reading →

Tucson lawsuit seeks to protect jaguars from Rosemont Mine – by Curt Prendergast (Arizona Daily Star – September 25, 2017)

http://tucson.com/

A Tucson environmental group sued two federal agencies Monday in an effort to protect the habitat of jaguars in Southern Arizona from the proposed Rosemont Mine.

The Center for Biological Diversity asked a federal judge to rule the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service violated federal law in their analysis of the environmental impacts of the proposed copper mine in the Santa Rita Mountains.

The center alleges Fish and Wildlife violated the Endangered Species Act and the Administrative Procedure Act by issuing new regulations defining damage to habitat and by revising the critical habitat designation for the jaguar, according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Tucson. Continue Reading →

Water woes may leave green-car hopes high and dry – by Antony Currie (Reuters/Nasdaq.com – August 28, 2017)

http://www.nasdaq.com/

NEW YORK, Aug 28 (Reuters Breakingviews) – Water problems could leave the burgeoning market for green cars high and dry. Ford is the latest to ramp up its electrification efforts with a planned joint venture with China’s Anhui. Trouble is, the industry relies heavily on the Democratic Republic of Congo for cobalt to make electric vehicles’ lithium-ion batteries.

Players like BHP Billiton need secure water supplies for their cobalt-mining operations. They also are big consumers of electricity, which is produced mostly by hydropower. With the Congo River running near 100-year lows after two years of drought, blackouts are a big risk.

Wastewater – the theme of the World Water Week conference that kicked off in Sweden on Sunday – is another problem. Adding untreated industrial sludge back into the river basin would make a bad situation worse: the majority of Congolese already lack access to safe drinking water. Continue Reading →

Philippine lawmakers seek to ban mining in watershed areas, export of raw ore – by Manolo Serapio Jr (Reuters U.S. – August 25, 2017)

https://www.reuters.com/

MANILA (Reuters) – Philippine lawmakers have filed a bill seeking to ban mining in watershed areas and exports of unprocessed ores and will require miners to get legislative approval before operating, in line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s pledge to overhaul the sector.

The Philippines is the world’s top nickel ore supplier but Duterte says miners pay too little tax and not enough to compensate mining communities that suffer environmental damage.

“The challenge for government is to ensure proceeds translate into sustainable development, environmental protection, and greater transparency and accountability in the mining industry,” according to the bill authored by 22 congressmen led by Pantaleon Alvarez, the speaker of the House of Representatives and a strong ally of Duterte. Continue Reading →

‘A catastrophe’: Brazil looks to escape recession by opening Amazon reserve for mining – by Victor Ferreira (Financial Post – August 24, 2017)

http://nationalpost.com/

‘The decree is the biggest attack on the Amazon in the past 50 years,’ an opposition senator said. The reserve is said to be home to a massive gold deposit

Brazil’s government has opened a massive national reserve to vast commercial mining in a move critics dubbed the “biggest attack on the Amazon in the past 50 years.”

A decree from President Michel Temer published Wednesday announced that the National Reserve of Copper and Associates (RENCA) would immediately be abolished so that the area, thought to be rich in gold, could be explored. The reserve has been protected since 1984 and covers 47,000 square kilometres — nearly the size of the province of Nova Scotia. About one-third of the reserve will be opened to miners.

The move, proposed by the country’s mining and energy ministry in March, comes as the country has been struggling to escape a crushing economic crisis that has seen unemployment rise above 12 per cent. In a statement to Brazilian newspaper O Globo, mining and energy minister Fernando Coelho Filho suggested the move could help drag the country out of recession. Continue Reading →

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 →