Archive | United States Mining

Why coal mining is resurgent in the U.S., China and India (CBS News – June 26, 2017)

Associated Press: BEIJING — The U.S., China and India are going back to the coal mines. These three countries, the world’s biggest coal users, have boosted coal mining in 2017, in an abrupt departure from last year’s record global decline for the heavily polluting fuel and a setback to efforts to rein in climate change emissions.

Mining data reviewed by The Associated Press show that production through May is up by at least 121 million tons, or 6 percent, for the three countries compared to the same period last year. The change is most dramatic in the U.S., where coal mining rose 19 percent in the first five months of the year, according to U.S. Department of Energy data.

Coal’s fortunes had appeared to hit a new low less than two weeks ago, when British energy company BP reported that tonnage mined worldwide fell 6.5 percent in 2016, the largest drop on record. China and the U.S. accounted for almost all the decline, while India showed a slight increase. Continue Reading →

The Future of Coal Country – by Eliza Griswold (The New Yorker Magazine – July 3, 2017)

A local environmental activist fights to prepare her community for life beyond mining.

One Sunday morning, just after deer-hunting season ended, Veronica Coptis, a community organizer in rural Greene County, Pennsylvania, climbed onto her father’s four-wheeler. She set off for a ridge a quarter of a mile from her parents’ small farmhouse, where she was brought up with her brother and two sisters. “Those are coyote tracks,” she called over the engine noise, pointing down at a set of fresh paw prints.

At the crest of the ridge, she stopped along a dirt track and scanned in both directions for security guards. Around her stretched a three-mile wasteland of valleys. Once an untouched landscape of white oak and shagbark hickory, it now belonged to Consol Energy and served as the refuse area for the Bailey Mine Complex, the largest underground coal mine in the United States.

Five hundred feet below the ridgeline lay a slate-colored expanse of sludge: sixty acres of coal waste, which filled the valley floor to a depth of more than a hundred feet. Coptis stared; it was twice as deep as it had been when she’d visited a year before. “How can it be that after two hundred years no one has come up with a better way of getting rid of coal waste?” she asked. Continue Reading →

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 →

Aluminum industry scrambles to align Trump’s trade guns – by Andy Home (Reuters U.S. – Jun 22, 2017)

LONDON -Aluminum industry executives will line up on Thursday to have their say on whether foreign imports into the United States pose a threat to the country’s security. The Section 232 investigation was announced by the Department of Congress on April 27 and follows hot on the heels of a similar probe into U.S. steel imports, the results of which are pending.

Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, to give its full title, was last used in 2001 against imports of iron ore with a “no action necessary” outcome.

This time around, everyone’s expecting a different result. The Trump administration has pledged to stem the rising metallic import tide and reverse the ebbing of the country’s primary aluminum production capacity. Continue Reading →

Rio Tinto, Canada aluminum’s good guys in Commerce Department probe – by Suzanne O’Halloran (June 21, 2017)

The world’s biggest aluminum players want to set the record straight: they say they shouldn’t be lumped in with China, Russia and other alleged “bad actors” whose imports may be a threat to the security of the United States.

Among those Rio Tinto (RIO), the largest producer of aluminum in North America, via its operations in Quebec and British Columbia. “Rio Tinto’s operations, such as those in Utah, California and Arizona are strong contributors to the United States economy and employment” Rio Tinto CEO Alf Barrios said in prepared remarks viewed by FOX Business, to be delivered Thursday during a scheduled hearing.

Barrios also defended the miner’s long history as a U.S. defense ally dating back to World War II. “Our smelters have a long history of supplying U.S. manufacturers – particularly U.S. defense-related manufacturing” he notes. Continue Reading →

HBO, John Oliver Sued by Energy Company Over Segment on Coal Mining – by Eriq Gardner (Hollywood Reporter – June 22, 2017)

The defamation lawsuit discusses how Oliver created a “villainous” portrait of Murray, 77, who “needs a lung transplant” and who “does not expect to live to see the end of this case.”

HBO has been hauled into court over a June 18 broadcast of Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, which covered President Donald Trump’s generous treatment of the coal industry. The plaintiff in the defamation case is conservative coal baron Robert Murray, Murray Energy and other associated coal companies.

In a complaint filed in West Virginia Circuit Court, first obtained by The Daily Beast, Murray alleges his reputation was harmed when Oliver stated that there was no evidence an earthquake caused a deadly 2007 mine collapse and implied that Murray had lied about it. The lawsuit also cites alleged implications that Murray Energy sacrifices safety and the health of its employees for profits and takes issue with the refusal of Last Week Tonight to regard information supplied or pointed out by Murray. Then, there’s the humor. 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 →

A drone’s-eye view of mining safety at Rio Tinto’s Kennecott – by Amy Joi O’Donoghue ( – June 14, 2017)

BINGHAM CANYON — At about $2,000 apiece, drones have become an invaluable set of eyes for the mining operations at Rio Tinto Kennecott, providing real-time 3-D mapping, equipment inspections and surveillance of slopes, crests and walls.

The five drones at the Bingham Canyon mining operation are the result of a four-year effort by the company to boost employee safety and provide enhanced capabilities of surveying one of the world’s largest open-pit mines. “The potential we can unlock with these is only limited by the imagination,” said David van Hees, drone programs lead for Rio Tinto Kennecott.

Drone pilots go through rigorous certification offered by an aviation company, and each pilot conducts preflight safety checks. Multiple flights lasting about 18 minutes happen daily, and each pilot works with two spotters who measure wind speed and look for potential aerial hazards. Continue Reading →

U.S. company signs collective agreement to restart Wabush Mines – by Andrew Topf ( – June 13, 2017)

Miners at the closed-down Wabush Mines in Labrador could be back on the job thanks to the recent signing of a collective agreement with the union. Five hundred people were thrown out of work in 2014 when Cliffs Natural Resources (NYSE:CLF) shut the gates on the operation in Western Labrador.

Last week however the United Steelworkers Union had good news to share, telling its members it signed a five-year collective agreement with Tacora Resources, an American company without a functioning website, for the Scully Mine operation.

Part of Wabush Mines, Scully Mine began operating in 1965, with iron concentrate railed to a pelletizing facility in Pointe Noire, Quebec, for shipment to Europe and throughout North America. Before it closed in 2014, a victim of low iron ore prices, Wabush Mines was Canada’s third largest iron ore operation, with an annual capacity of 6 million tonnes. The site since then has been tied up in regulatory proceedings. Continue Reading →

Mining a delicate balance of enviro vs. economics – Editorial (The Daily Mining Gazzette – June 12, 2017)

Mining has, for some time now, been considered by many a contentious issue, and a delicate balancing act between a means of providing desirable economic benefits and a process that potentially leads to avoidable long-lasting environmental concerns.

Precisely that situation, where opposing viewpoints and contrary opinions are voiced, played out at a recent public forum held by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. The DEQ meeting was about a permit request made earlier this year by Eagle Mine, which has its nickel and copper operation in northern Michigamme Township and its processing unit at the Humboldt Mill in Humboldt Township.

Eagle Mine, a subsidiary of Toronto-based Lundin Mining Corp., wants to expand its operation by extracting a high-grade nickel and copper deposit known as Eagle East. The ore body is a bit deeper than the company’s current mining operation, and is situated about 1.5 miles eastward. Continue Reading →

Would-be miner of rare earths bets on electric cars – by Henry Sanderson (Financial Times – June 11, 2017)

Sale of largest US deposit of elements used in zero-emission vehicles due Wednesday

When Tom Clarke first heard about rare earths a year ago he had to look up what they were on Wikipedia. Now the coal miner is leading a bid by a consortium to reopen a California mine that is the only major US deposit of rare earths — elements that are poised to benefit from increasing demand due to their use in magnets that go into electric car motors.

“The more I got involved in rare earths, the more I realised these elements are going to be in increasing demand [in electric vehicles],” says Mr Clarke. “So our hope here is to help facilitate the re-opening of the mine. We think there is a reliable market for it.” The Mountain Pass rare earths mine, located about 50 miles south of Las Vegas, was owned by Molycorp, a US natural resources group that filed for bankruptcy in 2015.

The mine is now due to be sold at auction on Wednesday, and Mr Clarke’s ERP Strategic Minerals has teamed up with Swiss private equity firm Pala Investments and Australian rare earths exploration group Peak Resources to offer $1.2m. Continue Reading →

Lawmakers urges U.S. Treasury to reject Aleris sale to China aluminum giant – by Diane Bartz and Lesley Wroughton (Reuters U.S. – June 10, 2017)

More than two dozen U.S. lawmakers have urged U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to reject the proposed sale of U.S. aluminum products maker Aleris Corp (ALSD.PK) to China Zhongwang Holdings Ltd (1333.HK) to protect U.S. security interests.

In a June 9 letter to Mnuchin shared with Reuters, the 27 lawmakers said it would be a “strategic misstep” to allow the $2.33 billion sale to go ahead.

“It is critical that CFIUS (Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States) exercise extreme caution when a foreign investment transaction includes the transfer of military proficiencies and sensitive technology to China,” the lawmakers wrote. Continue Reading →

Coal Jobs Matter a Lot … in Coal Country – by Justin Fox (Bloomberg News – June 7, 2017)

The hard numbers behind one West Virginia county’s urge to believe in Donald Trump.

You know the standard line these days on coal: It’s economically insignificant, employing fewer people nationwide than the Arby’s fast-food chain. It’s been on a long decline, pushed aside in electricity generation by cleaner natural gas and renewables. And it’s not coming back — people need to get over it and move on.

There’s something to these arguments. I’ve made versions of most of them in past columns. In May, coal mining companies employed only 51,000 people in the U.S. — less than not only Arby’s but also Southwest Airlines, Morgan Stanley and Bed, Bath & Beyond (just to name a few corporations in a similar size range).

That amounted to just 0.03 percent of total nonfarm payroll employment, and while the coal industry creates jobs beyond just the companies digging for coal, it has clearly become a tiny factor in the overall labor market. Continue Reading →

Freeport ‘on path’ to new Indonesia mine deal this year, CFO says – by Susan Taylor (Reuters – June 9, 2017)

TORONTO – Freeport-McMoRan Inc, the world’s largest publicly traded copper miner, is “on a path” to get a new mining deal with Indonesia this year for its giant Grasberg mine, Chief Financial Officer Kathleen Quirk said on Thursday.

The Arizona-based company resumed copper concentrate exports from Grasberg, the world’s second-biggest copper mine, in April after a 15-week outage related to a government dispute over mining rights. Freeport had planned to ramp up production, which was cut by around two-thirds during the outage.

Freeport shares gained 2.9 percent to $12.06 on Thursday. Jakarta halted Freeport’s copper concentrate exports in January, under new rules that require miners to adopt a special license, pay new taxes and royalties, divest a 51 percent stake in their operations and relinquish arbitration rights. Continue Reading →

America Has a Secret Switch to Make Military Metal – by Joe Deaux (Bloomberg News – June 7, 2017)

Seemingly with the flip of a switch, the U.S. could use an existing technology to produce all the specialized “high-purity” aluminum it needs for defense applications, according to researcher Harbor Intelligence.

In April, the Trump administration opened an investigation into whether an influx of foreign aluminum was a threat to national security. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said at the time that part of the rationale for the probe was to investigate whether domestic manufacturers might be unable to meet the Pentagon’s needs in the event of a war.

U.S. producers would have to spend about $25 million to expand their capacity to meet the military’s needs for so-called high-purity aluminum through a process called fractional crystallization, Harbor Intelligence analyst Tom Leary said Wednesday in an interview. That technology removes impurities from the primary metal and turns it into its purer form, he said. Continue Reading →