Canada mining push puts major carbon sink and Indigenous lands in the crosshairs – by Spoorthy Raman ( – June 2, 2022)

Since the last ice age, wide rivers have meandered toward the southern shores of Hudson Bay in Canada, to join its salty waters. On their way, they’ve created swaths of wetlands, filled with carbon-packed peat bog. The Cree Indigenous people who have lived here for millennia call these peatlands Yehewin Aski, or “the Breathing Lands,” for they believe these wetlands act as the lungs of Mother Earth.

“It’s such a watery landscape,” says Lorna Harris, a peatland ecosystem scientist at the Wildlife Conservation Society Canada. “Every peatland is connected to every other peatland that is next to it, which is then connected to the streams, which go to the rivers downstream, all the way down to Hudson Bay and James Bay.”

Sphagnum moss, a tiny, colorful plant, covers the peatlands’ surface. Underneath the moss lies a treasure trove: thousands of years of well-preserved remains of dead moss and other vegetation that have sequestered eye-popping amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. These peatlands are the biggest land-based carbon vault in North America, and the second-largest in the world.

But now mining companies want to open a part of that vault. In the early 2000s, a mining company called Noront Resources uncovered significant deposits of chromite, copper, nickel, platinum and palladium, thought to be worth billions of dollars.

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