Archive | Europe Mining

Plan to Boost Big Swiss Firms’ Liability Fails in Referendum (Associated Press/US News – November 29, 2020)

GENEVA (AP) — A proposal that could have stiffened penalties against companies based in Switzerland if they violate human rights or harm the environment abroad failed in a Swiss referendum on Sunday.

The initiative titled “Responsible companies — to protect people and the environment” won a narrow majority of votes, with 50.7% percent backing it and 49.3% against, but failed because a majority of the country’s cantons, or states, came out against it. Support was strongest in urban areas, much of Switzerland’s French-speaking west and Italian-speaking Ticino. Continue Reading →

Along Russia’s ‘Road of Bones,’ Relics of Suffering and Despair – by Matilda Coleman ( – November 22, 2020)

The Kolyma Highway in the Russian Far East once delivered tens of thousands of prisoners to the work camps of Stalin’s gulag. The ruins of that cruel era are still visible today.

The prisoners, hacking their way through insect-infested summer swamps and winter ice fields, brought the road, and the road then brought yet more prisoners, delivering a torrent of slave labor to the gold mines and prison camps of Kolyma, the most frigid and deadly outpost of Stalin’s gulag.

Their path became known as the “road of bones,” a track of gravel, mud and, for much of the year, ice that stretches 1,260 miles west from the Russian port city of Magadan on the Pacific Ocean inland to Yakutsk, the capital of the Yakutia region in eastern Siberia. Continue Reading →

Do You Know Where Your Watch’s Gold Came From? – by Victoria Gomelsky (New York Times – November 19, 2020)

A mechanical timepiece is powered by clean kinetic energy and can run, at least theoretically, forever and a day. To support that image of inherent sustainability, many Swiss watchmakers over the past decade have partnered with conservation groups, implemented energy-saving measures at their at their factories and, more recently, experimented with recycled materials for things like packaging and straps.

When it comes to the gold and gemstones used to make watches, however, the industry lags behind other sectors such as electronics in understanding and communicating how its materials are obtained and ensuring their extraction has not harmed people and the environment.

“We always compare the watch industry here in Switzerland to the textile industry 20 years ago,” said Dario Grünenfelder, a consultant to WWF Switzerland and lead author of the WWF Watch and Jewellery Report 2018. “They’re not really tackling the big issues: the raw materials that go into their products.” Continue Reading →

Romania’s coal-black heartland embraces Europe’s Green New Deal – by Hans von der Brelie (Euro News – November 13, 2020)

Our drone reveals an apocalyptic landscape of industrial decline: abandoned mine buildings as far as the eye can see.

This is Jiu Valley, in south-western Romania, a six-hour drive from the capital Bucharest: it’s Romania’s famous coal heartland.

But it now finds itself at a crossroads, as Europe’s coal regions transition away from this fossilised fuel to more environmentally-sustainable energy sourcess. Continue Reading →

Belgium’s reckoning with a brutal history in Congo – by Neil Munshi (Financial Times – November 12, 2020)

The cleaners who came for King Leopold II in Brussels this July knew what to do. Many times over the past few years, they have used chemicals to dissolve words such as “assassin”, “racist” and “murderer” scrawled across the statue on the Place du Trône.

As before, they removed the blood-red paint protesters had dumped on his hands. But this time they missed a spot: the fingertips and palm of his curled right hand were still crimson.

As protests following the killing of George Floyd in the US reverberated around the world this summer, Belgium, like many other countries, experienced its own reckoning: with a brutal colonial past, with the systemic racism that inhibits its black citizens today and with the question of what exactly it owes to the Democratic Republic of Congo, which it exploited for 75 years. Continue Reading →

‘Ultra-rare’ purple-pink diamond sells for a record $26.6M – by Oscar Holland (CNN Style – November 11, 2020)

An “ultra-rare” purple-pink diamond sold for a record 24.4 million Swiss francs ($26.6 million) at an auction in Geneva on Wednesday evening. The 14.83-carat stone, dubbed “The Spirit of the Rose,” is now the most expensive purple-pink diamond ever to sell at auction, according to Sotheby’s.

The sale comes more than three years after the gem was uncovered from a mine in northeast Russia. Taking its name from the 1911 Russian ballet “Le Spectre de la rose,” it was cut from an even larger rough diamond unearthed by the mining company Alrosa in 2017.

Then weighing 27.85 carats, the initial find was believed to be the largest pink crystal ever discovered in the country. It took a year to cut and polish the oval-shaped stone, which went on display in Hong Kong, Singapore and Taipei ahead of Wednesday’s sale. Continue Reading →

German industry hopes to lift Bolivia’s lithium treasure – by Franz Viohl (Deutsche Welle – November 12, 2020)

The glory days of the mines in Bolivia’s Cerro Rico (Rich Mountain) region are long gone. The only ones left digging for the silver that gave the mountain its name are a few children from the nearby city of Potosi.

Situated on a cold and barren plateau at the foot of Cerro Rico, Potosi is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site and ranks as one of the world’s highest cities at an altitude of 4,050 meters (13,290 feet). In its city center you can find a number of colonial-style buildings, including a museum of local history that depicts the plight of Bolivian miners past and present.

Centuries of mining for silver, tin and copper at Cerro Rico, however, have made only others rich, the locals say. They quip that the silver extracted by the country’s former Spanish rulers alone would have been enough “to build a bridge from Bolivia to Europe.” Continue Reading →

Rio Tinto, Bluejay to jointly explore for nickel in Finland – by Cecilia Jamasmie ( – November 10, 2020)

Explorer and developer Bluejay Mining (LON: JAY) inked on Tuesday a joint venture and earn-in agreement with Rio Tinto (ASX, LON, NYSE: RIO) to advance the Enonkoski nickel project in Finland.

The deal could see Rio progressively earn up to a 75% interest in the project by injecting $20 million into Enonkoski, either by covering expenses or paying cash equivalent amounts, over three stages.

In the first phase, the world’s second-largest miner could secure 51% ownership by spending $5 million by November 2023. Of that total, Rio would have to spend $400,000 by the end of March 2021. Continue Reading →

Chain reaction: virus darkens future of Albania’s chromium miners – by Briseida Mema and Emmy Varley (Agence-France Presse/Yahoo News – November 10, 2020)

With mountains of chromite piling sky high on the docks of the port behind him in the Albanian city of Durres, logistics manager Henri Kurti explains the hold up.

“When China and America have problems, we have even bigger problems in Bulqize,” he says, referring to the region to the east where the blue-grey metal is mined before being shipped around the world.

As the coronavirus pandemic rocks international commerce, knock-on effects are being felt in poor corners of the world like Albania, where chromium miners have nowhere to sell their goods due to a drop off in purchases from China. Continue Reading →

Russia preparing to beat Canada in race for Arctic resources – by Eugene Gerden (Resource World Magazine – November 9, 2020)

Russia plans to beat Canada and the US in the race for Arctic hydrocarbon resources by establishing control of over 60% of them via recognition of its right to the Lomonosov Ridge by the special UN Commission which may take place as early as 2021.

According to earlier statements by Dmitry Medvedev, a member of the Russian Security Council, Russia is planning to “more vigorously defend its claims for the development of Arctic mining fields” amid the attempts of rivals to limit its access to these resources.

Needless to say, the main interest of Russia in the Arctic is related to the Lomonosov Ridge, an underwater ridge of continental crust under the Arctic Ocean that spans 1,800 km from the New Siberian Islands over the central part of the ocean to Ellesmere Island in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago and which, in addition to Russia, could also be considered as an attractive region by Canada and Denmark. Continue Reading →

Raw materials: the missing link in Europe’s drive for batteries – by Frédéric Simon ( – November 9, 2020)

While Europe is rapidly catching up with China on investments into batteries for electric cars, it is still lagging behind when it comes to securing supplies of the critical raw materials that are needed to produce them.

Since the launch of the “European battery alliance” in 2017, the EU has made a leap forward in its quest to develop a full battery manufacturing value chain.

Investments in the EU battery sector reached €60 billion last year, while China invested only €17 billion, EU commissioner Maroš Šefčovič told EURACTIV in a recent interview. This year, Europe has so far invested €25 billion – again twice as much as China, he noted. Continue Reading →

How miners from Camborne and Redruth started a Central American football revolution in Mexico – by Aaron Greenaway (Cornwall Live – October 25, 2020)

When mention is made of “famous Cornish exports”, it is safe to say that the first things that spring to mind are things we find on our plate – delicacies such as the iconic Cornish pasty, clotted cream, scones made correctly (jam first), Davidstow cheddar and the mighty saffron cake.

It is also true we exported Prime Ministers to Australia, with two Australian Prime Ministers being of Cornish descent – Sir Robert Menzies, the country’s longest-serving PM, was part-Cornish through his maternal grandparents and Bob Hawke, PM between 1983-1991, had links to Kernow as well.

On top of this, at least six Premiers of South Australia were also of Cornish descent. One other thing synonymous with Cornwall is of course mining, with the county being world-renowned for its work during the 1800s and early 1900s – although, you wouldn’t know it now, with the old buildings left behind the only relics of a once-proud past. Continue Reading →

How a city lives with HUGE hole in the ground (PHOTOS) – by Yekaterina Sinelschikova (Russia Beyond The Headlines – October 15, 2020)

The city of Mirny has just one attraction – an incredible hole in the ground, which can be seen from space. Possibly the most famous hole in Russia, this moderately sized pit freaked some Reddit users out, leading to thousands of bewildered comments, such as: “Love the airport that just ends at the mine. Overshoot your runway a bit? Yeah, that’s the end of your vacation.”

On the edge of the mind-boggling quarry there indeed sits a city – Mirny. It’s situated in the biggest and most barren region of the country – Yakutia (or Sakha Republic, as you may also know it), a huge landmass that occupies a fifth of the country’s territory, but is inhabited by less than a million people.

The city of Mirny itself has 35,000 inhabitants and they’re there mainly for one reason: diamonds. In fact, they’re why the city was built in the first place. Continue Reading →

Nornickel eyes doubling of copper production in Kola Peninsula – by Atle Staalesen (The Barents Observer – October 12, 2020)

The mining and metallurgy company is facing serious troubles with its worn-out production facilities in the Kola Peninsula.

Not only is the company about to close its highly polluting plant in Nikel, the town located on the border to Norway and Finland. It is reportedly also in the process of taking radical measures with its copper production in Monchegorsk.

According to regional Governor Andrey Chibis, about 90 billion rubles is to be invested in a major modernization of the copper processing. The company’s existing processing facilities in Monchegorsk will be subject to reconstruction, he said in a regional government session this week. Continue Reading →

POLAND’S COAL INDUSTRY FINALLY BURNS OUT – by Maria Wilczek (Balkan Insight – October 12, 2020)

Covering politics, society and business in Southern and Eastern Europe

Polish miners steadfastly blocked the overhaul of the coal industry for decades, but further delay has become too costly. BIRN reports the backstory of a landmark deal with the unions that signals the last days of the industry, and looks at what the future holds for these communities.

The sandwiches were stacked, the posters were up. The mining unions in the Silesian town of Ruda Slaska had been preparing for the big protest for days.

Ruda Slaska in southern Poland is home to 130,000 people and three coal mines slated for swift shutdown. Around the city posters called on townsfolk to protest against the closures: “Save Silesia! The government and European Union’s program will annihilate Silesia!”

The prime minister had sent a delegation to negotiate a timeline for reforms. By Friday, September 25, talks had already been dragging on for three days. Continue Reading →