Archive | Mining Conflict and Opposition

How Chinese mining in the Himalayas may create a new military flashpoint with India – by Stephen Chen (South China Morning Post – May 20, 2018)

China has begun large-scale mining operations on its side of the disputed border with India in the Himalayas, where a huge trove of gold, silver and other precious minerals – valued at nearly US$60 billion by Chinese state geologists – has been found.

Although mining has been going on in the world’s highest mountain range for thousands of years, the challenge of accessing the remote terrain and concerns about environmental damage had until now limited the extent of the activities.

The unprecedented scale of the new mines follows years of heavy investment by the Chinese government in roads and other infrastructure in the area. People familiar with the project say the mines are part of an ambitious plan by Beijing to reclaim South Tibet, a sizeable chunk of disputed territory currently under Indian control. Continue Reading →

Canadian Diplomats Under Scrutiny in Anti-Mining Activist’s Death – by James Munson (Bloomberg News – May 21, 2018)

What are the responsibilities of diplomatic staff when they know an environmental activist is in danger overseas?

That’s what a judicial review in Canada is trying to determine in its investigation into the death of environmental activist Mariano Abarca, who was shot and killed Nov. 27, 2009, outside a restaurant in Chicomuselo, Chiapas, in southern Mexico.

Abarca was a vocal opponent of the Payback mine outside the mountain community of Chicomuselo in the Mexican state of Chiapas, where the now-defunct Blackfire Exploration Ltd. mined for barite, a mineral used in oil and gas drilling. He criticized the mine’s environmental effects and led a regional network of communities affected by mines. Continue Reading →

Opinion: Rushing to Ruin the Boundary Waters Wilderness – by Richard Moe (New York Times – May 17, 2018)

Minnesota prides itself on being “the Land of 10,000 Lakes.” At least 1,100 lie in the far northeastern part of the state, along the border with Canada, where more than a million acres of pristine waters and unspoiled woodlands are interspersed with canyons, steep cliffs and huge rock formations shaped by glaciers during the last ice age.

Today this region, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, looks almost exactly as it appeared 10,000 years ago when Paleo-Indians lived there.

Sigurd Olson, the naturalist and writer who guided there for three decades, called it “the most beautiful lake country on the continent.” Few who see it would disagree. Today it is the most visited wilderness area in the United States. Continue Reading →

Pistorius prosecutor Gerrie Nel sets his sights on Ivanhoe Mines – by Geoffrey York (Globe and Mail – May 9, 2018)

South African prosecutor Gerrie Nel, famed for winning a murder conviction against Olympic hero Oscar Pistorius, has turned his sights on a company owned by Canadian mining tycoon Robert Friedland for alleged illegalities at its South African platinum mine.

Mr. Nel, who works for South African organization AfriForum, announced on Tuesday that he is considering the private prosecution of a subsidiary of Mr. Friedland’s company, Ivanhoe Mines Ltd., for alleged violations of environmental laws and other regulations.

Mr. Friedland has said that the $1.6-billion mine, which he is developing about 280 kilometres northeast of Johannesburg, will become the world’s largest and lowest-cost platinum mine. The mine’s first shaft reached a depth of 750 metres last month. Continue Reading →

Pebble Mine: Taking the Battle to the Board Room – Again – by Joel Reynolds (Natural Resources Defense Council – May 07, 2018)

Bristol Bay Coalition Delivers Message of Unrelenting Opposition in Meetings with First Quantum Minerals in Toronto

Sometimes really bad ideas are hard to kill – especially these days. Take, for example, the Pebble Mine, which Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) Administrator Scott Pruitt rescued from its deathbed last May after cutting a deal with the project’s CEO. And just like that this reckless project had a new lease on life – and a new pitch for potential investors.

Last week in Toronto, together with a formidable delegation of leaders from the distant Bristol Bay region of southwest Alaska, my NRDC colleague Chris Tackett and I attended the shareholders’ annual general meeting (“AGM”) of Canadian mining company First Quantum Minerals and met with its Chair and CEO.

First Quantum, which draws 84% of its revenue from copper mines in Zambia, is looking to expand its operations to the United States by bankrolling the Pebble Mine – now solely owned by Northern Dynasty Minerals, a small Canadian mining exploration company based in Vancouver. Continue Reading →

O’Neill ‘undermining’ Bougainville peace deal, vote plan, says Miriori – by PMC Editor (Asia Pacific Report – May 8, 2018)

Asia Pacific Report

A Bougainvillean leader has accused Papua New Guinean Prime Minister Peter O’Neill of “undermining” the island’s 17-year-old peace agreement and the independence vote due next year.

Martin Miriori also condemned O’Nell for lacking sensitivity over Bougainville that struck a New Zealand-brokered peace agreement which ended a 10-year civil war and included a referendum vote on independence.

Miriori, a Panguna landowner and pro-independence leader, was reacting to a statement by O’Neill at the Business Forum in Brisbane last week and repeated in PNG’s The National newspaper that the vote was not about independence, but what was best for the people of Bougainville. Continue Reading →

Protesters Demand Ethiopia Cancel Billionaire’s Gold-Mine Permit – by Nizar Manek (Bloomberg News – May 7, 2018)

Protesters in Ethiopia’s restive Oromia region demanded the government withdraw a gold-mining permit from a company owned by Saudi billionaire Mohammed al-Amoudi because of alleged pollution.

Demonstrators have blockaded roads in Shakiso, 358 kilometers (222 miles) south of the capital, Addis Ababa, since April 30 to press their demand that Mohammed International Development & Research Organization Companies’ license to mine the metal be canceled, said Addisu Bullalla, a spokesman for the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress.

Protests have spread to the towns of Ginchi and Nekemte in western Oromia, he said. The demonstrations “will spread all across Oromia if the government doesn’t cancel this agreement, bring Midroc to justice, and make Midroc pay compensation for the damage they have caused,” Addisu said. Continue Reading →

With pink vests and protests, Philippine clergy bless land rights struggle – by Rina Chandran (Reuters U.S. – April 25, 2018)

KORONADAL, Philippines (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – For some years now, people in bright pink vests have become as familiar a sight in parts of Mindanao in the southern Philippines as gun-toting soldiers, a ray of hope for the indigenous peoples who have been forced off their lands by armed conflict.

The pink vests are a mark of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI), or the Philippine Independent Church, where members of the clergy and lay volunteers trained in conflict resolution help protect vulnerable communities.

The teams live in communities of Lumads – which refers to indigenous peoples in Mindanao – accompanying them on their daily tasks, and recording and reporting any rights abuses. “The struggle of the Lumad has truly become our struggle. Their aspirations are our aspiration,” said Father Christopher Ablon of the Lumad Accompaniment Program, which was launched in 2015 following a spike in violence against them. Continue Reading →

First Nation chief takes Sisson mine concerns to UN meetings – by Hadeel Ibrahim (CBC News New Brunswick – April 25, 2018)

A Wolastoq chief says he brought his objections to the proposed Sisson mine in central New Brunswick all the way to New York for a United Nations caucus meeting.

Wolastoq Grand Chief Ron Tremblay and Peskotomuhkati Nation at Skutik (Passamaquoddy) Chief Hugh Akagi said they brought six young people from different First Nations along for the first time to attend the a UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues last week.

Tremblay said individuals haven’t been able to speak directly on the forum floor for a few years, but he still shared his frustrations with the New Brunswick and federal governments with the international Indigenous communities at four caucus and side meetings. Continue Reading →

Tribes sue feds over Rosemont Mine, citing ‘irreversible’ damage to sacred sites – by Tony Davis (Arizona Daily Star – April 14, 2018)

The proposed Rosemont Mine will “irreparably sever” three Indian tribes’ connection to the Santa Rita Mountains and devastate a rich cultural tradition dating to 7500 B.C., the tribes say in a new lawsuit.

The lawsuit against the U.S. Forest Service says the mine would deprive tribal members of access to ancestral praying grounds, destroy a critical part of their heritage including burial grounds and stop members from engaging in important cultural practices and religious traditions.

The Tohono O’odham, Pascua Yaqui and Hopi tribes filed the suit Thursday in U.S. District Court, about 10 months after the Forest Service approved the $1.9 billion mine project. Continue Reading →

South Africa’s east platinum belt hit by over 400 social unrest incidents since 2016 – by Ed Stoddard (Reuters U.S. – April 10, 2018)

BURGERSFORT, South Africa (Reuters) – The eastern limb of South Africa’s platinum belt has been hit by over 400 incidents of social unrest impacting mining operations since the start of 2016, according to data compiled by Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) and provided to Reuters.

The restive region in the country’s northeast has been a flashpoint of violence rooted in community grievances over jobs, revenue flows and conflict between rival unions that threatens production in the world’s top producer of the precious metal.

Last week six workers were burnt to death in the area when the bus they were on was set alight by a petrol bomb. The bus was transporting them to their shifts at the Modikwa platinum mine operated by African Rainbow Minerals and Amplats. Continue Reading →

Prospect of growth intensifies debate about PolyMet tailings dam – by Josephine Marcotty (Minneapolis Star Tribune – April 7, 2018)

Questions over whether the state is demanding the highest possible environmental and safety standards in the rebirth of a 1950s-era tailings dam are growing more urgent just as Minnesota’s first proposed copper nickel mine is reaching the final stage of regulatory approval.

Throughout the last decade of environmental review and bitter debate, the $1 billion project by PolyMet Mining Co. has always been anchored to a 2.5-square-mile taconite basin near Hoyt Lakes that would eventually hold hundreds of millions of tons of ore processing waste — perhaps for centuries.

Environmental groups, which have long argued that the design is risky, have now made it a primary focus of their request for a legal review of the project that is now awaiting a decision by state officials. Continue Reading →

The Bloody Grab for Gold in Venezuela’s Most Dangerous Town – by Andrew Rosati (Bloomberg News – April 9, 2018)

With free rein from Maduro, the military cuts a violent swath through the failing state. Dispatches from ground zero, El Callao.

In Venezuela’s gold capital, national guardsmen block the roads. Military convoys and motorcycles circle while soldiers keep wary watch behind sandbag checkpoints or patrol with faces covered by balaclavas and rifles in hand.

The military has been fighting for months to master El Callao, the dangerous nation’s most dangerous town, and a beachhead in efforts to develop a mineral-rich region the government calls the Arco Minero del Orinoco. President Nicolas Maduro granted the army the handsome prize, a move that helps ensure the unpopular autocrat’s power.

But the takeover has been punctuated by blood and bullets as soldiers raid neighborhoods and clandestine mines across 70,000 square miles from Colombia to Guyana, asserting themselves over gang lords and claiming revenue both legal and illicit. Continue Reading →

Philippines’ Duterte orders reforestation, threatens open pit mining ban (Reuters U.S. – April 9, 2018)

MANILA (Reuters) – Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday ordered mining companies to conduct tree planting projects and threatened to ban all open pit mining next year.

The Southeast Asian nation’s mining sector has been under fire by Duterte’s government for environmental damage and alleged violations that include building mines in prohibited areas like watersheds. The fiery leader said miners should make an extra effort to plant trees in areas denuded by mining.

“I want trees as tall as me in six months. If there is none, consider your permit revoked. Do not wait for the day of your sorrow,” Duterte told reporters prior to departing for China. Continue Reading →

Eldorado Gold wins arbitration ruling over Skouries gold and copper mine in Greece – by Niall McGee (Globe and Mail – April 5, 2018)

Eldorado Gold Corp.’s plans to build a new gold and copper mine in Europe got a shot in the arm on Wednesday, after it received a favourable arbitration ruling in Greece.

But questions remain over the timing of when the junior gold company might get the project into production and how it will fund the operation.

Last September, Eldorado’s ambitions to develop the Skouries high-grade gold and copper project was cast in doubt after the Greek government objected to its treatment plan for metal concentrates, as outlined in a prior technical report. Continue Reading →