Archive | Mining Conflict and Opposition

From fugitive to governor, a Peruvian mining foe rises again – by Marco Aquino (Reuters U.S. – November 14, 2018)

LIMA (Reuters) – For most of this year, Walter Aduviri, the governor-elect of Peru’s Andean region of Puno, had been a fugitive. The indigenous activist, 38, went into hiding after losing a sedition trial last year over deadly protests he led against Canadian mining company Bear Creek in 2011.

All that changed in October. His 7-year sentence was annulled and he was elected governor of Puno, home to deep deposits of gold, silver, uranium and lithium that miners plan to excavate through $2 billion of proposed projects.

In his first interview with foreign media since his victory, Aduviri – who will take office in January – said he would continue to oppose mining that lacks clear benefits to communities in Puno, one of Peru’s poorest and most lawless regions, near the border with Bolivia. Continue Reading →

Diamonds are not necessarily forever – by Peter Fabricius (Daily Maverick – November 13, 2018)

Daily Maverick

First published by ISS Today

African governments’ continued resistance to expanding the definition of conflict diamonds could jeopardise the market for mined gems.

The participants in the Kimberley Process, including 19 African governments, are meeting this week in Brussels to review the successes and failures of its first 15 years of operation and, many hope, adapt it to the demands of a changing environment.

The process was launched in 2003 by diamond-producing countries, much of the diamond industry and several civil society watchdogs. They were responding to growing global concerns about “blood diamonds” – gems mined by armed rebel groups in African conflict zones like Sierra Leone, Liberia and Angola to finance their rebellions.

It created a scheme in which rough diamonds had to be certified as not having been mined by armed groups fighting legitimate governments – before they could be legitimately exported into the diamond market. Continue Reading →

On the Iron Range, new hopes and new anxieties – by Matt McKinney and Josephine Marcotty (Minneapolis Star Tribune – November 11, 2018)

Permit approvals for PolyMet open a new chapter in an old struggle.

HOYT LAKES, Minn. – For years, residents of this struggling mining town have clung to the hope that their old way of life would return. But even so, when state regulators finally approved permits late last month for Minnesota’s first copper-nickel mine, the news hit like a thunderbolt.

“You could feel it,” said Toni Thuringer, co-owner of the Haven Bar and Grill, who described a buzz that ran through patrons dining in the restaurant and elbowing up to the bar. “It’s just so cool because it’s been so long since we’ve had that feeling around here.”

In Iron Range towns left for dead by the mining industry’s last bust in the 1980s, the sudden realization that, after years of contentious debate, PolyMet Mining Corp. might actually open its $1 billion mine has fueled rousing talk. Continue Reading →

Environmental groups ask for suspension of PolyMet permits – by Jimmy Lovrien (Duluth News Tribune – November 8, 2018)

Several Minnesota environmental groups asked state agencies to suspend permits for the contentious PolyMet copper-nickel mine in Minnesota.

The Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, WaterLegacy and Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness submitted a request for stay, or suspension, of permits issued by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources last week and pending permits from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency until the Minnesota Court of Appeals rules on whether an additional environment review of the project is needed.

Before the groups can ask the Court of Appeals for a stay on the permits, they’re required to first request a stay of permits from the agencies themselves, WaterLegacy counsel and advocacy director Paula Maccabee told the News Tribune on Thursday. “It’s not like this is the endgame, but it is a preliminary step,” Maccabee said. Continue Reading →

For Tahoe Resources, Guatemala troubles underscore tense outlook – by Ernest Scheyder (Reuters U.S. – November 6, 2018)

(Reuters) – A years-long fight over the future of the world’s second largest silver mine between Tahoe Resources Inc and opponents of the project shows no signs of abating, creating uncertainty for the U.S. miner and its investors.

With environmental and indigenous opponents of Tahoe’s Escobal mine vowing it will never again produce silver, the tension is top of mind for Wall Street, and analysts expect the company to post its fifth consecutive quarterly loss on Tuesday.

Guatemala’s Supreme Court suspended Tahoe’s license to operate Escobal last year, ruling for an anti-mining organization that accused the country’s Ministry of Energy and Mines of failing to properly consult surrounding Xinca indigenous communities about the project. Continue Reading →

In Ecuador, landmark court cases challenge mining projects – by Johnny Magdaleno (Reuters U.S. – November 5, 2018)

LOS CEDROS, Ecuador (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Ecuador is facing a lawsuit this week for giving mining companies exploration rights to a protected forest in one of the country’s most biodiverse regions without local consultation.

Brought by the local Cotacachi government, the lawsuit requests the regional court place an injunction on all mining activity within Los Cedros in the Intag Valley, a lush area of rivers and Andean tropical forest.

The lawsuit, a draft of which was seen by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, says the national government violated the constitution and forestry laws by ignoring Los Cedros’ conservation status and concessioning the protected forest without informing local officials. Continue Reading →

Tanzania deaths spark criticism of grievance process at Barrick subsidiary – by Geoffrey York (Globe and Mail – November 6, 2018)

Barrick Gold Corp., entering the final stages of its US$6-billion takeover of Africa-focused Randgold Resources Ltd., is facing fresh questions about unresolved grievance claims for dozens of deaths and injuries among villagers around a subsidiary’s mine site in Tanzania.

Barrick subsidiary Acacia Mining says it has sharply reduced the number of violent clashes between Tanzanian police and local villagers who enter its North Mara site in search of waste rock, from which they can extract small bits of gold.

But while the deaths and injuries may have declined, Acacia is still grappling with complaints that its grievance procedure is unfair and has failed to provide proper compensation for the injured and the families of people who were killed. Continue Reading →

After Alaska’s ‘Burning Man for salmon’, fishermen wary of mine proposal outcome – by Gregory Scruggs (Reuters U.S. November 5, 2018)

SEATTLE (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – As the commercial fishermen who ply salmon-rich, southwestern Alaska pack away their fishing gear for the winter, many are watching anxiously as a controversial mine proposal moves through the federal permitting process.

On Tuesday, Alaskans will vote on an initiative that, if passed, would set stricter regulations for proposed infrastructure projects that affect salmon habitats.

Advocates for the measure hope it will derail Pebble Mine, the world’s biggest undeveloped gold and copper project, and which is slated for the region of Bristol Bay – the largest fishery for sockeye salmon globally. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is preparing an environmental review of Pebble Mine, with preliminary results due in January. Continue Reading →

Jewelers CAN Trace Their Gold – by Juliane Kippenberg and Jo Becker (Human Rights Watch – November 2, 2018)

Gold from Conflict-Free Mines in Congo Sold in US Jewelry Stores

People in the United States will now be able to buy jewelry made with “conflict-free” gold from Zales and Kay Jewelers, two of the nation’s largest jewelry retailers.

The RAGS (Responsible Artisanal Gold Solutions) Forum announced last week the first “conflict-free” supply chain from an artisanal mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo to US retailers. This is good news – even though the amount of gold coming this way may be small.

In the past, many mainstream jewelers have understandably avoided “conflict minerals” such as gold from the Congo because of its links with violent and abusive armed groups and elements of Congolese security forces. Continue Reading →

Battle over phosphate mining roils small Florida town – by Alan Toth and Laura Newberry ( – October 31, 2018)

Phosphate mining is a major industry in Florida, but it’s also a major source of pollution, responsible for red tide, toxic algal blooms and killing wildlife. In the northern part of the state, residents of a small town are resisting a man who wants to mine phosphate near their homes. Can the local government balance individual rights and with community health concerns? Laura Newberry reports.

Judy Woodruff:

In the coming midterm election, environmental issues have played an unusually large role in the state of Florida, in part due to the explosion of two blooms of algae that have crippled part of the state’s tourism economy and killed hundreds of thousands of fish and wildlife.

There are many factors driving these blooms, but scientists believe that the mining of phosphorous is one of them. Mining this mineral is a huge business in Florida.

And special correspondent Laura Newberry and producer Alan Toth tell us, the fight over a new mine is sharply dividing one Florida town. It’s the focus of this week’s on the Leading Edge of science and technology. Continue Reading →

A Virginia Farmer Fights to Harvest His Uranium – by Ari Natter (Bloomberg News – October 31, 2018)

A U.S. Supreme Court challenge to the state’s mining ban divides the town of Chatham, as an environmental group warns of the potential “disaster” for air and water.

Walter Coles Sr. stood on a hill overlooking the Virginia pasture land that his family has farmed since it was deeded to them by Thomas Jefferson, motioning with a sweep of his hand to the expanse of radioactive treasure buried below.

“There’s uranium everywhere,” Coles said of fields that had once been filled with tobacco. In fact, his land holds the largest-known deposit of uranium in the U.S., an estimated 119 million pounds that could displace imports that constitute more than 90 percent of the uranium used by the nation’s nuclear power plants.

But the cache, once valued at $6 billion, can’t be mined. The Virginia legislature, after the Three Mile Island nuclear power station meltdown in 1979, imposed a moratorium on mining uranium in the state. Continue Reading →

COLUMN-Like Silicon Valley? Miners face uphill slog in drive to go digital – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.K. – October 31, 2018)

In many ways the mining industry is losing the public relations battle
against environmental activists. Many of the latter fail to distinguish
between the various types of commodities being mined, the processes
being used in extraction and the usefulness of the resource in
helping, or hindering, action against climate change.

MELBOURNE, Oct 31 (Reuters) – The mining industry wants to shed its image as a low-tech shoveller of dirt and instead be seen as a cutting edge digital-savvy employer of choice. It’s a feat that could be compared to teaching an elephant to ballet dance.

While mining companies have been quick to adopt new technologies to drive costs lower, there is an increasing recognition that the industry needs to embrace the so-called digital revolution if it is to prosper in the future.

This means moving well beyond the driverless trains and trucks that have helped Australia’s major iron ore miners cut the cost of producing a tonne of the steel-making material by about two-thirds over the past decade. Continue Reading →

Brazil’s New President Awakens Fears for Amazon, the Environment – by Michael Kepp (Bloomberg News – October 29, 2018)

Brazil’s environment could be a target of President-elect Jair Bolsonaro, who wants to resume dam building in the Amazon basin and has given mixed signals about whether he will pull South America’s largest country out of the Paris climate agreement.

Bolsonaro, who was elected president of Brazil Oct. 28, campaigned on a platform that includes cutting back on environmental enforcement, opening up some protected areas for mining, and building more nuclear power plants.

But he also has backed the solar and wind industries. And even critics have noted that Bolsonaro reversed or rethought some of his positions during the campaign, bringing into question how he will move on environmental issues after taking office Jan. 1, 2019. Continue Reading →

FEATURE-Villagers lose homes, land to feed India’s booming power sector – by Megha Bahree (Thomson Reuters Foundation – October 29, 2018)

PIDARWAH, India, Oct 29 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – S iyaram Saket refuses to give up his one-and-a-half acres of farmland in central India – no matter how much the coal mining company offers him.

Whatever the amount, said the 55-year-old, it will not be enough to replace the value of the fertile land feeding his family of six in Pidarwah village, Singrauli district.

He knows of people in nearby villages who moved on the promise by the government and power companies of money, jobs or homes in exchange for their land a decade ago. Now homeless, they are still waiting for compensation, he said. Continue Reading →

Exclusive: Spain to block Berkeley uranium mine project – sources – by Belén Carreño (Reuters U.S. – October 16, 2018)

MADRID (Reuters) – The Spanish government has decided not to deliver the permits necessary to open the European Union’s only open-cast uranium mine near Salamanca, dealing a serious blow to Australian mining company Berkeley Energia’s (BKY.AX) plans.

The project was granted preliminary approval in early 2013 but has since faced local opposition. Berkeley later requested a trading halt on its shares, which fell nearly 29 percent in Australian trading hours on Tuesday, citing media articles about the Salamanca mine.

The company asked the Australian Securities Exchange to suspend trading until it released a statement on the Salamanca mine or until the opening of trade on Oct. 19, whichever came first, according to the letter sent to the regulator. Continue Reading →