Archive | Mining Conflict and Opposition

DNR deems Twin Metals’ plan for copper mine near Boundary Waters ‘incomplete’ – by Jennifer Bjorhus (Minneapolis Star Tribune – June 24, 2020)

https://www.startribune.com/

Minnesota environmental regulators have published nearly 800 comments on the Twin Metals plan to build a copper-nickel mine just outside the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northern Minnesota, deeming the company’s project proposal “incomplete.”

The state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) says it needs the clarifications and extra information before it can start the required environmental impact statement on the proposed mine, one of the most contentious mine projects in the state’s history.

The comments, dated June 15, are posted on the Twin Metals section of the DNR’s website. The agency has “determined the initial submittal to be incomplete,” it said. Continue Reading →

Papua New Guinea seeks $191-million in back taxes from Barrick, Chinese partner as mining row escalates – by Niall McGee (Globe and Mail – May 7, 2020)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

Papua New Guinea wants Barrick Gold Corp. and its Chinese joint-venture partner to fork over US$191-million in back taxes, as the world’s second biggest gold producer dukes it out in court over whether it has the right to continue mining in the country.

Late last month, Papua New Guinea (PNG) refused Barrick’s request to renew its mining lease on the Porgera gold mine, citing environmental and other legacy issues.

Barrick subsequently took legal action against the government, filing a judicial review with the National Court of Justice. The court ordered both sides to negotiate and report on their progress on Friday. If the two can’t reach an agreement, a mediator will be appointed to hash out a settlement. Continue Reading →

“Get the Hell Off”: The Indigenous Fight to Stop a Uranium Mine in the Black Hills – by Delilah Friedler (Mother Jones – March/April 2020)

https://www.motherjones.com/

Can the Lakota win a “paper war” to save their sacred sites?

Regina Brave remembers the moment the first viral picture of her was taken. It was 1973, and 32-year-old Brave had taken up arms in a standoff between federal marshals and militant Indigenous activists in Wounded Knee, South Dakota, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Brave had been assigned to guard a bunker on the front lines and was holding a rifle when a reporter leaped from a car to snap her photo. She remembers thinking that an image of an armed woman would never make the papers—“It was a man’s world,” she says—but the bespectacled Brave, in a peacoat with hair pulled back, was on front pages across the country the following Sunday.

Brave had grown up on Pine Ridge, where the standoff emerged from a challenge to the tribal chair, whose alleged offenses included scheming to accept federal money for Paha Sapa, also known as the Black Hills. Continue Reading →

The muddied waters of mining in Papua New Guinea – by Scarlett Evans (Mining Technology – April 20, 2020)

https://www.mining-technology.com/

Just north of Australia, the island split into Papua and Papua New Guinea is famously underexplored, though over the years inroads have been made and tantalising glimmers of hidden mineral wealth have been quickly followed by some of the world’s biggest miners. Scarlett Evans look at the state of mining in the area, and just what the future holds.

Papua New Guinea plays host to a wealth of mineral deposits – from copper, gold and nickel to liquid natural gas. Yet despite its vast mining potential, the country’s resources sector has a history dented by environmental and social turmoil.

Its largest mines, Ok Tedi and Porgera, were disrupted by a devastating earthquake in 2018, and mining tensions even led to a civil war between 1988 and 1998 – a conflict that saw the loss of 20,000 lives. Continue Reading →

Environmentalists fear more uranium mining near Grand Canyon may be impending – by Debra Utacia Krol (Arizona Republic – March 17, 2020)

https://www.azcentral.com/

Environmentalists and tribal leaders are gearing up to address a long-anticipated recommendation to reopen the Grand Canyon region to uranium mining.

The Nuclear Fuel Working Group, established by President Donald Trump in July 2019 to explore domestic uranium production, is expected to release its findings and recommendations soon. And those recommendations are almost certain to include increasing the domestic supply of uranium, which was named one of the U.S.’s critical minerals in 2018.

That puts uranium on the same footing with minerals like cobalt and lithium, used in the electronics industry, and rare earth elements like titanium and tin. These minerals are so designated because they are essential to the U.S. economy and, because many of these minerals are heavily imported, the supply of one or more may be disrupted, according to the American Geosciences Institute. Continue Reading →

Federal judge hands Twin Metals major win in fight over mining near Boundary Waters – by Jennifer Bjorhus (Star Tribune – March 17, 2020)

http://www.startribune.com/

Copper-mining opponents assailed the decision as a “slap in the face.”

A federal judge in Washington, D.C., has dealt a significant blow to environmental groups fighting to protect the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness from copper-nickel mining in Minnesota.

U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden ruled that the Trump administration acted within its authority when it reissued two mineral leases for the proposed Twin Metals copper-nickel mine in 2018.

The Obama administration had previously denied the company’s request to renew its two leases to mine on 5,000 acres of public land in Superior National Forest after the U.S. Forest Service concluded that copper mining so close to the Boundary Waters was too risky, and it could cause “serious and irreparable harm” to an “irreplaceable wilderness area.” Continue Reading →

Large crowd blocks downtown street in protest against mining industry convention – by Muriel Draaisma (CBC News – March 1, 2020)

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/

Protesters rally outside convention of Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada

About 200 people took over a downtown street on Sunday afternoon to protest against an annual mining industry convention in Toronto.

As police officers watched, the protesters rallied on Front Street outside the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, where delegates had gathered for the opening day of the convention of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada.

The protesters held banners, chanted “Shame!” and listened to speakers condemn Canadian mining industry companies for allegedly violating human rights and environmental laws in countries outside Canada in which they operate. Continue Reading →

India’s ancient tribes battle to save their forest home from mining – by Brian Cassey (The Guardian – February 10, 2020)

https://www.theguardian.com/

Laksmi Shankar Porte emerged from the forest. In his hands were an axe, a small scythe and a large crop of grass. Like many of the Gond people living in India’s Hasdeo Arand forest, he will use the grass to make ropes, brooms and mats.

The Hasdeo Arand is one of the largest contiguous stretches of dense forest in central India, covering about 170,000 hectares (420,080 acres) of the state of Chhattisgarh. It is rich in biodiversity, contains many threatened species and is home to elephants, leopards and sloth bears.

It is also home to the Gond, one of India’s Adivasis, the name given to the country’s original indigenous peoples. Unfortunately for Porte, the Gond and other Adivasis forest dwellers, the Hasdeo Arand sits on top of more than a billion metric tonnes of coal reserves. Continue Reading →

Violence in Africa’s Sahel region attacks the mining food chain – by Helen Reid (Reuters U.S. – February 10, 2020)

https://www.reuters.com/

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) – Violence in Africa’s Sahel region has driven mining exploration companies to put projects on hold, with knock-on effects for an industry struggling to expand and for fragile local economies.

At least 37 people died and 60 were wounded last November when militants attacked a convoy of Semafo Inc employees, the deadliest attack yet on a mining company in the region.

Islamist groups have been pushing south from strongholds in northern Mali and carried out attacks across much of Burkina Faso and parts of western Niger. As security costs have risen, mining companies that explore for mineral deposits have shut down projects in the most dangerous areas. Continue Reading →

OPINION EXCHANGE: Counterpoint: Why a green world will need more copper – by Ryan Sistad (Minneapolis Star Tribune – January 29, 2020)

http://www.startribune.com/

Ryan Sistad, of Duluth, is outreach coordinator for Better in Our Backyard. https://www.betterinourbackyard.com/

Supply and demand are subject to change — unpredictable change in policies or in the marketplace — which makes it incredibly important to have a plan in place to supply our economy with what it needs to grow and thrive.

When it comes to transitioning to a reduced-carbon or carbon-free energy economy, Minnesota is truly faced with this new supply and demand challenge. All of this makes the question asked Jan. 23 in “We don’t need more mining to go green” confusing.

The author asks: “[I]s it actually urgent to pull more copper and nickel out of the ground?” He then claims that in debates over mining copper and nickel in Minnesota “what goes largely undiscussed are the actual supply and demand forces around primary copper and nickel.” Continue Reading →

Minnesota court rejects major permits for PolyMet mine – by Steve Karnowski (Washington Post – January 13, 2020)

https://www.washingtonpost.com/

Associated Press – ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Minnesota Court of Appeals on Monday rejected some of the most important permits for the planned PolyMet copper-nickel mine in northeastern Minnesota, giving a major victory to environmentalists.

A three-judge panel ruled that the state Department of Natural Resources erred when it declined to order a proceeding known as a “contested case hearing” to gather more information on the potential environmental impacts from the mine. The court also said the agency erred when it issued PolyMet’s permit to mine without imposing a fixed term on that permit.

So the court sent the dispute back to the DNR with orders to conduct the potentially lengthy hearing, during which an administrative law judge would take testimony and sort out conflicting evidence. Continue Reading →

Minnesota appeals court rejects three PolyMet permits, sends them back to DNR for hearing (Minneapolis Star Tribune – January 13, 2020)

http://www.startribune.com/

Environmental groups, Fond du Lac tribe cheer decision to require further state review.

Plans to build Minnesota’s first copper-nickel mine suffered a major setback Monday when the state Court of Appeals reversed three permits issued to PolyMet Mining Corp. and kicked them back to state regulators for additional review.

Chief Judge Edward Cleary said the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) erred in not holding so-called contested case hearings on the permits to fully vet objections by environmental groups and the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. In a decision released Monday, he ordered the DNR to hold such a hearing.

In addition, Cleary said, the DNR should have specified time limits for the mine’s entire life cycle in PolyMet’s all-important permit to mine. Although PolyMet says it intends to mine for 20 years, the permit isn’t clear about the time frame for activities such as mine reclamation and future maintenance of the huge tailings dam for mine waste that will be left behind, according to the court’s decision. Continue Reading →

[Arizona Mining] A Sacred Place And A Sacred Quest To Save It – by Osha Gray Davidson (HuffPost US – December 27, 2019)

https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/

The Oak Flat land in Arizona is holy to the Apaches. A mining company wants to blow a two-mile-wide hole in it.

Some of Wendsler Nosie Sr.’s earliest memories are set in Arizona’s Tonto National Forest. “I was about 3 or 4 years old,” the now 60-year-old Apache man recalls on a sparkling fall day, sitting beside his granddaughter at a picnic table under a tall oak tree. “We used to stop here at Oak Flat and my mother would pray.”

The Oak Flat area, which lies within the national forest, is sacred to the Apache people and central to the tribe’s origin story. For centuries before European settlers came, young girls gathered at this place ― called Chi’chil Bildagoteel in Apache ― for their coming-of-age ceremony. Apaches still visit in the spring to collect medicinal plants and in the fall to harvest Emery oak acorns, a protein-rich staple.

But if Resolution Copper, a subsidiary of international mining giants Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, gets its way, a large part of the site will disappear forever, sinking into a hole two miles wide and deep enough to hold three Statues of Liberty stacked on top of one another. Continue Reading →

Study of copper-nickel mining’s effect on Boundary Waters dropped from bill – by Jimmy Lovrien (Duluth News Tribune – December 17, 2019)

https://www.duluthnewstribune.com/

Language that would have required a study of the impact of copper-nickel mining on the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness was dropped from the Department of the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill this week.

It would have commissioned a report from the National Academy of Sciences “on the impacts on ecosystem services of the Superior National Forest and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness resulting from a Twin Metals sulfide-ore copper mine located in the watershed of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness” but it was removed from the final agreement by White House negotiators, a spokesperson for U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, D-St. Paul, who authored the bill, confirmed to the News Tribune Tuesday.

Twin Metals, owned by Chilean mining conglomerate Antofagasta, is hoping to build a large underground copper-nickel mine near Ely, within the Rainy River Watershed and on the edge of the BWCAW. Critics say the project could send tainted runoff into the BWCAW while supporters say the mine would bring much-needed jobs to the region. Continue Reading →

As Anti-Mining Protests Escalate, Peru’s Vizcarra Sides With Mining Companies – by Matthew C. DuPée (World Politics Review – December 11, 2019)

https://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/

In mid-October, Peruvian authorities declared a 30-day state of emergency in the copper-rich province of Chumbivilcas, where anti-mining protesters had blocked a stretch of a vital highway called the Southern Runway for almost a month. The blockade, led by indigenous farmers and laborers known as comuneros, caused major disruptions to local commerce and large-scale mining efforts nearby, and nearly forced a halt in operations at Las Bambas, one of Peru’s largest copper mines.

It was just the latest in a series of anti-mining protests by comuneros in Peru this year, which have held up hundreds of millions of dollars in copper exports and forced the Peruvian government into contentious negotiations over indigenous land rights and environmental concerns.

The world’s No. 2 copper producer with reserves estimated at 83 million tons, Peru is highly dependent on copper exports, which generated $12 billion in 2017, more than a quarter of its total exports that year, according to data tabulated by the Observatory of Economic Complexity. Continue Reading →