Archive | Mining Conflict and Opposition

Canada, B.C., should honour commitments to Tŝilhqot’in and stop mine – by Russell Myers Ross (Vancouver Sun – March 21, 2019)

More than 10 years ago, Taseko Mines proposed an open-pit mining project in an area of immeasurable cultural and spiritual importance for our Tŝilhqot’in people. This area, about 125 kilometres southwest of Williams Lake, is known to our people as Teẑtan Biny (Fish Lake), Yanah Biny (Little Fish Lake) and the surrounding area (Nabas).

This area is home for many Tŝilhqot’in who were born and raised on these lands, a resting place for our ancestors, an active cultural school for teaching our youth, and an important place of ceremony and spiritual power.

We hold proven aboriginal rights to hunt and trap over these lands, and this area also sits near the headwaters of the Dasiqox (Taseko) River, a nursery for salmon that make the annual journey along the Fraser River. Continue Reading →

Controversial Alaska gold-copper mine moves step closer to approval – by Yereth Rosen (Reuters U.S. – February 20, 2019)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) – The world’s biggest undeveloped gold and copper mining project, planned in southwestern Alaska near the largest fishery for sockeye salmon globally, moved a step closer to approval on Wednesday after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a draft environmental impact statement.

The Pebble Mine would produce 70 million tons of gold, molybdenum and copper ore a year and create a pit 1,970 feet (600 meters) deep. A new road, pipeline and power plant would be built, according to the mine plan.

The site is near Lake Iliamna in southwestern Alaska between the headwaters of two rivers that drain into Bristol Bay. The Corps’ draft statement came after public meetings that began last April to hear views from tribes and local communities about the potential benefits and environmental risks of the project. Continue Reading →

Ecuador’s rising opposition to mining may thwart exploration boom – by Cecilia Jamasmie ( – January 6, 2019)

Ecuador, one of the hottest destinations for copper prospectors, aims to more than double the value of mining to its economy by 2021, but projects risks delays and potential halts due to growing local opposition to the extraction of the country’s resources.

According to the latest report by Fitch Solutions Macro Research, the ongoing expansion of mining exploration in the South American country is raising the risk of tensions between companies and the local population.

In two landmark cases last year, Ecuadorian courts sided with rural and indigenous communities who argued the national government had failed to inform them it was setting aside parts of their territories for mineral exploitation. That, Fitch Solutions notes, is a right protected by the 2008 Constitution. Continue Reading →

Iron Range cities ready to welcome mining revival Matt McKinney (Minneapolis Star Tribune – December 30, 2018)

As PolyMet, Twin Metals mines clear hurdles, cities hope for economic boost.

EVELETH, Minn. – At the new Boomtown Woodfire restaurant in this Iron Range city, diners can order the Steelworker prime rib with a Mesabi’s Best beer and, as the menu states, pay homage to the miners who dug the state’s mining industry out of a deposit of rich iron ore.

It’s a heritage many here hope will come roaring back, perhaps as soon as this summer, after officials granted the state’s first copper-nickel mine its final approvals last week.

“We’ve been talking for years about how to get ready,” said Biwabik Mayor Jim Weikum. “It’s been hard to keep people’s spirits up. You want people to be excited and to know that there’s light at the end of the tunnel, but it was a really long tunnel.” Continue Reading →

Are Afghanistan’s Mineral Deposits the Answer to the Country’s Economic Woes? – by Tamim Asey (Global Security Review – December 31, 2018)

Global Security Review

Afghanistan’s mineral deposits are a potential glimmer of hope for the country’s suffering economy.

As it stands, a mineral-based economy is one of the few options available when it comes to establishing a solid foundation on which to develop Afghanistan’s economy. The development of the country’s mineral sector has been hampered by insecurity, political instability, poor policy direction, the absence of a basic legal framework, and a lack of necessary infrastructure and transit agreements with neighboring countries.

However, Afghanistan’s mineral deposits present an alternative to the country’s increasing over-reliance on an economy dependent on foreign aid. Afghanistan’s mineral deposits consist of metals and non-metals. Many strategically essential minerals can be found in the country, including beryllium (used in airplanes, helicopters, ships, missiles, and spacecraft), uranium, lithium, and niobium (a rare soft-metal use in semiconductor production).

According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), Afghanistan’s mineral wealth is estimated at around (US) $1 trillion. This figure is based on previously conducted Swedish, British, and Soviet geological surveys, in addition to more recent studies performed by the USGS. In total, however, only about 30% of Afghanistan’s territory was covered by previous geological surveys. Continue Reading →

Guatemalan mine conflict alarms industry across Latin America – by David Alire Garcia (Reuters U.K. – December 24, 2018)

CASILLAS, Guatemala (Reuters) – A bitter drama playing out over a Guatemalan silver project forced to close by the courts has shocked miners throughout Latin America, sounding a warning to firms to approach indigenous issues more cautiously or pay the consequences.

Work at the Escobal mine, where U.S.-based Tahoe Resources has invested more than $500 million (395.3 million pounds), was abruptly suspended last year by judges pending consultation of nearby indigenous Xinca communities, a decision upheld by Guatemala’s top court in September.

Leaders of the Xinca, a mainly farming community which claims a 400,000-strong population, oppose the mine due to worries it will harm their ancestral land and water resources. Continue Reading →

Score One for the Flamingos in High-Altitude Fight for Lithium Supplies – by Laura Millan Lombrana (Bloomberg News – December 22, 2018)

The Chilean government is taking on a U.S. mining company in a spat that could rattle the electric-car industry.

For the past nine months, a U.S. company that is the world’s largest producer of lithium — a key ingredient in electric-car batteries — has been locked in battle with the Chilean government over pricing issues, production quotas and environmental compliance. With no resolution in sight, the fight is sending tremors all the way up the electric vehicle supply chain that provides batteries to Tesla Inc., Nissan Motor Co., Bayerische Motoren Werke AG and other car makers.

The drama is playing out in the northern reaches of Chile’s Andes Mountains amid the arid and austere Atacama Desert, a vast, high-altitude bowl surrounded by snow-capped volcanic peaks named after ancient gods of the indigenous people. The U.S. company, Albemarle Corp., has taken over a massive salt-flats mine, pumping scarce briny water through dried-out salt marshes and lagoons to extract the prized mineral.

A dozen or so miles away, thick flocks of Andean flamingos feed peacefully in a lagoon teaming with tiny shrimp, as they have for countless millennia. But as mining activity surges, water tables are falling amid growing environmental concerns. Continue Reading →

Three days of violence that emptied an Angolan town of Congolese – by Stephen Eisenhammer and Giulia Paravicini (Reuters U.S. – October 25, 2018)

LUCAPA, Angola (Reuters) – Residents of Kapende, a Congolese neighborhood in the Angolan town of Lucapa, scrawled messages on their homes to keep the looters away, but it did not work.

“Occupied”, “do not enter”, “home of an Angolan”: The writing remains visible on the wrecked houses belonging to Congolese who have gone home as Angola has clamped down on illegal diamond mines and the migrants who worked them.

The destruction in Kapende, where no house remains occupied or intact, marked the culmination of three days of violence in Lucapa, a sprawling mining town in the northeast surrounded by some of the world’s richest diamond fields. About 300,000 Congolese have fled Angola in the last few weeks, many of them in response to the violence in Lucapa at the beginning of October. Continue Reading →

From gold bars to barring mining, U.S. town awaits extractive ban ruling – by Gregory Scruggs (Thomson Reuters Foundation – December 18, 2018)

WINTHROP, Washington, Dec 18 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A lthough the wooden boardwalk and turn-of-the-century saloons reflect Winthrop’s Old West history as a mining town, residents these days are counting down to a year-end deadline that could see the government ban extraction there for 20 years.

Dec. 29 will mark the culmination of a battle by citizens of the Methow Valley, a constellation of small towns along a scenic river 116 miles (187 kilometres) northeast of Seattle.

For two years they have worked to convince the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) to withdraw 340,000 acres (137,600 hectares) of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest at the Methow Headwaters from future mining claims. If successful, they hope Congress will pass a law that will permanently bar mining in the nearby hills. Continue Reading →

ASIA INSIGHT: A small island gets caught in China’s Pacific power game with West – by Fumi Matsumoto (Nikkei Asian Review – December 11, 2018)

SYDNEY — A small island has found itself caught in the escalating battle for influence in the South Pacific. On both economic and diplomatic fronts, Papua New Guinea’s autonomous region of Bougainville has become a key piece in the game between Beijing, on one side, and the U.S. and its allies on the other.

With Bougainville holding one of the world’s largest untapped deposits of copper, Chinese and Western companies are weighing the prospects for reopening its Panguna copper mine — closed since a vicious civil war broke out in 1989. The island is also set to hold an independence referendum on June 15, potentially creating a new country that could vote in international forums such as the United Nations.

John Momis, president of the Autonomous Bougainville Government, told the Nikkei Asian Review that Chinese businesspeople raised the matter of investing in the mine on a visit to PNG ahead of last month’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation in the capital, Port Moresby. Continue Reading →

Illegal gold rush destroying Amazon rainforest – study – by Anastasia Moloney (Thomson Reuters Foundation – December 10, 2018)

BOGOTA, Dec 10 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A rise in small-scale illegal gold mining is destroying swathes of the Amazon rainforest, according to research released on Monday that maps the scale of the damage for the first time.

Researchers used satellite imagery and government data to identify at least 2,312 illegal mining sites across six countries in South America – Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and Venezuela.

The maps show the spread and scale of illegal mining and were produced by the Amazon Socio-environmental, Geo-referenced Information Project (RAISG), which brings together a network of nonprofit environmental groups in the Amazon. Continue Reading →

Sisters of Mercy help push Canadian mining giant to abandon operations – by Michael Swan (The Catholic Register – December 10, 2018)

After years of lobbying by a small community of Catholic sisters from eastern Canada, the world’s largest producer of potash is abandoning mining operations in territory south of Morocco.

Canadian-owned fertilizer giant Nutrien — created by a 2017 merger of Saskatoon-based Potash Corp. and Calgary-based Agrium Inc. — will cease all potash shipments from occupied and disputed Western Sahara territory before Jan. 1, 2019.

“It’s not our place as Canadians to go in and tell other countries how to live or what to do,” said Sisters of Mercy of Newfoundland superior Sr. Elizabeth Davis. “It certainly is our place as Canadians — if we are living or working or present in other countries — to act with justice and to act ethically.” Continue Reading →

Native Americans hope to protect ancestral sites threatened by multibillion-dollar copper mine – by Daisy Finch (Cronkite News – December 7, 2018)

Cronkite News

TONTO NATIONAL FOREST – LeRoy Shingoitewa dug his hiking boots into loose gravel and sand, watching the early November morning sunlight slowly spread across shrubby hills and rocky valleys near the proposed site of an enormous copper mine.

Resolution Copper plans to develop the mine east of Superior and predicts the mine will meet about a quarter of the nation’s demand for copper once it is in full production. The company says the mine, which may cost as much as $8 billion, is the “largest single investment in Arizona history.”

It has been passionately opposed by some Native Americans who say it will destroy a sacred site near Oak Flat Campground in the Tonto National Forest about 70 miles east of Phoenix. The Resolution Copper-Oak Flat controversy is not lost on Shingoitewa, even though he’s a field director for a team of Native American “tribal monitors” chosen for a program funded by Resolution Copper and designed with help from the U.S. Forest Service. Continue Reading →

Canada As Ugly Neighbor: Mines in B.C. Would Devastate Alaskan Tribes – by Ramin Pejan (Earth – December 7, 2018)

Southeast Alaskan Tribes have brought a human rights petition against Canada to protect the fish at the center of their cultures.

Mining operations in Canada are threatening to destroy the way of life of Southeast Alaskan Tribes who were never consulted about the mines by the governments of Canada or British Columbia.

The Tribes have depended for millennia upon the pristine watersheds of the Taku, Stikine, and Unuk rivers. These waters flow through varied and wild landscapes from British Columbia through Alaska and are teeming with salmon and eulachon.

The mines – two of which are operating and four that are proposed – endanger downstream fish populations through the release of toxic mine waste and acidic waters. Fish are fundamental to the Tribes’ cultural practices and livelihoods, making the pollution a violation of the Tribes’ human rights to culture and an adequate means of subsistence. Continue Reading →

Crossing Cartels Leads to Death for Mexican Environmentalists – by Emily Pickrell (Bloomberg News – December 7, 2018)

He was shot point-blank in the face while asleep in bed, in front of his wife. Margarito Diaz Gonzalez was an indigenous spiritual leader of the Wixarika community. He was also an environmental activist who defended ancestral territory from encroachment by mining companies and hydropower plants, and Mexico’s National Commission of Human Rights has asked Nayarit state to investigate whether his opposition to the construction of a dam was the motive.

It’s a familiar story in Mexico, where none of the 15 murders of environmentalists in 2017 has been solved, according to the Mexican Center for Environmental Law, known as Cemda.

Disputes over mining, logging, and water-protection rights raise the ire of powerful business interests and organized crime in a country with a deeply flawed justice system, according to a recent report by Global Witness, an international group researching natural resource exploitation, conflict, poverty, corruption, and human rights abuses. Continue Reading →