Archive | Mining Conflict and Opposition

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 →

Crisis Is Rocking Latin America. Peru Is an Island of Uneasy Calm. – by John Quigley (Bloomberg/Yahoo – December 12, 2019)

https://finance.yahoo.com/

(Bloomberg) — Roadblocks of mud, sticks and steel wire bar the entrance to villages lining the northern side of the Rio Tambo, a sign of revolt in the fertile valley cultivated since Inca times.

For almost a decade, the farmers of this green strip wedged between the Andes mountains and the Pacific Ocean have resisted the construction of a copper mine they say will pollute the water course and destroy their livelihoods. Now they feel betrayed by Peru’s president after his government gave final approval to Southern Copper Corp.’s Tia Maria project.

“We can’t allow it,” said councilwoman Zulema Quispe, who was navigating the barricades on the back of a motorcycle. Fields tilled for centuries will be tainted for future generations by the mine to be located just half a mile away, she said. “The president is giving priority to a multinational company and we won’t accept it.” Continue Reading →

Central American mine resistance visits Vancouver – by Hayley Woodin (Business In Vancouver – December 10, 2019)

https://biv.com/

It was the first advocacy effort of its kind in a mining conflict that has spanned a decade, three countries and multiple legal challenges.

In November, a representative of Guatemala’s Indigenous Xinka people embarked on a weeklong speaking tour in Victoria and Vancouver to denounce what he sees as efforts by Vancouver-based Pan American Silver Corp. (TSX:PAAS) and the government of Guatemala to undermine Indigenous rights in his country.

“Pan American doesn’t have a social licence to operate,” Luis Fernando García Monroy told students, alumni and faculty at the University of British Columbia (UBC) on November 21. “We have been left out of the consultation process,” he said. “The company wants to promote a different kind of consultation.” Continue Reading →

Violent Protests Shut Down Key Rio Tinto Mine in South Africa – by Felix Njini and David Stringer (Bloomberg News – December 4, 2019)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Violent protests, often characterized by deadly shootings and barricades of burning tires, are making it harder for the world’s biggest mining companies to operate in South Africa.

Rio Tinto Group shuttered its Richards Bay Minerals unit on Wednesday and paused a $463 million expansion project amid escalating violence in surrounding communities that led to an employee being shot and injured. The stoppage will further sap investor sentiment in a country where business confidence is near the lowest level in two decades.

The freezing of the Zulti South project comes as President Cyril Ramaphosa battles to stimulate growth and retain the nation’s last investment-grade credit rating. South Africa’s economy contracted for a second quarter this year in the three months through September as farming, mining and factory output slumped. Continue Reading →

West Africa risks in focus for Canadian miners after deadly attack on Semafo – by Niall McGee (Globe and Mail – December 2, 2019)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

Sean Roosen knows West Africa well. From the late 1980s until the early 2000s, he worked for various gold exploration and development outfits, including spells in Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso. Life was pretty rough. He lived through coups, brushed up against militias, experienced employee kidnappings and had his equipment stolen on multiple occasions.

“These things are all being incubated in abject poverty, in places where there’s no embedded reporter from CNN – or as I call it, life without 911,″ said Mr. Roosen, chief executive of Montreal-based Osisko Gold Royalties Ltd. “I’ve spent a lot of time in places like that. Nobody’s coming, nobody cares and there’s no expectation of justice.”

As dicey as things were back then, the on-the-ground scene in many parts of West Africa has grown much worse. With gold reserves depleting in many traditional mining jurisdictions, such as Canada and the United States, investment in West Africa has skyrocketed. Continue Reading →

Apache man moving ‘home’ to protest copper mine in Arizona – by Felicia Fonseca (Washington Post – November 27, 2019)

https://www.washingtonpost.com/

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Wendsler Nosie Sr. is drawn to a mountainous area in central Arizona where he and other Apaches have harvested medicinal plants, held coming-of-age ceremonies and gathered acorns for generations.

On Thursday, he’ll start a three-day journey to make a permanent home in the area known as Chi’chil Bildagoteel, or Oak Flat, in protest of a proposed copper mine made possible by a federal land exchange.

The Resolution Copper mine near Superior would be one of the largest such mines in North America, using techniques known as block-cave mining that call for digging underneath the ore body and setting off explosions to extract it. Continue Reading →

Chile urges copper mining companies to stay calm amid unrest – by Fabian Cambero (Reuters U.S. – November 25, 2019)

https://www.reuters.com/

SANTIAGO (Reuters) – Chile, the world’s top copper producer, reassured jittery mining companies on Monday, saying it would do everything possible to provide a business-friendly environment even as a month of riots across the country have left more than 20 dead and billions in damages.

Chile’s copper mines have mostly maintained production and kept operations running normally in the face of the unrest, with only scattered incidents reported.

But top miners, including Poland’s KGHM Polska Miedz SA, have recently expressed concern about longer-term prospects as the country assesses rewriting its constitution and overhauling tax laws to quell protests. Mining Minister Baldo Prokurica acknowledged their concerns. Continue Reading →

Rallies in twin Saults protest plans for ferrochrome plant – by Darren Taylor (Northern Ontario Business – November 25, 2019)

https://www.northernontariobusiness.com/

Groups of environmentally concerned citizens gathered in the twin cities of Sault Ste. Marie – in Ontario, Canada and in Michigan, U.S. – on Nov. 23 for coordinated rallies to protest Noront Resources’ planned ferrochrome production facility for Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.

“I know of people in Marquette, all over the state of Michigan, who are concerned about the building of this facility,” said James McCall, Sault Michigan resident, speaking to SooToday.

About 20 protesters gathered on the U.S. side at 1 p.m., intending to stay at that location until 6 p.m., the group including professional environmentalists and members of the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians. Continue Reading →

Editorial: Violence in Mexico spirals out of control – by Trish Saywell (Northern Miner – November 19, 2019)

Global mining news

The slaughter in Mexico in November of nine members of a local Mormon family horrified the world. Three women and six children were gunned down in broad daylight while driving in three SUVs on a rural road in Sonora near the state’s border with Chihuahua, 160 km from the U.S. border. Seven children escaped.

Whether the massacre was an intentional attack or a case of mistaken identity is uncertain. But what is clear is that Mexico is experiencing record levels of violence as cartels and other organized crime groups carry out attacks on rivals, security forces and civilians with near-full impunity.

“The hard truth is that Mexico is dangerously close to being a failed state,” U.S. Senator Ben Sasse, a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, stated after the murders. Continue Reading →

Birth of a nation? Bougainville’s independence referendum explained – by Kate Lyons (The Guardian – November 19, 2019)

https://www.theguardian.com/

It is a vote that has been 20 years in the making. On Saturday, residents of the remote archipelago in the Solomon Sea will start to decide their future

On Saturday, the people of Bougainville – a small archipelago of islands flung 700km off the coast of Papua New Guinea in the Solomon Sea – will begin voting in a referendum that will determine if their beloved homeland will become the world’s newest nation.

It is a vote that has been nearly 20 years in the making. In 2001, as part of a peace agreement to end a devastating decade-long civil war, the government of Papua New Guinea promised the population of Bougainville, then about 200,000 people, that they would one day be able to cast a vote to decide their future.

The results will be announced in December. It is expected to be overwhelmingly in favour of independence, with some observers anticipating a “yes” vote of more than 90%. But the road to this point has been long and tortured and the path ahead could be just as problematic, even if the result is as emphatic as predicted. Continue Reading →

Exclusive: [Semafo Inc.] Mine workers demanded more protection before deadly Burkina Faso attack – by Edward McAllister (Reuters U.S. – November 19, 2019)

https://www.reuters.com/

DAKAR (Reuters) – Five months before an ambush killed 39 colleagues, local workers at a Canadian-owned gold mine in Burkina Faso pleaded with managers to fly them to the site rather than go by a road that was prone to attacks, two people present at the meeting said.

The employees wanted the same protections as expatriate staff who had been flying to the mine in helicopters since three workers were killed in two earlier attacks in August 2018.

Shortly after those deaths, the mine’s owner, Quebec-based Semafo Inc. (SMF.TO), said it had added a military escort to bus convoys taken by Burkinabe workers to the site each week. But local employees of Semafo and its Accra-based contractor African Mining Services (AMS) did not think it was enough in an area notorious for bandits and jihadists. Continue Reading →