Archive | Mining Conflict and Opposition

Mining proposal for Skagit River headwaters in B.C. sparks outcry from congressional Dems, Gov. Inslee – by Evan Bush (Seattle Times – May 22, 2019)

Nine members of Washington state’s congressional delegation, all Democrats, called Wednesday for the U.S. Department of State to intervene in a simmering dispute with Canada over a company’s proposal for exploratory mining in the headwaters of the Skagit River.

“The potential for releases of copper and other heavy metals would pollute waters downstream,” the congressional leaders wrote to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, declaring their opposition to the project.

The letter outlines concerns over potential harms to Washington’s tourism and recreation economy, public health and vulnerable fish populations, among others. Continue Reading →

The Uncertain Future of the Boundary Waters – by Stephanie Pearson (Outside Magazine – May 20, 2019)

At 1.1 million acres, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is one of the largest and most popular backcountry destinations in the U.S. and a longtime proving ground for adventurers. But now the region is facing the threat of sulfide-ore copper mining. Stephanie Pearson paddles into the wild.

The new moon is invisible, and the night is black. My sister, Jen, is paddling in the stern. Her shivering wobbles the bow where I’m sitting. Canoeing in 45-degree weather at midnight dressed in T-shirts and underwear is not our normal behavior while camping in northern Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in September.

But an enormous black bear is on its hind legs, ten feet away, aggressively swiping at the food pack dangling from a low tree branch at our campsite. By the sound of its grunts, it’s hungry.

In our panic, we failed to forage for layers. Jen scooped up her sleeping bag and white Labrador, Sunny, I grabbed my knife and headlamp, and we tripped over ourselves to get to the water’s edge, where we launched the canoe. Continue Reading →

Conservation groups ask Court of Appeals to strike down Minnesota’s metal mining rules as too vague – by Jennifer Bjorhus (Minneapolis Star Tribune – May 16, 2019)

With a new mining boom on the horizon for Minnesota’s Iron Range, lawyers for a coalition of conservation groups told an appellate panel Thursday that state rules governing metal mining are inadequate to protect the environment.

The case is the first legal test of Minnesota’s environmental rules for copper-nickel mining, and comes as international companies plan the state’s first hard-rock mines: two large copper mines near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA) in northeastern Minnesota.

The Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness and other advocacy groups filed a petition challenging the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) rules last December, shortly after the agency issued a key and final permit to PolyMet Mining Inc. Continue Reading →

A war is brewing over lithium mining at the edge of Death Valley – by Louis Sahagun (Los Angeles Times – May 7, 2019)

A small Cessna soared high above the Mojave Desert recently, its engine growling in the choppy morning air. As the aircraft skirted the mountains on the edge of Death Valley National Park, a clutch of passengers and environmentalists peered intently at a broiling salt flat thousands of feet below.

The desolate beauty of the Panamint Valley has long drawn all manner of naturalists, adventurers and social outcasts — including Charles Manson — off-road vehicle riders and top gun fighter pilots who blast overhead in simulated dogfights.

Now this prehistoric lake bed is shaping up to be an unlikely battleground between environmentalists and battery technologists who believe the area might hold the key to a carbon-free future. Continue Reading →

Boundary Waters at Risk – by Carlos Rivero Lopez and Jenny Rowland-Shea (Center for American Progress – May 8, 2019)

Center for American Progress

Trump’s Attempts to Shortcut Science and Ignore Local Concerns Are Endangering Minnesota Wilderness

In early April, Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) faced off against Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue during a hearing of the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee.

The congresswoman lambasted Perdue for the last-minute cancelation of a two-year study meant to determine if mining should be allowed on the doorstep of Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, the nation’s most visited wilderness area.1 The study was canceled 20 months into the 24-month review.

“Twenty months of collecting public input, 20 months of science-based assessment, and all you released was a one-page press release,” objected McCollum, calling the press release “completely inadequate.” Continue Reading →

Minnesota environmentalists step up fight against Twin Metals’ copper project – by Cecilia Jamasmie ( – May 6, 2019)

A coalition of businesses, environmental advocates and outdoor recreation groups in the state of Minnesota, U.S., have gone to court challenging a Trump administration’s decision that opened the door to a copper, nickel and platinum project in a wilderness area.

Chilean miner Antofagasta (LON:ANTO), through its subsidiary Twin Metals, is in the midst of carrying out a feasibility study for the project, an underground copper-nickel mine and processing facility along the shores of Birch Lake and the South Kawishiwi River, which lie in the Rainy River watershed.

It’s the location of the project which has triggered concerns among locals. Last week, more than two dozen former U.S. Forest Service staffers sent a letter to the government, outlining the risks a proposed mine in the area would carry. Continue Reading →

The third-largest copper mine in America is Arizona’s next big fight – by Ian James and Priscilla Totiyapungprasert (Arizona Republic – May 6, 2019)

CORONADO NATIONAL FOREST — Sloping ridges descend from the rocky spine of the Santa Rita Mountains, forming an undulating landscape of gold-tinged grass dotted with the greens of juniper trees, oaks, cactuses and yuccas.

Standing on a crest and looking out over the land, Steve Brown said he feels a strong connection to this place. He grew up on a ranch in the mountains, where he rode horseback, tended cattle, and gained a reverence for the web of life he saw around him — the coyotes and bobcats, the rattlesnakes and butterflies.

He said this part of the Coronado National Forest southeast of Tucson still feels like his backyard, and he’s determined to fight plans for a giant copper mine that would be blasted and carved into the mountains. Continue Reading →

House Fisheries urges pressure on B.C. over transboundary mining – by Jacob Resneck (Alaska Public Media – May 1, 2019)

Alaska Public Media

A legislative committee heard from mine critics on both sides of the border during a Tuesday hearing in Juneau. It’s part of an effort to pressure British Columbia to tighten its mining regulations to reduce the threat of pollution from transboundary mines.

After hearing exclusively from mine critics, Rep. Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak, said the House Fisheries Committee’s 90-minute hearing on transboundary mining wasn’t meant to be anti-mine.

“We are simply asking our neighbors across the border to adhere to best and safe practices when mining in our shared watersheds,” the committee’s chairwoman said, “which is clearly something they have a poor track record with.” Continue Reading →

In a land of wild cats and scarce water, a battle over mining heats up – by Douglas Main (National Geographic – April 25, 2019)

The federally approved Rosemont copper mine could dry up a wet spot in Arizona rich with biodiversity, but faces precedent-setting lawsuits.

TUCSON, ARIZONAI’m perched on a ridge in the northern Santa Rita mountains, nearly 30 miles southeast of downtown Tucson. Rounded grassy hills speckled with mesquite rise to oak woodlands and rugged limestone peaks, and I can see for many miles in all directions.

The landscape is beautiful, but what’s most special doesn’t immediately announce itself. I am, for example, walking in the footsteps of the country’s rarest wild cats. In the gulch just to my southwest, a jaguar roamed during his three-year stay in the range, and an ocelot was recently spotted bounding through this spot.

To the east, miles in the distance, lays a broad valley, and within it a streak of dark green—the willows and cottonwoods of Cienega Creek, which flows all year. Continue Reading →

Opinion: Trump’s EPA wants to put a toxic mine in pristine Alaska. What could go wrong? – by Kim Heacox (The Guardian – April 22, 2019)

Pebble Mine is just the latest story of greedy men exploiting nature for profit, and leaving us with the nasty side-effects

Back in my youth, while in Montana, I came across Berkeley Pit, called “the richest hill on earth.” There, churches and historic neighborhoods were bulldozed to expand the pit so greedy men could make their fortunes mining copper, silver and gold.

After the riches were extracted, and problems arose, those men absolved themselves of any wrongdoing, and left. Over time, the mine closed and the pit began to fill with an acidic brew so toxic that when snow geese landed there, they died.

As it threatened Montana’s groundwater, the pit became an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) superfund site that would cost American taxpayers billions of dollars for generations. Continue Reading →

Adani A Step Closer To Constructing Its Controversial Australian Coal Mine (Bloomberg News – April 9, 2019)

Indian mining conglomerate Adani has taken a step closer to the construction of its controversial coal mine in Australia after the federal government gave a green light to the billion dollar project’s groundwater management plans.

Adani group entered Australia in 2010 with the purchase of the greenfield Carmichael coal mine in the Galilee Basin in central Queensland, and the Abbot Point port near Bowen in the north.

The massive coal mine in Queensland state has been a controversial topic, with the project expected to produce 2.3 billion tonnes of low-quality coal. Continue Reading →

Licence to operate: understanding the biggest challenge for mining in 2019 – by Heidi Vella (Mining Technology – April 3, 2019)

A recent survey by EY Mining & Metals found that more than half of global mining companies believe that licence to operate, or acceptance and permission from communities and society, is the biggest risk to their business – jumping seven places up the list from last year. Heidi Vella finds out why this issue is a rising concern and how firms can adapt.

seven places up the list from last year. Heidi Vella finds out why this issue is a rising concern and how firms can adapt.

Today, miners are required to juggle many emerging challenges not traditionally associated with metals and mining, such as digitisation, automation and cyber security. Yet, though those are new issues to master, it is not technological disruption that is keeping mining CEOs up at night, but an issue individual companies and the industry as a whole have grappled with for some time: securing the social licence to operate. Continue Reading →

[Alaska Mining] Owner, Former Mining Exec Spar Over Pebble Mine’s Economics – by Stephen Lee (Bloomberg News – April 2, 2019)

  • Richard Borden, longtime Rio Tinto employee, says Pebble can’t be profitable
  • Pebble says Borden biased, paid by environmental group

The owners of the planned Pebble Mine in Alaska are firing back against a longtime mining executive who raised eyebrows when he said the project would lose $3 billion over its 20-year lifespan.

Richard Borden’s prediction that the mine would produce only a small amount of low-grade minerals has sparked controversy because he admits he was paid by an environmental group to write his analysis, even though he is widely seen as pro-business after spending 23 years at British mining giant Rio Tinto Plc.

Borden’s prognosis could scare off potential Pebble investors at a time when the company appears to be trying to raise funds. Twice in the last month, the firm has sold large blocks of shares, saying it needed the money to fund an environmental impact study and for “enhanced outreach and engagement with political and regulatory offices.” Continue Reading →

Peru govt offers to end emergency measures in copper mine dispute (Reuters U.S. – April 1, 2019)

LIMA, April 1 (Reuters) – The Peruvian government has offered to end emergency measures authorizing the use of force in a remote Andean region if indigenous protesters lift their blockades of roads to Chinese miner MMG Ltd’s Las Bambas copper mine, the prime minister said on Monday.

Prime Minister Salvador del Solar pitched the idea to Gregorio Rojas, the leader of indigenous community Fuerabamba, during negotiations on Sunday aimed at restoring road access to Las Bambas, one of Peru’s biggest copper mines, his office said in a statement.

“What we agreed was that first he would see if his community is in agreement. He can’t make decisions today without consulting members of his community,” Solar was quoted saying. Continue Reading →

[Alaska Mining] Pebble project draft study fuels Legislature debate – by Steve Quinn ( – April 1, 2019)

The merits of a draft environmental impact statement on the proposed Pebble Mine project near Bristol Bay – the headwaters for one of the world’s largest salmon fisheries – are being debated in the state Capitol.

The Pebble Partnership’s 20-year plan for its planned copper mine is under review by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. On Monday the House Resources Committee heard from the project’s critics, who say any mine in the area represents a threat to one of the state’s most valuable and abundant renewable resources.

Critics have called the study incomplete with “tenuous assumptions,” and a failure for assuming “no important cumulative risks.” They say it also “dismisses many environmental risks, including the risk of a tailings dam failure,” thereby jeopardizing one of the world’s most prolific sockeye salmon fisheries. Continue Reading →