Archive | Mining Conflict and Opposition

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

(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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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 →

Burkina Faso: A terrorist gold mine – by Philipp Sandner (Deutsche Welle – November 17, 2019)

Gold mines in isolated areas of Africa’s Sahel region have become a welcome source of income for terrorists. Recent attacks in Burkina Faso show that security forces in the region are unable to gain the upper hand.

There is a gold rush in Africa’s Sahel region. A number of new mines have been opened there since a vein of gold was discovered in 2012. The Boungou mine in northeastern Burkina Faso, for instance, was opened between 2017 and mid-2018. But the region is also increasingly under threat from Islamists. Last week, at least 39 people were killed in attacks on buses carrying workers to Boungou; another 60 were injured.

Guiro Abdoul Kader was asleep when the attack occurred: “I was sleeping when I heard one of the windows shatter, at the same time I got a bullet in my back and I fell down. My colleague was next to me and he also lay down and he was on top of me.

I told him he didn’t have any cover and that he should come further down. He said he was hit. He told me to do what I could and that he would stay a little higher up and that we were going to pray to God,” as Kader told Reuters news agency. Continue Reading →

Caterpillar takes a hit as Chile riots add to global uncertainty – by Joe Deaux (BNN/Bloomberg News – November 13, 2019)

Add the riots in Chile and political issues in other parts of Latin America to troubles dimming the outlook for Caterpillar Inc.

On Wednesday, the world’s largest maker of mining and construction equipment reported that its three-month rolling average sales growth in the region slowed to 4 per cent in October, matching the January data that was the weakest since mid-2017.

Latin America accounted for about 9 per cent of Caterpillar’s revenue in 2018, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Weakness in the region accelerated the slowdown in the company’s worldwide sales growth to 3 per cent, the worst since April 2017.

“There’s the social unrest in Chile, which is an important mining market,” Larry de Maria, an analyst at William Blair, said in a telephone interview. “Argentina has a difficult political situation and Brazil hasn’t really improved the way people hoped it would improve.” Continue Reading →

NEWS RELEASE: International Conference in Ottawa: Is Responsible Sourcing of Metals for Green Transition Possible?

(Ottawa, November 15, 2019 – recirculated) The environmental, social, and climate impacts of mining metals to meet the demands of the booming renewable energy economy are the focus of an international conference opening today in Ottawa. The non-profit group MiningWatch Canada aims to highlight the high environmental and social costs of mining and identify ways to reduce demand for newly mined metals as the world moves urgently away from fossil fuel energy.

The group says the impacts of mining are inadequately addressed as it is, and already acute impacts on communities and ecosystems will be dramatically worsened by projected manyfold increases in demand for metals and minerals to produce wind turbines, photovoltaic cells, electric vehicles and batteries, etc. that can only be partially offset by increased recycling and materials efficiency.

“We are already seeing serious damage to forests, watersheds, farmland, and people’s livelihoods and security from mining for these ‘energy metals’,” says MiningWatch communications coordinator Jamie Kneen. “We have to recognise that there are real limits to extraction. Communities and ecosystems alike are already struggling to deal with mining’s short and long term effects, and they are both signalling that they can’t sacrifice more.” Continue Reading →

Protests in Chile, Bolivia threaten India’s search for assets in ‘Lithium Triangle’ – by Ajoy K Das ( – November 11, 2019)

KOLKATA ( – Civil unrest and violence in Chile and prospects of tougher security norms, together with unrelenting protests over a disputed electoral process in Bolivia, have thrown a spanner in the wheels of Indian mining companies getting a toe-hold in the so-called ‘Lithium Triangle’.

As protestors continue to hit the streets, with widespread reports of violence, snowballing into a deeper anti-government movement, India’s recent push for lithium assets in Latin America is being forced to the backburner, if not becoming unstuck completely.

The perception among Indian mining companies planning forays in search of lithium assets in Latin America is that though unrest and violence in Chile was triggered by a marginal hike in subway fares, opposition to the right-of-center neoliberal economic policy of the incumbent Chilean government is at the heart of civil movement. Continue Reading →

A Canadian company wants to build Brazil’s largest open-pit gold mine: Now that Bolsonaro is in power, it just might succeed – by Jacob Lorinc (Toronto Star – November 9, 2019)

On the morning of the annual Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, in February 2017, a group of samba dancers stood solemnly in front of a massive parade float depicting five venomous snakes, their forked tongues protruding from the back of a bearded man with bloodshot eyes.

The gruesome display was a publicity stunt — a symbol of agribusiness invading the eastern edge of the Amazon rainforest, said the dancers in a press conference that morning. To the delegation of Indigenous leaders in attendance, the monster allegorized several industrial projects recently encroaching on their territories.

For some, it represented the Belo Monte, a massive government-owned hydroelectric dam that flooded the shores of the lower Xingu River, a tributary to the Amazon River. For one delegate, the leader of the Juruna tribe, the monster represented a more recent perceived threat to the communities living near those shorelines — a Canadian mining company by the name of Belo Sun. Continue Reading →