Violence at Chinese-owned nickel smelter in Indonesia raises alarm – by Amy Chew and Ismi Damayanti (Nikkei Asia – January 24, 2023)

KUALA LUMPUR/JAKARTA — Recent clashes at a Chinese-owned nickel smelting facility in Indonesia are likely to spread to other parts of the country if the government and Chinese owners fail to address issues of safety, analysts say.

Protests, some violent, have occurred sporadically in recent years on the mineral-rich island of Sulawesi, which is experiencing an investment boom for mining nickel, a key ingredient in electric vehicle batteries. Indonesia is keen to leverage its world-leading reserves of the metal and develop a domestic EV industry.

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Peru’s mining south, rocked by violence, braces for ‘endless battle’ – by Marco Aquino (Reuters – January 10, 2023)

LIMA, Jan 10 (Reuters) – In Peru’s south, a mining region that has been roiled by deadly protests over the ouster of former leftist President Pedro Castillo, protest leaders say they are ready for an “endless battle” against the government, threatening to destabilize the deeply divided Andean nation.

Seventeen protesters were killed on Monday in the southern province of Puno in the worst day of violence since Castillo’s Dec. 7 dramatic removal, which has seen a total of 39 people killed in protests and seven more in related accidents.

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Nickel Smelter Industry Activity In South Sulawesi Generates Public Protests – OpEd – by Silvanah (Eurasia Review – January 9, 2023)


The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources (ESDM) noted that Indonesia has a nickel mine of 520,877.07 hectares (ha). The mines are spread across seven provinces, including Maluku, North Maluku, Papua, West Papua, South Sulawesi, Central Sulawesi and Southeast Sulawesi.

In 2020 the export value of Indonesia’s raw nickel ore is around $200 million. But in 2021 President Joko Widodo instituted a new ban on the export of raw ore in an effort to catalyze the domestic nickel processing industry.

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Fate of Thacker Pass lithium mine permit to be decided soon, with 1872 Mining Law a focus – by Daniel Rothberg (Nevada Independent – January 8, 2023)

The interpretation of a 150-year-old mining law could be a part of whether a U.S. District Court judge upholds the federal government’s approval of a massive lithium mine — a project that has faced challenges from a local rancher, environmental groups and Native American tribes.

In legal briefs over the past two years, the mine’s opponents have challenged federal permitting of the planned Thacker Pass mine north of Winnemucca. Federal land managers, they argued, fast-tracked the project and did not adequately consider a number of issues in its environmental review — the mine’s footprint on wildlife habitat, groundwater, air quality and Indigenous sites.

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Lützerath: German coal mine stand off amid Ukraine war energy crunch – by Jenny Hill (BBC News – January 8, 2023)

From her tiny wooden treehouse, which sways precariously in the winter wind, a young woman watches an enormous mechanical digger tear into the earth below, its jaws edging ever closer to the village which she’s determined to save.

Lützerath, in western Germany, is on the verge – literally – of being swallowed up by the massive coal mine on its doorstep. Around 200 climate change activists, who are now all that stand in the way of the diggers expanding the Garzweiler opencast mine, have been warned that if they don’t leave by Tuesday they’ll be forcibly evicted.

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First Quantum receives final contract for disputed mine, Panama says – by Chris Hannay (Globe and Mail – January 3, 2023)

Panama’s government says it has presented a final contract to Canadian miner First Quantum Minerals Ltd. as part of negotiations to resolve a tax dispute that threatens to shut down the Cobre Panama mine.

Panamanian President Laurentino Cortizo made the announcement Monday as part of a speech to the country’s national assembly, just a week after the government and company had returned to the negotiating table.

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Canadian gold miner Belo Sun accused of misleading investors – by Marisa Coulton (Financial Post – December 14, 2022)

Environmental advocate: ‘No investor should even think of touching this company’

A Canadian gold miner has found itself under attack by a powerful environmental group seeking to starve it of investment dollars in an attempt to block it from building what would be the largest open pit mine in Brazil.

Toronto-based Belo Sun Mining Corp. found a rich gold deposit about 1,000 kilometres northwest of the Brazilian capital of Brasília in 2015, and now plans to build an open pit mine in the Brazilian rainforest near a bend in the Xingu River, one of the largest clearwater rivers in the Amazon basin.

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For generations, Grassy Narrows residents have used the land for hunting. Now, it’s in the middle of a lawsuit between Canadian mining corporations – by Morgan Bocknek (Toronto Star – December 12, 2022)

Ontario has created a mess by granting mining claims on land Grassy Narrows aims to make protected Indigenous territory, First Nation’s leaders say.

Barrick Gold Corp. is embroiled in a $100-million lawsuit against two junior mining companies, as an exploration deal between the firms fell apart over a decision to pause work to respect a First Nations’ opposition to mining on what it calls territorial land.

In recent court filings, Barrick says when it first signed on to conduct exploratory drilling in a swath of land 90 kilometres north of Kenora, it was unaware of the importance of the land to Grassy Narrows First Nation. The company says it wanted to first obtain consent before proceeding with its search for gold.

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In remote Nevada valley, race for more lithium comes down to water – Daniel Rothberg (Nevada Independent – October 31, 2022)

There is an otherworldly feel to the crystalline-blue evaporation ponds that sit in Clayton Valley, an arid area in Nevada’s least populated county, Esmeralda. From above, the ponds look like a grid of pooled water arranged in a gradient that moves from a deep-sea blue to a light-sky tone. The man-made desert pools contain what is naturally underneath the ground: water.

Pumps, drilled deep into the Earth, pull brine from an underground aquifer, and pipes move the salty water into the expansive holding ponds. This is not just any water. It is rich in lithium, a mineral needed for electric cars and large-scale storage batteries, technologies in high demand as countries and industries seek to decarbonize national economies and electric grids.

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Doubts downstream: Residents of Libby, Mont., have heard selenium from Canadian coal mines isn’t a threat. But trust in industry is hard to come by after hundreds here died from minerals contaminated with asbestos. – by Joel Dryden and Rob Easton (CBC News – October 19, 2022)

Walking the streets of Libby, Mont., on a hazy September day, it’s not uncommon to hear the cough of a local resident. The picturesque, blue-collar town about an hour southwest of the Canada-U.S. Border in Montana’s north was once bustling with jobs thanks to nearby vermiculite mines. The work helped line locals’ wallets with steady pay. And lined their lungs with toxic asbestos dust.

Years of remediation have helped make the town of about 2,700 safe again following what government officials called the worst case of industrial poisoning of a community in American history. But residents are still struggling to rebuild after hundreds died, and approximately 2,400 have been diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases.

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How a Quebec graphite mine is dividing a community’s support for the EV revolution – by Neal Rockwell (Globe and Mail – October 9, 2022)

The Matawinie mine is part of a larger plan to make Canada into a manufacturing hub for lithium ion batteries. But some worry the project isn’t as clean as it claims to be

The Matawinie graphite mine, located about two hours north of Montreal, is a small part of an ambitious government plan to make Canada into a manufacturing hub for lithium ion batteries. Electric cars can’t function without somewhere to store electricity, the thinking goes, meaning this country needs battery supply chains if it hopes to stay relevant in a future without fossil fuels.

But the mine has not yet begun producing graphite at commercial scale. It is still in the early phases of construction and – like many Canadian resource projects – it is riven with controversy.

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The Race for US Lithium Hinges on a Fight Over a Nevada Mine – by Daniel Moore (Bloomberg News – September 5, 2022)

(Bloomberg) — The high-desert mountain pass overlooking alfalfa fields and RV parks doesn’t look like a battleground that will shape the country’s clean energy future.

But when the rock samples here are pulverized, pulled apart and mixed with chemicals, they yield a metal increasingly seen as white gold: lithium, a critical ingredient for batteries used in electric vehicles, solar energy storage, and consumer electronics.

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Twin Metals sues Biden administration to regain mine leases – by Steve Karnowski (Associated Press/Arizona Daily Star – August 22, 2022)

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The developers of a proposed copper-nickel mine upstream from the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northeastern Minnesota sued the Biden administration Monday to seek the reinstatement of federal mineral rights leases that are crucial to the $1.7 billion project.

Twin Metals Minnesota alleged in its lawsuit, filed in federal court in Washington, that the Department of the Interior acted illegally earlier this year when it canceled the leases. The company asked the court to declare that those leases remain valid and in force, so that it can proceed with the environmental review and permitting process.

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The cost of green energy: The nation’s biggest lithium mine may be going up on a site sacred to Native Americans – by Chloe Atkins and Christine Romo (NBC News – August 11, 2022)

The huge project on public land, approved by the Trump administration in its final days, has sparked an outcry and a lawsuit, but opposition among Native Americans is not unanimous.

Thacker Pass, a remote valley in the high desert of northern Nevada, will always be sacred for Gary McKinney of the Paiute-Shoshone Tribe. He often visits to honor ancestors said to be killed here by U.S. soldiers in 1865. “It’s been a gathering place for our people,” said McKinney, who lives on the Duck Valley Reservation, 100 miles to the east.

McKinney and others are now fighting a new battle over an open-pit mine planned for Thacker Pass, which sits atop a massive lode of lithium. Driven by soaring demand for lithium, which is vital to electric car batteries and renewable energy, a company called Lithium Americas hopes to break ground this year on the biggest lithium mine in the U.S.

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Mining giant Rio Tinto hit by legal battle over sacred Apache site at Oak Flat in Arizona – by Francesca Washtell (Financial Mail/This Money – August 6, 2022)

The serene Oak Flat upland lies in the heart of Arizona. With its beautiful peaks and forest, it is a beloved spot for campers, hikers and rock climbers. Above all, it is the centre of the San Carlos Apache tribe’s religion, a place of devotion where their gods dwell and they still perform traditional ceremonies.

But it is now at the centre of a dispute between the tribe and FTSE 100 giant Rio Tinto. It is also shaping up to be an acid test of the mining group’s claims that it is determined to respect sacred sites.

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