Archive | Mining Conflict and Opposition

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 →

Green technology revolution needs a green metals revolution – by Andy Home (Reuters U.S. – November 6, 2019)

LONDON (Reuters) – “Society expects more of our industry.” That was the stark warning from Jean-Sebastien Jacques, head of one of the world’s largest mining companies, Rio Tinto, in a keynote speech at last week’s London Metal Exchange Week.

“There is absolutely no doubt in my mind we will face greater regulation and scrutiny,” Jacques went on to say. The scrutiny has already begun. The next day environmental protesters disrupted the International Mining and Resources Conference in Melbourne, leading to multiple arrests and a draconian threat by Australia’s prime minister to ban future anti-mining demonstrations.

Half way around the world, protesters were blocking access roads to SQM’s lithium operations high in Chile’s Atacama Desert in a rumbling dispute over water rights. Here writ small is the industrial metals industry’s big problem. Continue Reading →

Blood Gold in the Brazilian Rain Forest – by Jon Lee Anderson (The New Yorker – November 4, 2019)

Indigenous people and illegal miners are engaged in a fight that may help decide the future of the planet.

One day in 2014, Belém, a member of Brazil’s Kayapo tribe, went deep into the forest to hunt macaws and parrots. He was helping to prepare for a coming-of-age ceremony, in which young men are given adult names and have their lips pierced. By custom, initiates wear headdresses adorned with tail feathers. Belém, whose Kayapo name is Takaktyx, an honorific form of the word “strong,” was a designated bird hunter.

Far from his home village of Turedjam, Belém ran across a group of white outsiders. They were garimpeiros, gold prospectors, who were working inside the Kayapo reserve—a twenty-six-million-acre Amazonian wilderness, demarcated for indigenous people.

Gold mining is illegal there, but the prospectors were accompanied by a Kayapo man, so Belém assumed that some arrangement had been made. About nine thousand Kayapo lived in the forest, split into several groups; each had its own chief, and the chiefs tended to do as they pleased. Continue Reading →

Sudbury junior miner permitted to drill on contentious ground – by Colleen Romaniuk (Northern Ontario Business – October 31, 2019)

Flag Resources obtains provincial permit to resume exploration at Wolf Lake, despite opposition

An environmentally contentious mineral exploration program in the Sudbury area will be allowed to proceed.

Junior miner Flag Resources (1985) Limited, a holder of mining leases in the Wolf Lake area, has been issued a mineral exploration permit by the Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, with no conditions attached.

The decision was announced on Oct. 31. Flag Resources applied for the permit earlier this fall. The permit will allow Flag to perform exploration drilling to assess mineral resource potential in the Township of Mackelcan in the Wolf Lake region, 47 kilometres northeast of Sudbury. Continue Reading →

Investors fear looming safety risks of mining waste dams – by Barbara Lewis (Reuters U.S. – October 31, 2019)

LONDON (Reuters) – A global inquiry into how mining companies store billions of tonnes of waste in huge dams, launched after a collapse in Brazil killed hundreds, shows about a tenth of the structures have had stability issues, investors said on Thursday.

The research was led by the Church of England (CoE) and fund managers after the collapse of a Vale (VALE3.SA) dam in January unleashed an avalanche of mining waste on the Brazilian town of Brumadinho, killing an estimated 300 people.

A waste, or tailings dam, is the most common waste disposal method for mining companies, whether they’re extracting iron ore, gold or copper. They are among the largest man-made structures on earth, with some towering dozens of meters high and stretching for several kilometers. Continue Reading →

Mining’s unlikely heroines – Greta Thunberg and AOC – by Frik Els ( – October 30, 2019)

Exponential expansion of global mining is the dirty little secret – and glaring blind spot – of Green New Deal evangelists and zero-carbon climate warriors

Leftwing darling Alexandria Ocasia Cortez’s proposed Green New Deal, despite its flimsy 14 pages total, is nothing if not all-encompassing and vaulting in its ambition. The bill was also crucial to Ocasia Cortez’s rapid ascent to acronym status and anointing as the queen of green.

Thanks to her How Dare You tour, 16-year old Greta Thunberg is now the undisputed leader of the growing ranks of school-bunking climate crisis warriors all over the world.

The Greta show arrived in MINING.COM’s hometown of Vancouver last week to take Make-Love-Not-CO2 youths (and second-life hippies) on yet another march and bridge-blockade. The footslogging Greta groupies are beginning to resemble the disastrous 1212 children’s crusade – with higher ground now doing service for holy land. Continue Reading →

Coal mining in Indian forests is turning local villagers into environmental watchdogs – by Kuwar Singh (Quartz India – October 29, 2019)

Every day, Ram Lal Kariyam checks the river stream that flows through Salhi, his village in the Hasdeo Arand forest of Chhattisgarh. He is on the lookout for any brown slurry from the coal-washing facility of the sprawling mine nearby.

“Earlier they would discharge dirty water four times a week,” said the 28-year-old farmer, a member of India’s Gond tribe. “Now it’s rare.” Driving this improvement are forest dwellers like him, who consistently monitor the coal mine for environmental violations.

The central state of Chhattisgarh produced the highest quantity of coal in India in the last financial year. Most of its mines are open-cast—the ground on top has to be destroyed as the coal beneath is too shallow for underground mining. It leads to greater air pollution due to the blasting of land as well as loading and unloading of overburdened soil. Continue Reading →

U.S. House to vote on legislation banning mining near Grand Canyon – by Robin Bravender (Arizona Mirror – October 29, 2019)


WASHINGTON — The full U.S. House is slated to vote this week on legislation to permanently ban uranium and other hardrock mining near the Grand Canyon.

The effort is a longtime priority for Arizona Rep. Raúl Grijalva, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee. And while the measure is expected to clear the Democratic-led House, it faces opposition from Republicans and uncertain prospects in the GOP-controlled Senate.

The debate on the House floor will pit Grijalva, the lead sponsor of the bill, against Arizona Republican Rep. Paul Gosar, who will be leading the GOP opposition. Grijalva expects fireworks. “You should probably sell tickets to that one,” he joked in a recent interview with Arizona Mirror. Continue Reading →

Minnesota Supreme Court won’t take up copper-nickel mining rules – by Jimmy Lovrien (Duluth News Tribune – October 29, 2019)

The Minnesota Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to hear a challenge by environmental groups over the state’s copper-nickel mining rules.

Environmental groups argue the Department of Natural Resources’ rules regulating the mining of metals that do not contain iron — such as copper, nickel and other precious metals — were too vague and, therefore, unenforceable. The DNR maintains the rules were strong yet flexible.

But in August, Minnesota Court of Appeals unanimously upheld those rules, and called the DNR’s non-ferrous rules “valid.” Six environment groups had filed the original appeal, but only two groups, the Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness and the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, petitioned the Supreme Court to review the case after the Court of Appeals upheld the rules. Continue Reading →

Hudbay vows appeal after court affirms Arizona project ruling (Reuters Canada – October 29, 2019)

(Reuters) – Hudbay Minerals on Tuesday vowed to appeal a court ruling that barred the Canadian miner from building a major copper mine in the United States after losing its bid to have a judge revisit the decision.

U.S. District Judge James Soto late on Monday said there was no basis to reconsider an earlier ruling that overturned approvals for the company’s contentious Rosemont project in southeastern Arizona, delivering a setback for Hudbay as it seeks to revive plans for the stalled $1.9 billion open-pit mine.

Hudbay’s director of investor relations, Candace Brule, said the company was disappointed with the decision and would proceed with an appeal as it studies next steps for the project. Continue Reading →