Archive | Mining Environmental Accidents, Pollution, Tailing Dams and Abandoned Mines

History Of Phosphate Mining In Florida Fraught With Peril – by Steve Newborn (WUSF Public Media – June 16, 2021)

https://wusfnews.wusf.usf.edu/

In our ongoing series on phosphate mines, WUSF reports on the long, tangled history of Florida’s phosphate mines and the environment.

At the construction entrance to the Piney Point phosphate plant – off Buckeye Road in northern Manatee County, just south of the Hillsborough County line – the smell of phosphate and gypsum hangs heavy in the air.

A bulldozer is busy pushing sand into a hole from which more than 200 million gallons of tainted water flowed into Tampa Bay. This isn’t the first time this has happened. Accidents like this fill the history books in Florida, including two here at this very site. Continue Reading →

After two collapses, a third Vale dam at ‘imminent risk of rupture’ – by Juliana Ennes (Mongabay.com – June 14, 2021)

https://news.mongabay.com/

A dam holding back mining waste from Brazilian miner Vale is at risk of collapsing, a government audit says.

The same company was responsible for two tailings dam collapses since 2015 that unleashed millions of gallons of toxic sludge and killed hundreds of people in Brazil’s southeastern state of Minas Gerais.

The retired Xingu dam at Vale’s Alegria iron ore mine in Mariana — the same municipality where a Vale tailings dam collapsed in November 2015 in what’s considered Brazil’s worst environmental disaster to date — is at “serious and imminent risk of rupture by liquefaction,” according to an audit report from the Minas Gerais state labor department (SRT), cited by government news agency Agência Brasil. Continue Reading →

Where mining meets rainforest: the battle for Tasmania’s Tarkine – by Adam Morton (The Guardian – June 5, 2021)

https://www.theguardian.com/

Four days before the Morrison government was due to decide the future of a mining development in the takayna/Tarkine, 77-year-old Frits Harmsen planted a camping chair in front of trucks on an unsealed road snaking through Australia’s largest temperate rainforest.

Harmsen, a former French horn player with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, was part of a small band of Bob Brown-endorsed protesters who on Friday began a 19th day attempting to block work by MMG, a majority Chinese-owned minerals company, in Tasmania’s remote north-west.

Up the road, the mining giant was attempting to carry out drilling and other testing for what it hopes will become a much larger project – a new pipeline and waste storage facility near the town of Rosebery. Continue Reading →

Indonesians Demand Government Match Words with Action and Ditch Ocean Dumping – by Ellen Moore (Earthworks.org – June 7, 2021)

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Less than a year ago, two major nickel EV battery chemical processing plants planned to dump 31 million tonnes of toxic mine waste into the Coral Triangle, threatening fragile and endangered coral reefs and subsistence fishing communities.

Today, both projects have withdrawn their permits to dump mine waste into the ocean, and the Indonesian government has publicly committed not to issue permits for the harmful practice. But there is still work to do.

Earthworks is collaborating with Action for Ecology and People’s Emancipation (AEER) to ensure the Indonesian government uphold its promise to prohibit all future submarine tailings disposal. Until then, the risks to downstream users, financial backers, and most of all communities and the marine environment, remain. Continue Reading →

First real green spring comes to Nikel – by Thomas Nilsen (The Barents Observer – June 8, 2021)

https://thebarentsobserver.com/en/

“We, ordinary people living in Nikel, are very happy. The air is fresh, leaves are green,” says Tatiana Bazanova who has lived most of her adult life in what used to be one of Europe’s most polluted towns.

The infamous nickel-smelter shut down its last furnace in late December, ending 75 years of severe industrial air pollution.

Now, locals in the town for the first time experience a real green spring with clear blue skies under the midnight sun. “I love Nikel,” states Tatiana Bazanov who has lived and worked for the local municipality most of her adult life.

“Seeing the town without pollution pleases me,” she tells in a phone interview with the Barents Observer. Today, Tatiana has been in the hills above the town, taking photos of birch trees with green leaves. Continue Reading →

Lawmakers in Alaska and Washington state push B.C. on mining regulations – by Brenda Owen (City News/Canadian Press – June 1, 2021)

https://toronto.citynews.ca/

VANCOUVER — Lawmakers in Alaska and Washington state are renewing calls for British Columbia to strengthen its mining regulations to protect shared waterways.

A group of 25 members of the Washington state legislature sent a letter to Premier John Horgan in March, saying a tailings dam breach at one of several mines in B.C. within 100 kilometres of the state’s border could damage transboundary rivers and fisheries.

Eight Alaskan state legislators followed with a letter to Horgan in May expressing their constituents’ “deep concerns” about the potential impacts of abandoned, active and future mines on shared waterways. Continue Reading →

HPAL Nickel Tailings Question Still Unanswered – by Anthony Milewaski (The Assay – May 26, 2021)

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In the post-COVID-19 global economic recovery, unprecedented stimulus plans by governments look to accelerate the emerging “Green Economy”.

This approach will ultimately pivot on the metals used to make batteries, and specifically lithium-ion batteries – the current and next generation battery chemistry of choice.

Ironically, lithium-ion batteries actually comprise anything from 30% to 80% nickel, with only a minute proportion being lithium. As a result, it will be nickel mining that plays the leading, mission-critical role. Continue Reading →

POLLUTION: Indonesia has a long way to go to produce nickel sustainably – by Ian Morse (China Dialogue – May 28, 2021)

China Dialogue

When Indonesian officials said they were meeting with Tesla representatives at the end of last year, they had already spent years wooing the company toward the metals locked in their rainforest soils.

The abundance of metals like nickel and cobalt on Indonesia’s islands could calm worries that the electric vehicle (EV) industry would confront resource bottlenecks in building millions of batteries.

But earlier this year, Tesla seemed to have other interests. The US company advanced deals in nickel from the Pacific islands of New Caledonia as well as in manufacturing its cars in India, suggesting to market observers that Indonesia’s nickel industry had become too risky. A company branded on clean products may be particularly sensitive to increased scrutiny on the environmental impacts of its supply chain. Continue Reading →

The story of Rum Jungle: a Cold War-era uranium mine that’s spewed acid into the environment for decades – by Gavin Mudd (The Conversation – May 18, 2021)

https://theconversation.com/

Gavin Mudd is the Associate Professor of Environmental Engineering, RMIT University.

Buried in last week’s budget was money for rehabilitating the Rum Jungle uranium mine near Darwin. The exact sum was not disclosed.

Rum Jungle used to be a household name. It was Australia’s first large-scale uranium mine and supplied the US and British nuclear weapons programs during the Cold War.

Today, the mine is better known for extensively polluting the Finniss River after it closed in 1971. Despite a major rehabilitation project by the Commonwealth in the 1980s, the damage to the local environment is ongoing. Continue Reading →

Moab uranium tailing cleanup still going after 13 years – by Max Roth (Fox 13 Salt Lake City – May 12, 2021)

https://www.fox13now.com/

MOAB, Utah — Before Moab was a Mecca for outdoor recreation in Utah, it was the hub of cold war uranium mining; and in the rush to process the ore for nuclear weapons, officials made a terrible decision we’re still paying for.

That decision made in 1956 was to build a uranium processing mill along the banks of the most important river in the American Southwest: the Colorado River.

“When they established a mill, there wasn’t very much thought given to protecting the river,” said Russell McCallister, the director of the federal cleanup. Continue Reading →

Interview – CEMI CEO Doug Morrison: “The delay in getting approval for mining projects is almost all related to environmental impact” (Global Business Report/Mining.com – April 28, 2021)

https://www.mining.com/

The industry response to the Brumadinho dam disaster, including the Global Tailings Standard, will hopefully prevent such tragic events in the future. However, it is important to examine how a catastrophe of this scale, at a facility owned by one of the five biggest mining companies in the world, could reoccur after a similar failure — Samarco, in 2015.

Doug Morrison, CEO of the Centre of Excellence for Mining Innovation (CEMI), said the industry must recognize that the increasing delay in getting approval for mining projects is almost all related to environmental impact.

Moreover, the failings at Brumadinho and Samarco were the result of a flawed approach to tailings management, Morrision said in an interview with the Global Business Reports:

GBR: What led CEMI to consider a new approach to the issue of tailings management? Continue Reading →

Toxic legacy of uranium mines on Navajo Nation confronts Interior nominee Deb Haaland – by Mary F. Calvert and Andrew Romano (Yahoo Finance – February 23, 2021)

https://ca.finance.yahoo.com/

If, as widely expected, New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland survives her U.S. Senate confirmation hearing Tuesday and is sworn in as secretary of the interior, she will make history as the first Native American ever to serve in a presidential Cabinet.

But representation is only half the battle. From day one, Haaland will also be expected to address a festering backlog of problems left behind by predecessors who lacked her perspective as a citizen of the Laguna Pueblo, one of America’s 574 federally recognized tribes.

Among the most daunting: how to finally help shield indigenous people from the hundreds of inactive yet still toxic uranium mines that have been scarring their lands and poisoning them for decades. Continue Reading →

Phosphate mine collapse ‘imminent’ as DeSantis issues state of emergency in Florida county – by Mark Young and Ryan Callihan (Miami Herald – April 21, 2021)

https://www.msn.com/en-us/

PALMETTO, Fla. — Less than a day after Manatee County issued an emergency evacuation order for nearby residents of the troubled Piney Point industrial site, public safety officials have announced new and immediate evacuations around the phosphate mine, declaring the collapse of the gypsum stack is “imminent.”

Several hours later, Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a State of Emergency for the county. “Due to a possible breach of mixed saltwater from the south reservoir at the Piney Point facility, I have declared a State of Emergency for Manatee County to ensure resources are allocated for necessary response & recovery.”

The public safety alert told residents: “Evacuate the area NOW. Collapse of Piney Point Stack is imminent. Immediate evacuation of Chapman Road to Airport Road and US 41 to O’Neill Road. Leave area IMMEDIATELY.” Continue Reading →

Cleanup of Rayrock, the ‘Tłı̨chǫ Giant,’ to receive public scrutiny – by Ollie Williams (Cabin Radio – April 22, 2021)

https://cabinradio.ca/

Federal plans to clean up the former Rayrock uranium mine and its surroundings will be examined at a three-day public hearing to be broadcast live by Cabin Radio next week.

The area around the mine, known as Kwetıı̨ɂ̨aà to the Tłı̨chǫ people, is in some ways the Tłı̨chǫ equivalent of Yellowknife’s Giant Mine. Both left a toxic legacy that’s complex, time-consuming and expensive to deal with.

The Rayrock mine, around 60 km northeast of Whatì, only operated from 1957 to 1959. “The Tłı̨chǫ were never informed of the dangers of uranium mining before the mine was built, or soon after it was closed,” the Tłı̨chǫ Government has said. Continue Reading →

Laurentian University cuts could put groundbreaking mine waste research in jeopardy – by Ian Ross (Northern Ontario Business – April 17, 2021)

https://www.northernontariobusiness.com/

Insolvency proceeding put acclaimed biomining project and pilot plant on the brink of extinction

One of the world’s top experts in mine waste cleanup was one of the casualties of the massive and deep program and job cuts at Laurentian University this week.

Dr. Nadia Mykytczuk, highly regarded as a microbiologist in bioleaching and mine remediation, was among more than 100 faculty and staff who received virtual pink slips on April 16 as part of the ongoing insolvency proceedings at the Sudbury university.

Laurentian’s School of Environment and staff and faculty at its Vale Living with Lakes Centre took a major hit among the 58 undergraduate and 11 graduate programs cut. Continue Reading →