Archive | Mining Environmental Accidents, Pollution and Abandoned Mines

WA could cop $500 million rehab bill if Chinese abandoned mine: Mineralogy – by Emma Young (Western Australia Today – June 12, 2018)

https://www.watoday.com.au/

Chinese-owned mining companies could skip a $529 million bill for environmental damage caused by an iron ore mining project in Cape Preston, in WA’s Pilbara, a report from Clive Palmer’s mining company Mineralogy has found.

Mr Palmer signalled “urgent legal action” in the WA Supreme Court to halt mining at the Sino Iron and Korean Steel projects until environmental obligations were met.

Mineralogy was to act as trustee of the $529 million fund to ensure the site could be restored at the end of the mine’s estimated 25-year life. But it has commissioned from mining rehabilitation expert Mike Slight that it says confirms rehabilitation funds have gone unpaid. Continue Reading →

How an Environmental Disaster Changed Brazil’s Mining Industry – by R.T. Watson (Bloomberg News – June 6, 2018)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

The future of some of the world’s biggest mining operations remains mired in uncertainty after a fatal dam spill helped transform Brazil’s relatively light corporate scrutiny into a legal minefield.

The 2015 disaster at the Samarco iron-ore mine, which left 19 dead, precipitated a cascade of legal issues and challenges for the still-shut venture owned by Vale SA and BHP Billiton Ltd.

Mining’s reputation in Brazil was further tarnished this year when an alleged waste-water leak at the world’s largest alumina refinery, owned by Oslo-based Norsk Hydro ASA, led to a court-ordered 50 percent production curtailment. Continue Reading →

NEWS RELEASE: CLEAN AER PROJECT NEARS COMPLETION AS TWO NEW STACKS EMERGE FROM VALE’S COPPER CLIFF SMELTER COMPLEX

SUDBURY, June 5, 2018 – Residents of Greater Sudbury may have noticed that the plume from Vale’s iconic Superstack has been much less frequent lately and that two new stacks are now emerging from the company’s Copper Cliff Smelter Complex.

Although the Smelter is in full production, a new Wet Gas Cleaning Plant has been commissioned and is capturing process gases and sulphur dioxide emissions previously emitted by the Superstack.

“The commissioning of the Wet Gas Cleaning Plant and construction of two new stacks signals that we are nearing completion of our Clean AER Project,” said Dave Stefanuto, Vice President of North Atlantic Projects and Base Metals Technology. “This historic milestone reflects years of dedicated effort from both our project and operations teams and is something all of us at Vale and in the City of Greater Sudbury can be proud of as we significantly reduce our environmental footprint in the community.” Continue Reading →

Giant Waste-Spewing Mine Turns Into a Battleground in Indonesia – by Danielle Bochove and David Stringer (Bloomberg News – June 5, 2018)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Every year, Freeport-McMoRan Inc. dumps tens of millions of tons of mining waste into the Ajkwa River system in Indonesia. The company has been doing it for decades, and is demanding the right to keep at it for decades to come.

The discharge of what are called tailings, the leftovers of mineral extraction, is perfectly legal under Freeport’s current contract with the government. But recently, after more than a year of tense negotiations over the terms of a new deal, Indonesia suddenly changed the rules: The Grasberg mine in the highlands of Papua province would have to operate by heightened standards.

It shouldn’t have been a surprise, really, considering most every other miner in the world has been forced or has elected to stop discarding tailings in rivers. Continue Reading →

Alaska lawmakers call for alliance with other states on Canadian mining issues – by Kevin Gullufsen (Juneau Empire – May 28, 2018)

http://juneauempire.com/

10 legislators call for partnership as Montana, Washington deal with pollution from Canadian mines

A group of Alaska lawmakers wants to team up with Montana and other U.S.-Canada border states in a push to protect Southeast watersheds they say are threatened by rapid Canadian mining development.

In a letter dated April 20 and released Friday, 10 lawmakers ask Gov. Bill Walker to work with other U.S. states and the State Department to further protections for Southeast’s salmon-bearing rivers. Canadian mining development, they say, has continued to put the region’s fishing and tourism industries in peril.

At least a dozen mining projects are moving forward or are operating in the border-crossing Taku, Stikine and Unuk river watersheds, according to Salmon Beyond Borders. Alaska lacks financial protection from any harm the projects could cause to salmon habitat, the lawmakers say. Continue Reading →

Canada’s mining industry learned from Mount Polley tailings dam disaster – by Pierre Gratton (Vancouver Sun – May 23, 2018)

http://vancouversun.com/

Pierre Gratton is President & CEO of The Mining Association of Canada.

I was pleased to read the column by Jacinda Mack and Loretta Williams in which they acknowledge the vital role minerals and metals will play in the transition to a low carbon economy.

B.C. products like metallurgical coal, copper and molybdenum are all critical to the supply of renewable energy technologies and zero-emission vehicles. B.C. and the rest of Canada’s mining sector have every reason to be a major, responsible supplier of these products to the world.

I also agree with their sentiment that there is an obligation on B.C.’s mining sector to provide these products responsibly. They call for stronger regulation of mines and for the adoption of industry standards, such as the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance, or IRMA. Here is where I can provide some important additional information on both topics. Continue Reading →

Pollution studies cast doubt on China’s electric-car policies – by Charles Clover (Financial Times – May 20, 2018)

https://www.ft.com/

The environmental case for electric vehicles in China has been complicated by research that asserts the cars produce more pollution than those with internal combustion engines.

The issue is likely to raise questions about China’s push to become the world’s EV champion by 2025. The government has justified devoting massive resources to encouraging domestic EV production — including billions of dollars in subsidies and production quotas — based on the proposition they are greener than petrol-engine cars.

But the environmental benefits were unclear, experts said. While China has been on a green energy push for years, coal still accounts for an overwhelming proportion of electricity production, meaning that charging electric batteries also burns carbon — often at a higher per-kilometre rate than petrol engines. Continue Reading →

Time for mining to clean up its act – by Jacinda Mack and Loretta Williams (Vancouver Sun – May 16, 2018)

http://vancouversun.com/

Jacinda Mack is co-founder of Stand for Water, a project of First Nations Women Advocating Responsible Mining (FNWARM). Loretta Williams is chair of First Nations Women Advocating Responsible Mining.

We are told that B.C.’s natural resources can play a key role in the global transition to a low-carbon future. From clean-energy cars and wind turbines that require copper, steelmaking coal and molybdenum, to silver and selenium for solar cells; it is said that the province has the potential to be a leader in clean-energy mining.

But supplying the essential ingredients for green energy is at risk, unless B.C. mining laws can enforce practices that uphold First Nations rights and the environment. Sadly, that’s not the case, and hasn’t been, since the first B.C. gold rush nearly 170 years ago.

First Nations’ experience of mining in B.C. has been negative from the outset. The Mount Polley tailings-dam disaster in 2014 was simply the latest in a history of destruction and misery caused by generations of badly regulated mining operations, an outdated Mines Act and the province’s failure to live up to its commitment to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Continue Reading →

BHP Billiton to be sued by investors over dam collapse that caused Brazil’s worst ever environmental disaster – by Ben Chapman (Independent – May 16, 2018)

https://www.independent.co.uk/

BHP Billiton faces legal action from shareholders who say the mining giant misled them over safety measures at a dam in Brazil which broke, killing 19 people and causing Brazil’s worst ever environmental disaster.

When the Fundão dam broke in 2015, waste from an iron ore mine operated by Samarco, a joint venture between BHP and its partner Vale, devastated the local area in Minas Gerais state.

A red wave of clay, sand and water polluted miles of river, killing aquatic life, leaving hundreds of people homeless, and flowing out to sea. Australian law firm Phi Finney McDonald now plans to sue the multinational, which is listed on stock markets in London, Sydney and Johannesburg, on behalf of investors. Continue Reading →

‘The river is dead’: is a mine polluting the water of Brazil’s Xikrin tribe? – by Naira Hofmeister and José Cícero da Silva (The Guardian – May 15, 2018)

https://www.theguardian.com/

Federal courts are battling to shut down a nickel mining plant said to be contaminating the Cateté river – a charge the company denies

The Xikrin, who have lived alongside the Cateté river in the Amazon rainforest in northern Brazil for centuries, have a mantra: “The river is our life.” Surrounded by an abundance of plant species, they swim and bathe here.

To fish, the tribe use timbó, a toxic vine that reduces the concentration of oxygen in the water, forcing the fish to come to the surface, where they are shot with arrows. “If we use hooks to fish, only one of our families will eat fish,” explains former tribal chief Onkray Xikrin. “But with timbó the whole village can eat.”

But the River Cateté is dying, and with it the way of life of the Xikrin. In 2010 Mineração Onça Puma, a company owned by the mining company Vale, began extracting nickel in the nearby hills, which have tributaries flowing into the Cateté. Vale is one of the world’s largest producers of nickel. Continue Reading →

Left in limbo in Pickle Lake: Old mine waste issues continue to stall development in northwestern Ontario community – by Ian Ross (Northern Ontario Business – May 11, 2018)

https://www.northernontariobusiness.com/

The Township of Pickle Lake is impatiently waiting for answers from Queen’s Park on what to do with a four-decades-old environmental legacy issue that’s hampering local development.

The presence of arsenic in surface tailings at the former Central Patricia mine site has the northwestern Ontario community in a long-running standoff with three provincial ministries. The mine site is located within the community and just off the highway that courses through town and runs north to service remote First Nation communities and Goldcorp’s Musselwhite Mine.

The tailings are spread over multiple places on the property, which ceased mining in 1954. Until mine closure plans were imposed by the province in the early 1990s, companies could walk away and leave their mess behind with no obligations. Continue Reading →

At least 23 dead, 11 wounded in twin mine collapses in Pakistan (RTE.ie – May 6, 2018)

https://www.rte.ie/

At least 23 people have died and 11 others wounded after gas explosions tore through two neighbouring coal mines in southwestern Pakistan.

Officials said that yesterday afternoon a build-up of methane caused an explosion and tunnel collapse at a mine in Marwaarh, east of Quetta, the capital of the fossil fuel-rich Balochistan province bordering Iran and Afghanistan.

A government official said 16 of the 25 people inside the mine at the time were killed, with the remaining miners rescued and taken to hospital for treatment. Continue Reading →

Federal government takes control of abandoned zinc mine in Yukon – Canadian Press (Financial Post – May 1, 2018)

http://business.financialpost.com/

WHITEHORSE — The Federal government has taken control of cleaning up a lead and zinc mine in Yukon, 20 years after the former operators declared bankruptcy and abandoned the site.

Yukon’s abandoned mines director, Stephen Mead, says Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada officially took the Faro Mine over Tuesday. He says Parsons Corp., the company that has been managing site, has a contract to continue its work until April 2020.

Mead says a two-year, $100-million construction project will begin this summer to better manage water in the area, collecting and treating contaminated water and diverting away clean water. Continue Reading →

Polluter Norilsk Nickel forced to clean up its act – by Henry Foy (Financial Times – April 30, 2018)

https://www.ft.com/

Miner plans $1bn plant to convert sulphur dioxide into gypsum to meet environmental rules

For the best part of 80 years, Russian miner Norilsk Nickel has been one of the world’s biggest metal producers, tapping vast reserves of nickel, copper and palladium in the country’s Arctic. But soon its future survival could depend on producing a vastly different product: gypsum.

Manufacturing the chalky mineral will not make money. The company admits that it does not even know what it will do with it. But come 2023, when it starts producing 5m tonnes a year, the superfluous piles of dusty aggregate will be worth billions of dollars.

That is because Nornickel, as the company is also known, is one of Russia’s biggest polluters, spewing some 1.67m tonnes of harmful sulphur dioxide each year into the air around the city of Norilsk. Continue Reading →

After the gold rush: Mining boom in Cameroon leaves ‘open tombs’ – by Reinnier KAZE/AFP (The Citizen – April 30, 2018)

https://citizen.co.za/

For a time, the land around the village of Longa Mali in eastern Cameroon was one of the most prized in Africa, and powerful machines gnawed greedily into its soil to extract precious gold. Today, abandoned with almost the same speed as it was coveted, the landscape is as dangerous as it is damaged, say campaigners.

Around a hundred deep holes lie around the village. Many of them are filled with water, making them a deadly risk for frolicking youngsters. In other locations, subsistence miners run the risk of being buried alive as they delve in deep, narrow holes for a few flecks of gold.

Longa Mali is one of dozens of places in Cameroon that are grappling with “open tombs” — the legacy left by mining companies. Last year, at least 47 people died on former mining sites in Cameroon’s East Region, according to an NGO called Foder, a French acronym for Forests and Rural Development. Continue Reading →