Archive | Mining Environmental Accidents, Pollution and Abandoned Mines

Major Russian polluter pledges to turn over a ‘green’ leaf on national television – by Anna Kireeva and Charles Digges ( – April 17, 2018)

In a wide ranging appearance on Russian national television, Vladimir Potanin, the president of Norilsk Nickel, a long-time, heavy-duty polluter, made the case that his company has turned over a new leaf, and hitched its future to producing “green” products in an environmentally friendly manner.

Potanin’s remarks were pitched first and foremost to car manufactures, who are themselves in the process of revamping their own production to account for tighter worldwide emissions standards and boosting their offerings of electric and hybrid vehicles.

But he also provided the first look at how the Siberian industrial giant plans to reel in its pollution – a clear nod to environmentalists who have long demanded that the company detail its approach to staunching harmful emissions. Continue Reading →

EPA fires back at critics over Colorado mine wastewater – by Dan Elliott (Santa Fe New Mexican – April 12, 2018)

The Associated Press – DENVER — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency fired back Thursday after a mining company accused the agency of failing to run a southwestern Colorado treatment plant at full capacity, letting untreated mine wastewater get into the Animas River.

EPA officials said the plant is running the way it was designed to, treating wastewater pouring from the inactive Gold King Mine. Scrubbing wastewater from additional sites would require expanding the plant, they said.

The exchange was the latest in a dispute between the agency and Sunnyside Gold Corp. over who should pay for a water study to help devise a cleanup plan for the area. Continue Reading →

[Mount Polley tailings spill] Imperial’s VP environment talks remediation – by Alisha Hiyate (Canadian Mining Journal – April 2018)

Imperial Metals Mount Polley Mine Remediation & Monitoring Updates:

Vice-president ‘Lyn Anglin speaks about the aftermath of the Mount Polley tailings spill

When the Mount Polley tailings storage facility failed in August 2014, it sent 7.3 million cubic metres of fine tailings, 600,000 cubic metres of construction materials and 17 million cubic metres of water into the local watershed, uprooting trees and vegetation in its path and depositing the slurry in Hazeltine Creek, Quesnel Lake, Polley Lake and Edney Creek.

Three and half years later, the mine’s owner Mount Polley Mining Corp., a subsidiary of Imperial Metals, has spent about $70 million on rehabilitation efforts.

It also has 3.5 years’ worth of data from testing of water, aquatic life, soil and plants to assess the effects of the tailings facility breach, contained in thousands of pages of studies including post event environmental impact assessment reports, a human health risk assessment, and an ecological risk assessment, all of which are posted on its website. Continue Reading →

After Mount Polley: The activists and filmmaker behind the documentary ‘Uprivers’ – by Kevin Gulufsen (Juneau Empire – April 8, 2018)

Indigenous activists Jacinda Mack and Carrie James come from two different countries and opposite ends of rivers their livelihoods depend on. One issue unites them: concerns over under-regulation of Canadian mining projects on the U.S.-Canada border.

Mack, a Canadian from the Indigenous Xat’sull community, hails from Williams Lake, a small town near the headwaters of the Fraser River. She’s experienced environmental disaster before.

In August 2014, a tailings dam failed at Mount Polley mine, sending 847 million cubic feet of mining waste into nearby rivers, places she used to harvest subsistence foods to feed her family. Continue Reading →

EDITORIAL: Radical change coming to tailings management – by Alisha Hiyate (Canadian Mining Journal – April 2018)

Maybe it’s overstating the case to say the 2014 Mount Polley tailings dam failure changed everything. It hasn’t yet. But it will.

Today, the mine’s owner, Imperial Metals – which has already spent about $70 million on remediation efforts at Mount Polley – is still cleaning up the site. Still, the company has been very lucky. That’s because the tailings spill could have been much worse.

If the tailings had been reactive (they are not acid generating, but rather relatively chemically inert) – the damage to the Quesnel water shed, local aquatic life, and the mining industry itself could have been devastating. Thankfully, they are not, and the effects of the spill have been mostly physical (see page 22). Continue Reading →

[Ontario] Province sets new pollution targets, but Sudbury smelters not expected to hit them – by Erik White (CBC News Sudbury – March 25, 2018)

The amount of sulphur dioxide that industries can pump into Ontario’s atmosphere will be dramatically reduced under new regulations set to take effect in 2023, but the environment minister says companies won’t be required to hit those targets.

The province announced last week that it will slash the annual emissions limit from 250 parts per billion to 40 parts per billion. But Environment and Climate Change Minister Chris Ballard says polluting industries, like the mining sector in Sudbury, won’t be punished if it doesn’t follow the new rules.

“We understand there are technological limits in some industries and smelting certainly is one of those where even if they were to double or triple their pollution control investments today, our experts tell us it wouldn’t perceptibly drop the sulphur dioxide emissions,” says Ballard. Continue Reading →

Indonesia says mining firm cost state US$4 billion – by Konradus Epa (UCA News – March 21 2018)

UCA News is an Asia-based independent Catholic news source.

Indonesia’s anti-graft body has billed environmental destruction as an official state loss for the first time, citing the case of a nickel mining company in Sulawesi province amid fears of mismanagement in the sector.

The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) said recently the damage wrought by PT Anugrah Harisma Barakah in Kabena Island, in the southeast of the province, has cost the government an estimated US$4 billion.

The company was granted the right to exploit 3,000 hectares of land but it has destroyed the ecosystem of the island and jeopardized oil deposits, officials claim. Continue Reading →

Environmental groups battle Mount Taylor mine decision(Albuquerque Journal – March 19, 2018)

Associated Press – GRANTS — Environmentalists are seeking to keep an idle uranium mine in western New Mexico from becoming active again, saying the designation will allow it to delay cleanup.

The Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment and Amigos Bravos are asking the New Mexico Mining Commission to review a recent decision by state Mining and Minerals Division Director Fernando Martinez to allow the Mount Taylor mine to return to “active,” or operational, status, the Gallup Independent reports.

The groups say there is no realistic likelihood that mining will take place for the foreseeable future. Continue Reading →

Newcrest dealing with tailings challenges in NSW and PNG – by Matthew Stevens (Australian Financial Review – March 18, 2018)

Newcrest finds itself uncomfortably poised at the polar extremes of the mining industry’s relentless waste management dilemma.

Unhappy serendipity sees the accident-prone copper and gold miner working to recover the integrity of a thoroughly conventional tailings dam at a mine in distant western New South Wales while promoting plans for a big new mine in Papua New Guinea whose viable future relies on dumping waste directly into the Solomon Sea.

Production at the gold and copper miner’s most consistently profitable operation, the Cadia mine in NSW, was bought to an unexpected halt on March 9 by a “limited” breach in the walls of one of its two tailings dams. Continue Reading →

Anglo Says Cleaning Up Mining Will Earn It Billions in Profit – by Thomas Biesheuvel (Bloomberg News – March 13, 2018)

Mining is a dirty business, but Anglo American Plc Chief Executive Officer Mark Cutifani says it doesn’t have to be. The miner of everything from copper to diamonds to iron ore is overhauling its sustainability targets, and predicts it can earn an extra $9 billion through 2030 by improving the way it mines and boosting relations with governments and communities.

In an industry that rips up massive areas of pristine landscape while consuming valuable water and pumping out dust and pollution, companies that don’t become better corporate citizens will face higher costs, mounting opposition and lose out on new deposits, Cutifani said in an interview.

“We need access to resources,” he said. “If you don’t have good relationships you don’t get access to ground; if you don’t have access to ground you can’t develop a mine.” Continue Reading →

Newcrest Mining moves fast on Cadia dam breach, but problems will linger – by James Thomson (Australian Financial Review – March 12, 2018)

They are three words the mining industry never likes to hear – tailings dam breach.

Fortunately this latest breach, at Newcrest Mining’s Cadia mine, 25 kilometres from Orange in regional NSW, won’t have nearly the same awful headlines that accompanied the tailings dam failure at BHP’s Samarco operations in Brazil.

No one has been injured, and the tailings that have escaped the northern dam have flowed into Cadia’s southern dam. It’s also worth noting that roads have reopened around that southern dam, so thankfully things as well contained as they can be. Newcrest says cracks in the dam were spotted during a routine inspection on Friday; the dam failed at 7pm that evening. Continue Reading →

Seabridge goes the extra enviro mile with Johnny Mountain, Bronson mine clean-ups – by Henry Lazenby ( – February 28, 2018)

VANCOUVER ( – Precious metals-focused project developer Seabridge Gold has undertaken significant effort to remediate the historic mining activities at the Johnny Mountain and Bronson mines, in north-western British Columbia, spending about C$6-million to date to ensure that the Iskut project is in compliance with the provincial regulations and authorisations.

Seabridge acquired the SnipGold properties late in 2016, inheriting a stable of active permits for the Iskut project, including four mining/mineral exploration permits at Johnny Mountain, the Iskut property, the Golden Triangle property and the Snip North property, as well as two licences of occupation covering the Bronson Slope airstrip and an adjacent property, which houses the camp and storage buildings.

These permits are in good standing and authorise all of the work planned for the 2018 programme, including mineral exploration, further reclamation and supporting activities such as camp construction. Continue Reading →

What do the mining watchdogs see? – by Guy Dixon (Globe and Mail – February 23, 2018)

First, some perspective. There are thousands of Canadian mining companies and thousands of Canadian-affiliated exploration projects in different stages of development around the globe. In Canada alone, there are roughly 150 to 200 mines in operation.

Then there is MiningWatch Canada, which provided the numbers above. It is a watchdog organization in Canada devoted to covering these thousands of Canadian mining interests domestically and worldwide. It has a staff of five.

So, for investors trying to weigh the ethical, environmental and social risks and potential controversies surrounding certain mines, “it’s a real challenge. Even for groups like ours, even for the government for that matter, to really keep track of that many players, it’s a constant challenge,” said Ugo Lapointe, Canadian program co-ordinator at MiningWatch Canada in Ottawa. Continue Reading →

Mining company working with environmentalists to clean up old mining sites – by Christine Coulter (CBC News British Columbia – February 20, 2018)

‘What we are trying to do is remove any possible pollutants,’ says Salmo Watershed Streamkeepers coordinator

Calgary-based mining company Margaux Resources has announced a plan to clean up old tailings sites by using new mining technologies to extract the remaining minerals.

Tailings have long been known to cause environmental damage including loss of animal habitats and contamination of soil, groundwater and waterways.

Margaux has partnered with the Salmo Watershed Sreamkeepers Society — a non-profit engaged in protecting and maintaining the Salmo River in southeastern B.C.— for the remediation project. Continue Reading →

[Northwest Territories Mining] Giant Mine rehab contract awarded (Mining Journal – February 20, 2018)

Canada’s government has awarded a main construction manager contract as part of a multimillion dollar remediation of the storied Giant Mine near Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories.

The abandoned gold mine operated from 1948-1999 when its last owner Royal Oak Mines entered receivership.

The government said the site was one of the highest priority contaminated areas with the federal property inventory and required ongoing management to protect human health and safety and the environment.

The scope includes tailings management, building demolition, pit closures, dealing with contaminated soils and “in-situ encapsulation” of the 237,000 tonnes of arsenic trioxide stored in underground chambers. Continue Reading →