Archive | Mining Environmental Accidents, Pollution and Abandoned Mines

Illegal gold rush destroying Amazon rainforest – study – by Anastasia Moloney (Thomson Reuters Foundation – December 10, 2018)

https://af.reuters.com/

BOGOTA, Dec 10 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A rise in small-scale illegal gold mining is destroying swathes of the Amazon rainforest, according to research released on Monday that maps the scale of the damage for the first time.

Researchers used satellite imagery and government data to identify at least 2,312 illegal mining sites across six countries in South America – Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and Venezuela.

The maps show the spread and scale of illegal mining and were produced by the Amazon Socio-environmental, Geo-referenced Information Project (RAISG), which brings together a network of nonprofit environmental groups in the Amazon. Continue Reading →

Canada As Ugly Neighbor: Mines in B.C. Would Devastate Alaskan Tribes – by Ramin Pejan (Earth Justice.org – December 7, 2018)

https://earthjustice.org/

Southeast Alaskan Tribes have brought a human rights petition against Canada to protect the fish at the center of their cultures.

Mining operations in Canada are threatening to destroy the way of life of Southeast Alaskan Tribes who were never consulted about the mines by the governments of Canada or British Columbia.

The Tribes have depended for millennia upon the pristine watersheds of the Taku, Stikine, and Unuk rivers. These waters flow through varied and wild landscapes from British Columbia through Alaska and are teeming with salmon and eulachon.

The mines – two of which are operating and four that are proposed – endanger downstream fish populations through the release of toxic mine waste and acidic waters. Fish are fundamental to the Tribes’ cultural practices and livelihoods, making the pollution a violation of the Tribes’ human rights to culture and an adequate means of subsistence. Continue Reading →

B.C. issues request for proposal to clean up acidic Tulsequah Chief mine – by Gordon Hoekstra (Vancouver Sun – December 2, 2018)

https://vancouversun.com/

Underground copper mine that operated in the 1950s has faced criticism from First Nations, environmentalists and the Alaskan government.

The B.C. government has taken a preliminary step to clean up the bankrupt Tulsequah Chief copper mine that has leaked acid-laced run-off for decades. Last month, the B.C. government put out a request for proposal to remediate the mine, located in the extreme northwest corner of the province near the Alaskan border. The deadline for proposals was Nov. 29.

The request was issued after remediation plans put forward by Chieftain Metals’ primary secured creditor, West Face Capital, did not satisfy the B.C. Ministry of Mines. If a cleanup proposal is chosen, a final report that includes site-hazard assessment, remediation methods, closure steps and costs is due by Sep. 30, 2019.

The acid run-off from the mine into the Taku River has been a long-standing sore point for B.C. and Alaskan First Nations and environmentalists, and the Alaskan government. “The B.C. government has taken a first step, but there’s still a lot that has to happen before the mine gets cleaned up,” Chris Zimmer, Alaska campaign director for Rivers Without Borders, said. Continue Reading →

British Columbia seeks bids to remidate Tulsequah Chief mine – by Elwood Brehmer (Alaska Journal of Commerce – November 28, 2018)

http://www.alaskajournal.com/

British Columbia mining regulators have taken the first step toward paying to clean up an abandoned mine that has been leaking acid runoff into Alaska waters for decades.

The British Columbia Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources issued a request for proposals Nov. 6 soliciting bids to remediate the Tulsequah Chief mine located in the Taku River drainage about 10 miles upstream from the Alaska-British Columbia border.

State officials contend the multi-metal mine that operated for just six years has been leaking acid wastewater into the Tulsequah River, which feeds the Taku, since it was closed in 1957. The Taku River empties into the Pacific near Juneau and is one of the largest salmon-bearing rivers in Southeast Alaska. Continue Reading →

‘This has been going on for a very long time’: Province suing feds over $278M mine cleanup after cost-sharing talks fail – by Alex MacPherson (Saskatoon StarPhoenix – November 27, 2018)

https://thestarphoenix.com/

Saskatchewan is suing the federal government to avoid being left holding the entire bill for a massively over-budget uranium mine cleanup project, the total cost of which has grown more than 1,000 per cent, to $278.1 million.

The province is seeking $61.8 million — the bulk of Ottawa’s original $12.3 million commitment plus $50.6 million to cover half of what has been spent to date — and a court order that the federal government “contribute equally” to remaining costs.

Filed this week in Regina Court of Queen’s Bench, the statement of claim is the latest development in a 12-year dispute over the ballooning cost of burying radioactive tailings and other work at the abandoned Gunnar uranium mine in northern Saskatchewan. Continue Reading →

BHP prepares for UK legal battle over 2015 Brazil dam failure – by Kirstin Ridley and Barbara Lewis (Reuters U.S. – November 22, 2018)

https://www.reuters.com/

LONDON (Reuters) – Mining giant BHP says it will fight an unprecedented English lawsuit filed by hundreds of thousands of Brazilians for multi-billion pound damages over Brazil’s worst environmental disaster.

SPG Law, a British offshoot of a U.S. litigator, represents 240,000 individuals in Brazil, 24 municipal governments, a Roman Catholic Archdiocese and members of the Krenak indigenous community and has filed three legal claims for unlimited damages over the failure of the Fundao dam in 2015. It looks set to be the largest group action heard in England.

London and Australian-listed BHP, the world’s largest mining company by market value, said it had received correspondence from the law firm but also noted it had so far committed $780 million to the Renova Foundation, an entity created by the miner and its partners to manage reparations and repairs. Continue Reading →

Effort Underway to Seal Old Mines, but Some Want Them Open – by Lindsay Whitehurst (U.S. News – October 30, 2018)

https://www.usnews.com/

Associated Press – EUREKA, Utah — Underneath the mountains and deserts of the U.S. West lie hundreds of thousands of abandoned mines, an underground world that can hold serious danger and unexpected wonder. They are a legacy of the region’s prospecting past, when almost anyone could dig a mine and then walk away, with little cleanup required, when it stopped producing.

In Utah alone, the state is trying to seal more than 10,000 open mines with cinderblocks and metal grates after people have died in rock falls and all-terrain-vehicle crashes and from poisonous air over the past three decades. Just this month in Arizona, a prospector broke his left leg and ankle after plunging to the bottom of an old mine shaft. He spent nearly three days there with no food or water fending off rattlesnakes before a friend heard his cries for help.

Still, not everyone wants to see the mines closed. For years, a dedicated subculture of explorers has been slipping underground to see tunnels lined with sparkling quartz, century-old rail cars and caverns that open in the earth like buried ballrooms. Continue Reading →

Indonesia to settle Freeport environment issues in weeks – ministry official – by Bernadette Christina Munthe (Reuters U.S. – November 22, 2018)

https://www.reuters.com/

JAKARTA, Nov 22 (Reuters) – Indonesia’s environment ministry aims to resolve within two weeks environmental issues that have been holding up the state’s plans to acquire a majority stake in Freeport McMoRan Inc’s Grasberg copper mine.

That deal, where Indonesia and state-owned miner PT Inalum will control a 51.23 percent stake in PT Freeport Indonesia, is expected to end years of wrangling over ownership rights to Grasberg, the world’s second-biggest copper mine.

But the planned $3.85 billion series of transactions are still subject to environmental clearances and a special mining permit by the Indonesian government after a 2017 audit found the mine to be in breach of environmental rules. Continue Reading →

Queensland mine laws would leave more than 200 voids across the state – by Ben Smee (The Guardian – November 13, 2018)

https://www.theguardian.com/

Mine rehabilitation laws expected to be passed by the Queensland parliament this week would allow coalminers to leave more than 200 voids as pockmarks on the state’s landscape.

In recent days the mining sector, in a campaign backed by both the Queensland Resources Council and the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union, has piled pressure on the government to delay the legislation and ensure new regulations would not be retrospective.

The laws would place additional requirements on newly approved mines, requiring areas such as voids and waste ponds to be rehabilitated in most cases. But the state has repeatedly said those laws would not be applied to existing mines or rescind previously approved environmental management plans. Continue Reading →

The EPA Can’t Wait to Reopen the Mine That Poisoned North Idaho – by Peter Waldman (Bloomberg News – November 12, 2018)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

The Bunker Hill Mine deposited 75 million tons of toxic sludge in Lake Coeur d’Alene, and the lead and zinc are still flowing.

For a century, the mines of the Coeur d’Alene Mountains in North Idaho produced much of the heavy metals that made the U.S. a global superpower. Starting in the 1880s, through the rise of industrialization, the introduction of the automobile, and two world wars, a few narrow canyons in the Coeur d’Alenes yielded more than 11 million tons of zinc, lead, and silver, as much as a fifth of U.S. production.

Mining has left a mark on the culture of the Silver Valley and an indelible stain on the landscape, which remains heavily contaminated. To extract a pound of metal, mining companies had to process nearly 14 pounds of ore, and they dumped the crushed waste rock into mountain streams and along river banks.

Over the course of a century, the tailings and mine drainage flowed down the 40-mile-long watershed, depositing some 75 million tons of highly toxic sludge into Lake Coeur d’Alene. House cats convulsed from drinking the water. Continue Reading →

Novel research method reveals small-scale gold mining’s impact on Peruvian Amazon – by Mike Gaworecki (Mongabay.com – November 9, 2018)

https://news.mongabay.com/

According to research released yesterday, small-scale gold mining has led to the destruction of more than 170,000 acres of primary rainforest in the Peruvian Amazon over the past five years.

Scientists based in Peru’s Madre de Dios region at Wake Forest University’s Center for Amazonian Scientific Innovation (CINCIA) say they’ve developed a new method for detecting artisanal-scale mining that is 20-25 percent more accurate than the tools used in the past.

The researchers combined the CLASlite forest monitoring technology with Global Forest Change datasets on forest loss, both of which use lightwaves to identify changes in the landscape, to arrive at their estimate of rainforest destruction driven by small gold mining operations in Peru, which they say is 30 percent higher than previous estimates. Continue Reading →

Miners gouge hills near Indian capital ending protection, compounding pollution – by Alasdair Pal (Reuters U.S. – November 9, 2018)

https://www.reuters.com/

SIROHI, India (Reuters) – A sandstone quarry near the village of Sirohi, on the outskirts of the Indian city of New Delhi, is a reminder that it’s not just fireworks and crop burning that are causing the capital’s pollution problems.

The site was previously part of the Aravalli mountain range, that stretches nearly 700 km (435 miles) through northern and western India. That was until hundreds of workers hollowed out one of its hills, mining for rocks and sand for construction.

It is the same in many other parts of the Aravallis, which used to protect Delhi from dust rolling in from the nearby Thar Desert. Beginning in October, stubble farmland around Delhi, along with vehicle and industrial emissions, and the lighting of firecrackers during Hindu festivals combine to create a toxic haze that can hang over the city for months. Continue Reading →

Mining in India’s Bundelkhand causes drought and destruction – by Inder Singh Bisht (Asia Times – November 7, 2018)

http://www.atimes.com/

Spread across 13 districts in the neighboring Indian states Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, the Bundelkhand region has suffered from drought for over a decade. This has caused an exodus by the majority of its working population who have left to seek a living in other parts of the country.

With agriculture starved by the drought and an absence of alternative industries, mining is one of the few sectors that provides a semblance of regular income to locals. This helps keep a lid on popular opposition to mining activities in the area, even when the industy is also a major cause of environmental degradation and disease in the region.

Silicosis, a form of lung disease caused by the inhalation of crystalline silica dust, is common among people who work in mines or live near stone-crushing plants. Continue Reading →

BHP Billiton facing £5bn lawsuit from Brazilian victims of dam disaster – by Jonathan Watts (The Guardian – November 6, 2018)

https://www.theguardian.com/

Action launched in Liverpool against Anglo-Australian mining company after 2015 tragedy that killed 19 people

The worst environmental disaster in Brazil’s history has triggered one of the biggest legal claims ever filed in a British court.

The Anglo-Australian mining company BHP Billiton is being sued for about £5bn by Brazilian victims of the Samarco dam collapse in Mariana three years ago.

The class action case was filed in the Liverpool high court on Monday by the UK-based SPG Law on behalf of 240,000 individuals, 24 municipal governments, 11,000 businesses, a Catholic archdiocese and the Krenak indigenous community. Continue Reading →

A full life: Sudburian who survived German prison camp, helped build Superstack passes away at age 90 – by Heidi Ulrichsen (Sudbury Northern Life – November 1, 2018)

 

https://www.sudbury.com/

Aarne Kovala’s daughter wrote a book about his Second World War experiences

A man who survived being taken prisoner by the Germans as a teenage Finnish merchant marine during the Second World War and later went on to help build the Superstack here in Sudbury passed away Oct. 30 at the age of 90.

“From his youth as a sailor in Finland, his travels across Canada raising smokestacks, and his work constructing homes and buildings in Sudbury, Aarne brought energy, determination, and sisu to every project,” said Aarne Kovala’s obituary. “Aarne loved spending time at his camp on Lake Panache surrounded by friends and family. He will be remembered for his cheerful personality and easy laugh.”

Sudbury.com interviewed Kovala about his life a couple of times over the years, most recently in 2017, when he spoke about his role in building the Superstack in the wake of news that it will be dismantled. Continue Reading →