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

China slams province for failing to curb polluting industries (Reuters Africa – April 22, 2019)

SHANGHAI, April 23 (Reuters) – China’s environment ministry reprimanded provincial officials in Shandong, the country’s biggest aluminium producing province, for failing to comply with policies to cut coal consumption and curb the growth of highly polluting aluminium output.

Shandong has been a key part of China’s efforts to curb pollution in the industrial north, but it has struggled to find cleaner forms of growth.

Seven of the province’s cities were set targets to cut smog over the winter, but only one – Jining – managed to do so. Continue Reading →

Opinion: Trump’s EPA wants to put a toxic mine in pristine Alaska. What could go wrong? – by Kim Heacox (The Guardian – April 22, 2019)

Pebble Mine is just the latest story of greedy men exploiting nature for profit, and leaving us with the nasty side-effects

Back in my youth, while in Montana, I came across Berkeley Pit, called “the richest hill on earth.” There, churches and historic neighborhoods were bulldozed to expand the pit so greedy men could make their fortunes mining copper, silver and gold.

After the riches were extracted, and problems arose, those men absolved themselves of any wrongdoing, and left. Over time, the mine closed and the pit began to fill with an acidic brew so toxic that when snow geese landed there, they died.

As it threatened Montana’s groundwater, the pit became an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) superfund site that would cost American taxpayers billions of dollars for generations. Continue Reading →

Why let mining companies rip up public land like it’s 1872? – by Tim Palmer and Char Miler (Los Angeles Times – April 12, 2019)

Photographer and writer Tim Palmer is the author of 19 books about rivers, including “Field Guide to California Rivers.” Char Miller teaches environmental history at Pomona College and is author of “Not So Golden State: Sustainability vs. the California Dream.”

What if communications today were governed by a law passed before the telephone was invented? Or if transportation were guided by federal policy made before there were cars?

That’s exactly the type of anachronism in play regarding America’s key law governing the extraction of hard-rock minerals, such as gold, silver and copper, on public land. The Mining Act of 1872, which President Ulysses S. Grant signed, still sanctions destructive practices on what amounts to one-third of the country’s acreage and 46% of California’s.

It can create toxic plumes and moonscape rubble in national forests, national monuments and Bureau of Land Management holdings that many regard as their favorite places on Earth. That’s one reason why pressure is mounting to change this antiquated 19th century legislation. Continue Reading →

Mosaic suspends phosphate mines in Brazil after new rules for dams – by Marcelo Teixeira (Reuters U.S. – April 11, 2019)

SAO PAULO, April 11 (Reuters) – The Mosaic Company, a Brazilian fertilizer maker, said on Thursday it will suspend production at its phosphate mines of Tapira and Catalão after failing to obtain a deadline extension in order to provide stability certification for three of its tailings dams.

Phosphate is a crucial fertilizer ingredient and Mosaic’s operation is the largest in Brazil, which is a global leader in agriculture, producing more than 220 million tonnes of grains and 570 million tonnes of cane per year, among other products such as coffee, tobacco, cotton and fruits.

Mining regulations in Brazil have been affected by a dam disaster in January, involving miner Vale SA,that killed hundreds, prompting new rules to try to avoid more accidents. Brazil has dozens of tailings dams, which hold back byproducts created during the extraction of mineral resources. Continue Reading →

Ethical investors ask miners to publish tailings dam details (Reuters U.S. – April 5, 2019)

LONDON (Reuters) – Ethical investors working on a global standard for tailings dams have written to 683 listed resource companies, including major miners, asking for information to be made public within 45 days about every facility they control.

The safety of dams used to store mining waste, known as tailings, has gain prominence after the collapse of a Vale tailings dam in Brazil in January killed an estimated 300 people.

The International Council on Mining and Minerals (ICMM) industry group said in March it was working with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) to develop new standards. Continue Reading →

Church of England scheme gives ultimatum to mining companies – by Stephanie Hawthorne (Pensions Expert – April 5, 2019)

On the go: In the wake of the collapse of the tailings dam in Brumadinho, Brazil, which killed at least 84 people and left hundreds missing, 96 institutional investors have been stirred into action.

In an urgent letter, investors, led by the Church of England Pensions Board, have given mining companies 45 days to provide full disclosure on tailings storage facilities under their control. It requests that companies publish the disclosure on their websites within 45 days and ensure that the disclosure is signed by the company’s chief executive or board chair.

The letter, sent on April 5 to 683 listed extractives companies by the CofE Pensions Board and the Swedish Council on Ethics for the AP Funds, is supported by 96 investors with $10.3tn (£7.9tn) in assets under management, including Aegon, Aviva and Hermes. The engagement is also supported by the UN-supported Principles for Responsible Investment. Continue Reading →

Licence to operate: understanding the biggest challenge for mining in 2019 – by Heidi Vella (Mining Technology – April 3, 2019)

A recent survey by EY Mining & Metals found that more than half of global mining companies believe that licence to operate, or acceptance and permission from communities and society, is the biggest risk to their business – jumping seven places up the list from last year. Heidi Vella finds out why this issue is a rising concern and how firms can adapt.

seven places up the list from last year. Heidi Vella finds out why this issue is a rising concern and how firms can adapt.

Today, miners are required to juggle many emerging challenges not traditionally associated with metals and mining, such as digitisation, automation and cyber security. Yet, though those are new issues to master, it is not technological disruption that is keeping mining CEOs up at night, but an issue individual companies and the industry as a whole have grappled with for some time: securing the social licence to operate. Continue Reading →

COLUMN-Iron ore prices shift structurally higher on Vale woes – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.S. – April 2, 2019)

HONG KONG, April 2 (Reuters) – Iron ore prices in China reached a record high on Tuesday as market participants wrestled two dilemmas, namely the likely temporary weather-related disruptions from Australia and the rather more serious safety outages in Brazil.

A major tropical cyclone hitting the main producing and shipping areas in the world’s largest iron ore miner was always likely to boost prices, and indeed, markets largely responded as expected.

Iron ore futures on the Dalian Commodity Exchange rose 4.2 percent on Tuesday to reach 665.5 yuan ($99) a tonne, the most since the contract starting trading in 2013. Continue Reading →

Who cleans up? No requirements to fix environmental impacts from mining: auditor – by Bob Weber (National Post – April 2, 2019)

CANADIAN PRESS – Ottawa is keeping appropriate track of how Canada’s mining industry releases effluent into the country’s waterways, but nobody’s responsible for fixing problems when they are discovered, says the federal environment commissioner.

“When environmental effects were found, there was no requirement on anybody’s part to actually have to do anything,” Julie Gelfand said in an audit released Tuesday. “Nobody actually seems to have to deal with the issue.”

The audit found other gaps. Environment Canada didn’t have adequate information for about one-third of Canada’s metal mines. The department completed only two-thirds of its planned inspections for non-metals operations, such as coal or oilsands mines. Continue Reading →

Cleanup of Sudbury’s Long Lake could begin this summer – by Staff (Sudbury Star – April 2, 2019)

It appears the provincial government is about to act to clean the arsenic from a gold mine that operated more than a hundred years ago on Long Lake.

In a release, Nickel Belt MPP France Gelinas, said she received the good news in a letter from Greg Rickford, the minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines. Long Lake is located in her riding.

“I have been in communication with (various) ministers asking for action on this dangerous situation,” Gelinas said. “This week I finally got some possible good news. In his response, the minister (Rickford) has confirmed that the clean up could, finally, begin this summer and continue into the autumn of 2022.” Continue Reading →

Canada failed at monitoring waste dumps from mining companies – by Carl Meyer (National Observer – April 2, 2019)

Canada’s federal environment and fisheries departments failed at monitoring unauthorized waste dumps by mining companies and did not always check if these firms were carrying out plans to save fish from lethal chemicals, Canada’s environment commissioner has found.

Julie Gelfand examined seven metal mine projects to figure out how Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) were fulfilling their duties to oversee the safe disposal and storage of the liquid sludge that comes from industrial chemicals used in mining to extract materials from crushed rock.

That process created a byproduct filled with harmful materials to fish like cyanide, zinc and selenium, which the industry calls “effluent.” Continue Reading →

Why mine closure matters and why it gets ignored – by Alisha Hiyate (Canadian Mining Journal – January 1, 2017)

Trends in mine closure from the Progressive Mine Forum

If you want to clear a room of miners, there are few better ways than to raise the topic of mine closure. At least, that’s sort of what happened at the Progressive Mine Forum in Toronto in late October.

The inaugural event, organized by The Northern Miner, was dedicated to discussing innovation in mining. After a day of roundtables discussing CSR, Big Data in exploration, and innovation in mine development, operations and finance, about half the audience got up and left when it came time for the final topic of the day – mine closure. (Watch the Mine Closure portion of the event.)

While mine closure may not be a sexy topic, it is an urgent one. “It’s the single most important thing that our industry does,” said Douglas Morrison, president and CEO of the Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation. Continue Reading →

Q&A with CEMI’s Doug Morrison – by Alisha Hiyate (Canadian Mining Journal – October 1, 2017)

This October 2017 article and the above video presentation from the Northern Mine Forum 2017, sponsored by the Northern Miner are well worth a read and view in light of the horrific tailings dam tragedy in Brazil.

It also should spur both the Ontario and federal governments, as well as the entire Canadian mining sector, to put significant funding into CEMI with a mandate to focus on innovative tailings and mine closure management.

Considering that the mining sector’s social license to operate is being challenged in many jurisdictions in Canada and around the world, a “Mining Marshall Plan” commitment to tailings management, acid mine drainage, mine closure, water quality and other environmental impacts throughout the mining cycle is paramount if the industry and government is truely committed to sustainable green practices for the 21st century! – Stan Sudol

InnovationQ&A with CEMI’s Doug Morrison

has been the hot topic of the mining industry for several years now – but how much progress have we actually made? CMJ spoke with Douglas Morrison, president and CEO of the Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation (CEMI), to find out. Continue Reading →

Vale shares jump on iron prices despite losing certifications, asset freeze (Reuters U.S. – April 1, 2019)

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazilian miner Vale SA said on Monday it failed to obtain stability certificates for 13 dams under review following the rupture of another dam in January that killed hundreds, although its shares rose on strong global iron ore prices.

The world’s largest iron ore miner also disclosed in a securities filing on Monday that a court had frozen an additional 1 billion reais ($258.42 million) in assets over potential damages related to the evacuation of its Vargem Grande dam.

Despite the disclosures, Vale shares jumped to their highest point since the Jan. 25 disaster, rising 3.6 percent to 52.79 reais. Continue Reading →

Brazil’s Vale slashes iron ore sales estimate after dam burst – by Marta Nogueira and Roberto Samora (Reuters U.S. – March 28, 2019)

RIO DE JANEIRO/SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Brazilian miner Vale SA on Thursday estimated selling up to 75 million tonnes less iron ore this year, after several mines were halted following its second deadly dam burst in less than four years.

The estimate, which is 20 percent below its prior forecast, is the latest blow to Vale from the collapse at Brumadinho, which killed some 300 people and forced the world’s largest iron ore exporter to fire its chief executive officer earlier this month.

Chief Financial Officer Luciano Siani said in a call with analysts that under the most optimistic scenario, 2019 sales would decline about 50 million tonnes. Continue Reading →