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

Canada mine waste prompts calls for better water protection (Associated Press – July 22, 2019)

https://www.washingtonpost.com/

KALISPELL, Mont. — Towns, tribes and politicians in U.S. states bordering British Columbia are seeking better oversight and stricter regulations to protect them from hazardous pollution that flow downstream from coal mines in the Canadian province.

Leaders in Libby, Troy and Eureka, towns along the Kootenai River, wrote in separate letters to Montana Gov. Steve Bullock saying their livelihoods depend on the region’s rivers and lakes. But those waterways that support diverse wildlife and recreational interests are being compromised by contaminants from British Columbia coal mines, they said.

They and tribal leaders in Montana and Idaho want state and federal officials to fund better long-term water quality monitoring and to adopt a strict water quality standard for selenium. Continue Reading →

New Brunswick: Latest Sisson Mine approval leaves First Nations, conservation groups uneasy – by Logan Perley (CBC News New Brunswick – July 22, 2019)

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/

Tailings pond for proposed mine north of Fredericton requires damming two fish-bearing brooks

For two years, Nick Polchies of Woodstock First Nation and his dog Arizona have been waking up in the woods, on land that someday — and for centuries to come — could be a toxic tailings pond.

Polchies initially went to the site, about 80 kilometres northwest of Fredericton, to help the Wolastoqi grandmothers already camping out there to protest the proposed Sisson Mine.

Northcliff Resources Ltd., a Vancouver-based company, says its open-pit tungsten and molybdenum mine would create 500 jobs during construction and 300 jobs for the 27 years it is expected to operate. Continue Reading →

Venezuela has an Indigenous Mining Arc that is destroying national parks: Expert – by Valentina Ruiz Leotaud (Mining.com – July 14, 2019)

https://www.mining.com/

Venezuelan scholar and forestry expert, José Rafael Lozada, is making public a series of videos where he demonstrates that besides the polemic Mining Arc of the Orinoco River, there is another mining arc devastating Venezuela’s Canaima National Park, which is a Unesco world heritage site, as well as the Caura National Park and the Southern Bolívar State Protective Zone.

Lozada calls the area ‘Indigenous Mining Arc’ and, according to his review of media stories, interviews with local sources and research trips to the area, it is the product of a series of deals that the Pemón tribe made with both the current Nicolás Maduro regime and the former Hugo Chávez regime.

Besides the archival documentation, the expert analyzes satellite and Google Earth images from different years and shows how massive placer gold mining operations that employ dredges have grown anarchically in protected areas. Continue Reading →

Twin Metals changes its plan to deal with mine waste — to a strategy lauded by some environmentalists – by Walker Orenstein (Minn Post – July 18, 2019)

https://www.minnpost.com/

The safety of storing mining waste in a tailings basin has been a critical part of the debate over copper-nickel mining in northern Minnesota, with some environmental advocates warning that failures and spills could unleash toxic slurry into nearby waters.

Now, in a major shift, one of two companies hoping to build a copper-nickel mine says it plans to store much of its waste using a “dry stack” method, an emerging technology that many of the same environmental nonprofits — and some mining experts — argue will better prevent water pollution.

Twin Metals Minnesota, which plans to mine just outside the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, said Thursday it would abandon its plan to use a tailings basin, which entails waste rock being covered in a pond held back by a dam. Continue Reading →

B.C. mining touted as green solution even as environmental groups warn of lax industry regulations – by Ainslie Cruickshank (Toronto Star – July 17, 2019)

https://www.thestar.com/

VANCOUVER—A B.C. environmental organization says lax mining regulation is putting B.C. waterways at risk, even as resource ministers on Wednesday touted Canada as a top source for the metals and minerals the world needs to transition to a green economy.

“Our big concern is how much of B.C.’s competitive advantage, as they call it, is actually just weak environmental regulations,” said Lars Sander-Green, a science and communications analyst with Wildsight.

Sander-Green’s comments came as the annual conference of ministers responsible for energy and mines wrapped up. This year’s conference was held in Cranbrook, B.C. Continue Reading →

Brazil Judge Orders Mining Company To Pay For Damage From Dam Disaster – by Merrit Kennedy (National Public Radio – July 10, 2019)

https://www.npr.org/

A Brazilian judge has ordered mining giant Vale S.A. to pay for all damage caused by a ruptured dam that unleashed a torrent of mine waste and killed at least 247 people in January.

The disaster in the small city of Brumadinho was one of Brazil’s worst-ever industrial accidents. Twenty-three people are still missing from the rupture that engulfed many of the company’s workers and nearby residents in the muddy waste.

Judge Elton Pupo Nogueira ruled that Vale should be held responsible for the cost of repairing all damage caused by the incident. The judge did not give a dollar figure for how much the company should pay, saying the tragedy’s consequences cannot be quantified only by technical-scientific criteria, according to a statement on the court’s website. Continue Reading →

Federal and tribal coalitions challenge Canadian mining – by Liz Weber (High Country News – July 8, 2019)

https://www.hcn.org

‘It’s about British Columbia being a really bad actor as an upstream neighbor that pollutes our water.’

The headwaters of the Stikine River begin in northern British Columbia and flow southwest in a long arching comma. The river carves through the landscape, unconcerned with international or tribal boundaries before crossing into the United States where it empties into the Eastern Passage near Wrangell, Alaska.

Yet the Stikine River is among America’s most endangered rivers, threatened by British Columbia’s upstream mining practices, according to American Rivers, a river basin advocacy group.

The river’s problems represent the decades-long struggle to put international regulations on the contaminants flowing downstream from B.C.’s open-pit hard rock and coal mines. Now, two separate coalitions of U.S. senators and tribal leaders are joining forces to once again demand action. Continue Reading →

Five-year anniversary looms with no charges in catastrophic Mount Polley dam collapse – by Gordon Hoekstra (Vancouver Sun – July 7, 2019)

https://vancouversun.com/

Environmentalists and Mount Polley mine-area residents are anxiously waiting as one deadline approaches for federal agencies to lay charges over the 2014 collapse of the B.C. Interior mine’s tailings dam.

After a 4-1/2-year investigation, a team comprised of officials with Environment Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada, along with the B.C. Conservation Officer Service, delivered a charge package to federal prosecutors this spring.

It is now up to the Public Prosecution Service of Canada to determine if charges will be laid. Under federal law, there is a five-year window that ends Aug. 4 to lay charges in a summary conviction under the Fisheries Act, where a large corporation faces fines up to $8 million. Continue Reading →

Vale CFO Should Face Criminal Indictment for Dam, Panel Says – by Maria Luiza Rabello, Sabrina Valle and Vinicius Andrade (Bloomberg News – July 2, 2019)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

A Brazilian Senate committee is expected to recommend that 12 current and former executives of Vale SA, including Chief Financial Officer Luciano Siani and ex-Chief Executive Officer Fabio Schvartsman, face criminal indictments for a fatal dam disaster in January.

The rapporteur of the committee proposed the indictments Tuesday after a 2-1/2-month congressional inquiry into the causes of the dam break that left at least 246 people dead and unleashed a sea of mud over the city of Brumadinho, where Vale had an inactive iron ore mine. His report says the company was negligent and its risk and compliance controls were flawed.

If approved, as expected, the report will be sent to several Brazilian authorities, including federal and state police and prosecutors, as well as the governor of Minas Gerais and the ministries of energy and environment. Continue Reading →

First Nation expects reprieve will be brief after blocking mining company from its territorial lands to protect sacred B.C. lake – by Jesse Winter and Wanyee Li (Toronto Star – July 3, 2019)

https://www.thestar.com/

TL’ESQOX FIRST NATION—It was just after 6:30 a.m. and Cecil Grinder hadn’t slept. Standing next to a smouldering fire, he watched the trucks approaching from the east.

“I tried to get a few hours sleep, but I just couldn’t,” the Tl’etinqox First Nation councillor said, explaining that he was too nervous. Seventeen-year-old Syles Laceese joined him on the tarmac.

At the junction with Farwell Canyon Road, about 40 minutes outside of Williams Lake, B.C., a white pickup and a tractor-trailer towing a bulldozer slowed to a stop at Grinder’s command amid the rolling hills and cattle ranches of Tsilhqot’in traditional territory. Continue Reading →

British Columbia: Tsilhqot’in Nation plans peaceful action to protect two sacred lakes from mining – by Brenna Owen (CBC News/Canadian Press – July 2, 2019)

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/

The Taseko Mines project west of Williams Lake was approved by the province in 2010

A First Nation in British Columbia’s western Interior says its members intend to peacefully take action to protect two lakes with cultural and spiritual significance from drilling by a mining company.

According to a release from the Tsilhqot’in Nation in Williams Lake, Taseko Mines Ltd. sent a notice on June 27 indicating it would begin using heavy equipment such as logging and road-clearing equipment starting Tuesday.

The company says the drilling and related activities are an attempt to prove the lakes will not be harmed by its so-called New Prosperity Project, a proposed open-pit copper and gold mine west of Williams Lake. Continue Reading →

With deadline looming, charges recommended in Mount Polley mines disaster – by Justine Hunter (Globe and Mail – June 28, 2019)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

A years-long investigation by multiple agencies into the largest mine-waste disaster in Canadian history has led to a recommendation for charges under the federal Fisheries Act.

With the five-year deadline for charges just weeks away, The Globe and Mail has learned joint task force on the 2014 tailings-pond breach at the Mount Polley mine in central British Columbia sent its recommendations to the Public Prosecution Service of Canada in early April. It is now up to the Crown to decide whether to approve the charges.

“The investigation of the Mount Polley pollution incident has been lengthy and complex. As the matter is now under charge assessment, there will be no further comment at this time,” Veronica Petro, a spokesperson for Environment Canada, said in a statement. Continue Reading →

A partisan divide: Uranium mining’s toxic legacy or essential national security – by Miranda Faulkner (Cronkite News/News Maven – June 26, 2019)

https://newsmaven.io/

WASHINGTON – Tribal members, environmentalists and lawmakers told a House panel Tuesday that including uranium on a list of “critical minerals” opens the door to expedited mining that will put tribal lands and national parks at risk.

They were responding to a Trump administration announcement earlier this month that directed the government to locate uranium and expedite permits for its mining as one of dozens of minerals considered essential for the country’s economic and national security.

But witnesses told a House Natural Resources subcommittee hearing Tuesday that the administration plan does not take into consideration the public and environmental health risks that come with mining, especially uranium, which has a “toxic legacy” of polluting communities where it has been mined. Continue Reading →

Mineweb: Anglo’s seen the future of mining, and it looks a lot like farming – by Ciaran Ryan (Money Web.com – June 24, 2019)

https://www.moneyweb.co.za/

The sector has to clean up its act while still making a profit – and it’s a race the group intends to win.

Addressing analysts in London recently, Anglo technical director Tony O’Neill outlined a vision of the future where mines will be similar to farms.

Virtually all mining activity, including the extraction of minerals, leaching and processing will take place below ground. Rock cutting will be done without vibration and only material of value will be brought to the surface. No more convoys of trucks or surface conveyor belts delivering material to the processing plant, no more mechanical shovels scarring the countryside.

On the surface, you may see green fields, cows, and perhaps a wind turbine or two and some solar panels. Surplus power generated by the mines will be supplied to local communities. Exploration will be done by satellite and minimal use made of water. Perhaps even no water at all. Continue Reading →

A photo of a dead fisherman left many questions for a Swiss-Russian mine in Guatemala – by Marion Guégan and Cécile Schilis-Gallego (Toronto Star – June 22, 2019)

https://www.thestar.com/

A group of fishermen from an Indigenous community in Guatemala demanded to know more about the environmental impact of a ferronickel mine established on their ancestral land. One of them was killed, and a local reporter was criminalized for covering the story.

Forbidden Stories, an international consortium of 40 journalists publishing in 30 media organizations around the world, joined forces to continue the reporter’s work. This is part of the “Green Blood” series, a project pursuing stories of journalists who have been threatened, jailed or killed while investigating environmental issues.

If it were not for a journalist taking pictures that day, some might claim that it is unclear how Carlos Maaz’s last moments unfolded. There was a cloud of tear gas, the chaos of an improvised protest, the echo of bullets and rocks flying through the crowd. Continue Reading →