New gold rush fuels Amazon destruction (France – November 9, 2021)

Sao Felix do Xingu (Brazil) (AFP) – Standing over the gaping pit in the middle of his small farm, Brazilian wildcat miner Antonio Silva struggles to explain why he joined the new gold rush sweeping the Amazon.

The 61-year-old grandfather of six had planned to retire from illegal mining, and the environmental destruction that comes along with it. He bought this farm in rural Sao Felix do Xingu, in the southeastern Amazon, and was starting a cattle ranch on a long-deforested patch of jungle where he would not have to cut down more trees.

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Vale says it continues to upgrade its tailings dams in Greater Sudbury – by Jonathan Migneault (CBC News Sudbury – November 3, 2021)

Vale says it inspects its more than 40 tailings dams in Greater Sudbury every day

Two years after a dam collapse in Brazil that killed more than 250 people, Vale has said it has continued to upgrade its tailings dam infrastructure in Greater Sudbury.

In the last 15 years, the mining company has upgraded five dams in the Copper Cliff region which were built using what the industry calls the upstream method. That is when the tailings materials themselves — which are the rock waste byproduct of mine milling operations — are used to build a dam.

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Serpent River First Nation (SRFN) acid plant still an environmental issue after 64 years – by Leslie Knibbs (Sudbury Star – October 28, 2021)

In 1957, the Cutler acid plant opened in Serpent River First Nation (SRFN) after the Canadian government negotiated a 99-year lease with mining company Noranda Mines, which was at the time involved in the uranium mining industry in Elliot Lake. The plant was established to process uranium from Elliot Lake’s mines.

SRFN member, Lianne Leddy documented the story of the effects of the acid plant in her book, ‘Serpent River Resurgence.’

Lianne Leddy, a member of SRFN and professor from Wilfred Laurier University said in a recent interview, “When the plant was in operation, the fumes caused deforestation in the area, damage to roofs, community gardens, cars and even holes in the laundry drying out on the line.

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‘Ignored for 70 years’: human rights group to investigate uranium contamination on Navajo Nation – by Cody Nelson (The Guardian – October 27, 2021)

Rita Capitan has been worrying about her water since 1994. It was that autumn she read a local newspaper article about another uranium mine, the Crownpoint Uranium Project, getting under way near her home.

Capitan has spent her entire life in Crownpoint, New Mexico, a small town on the eastern Navajo Nation, and is no stranger to the uranium mining that has persisted in the region for decades. But it was around the time the article was published that she began learning about the many risks associated with uranium mining.

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OPINION: The dirty secrets behind Sudbury’s regreening – by Joan Kuyek (The Narwhal – September 30, 20210

The Narwhal

Joan Kuyek is co-founder of MiningWatch Canada and the author of Unearthing Justice.

A recent op-ed in The Narwhal said that Sudbury, Ont. offered proof that a “[post-mining] re-greening road map exists,” and indicated that Sudbury provides a model to the world. However, any community attempting to replicate the Sudbury model has to know its dirty, and often untold, stories.

The mines and smelters in Sudbury — Canada’s largest mining community — were built on and destroyed the lands of the Atikameksheng Anishinaabek. The boundaries of their tiny reserve were deliberately drawn to exclude mineral rich lands. Although over $1 trillion has been taken from the Sudbury region, the First Nation has received no compensation and no apology.

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How to Fix Florida’s Phosphate Problem – by Blair Wickstrom (Florida Sportsman – September 22, 2021)

Dave Markett, a Tampa Bay fishing guide who regularly fishes Piney Point, told those in attendance at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s 2021 Redfish Summit that, “We need to hold the people that are responsible for our water degradation accountable and that they pay a price.”

Markett went on to demand that “phosphate needs to be funding the cost of seagrass restoration,” and ended with a dire prediction: “We are one tropical storm away from a disaster of unimaginable proportions.” Agree. And agree.

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When Wall Street came to coal country: how a big-money gamble scarred Appalachia – by Evan Osnos (The Guardian – September 14, 2021)

nce or twice a generation, Americans rediscover Appalachia. Sometimes, they come to it through caricature – the cartoon strip Li’l Abner or the child beauty pageant star Honey Boo Boo or, more recently, Buckwild, a reality show about West Virginia teenagers, which MTV broadcast with subtitles. Occasionally, the encounter is more compassionate.

In 1962, the social critic Michael Harrington published The Other America, which called attention to what he described as a “vicious circle of poverty” that “twists and deforms the spirit”.

Around the turn of this century, hedge funds in New York and its environs took a growing interest in coalmines. Coal never had huge appeal to Wall Street investors – mines were dirty, old-fashioned and bound up by union contracts that made them difficult to buy and sell.

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7 years later, 2 engineers face discipline for actions that led to Mt. Polley mine disaster – by Yvette Brend (CBC News British Columbia – August 11, 2021)

Seven years after Canada’s largest tailings spill, the two engineers who were involved have been found in breach of their professional codes of conduct.

On Aug. 4, 2014, a four-square-kilometre tailings pond breached at Mount Polley mine in central British Columbia, leaking vast amounts of water and effluent into Polley and Quesnel lakes and Hazeltine Creek.

More than 17 million cubic metres of water and eight million cubic metres of tailings effluent — containing toxic copper and gold mining waste — flowed into lakes and streams that served as a drinking water source and sockeye salmon spawning ground in the province’s Cariboo region. The 40-metre-high tailings dam was built on a sloped glacial lake. That weakened its foundation.

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Clean tech cannot be built on dirty mining that ignores human rights and safety – by Bev Sellars (Vancouver Sun – August 4, 2021)

Bev Sellars is the former chief of the Xat’sull (Soda Creek) First Nation in whose territory the Mount Polley mine is located.

For nearly 200 years, since the colonial mining free-for-all of the mid-1800s, Indigenous peoples across what is now British Columbia have watched as their rights were disrespected, their lands degraded, and their rivers and lakes poisoned by companies whose only interest was making money and then moving on.

Little has changed since then. A new mining boom fuelled by growing global demand for B.C. resources to support clean technology and backed by favourable government policy means the mining industry can continue to treat the province as a money pit with scant regard for the safety of the Indigenous and non-Indigenous people who live here and the environment that means so much to them.

The current B.C. government believes it has done an admirable job of tightening mining laws since it took power, and the industry says it too has improved safety and environmental performance.

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How yellowcake shaped the West by Jonathan Thompson (High Country News – July 30, 2021)

The ghosts of the uranium boom continue to haunt the land, water and people.

In late August 2018, in the heat of one of the warmest and driest years on record in the Four Corners country, under a blanket of smoke emanating from wildfires burning all over the place, I piloted the Silver Bullet — my trusty 1989 Nissan Sentra — to the quiet burg of Monticello, Utah.

I was on my way from one camping site on the Great Sage Plain to another on Comb Ridge, where I would feed my misanthropic side with a searing hike down a canyon, seeking out potholes that still had a smidgen of stagnant water left over from the last rain.

I took a detour through Monticello to look into one of the most contentious fronts of the long-running public-land wars, the battle over uranium mining and milling and even radioactive waste disposal. San Juan County’s public lands played a major role in what I call the Age of the Nuclear West, which reached its multi-decade apex during the Cold War and hasn’t ended yet.

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Brazil Prosecutors Target Final Samarco Dam Settlement This Year – by Mariana Durao (Bloomberg News – July 22, 2021)

(Bloomberg) — A final settlement between Brazilian authorities and the Samarco iron-ore venture can be reached this year, bringing legal certainty to owners Vale SA and BHP Group six years after a devastating tailings dam collapse.

That’s according to federal prosecutor Carlos Bruno Ferreira da Silva, who said in an interview that the final reparation value is yet to be defined and will be based on independent technical studies.

Silva, who is leading talks on behalf of prosecutors, pointed to a document signed by the parties that estimates talks to last about four months from June 22, the last four weeks of which would be focused on a final draft. Authorities and company officials have been meeting weekly.

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Investigate water pollution in B.C.’s Elk Valley, environmental groups urge federal agencies – by Xiao Xu (July 22, 2021)

Environmental groups are asking Canada’s parliamentary environment watchdog and the federal auditor-general to investigate what they say is Ottawa’s failure to apply laws and prevent serious water pollution from coal mines in British Columbia’s Elk Valley.

The University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Centre, along with Wildsight, is asking the agencies to investigate the “long-standing failure” to stop the contamination of waterways with unacceptably high levels of selenium, a decades-old problem.

Selenium is a naturally occurring element that washes out of piles of waste rock, but in concentrated levels, it moves through the food chain and can cause deformities in fish and ruin their ability to reproduce.

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Interview – CEMI CEO Doug Morrison: “The delay in getting approval for mining projects is almost all related to environmental impact” (Global Business Report/ – April 28, 2021)

The industry response to the Brumadinho dam disaster, including the Global Tailings Standard, will hopefully prevent such tragic events in the future. However, it is important to examine how a catastrophe of this scale, at a facility owned by one of the five biggest mining companies in the world, could reoccur after a similar failure — Samarco, in 2015.

Doug Morrison, CEO of the Centre of Excellence for Mining Innovation (CEMI), said the industry must recognize that the increasing delay in getting approval for mining projects is almost all related to environmental impact.

Moreover, the failings at Brumadinho and Samarco were the result of a flawed approach to tailings management, Morrision said in an interview with the Global Business Reports:

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Analysis: Illegal gold mining in Peru set to continue – by Ben Heubl (Engineering and Technology – July 16, 2021)

Peruvian authorities seem powerless to stop illegal gold mining that has wreaked havoc in the country’s rainforests and is poisoning the environment with mercury. E&T’s analysis shows that the practice boomed during the pandemic.

The price of gold is sensitive to crisis, but can itself be the cause of turmoil, especially in an environmental context.

During the past year and a half of the global pandemic, the gold price reached historic heights. As a result, an artisanal gold-mining boom swept the world, notably in countries that are but resource-rich.

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Report: Appalachian states face billions in mining cleanup (Associated Press/Lexington Herald Leader – July 15, 2021)

The cleanup and reclaiming of coal mines in seven Appalachian states will cost billions, and Kentucky and West Virginia have the largest bills coming due, according to an environmental group’s new report.

Total reclamation liability for the two states is between $4.1 and $5.8 billion, with less than half of that covered by existing bonds, according to estimates in the report by Appalachian Voices.

Pennsylvania’s estimated liability is roughly identical to Kentucky’s, at $1.9 billion to $2.25 billion, although it has an advantage in that up to two-thirds of that liability is covered by bonds.

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