Archive | Mining Environmental, Water Shortage and Land Reclamation/Revegetation Issues

Lithium miners’ dispute reveals water worries in Chile’s Atacama desert – by Dave Sherwood (Reuters U.S. – October 18, 2018)

https://graphics.reuters.com/

Earlier this year, the world’s two biggest lithium producers publicly celebrated new deals with Chile’s government that will allow them to vastly increase output of the ultralight battery metal from the Atacama, the world’s driest desert.

U.S.-based Albemarle Corp and Chile’s SQM operate just 3 miles (5 km) apart in the remote Salar, a basin in the Atacama that is home to one of the world’s richest deposits of high-grade lithium. Lithium-ion batteries are key components for most consumer electronics, from cellphones and laptops to electric cars.

In celebrating the new contracts, the two companies said they were confident they could significantly boost output without drawing more than their current quotas of lithium-rich brine, or saltwater, that has for millennia accumulated in pools beneath the Atacama. The rivals said each had all the brine they needed for current and future production. Continue Reading →

As Australia’s mining boom wanes, rehabilitation of abandoned mines offers lessons for the world – by Bianca Nogrady (Eco-Business.com – October 12, 2018)

https://www.eco-business.com/

Across the globe, countries are figuring out how to bring plants and animals back to abandoned mines. With as many as 60,000 such sites, Australia could offer important lessons.

The 1986 Australian film Crocodile Dundee brought global fame to its leading man Paul Hogan, but the real star of the show was the vast, ancient landscape of the World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park.

Kakadu is the jewel in the crown of Australia’s national parks, but this unique wilderness is also home to one of the world’s largest uranium mines. The Ranger mine has been operational since 1980 but its time is drawing to a close; mining ended in 2012, and processing of the remaining stockpiled ore is expected to finish in 2020.

So what then for the mine site? It’s a question being asked with increasing urgency around Australia as the mining boom that has powered the Australian economy for nearly fifteen years wanes. There are as many as 60,000 abandoned mine sites, some in otherwise pristine ecosystems found nowhere else on earth. Continue Reading →

Leagold closing Brazil mine for two months due to drought – by Cecilia Jamasmie (Mining.com – October 11, 2018)

http://www.mining.com/

Canada’s Leagold Mining (TSX:LMC) has had to temporarily shut down its Riacho dos Machados (RDM) mine in Brazil as a result of continued drought conditions in the country’s Minas Gerais State.

The Vancouver-based miner said it planned to resume operations in early December, with the commissioning of the grid powerline project.

RDM was closed in August last year and restarted, on an intermittent basis, in early November with the onset of the region’s rainy season. Continue Reading →

Chile: Questions about Water Availability could Threaten the Mining Industry – by Mervyn Piesse (Future Directions.org – October 10, 2018)

http://www.futuredirections.org.au/

South America holds two-thirds of the world’s lithium reserves and Chile alone possesses almost half of the world total. Copper is also important to the Chilean economy and accounts for almost half of its export earnings. Many large Chilean copper mines are ageing, however, and the supply of high-grade ore has diminished.

To maintain production, copper producers are increasingly forced to exploit copper sulphide deposits, using a process that is more water-intensive. The Chilean Government is also simultaneously moving to exploit the country’s vast lithium resources, which could further strain water supplies in the resource-rich, but water-poor, Salar de Atacama.

As most of Chile’s lithium is dissolved in briny water drawn from Andean salt flats, it can only be extracted through a lengthy evaporation process. Conversely, Australian lithium reserves are predominantly found in hard rocks. Australia is currently the largest world supplier, despite holding less than ten per cent of the world’s identified lithium resources. Continue Reading →

Vale celebrates completion of emissions reduction project – by Harold Carmichael (Sudbury Star – September 15, 2018)

 

https://www.thesudburystar.com/

Scientist David Pearson still has a vivid memory of a “bad air day” when he was getting out of his car at Laurentian University in the early 1970s, prior to the Inco Superstack being built.

“I ran from my car to get in the building,” he recalled, during a press conference Friday at the Vale Copper Cliff Smelting Complex. “It was not a pleasant experience.” Friday’s event marked the end of the mining company’s six-year, $1-billion Clean Atmospheric Emissions Reduction project.

It involved the construction of two new converters, which have special hoods to capture sulphur-dioxide gas, and a new wet-gas cleaning plant that captures 85 per cent of the sulphur-dioxide emissions previously emitted by the Superstack.

As well, Clean AER introduced a baghouse/fan building that acts like a giant vacuum cleaner, reducing metals particulate emissions by 40 per cent, and a pair of new 450-foot stacks that will be more efficient to operate than the Superstack. Continue Reading →

In Chilean desert, global thirst for lithium is fueling a ‘water war’ – by Dave Sherwood (Reuters India – August 29, 2018)

https://in.reuters.com/

SANTIAGO (Reuters) – On Chilean water regulator Oscar Cristi’s desk, a small white espresso cup teeters atop piles of documents and loose folders that appear on the point of collapse, perhaps an apt metaphor for the growing water crisis in parts of the Andean country.

Sitting in his eighth-floor office adjacent the presidential palace, Cristi, a PhD economist, lays out a map of Chile showing key watersheds for mining. Swaths of the mineral-rich north are colored blue, denoting areas where aquifers are over-exploited. Soon, if Cristi gets his way, they will be red, meaning new water rights will be banned.

Reams of water rights were granted by Chilean governments over decades with little consideration for their cumulative impact as miners scrambled to stake claims on the small pockets of water available in the salt flats of the Salar de Atacama. Continue Reading →

Exclusive: Chile says to clamp down on water rights in lithium-rich Salar de Atacama – by Dave Sherwood and Fabian Cambero (Reuters U.S. – August 23, 2018)

https://www.reuters.com/

SANTIAGO (Reuters) – Chile is preparing major new restrictions on the extraction of water from the lithium-rich Salar de Atacama salt flats, home to top lithium miners Albemarle and SQM SQM_pb.SN, the head of the country’s water authority told Reuters on Thursday.

Water authority chief Oscar Cristi said in an exclusive interview that regulators had stopped issuing new permits to extract water from the southernmost sector of the Salar’s watershed, known as C2, which is a key water supply for BHP’s Escondida copper mine, the world’s largest, and Antofagasta’s Zaldivar mine.

Cristi said the government had granted BHP and Antofagasta permits to pump six times more water from an aquifer at Atacama than it could sustain, prompting the ban. BHP has since proposed to cut water extraction from wells in C2 by more than half, but Cristi said regulators still believed that rate to be “insufficient.” Continue Reading →

Cobalt mining conference taking shape – by Ian Ross (Northern Ontario Business – August 10, 2018)

https://www.northernontariobusiness.com/

Land rehabilitation, mining legacy and cobalt exploration are featured topics at September event

There’s definitely a dual meaning that applies to the inaugural Green Mining Conference being held in the Town of Cobalt this September.

For decades, the northeastern Ontario community of 1,100 endured the environmental legacy issues left behind by the town’s famed Silver Rush at the turn of the last century; something Agnico Eagle Mines has spent considerable time and money on to clean up old mine workings.

At the same time, Cobalt is back on the world stage as an exploration hotspot for its namesake metal that’s powering the expanding electric vehicle battery market. Continue Reading →

Glacier-Protection Bill Dropped in Chile and Miners Applaud – by Laura Millan Lombrana (Bloomberg News – June 28, 2018)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Chile’s mining industry is cheering a decision to drop a glacier-protection bill, saying the proposed rules were conceived to thwart mineral extraction. One academic says the move imperils glacial networks.

Environmental Minister Marcela Cubillos requested the withdrawal of the bill from the lower house last week, nullifying former President Michelle Bachelet’s push for special protections that included banning certain activities on and around glaciers.

The slow moving masses of ice high in the Andes Mountains will now come under more general protections for environmentally sensitive areas, newspaper La Tercera cited Cubillos as saying. Continue Reading →

NEWS RELEASE: Terrapure’s Terratec division awarded for innovative mine reclamation program with Vale Canada

Canada’s leading environmental service provider solves a municipal problem and a mining problem with one, sustainable, cost-saving approach.

BURLINGTON, ONT., June 25, 2018 – Terratec Environmental, a division of leading environmental solutions provider Terrapure, has established a new, sustainable option for managing biosolids during winter months, when farmland application is prohibited and storage is complicated.

Instead of disposing of a nutrient-rich resource through incineration or landfill, Terratec developed a program to apply biosolids to mine-impacted land for reclamation and revegetation. Acknowledging this significant contribution to the field, the Water Environment Association of Ontario (WEAO) presented Terrapure and Vale with the 2018 Exemplary Biosolids Management Award.

“The program is the first of its kind in Ontario, so we’re excited to see that it’s gaining momentum; the mining industry is now identifying biosolids as a key strategy in mine closure scenarios,” said Jeff Newman, Director of Business Development at Terratec. “This approach is a real win-win. Municipalities get an off-season biosolids management alternative, and mining companies get an effective tailings cover system.” Continue Reading →

The diesel-addicted mining industry is finally embracing renewable energy, but it’s not just because of the environment – by Gabriel Friedman (Financial Post – June 11, 2018)

http://business.financialpost.com/

With diesel prices rising in tandem with oil prices, the quest for sustainability has pushed many companies to look closely at their energy usage

About a 10-hour drive northwest of Toronto, in an area with no history of mining and little exploration, Goldcorp Inc. is tunneling a hole, currently at least 120 meters below the pine tree forests and lakes that dot the surface, for what it hopes will be one of its most sustainable mines yet.

Borden, as the mine is to be called when it starts producing in 2019, will be modest in size at about 250,000 ounces of gold per year under current estimates.

But Goldcorp harbours big ambitions to make it the first all-electric underground mine in Canada where everything from the trucks that haul ore, to the ventilation system that provides oxygen to its subterranean workers, run off energy taken from the electrical grid. Continue Reading →

A remediation idea takes root: The growing evidence that willow trees could help clean up contaminated soil – by Christopher Pollon (CIM Magazine – May 24, 2018)

http://magazine.cim.org/en/

Université de Montréal plant biologist Nicholas Brereton is preoccupied with the science behind phytoremediation – the way that some plants, like willow trees, can tolerate and even remove heavy metals and hydrocarbons from contaminated sites.

CIM Magazine spoke with Brereton about this multidisciplinary endeavour and the revolutionary potential of nature to inexpensively clean up soil and water.

CIM: How did you get interested in the practical applications of plants?

Brereton: I grew up in Stoke-on-Trent, a city near Manchester in the UK. I got my PhD at Imperial College London, where I ran a biomass analytics facility with lots of different crops, like grasses and really fast-growing trees, which got me into looking at willows. Continue Reading →

Sudbury celebrates 40 years of regreening: Environmental reclamation effort hits memorable milestone – by Staff (Northern Ontario Business – May 1, 2018)

https://www.northernontariobusiness.com/

Greater Sudbury’s internationally acclaimed environmental regreening effort to heal its industrially-scarred landscape has hit the 40-year mark.

The program, launched in 1978, put the city on the map as an environmental leader in miraculously transforming the area from a mostly tree-less moonscape to a lush landscape.

In that four-decade span, more than 3,400 hectares of barren land has been treated with crushed agricultural limestone and almost 10 million seedlings have been replanted by the city’s Regreening Program. Continue Reading →

Accent: Vale Enhancing Sudbury’s biodiversity – by Keith Dempsey (Sudbury Star – March 24, 2018)

http://www.thesudburystar.com/

Thousands of fingerlings, about an inch in size, entered two 4,500-litre rearing-like tanks at Vale’s Copper Cliff Greenhouse almost a year ago.

It’s where they were joyfully raised for 10 months by Vale staff, fed pelletized food, carefully having the water parameters in their tank monitored to make sure the water is being filtered.

“We want to make sure they’re happy in there,” said Quentin Smith, environmental engineer with Vale. Those fingerlings have now matured into healthy brook trout. Some of them have grown to 10-inches long. They’re ready for release into their natural environment. Continue Reading →

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

https://www.bloomberg.com/

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 →