Growing underground [in closed copper mine]: Canadian medicinal marijuana producer trys to put down U.S. roots – by Tom Blackwell (National Post – April 28, 2012)

 The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

The sprawling copper mine that stretches deep below White Pine once employed thousands of people, helping make the remote Michigan town a thriving outpost of the state’s northern hinterland.
Prices for the metal started to plummet, however, forcing the facility to shut down in 1996 and leaving White Pine a virtual ghost town. Suburban bungalows that once housed copper miners and their families now sell to vacationers for as little as $10,000.
Now a Canadian company is promoting an unorthodox form of salvation for the area, floating a plan to grow marijuana inside the cavernous mine to serve the state’s legion of 180,000 licensed pot users. Like a similar subterranean operation that Prairie Plant Systems (PPS) owns in Manitoba, the Michigan site would offer security from theft, natural climate control and little chance of contamination, its supporters argue.

Legislation expected to be introduced in both Michigan state chambers in the next week or two would set the stage for such industrial-scale production, outlining a series of standards that medical marijuana producers must meet. Michigan approved personal use of cannabis as a health product in 2008, but its somewhat chaotic implementation has undermined patient and public safety, said Brent Zettl, CEO of Prairie Plant.

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Company wants to grow quality medical marijuana in old [Michigan Upper Peninsula] mine – by Paul Egan (Detroit Free Press – April 22, 2012)

WHITE PINE — In this hard-luck town in Michigan’s western Upper Peninsula, rumors persist of a company growing pot deep in the bowels of a former copper mine nearby.

In 2010, the rumors got so bad, the State Police contacted the owners and asked to inspect the White Pine Mine sometime in the next couple of days.

“No, right now,” SubTerra official Mark Pierpont said he told them, not wanting lingering suspicions that he had spent a day hiding a stash of marijuana.

Trooper Timothy Rajala later reported how he “entered the mine in a vehicle which we drove approximately 1 mile underground” before reaching a sealed and brightly lit chamber he could only enter after washing down his feet and putting on clean clothes.

Inside, Rajala “noted several plants that were not narcotic,” he wrote. “There was no evidence of marijuana nor any signs of suspicious activity.”

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Duluth sets Bechtel parameters for 100 year copper-nickel-pgm mine PFS – by Lawrence Williams ( – March22, 2012)

Duluth Metals’ huge copper-nickel-pgm-gold resource on the Duluth complex in northern Minnesota moves on a stage with top engineering company Bechtel being given the parameters on which to base a PFS

HONG KONG (Mineweb) –  Talking to Duluth Metals Chairman and CEO, Chris Dundas at Mines & Money Hong Kong he remains extremely enthusiastic about his monster mining project in Northern Minnesota, USA which, if and when it comes to fruition, will become one of the world’s great underground mining operations with a mine life probably well in excess of 100 years.

Top engineering company Bechtel has been retained to undertake the preparation of the NI 43-101 Prefeasibility Study (PFS) on the initial project based primarily on the Nokomis section of this vast resource and the parameters under which Bechtel has been instructed give a great indication of the scale of operations envisaged.

Bechtel has thus been instructed to prepare its study based on the following:

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The Metallurgical Achilles’ Heel of the United States – by Richard (Rick) Mills (Ahead of the – March 2012)

“The United States has consistently maintained that a strong domestic minerals and metals industry is an essential contributor to the nation’s economic and security interests…The United States has a fundamental interest in maintaining a competitive minerals and metals sector that will continue to contribute significantly to the nation’s economic strength and military security. The industry represents an $87 billion enterprise that employs over 500,000 U.S. workers and provides the material foundation for U.S. manufacturing.” The 1980 National Academy of Sciences executive summary of “Competitiveness of the U.S. Minerals and Metals Industry” 

A concise summary of U.S. mineral vulnerabilities was presented to the Industrial Readiness Panel of the House Armed Services Committee as early as 1980 by General Alton D. Slay, Commander Air Force Systems Command. He pointed out that technological advances have increased the demand for exotic minerals at the same time that legislative and regulatory restrictions have been imposed on the U.S. mining industry. 

The 1981 report  “A Congressional Handbook on U.S. Minerals Dependency/Vulnerability” singled out eight materials “for which the industrial health and defense of the United States is most vulnerable to potential supply disruptions” – chromium, cobalt, manganese, the platinum group of metals, titanium, bauxite/aluminum, columbium, and tantalum – the first five have been called “the metallurgical Achilles’ heel of our civilization.”

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Matewan (Mining Movie – 1987)

This information is from Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia:

Matewan (1987) is an American drama film written and directed by John Sayles, illustrating the events of a coal mine-workers’ strike and attempt to unionize in 1920 in Matewan, a small town in the hills of West Virginia.[1]

Based on the Battle of Matewan, the film features Chris Cooper, James Earl Jones, Mary McDonnell, David Strathairn, Kevin Tighe and Will Oldham.


It was 1920 in the southwest West Virginia coal fields, and, as the narrator recalls, “things were tough.” In response to efforts by miners to organize into a labor union, the Stone Mountain Coal Company announces it will cut the pay miners receive, and will be importing replacement workers into town to replace those who join the union. The new workers are African Americans from Alabama and are coming in on the train, but the train is stopped outside town and the black men are told to get off. Derided as “scabs”, they are then attacked by the local miners, but manage to get back on the train and continue their journey.

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West Virginia’s Mine Wars

This article is from the West Virginia Division of Culture and History website:

Compiled by the West Virginia State Archives

On March 12, 1883, the first carload of coal was transported from Pocahontas in Tazewell County, Virginia, on the Norfolk and Western Railway. This new railroad opened a gateway to the untapped coalfields of southwestern West Virginia, precipitating a dramatic population increase. Virtually overnight, new towns were created as the region was transformed from an agricultural to industrial economy.

With the lure of good wages and inexpensive housing, thousands of European immigrants rushed into southern West Virginia. In addition, a large number of African Americans migrated from the southern states. The McDowell County black population alone increased from 0.1 percent in 1880 to 30.7 percent in 1910.

Most of these new West Virginians soon became part of an economic system controlled by the coal industry. Miners worked in company mines with company tools and equipment, which they were required to lease. The rent for company housing and cost of items from the company store were deducted from their pay. The stores themselves charged over-inflated prices, since there was no alternative for purchasing goods.

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Harlan County, USA (Mining Documentary – 1976)

This information is from Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia:

Harlan County, USA is an Oscar-winning 1976 documentary film covering the “Brookside Strike”,[1] an effort of 180 coal miners and their wives against the Duke Power Company-owned Eastover Coal Company’s Brookside Mine and Prep Plant in Harlan County, Kentucky in 1973.[2] Directed by Barbara Kopple, who has long been an advocate of workers’ rights, Harlan County, U.S.A. is less ambivalent in its attitude toward unions than her later American Dream, the account of the Hormel Foods strike in Austin, Minnesota in 1985-86.


Kopple initially intended to make a film about Kenzie, Miners for Democracy and the attempt to unseat Tony Boyle. When miners at the Brookside Mine in Harlan County, Kentucky, struck in June 1972, Kopple went there to film the strike against Duke Power Company and UMWA’s response (or lack thereof). The strike proved a more interesting subject, so Kopple switched the focus of her film.

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FRASER INSTITUTE NEWS RELEASE: New Brunswick trumps Alberta as world’s No. 1 spot for mining investment;

February 23, 2012

TORONTO–New Brunswick is the world’s most attractive jurisdiction for
mineral exploration and development in the view of the international mining industry, according to the Survey of Mining Companies: 2011/2012, released today by the Fraser Institute, Canada’s leading public policy think-tank.

“New Brunswick shot to the top of the rankings as miners lauded the province for its fair, transparent, and efficient legal system and consistency in the enforcement and interpretation of existing environmental regulations,” said Fred McMahon, Fraser Institute vice-president of international policy research and coordinator of the survey.

“Combine that with a competitive taxation regime and minimal uncertainty
around disputed land claims and New Brunswick has emerged as a superstar in the view of the global mining community.”

New Brunswick vaulted to first place from 23rd last year, unseating Alberta
at the top of the global rankings as that province fell to third overall.
Quebec, which enjoyed a three-year reign at No. 1 from 2007 to 2010,
continued to lose support among mining executives as it fell to fifth place
from fourth in 2011.

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Molycorp’s $1 billion rare-earth gamble – by Richard Martin (Fortune Magazine – November 18, 2011)

How an American company is trying to break China’s monopoly on high-tech minerals.

FORTUNE — Few weekenders making the four-hour run from L.A. to Vegas notice the big mill works overlooking Interstate 15 at Mountain Pass Summit in California, near the Nevada line. Even fewer realize that the pale-pink buildings, gone patchy with age, are the focus of an extraordinary business drama that involves national security, China’s monopolizing the strategic market in rare-earth metals, and one company’s attempt to restore American preeminence in a crucial mining sector it once dominated.

Those sprawling buildings are owned by a Denver mining company called Molycorp (MCP), which is now spending nearly $1 billion to restart rare-earth-mineral production at Mountain Pass Summit and in the process revive a moribund U.S. industry. It won’t be easy. A decade ago the U.S. was the world’s biggest supplier of lanthanides, scandium, and other rare earths, and the Mountain Pass mine was the world’s largest producer of the minerals.

Rare-earth elements enable the creation of super-magnets, which operate at high temperatures and are also used for a range of high-tech applications, from missile-guidance systems to compact fluorescent light bulbs to wind power turbines to motors in electric vehicles.

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Obama budget again seeks hardrock mining royalty, new abandoned mine fees – by Dorothy Kosich ( – February 14, 2012)

The President’s proposed fiscal 2013 federal budget calls for a 5% gross mining royalty on federal lands, and a hardrock abandoned mined land fee on all private and public lands.

RENO – In his proposed $3.8 trillion budget for fiscal 2013 released Monday, President Barak Obama has once again called for creation of a hard abandoned mined land fund, as well as a hardrock mining royalty of not less than five percent of gross proceeds.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who hails from the mining state of Colorado, estimated creation of the Hardrock Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund–applicable to private and federal, state, and tribal lands–would generate $500 million in savings over the next 10 years.

The Bureau of Land Management would distribute the funds through a competitive grant program to reclaim the highest priority hardrock abandoned sites on federal, state, tribal and private lands.

Salazar also intends to reform Coal Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation by terminating the unrestricted payments to states and tribes that have been certified for completing their coal reclamation work. Currently the money has been dispersed to states based on how much coal they produce.

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Nevada mining industry expects to add at least 1,200 jobs this year – by Sean Whaley ( – February 10, 2012)

NV News Bureau

CARSON CITY – Nevada’s mining industry is stepping up to Gov. Brian Sandoval’s challenge asking businesses and all economic partners to help create 50,000 jobs over the next three years.

The Nevada Mining Association recently conducted an informal survey of its members and has estimated the industry will add 1,200 jobs this year, both in precious metal and industrial mineral production across the state. The survey could be underestimating the number of mining jobs being created this year since not all mining operations are members of the association.

This compares to 500 jobs created in the natural resources and mining sector reported in the 12 months through December 2011 by the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation on Jan. 23. There were 12,900 jobs in this sector as of December.

Mining has remained a bright spot in the jobs arena during Nevada’s long running economic downturn.

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Cliffs Becomes Easy Target With Cheapest Mining Value in America: Real M&A – by Charles Mead ( – February 7, 2012)

For all the acquisitions being struck in the mining industry, no company in North America is a cheaper takeover candidate than Cliffs Natural Resources Inc.

The biggest North American iron-ore producer yesterday sold for 6.4 times its cash from operations, after deducting capital expenses, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That was less than every other metals or mining company in the U.S. or Canada exceeding $5 billion in market value, and a 70 percent discount to the median. Cleveland-based Cliffs, which analysts say will generate record sales in 2012, was also the least expensive relative to its estimated net income this year and next.

Mining takeovers accelerated to a four-year high in 2011 as companies sought to replace deposits and industrial growth in China and the developing world fueled demand for raw materials. With Glencore International Plc and Xstrata Plc (XTA) agreeing to merge to create a $90 billion global mining company, Cliffs may attract interest from BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP) or Rio Tinto Group, Lutetia Capital said. An acquirer could pay a 30 percent premium and still get Cliffs for less than any comparable publicly traded mining company versus its free cash flow, the data show.

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NEWS RELEASE: McEwen Mining: US Gold and Minera Andes Business Combination Completed

TORONTO, ONTARIO–(Marketwire – Jan. 24, 2012) – McEwen Mining Inc. (“McEwen Mining”) is pleased to announce that the previously announced business combination (the “Combination”), pursuant to which US Gold Corporation acquired Minera Andes Inc. and was renamed McEwen Mining, has been successfully completed and closed today. The Combination was carried out by way of a plan of arrangement under the Business Corporations Act (Alberta), which was approved by the shareholders of both US Gold and Minera Andes on January 19, 2012 and the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta on January 20, 2012.

Shares of McEwen Mining will commence trading on the NYSE and the TSX, subject to final exchange approvals, under the symbol “MUX” on Friday January 27, 2012. Holders of Minera Andes shares will receive 0.45 of an exchangeable share of McEwen Mining – Minera Andes Acquisition Corp. for each one (1) Minera Andes share held. These exchangeable shares of McEwen Mining – Minera Andes Acquisition Corp., will also start trading on the TSX on January 27, 2012 under the symbol “MAQ”. The exchangeable shares of McEwen Mining – Minera Andes Acquisition Corp. are convertible on a one-for-one basis at any time into shares of McEwen Mining. McEwen Mining will have an aggregate of 267,084,203 shares of common stock outstanding and issuable upon the exchange of exchangeable shares.

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USGS NEWS RELEASE: U.S. Mineral Values Up in 2011

Released: 1/30/2012

The value of mineral production in the United States increased by 12 percent in 2011 from that of 2010, suggesting that the nonfuel minerals industries, particularly metals, continued to recover from the economic recession that began in December 2007 and lasted well into 2009.

The value of raw, nonfuel minerals mined in the United States was $74 billion in 2011, up from $66 billion in 2010, according to the U.S. Geological Survey’s annual release of mineral production statistics and summary of events and trends affecting domestic and global nonfuel minerals.

“Information in the Mineral Commodity Summaries helps business leaders, policy makers, managers, and anyone else understand the critically important flow of minerals through the supply chain and how they are contributing to, and reflecting the health of, our nation’s economy,” said USGS director Marcia McNutt. “For example, in 2011 domestic recycled metallic and mineral materials alone contributed $32 billion to our economy.”

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Cleaning up California’s Wild West: EPA takes on polluted mercury mine in San Benito ghost town – by Paul Rogers (San Jose Mercury News – December 4, 2011)

This article originally came from the San Jose Mercury News:

Every second of every day it flows: a river of poison gushing from the hillsides.

Forty gallons a minute, 21 million gallons a year. It bubbles and gurgles across the landscape, a bright orange toxic brew, nearly as corrosive as battery acid, teeming with mercury, aluminum, iron and nickel, the legacy of a long-abandoned mine, relentlessly pouring into nearby streams.

For 120 years, the mining town of New Idria in the rugged back country of southern San Benito County was a colorful California outpost, a Wild West community frequented by prospectors and speculators, stagecoaches and famous bandits like Joaquin Murrieta, known as the “Mexican Robin Hood.” Herbert Hoover even owned part of the claim at one point.

Today, after decades of neglect, this remote landscape with so much history may finally have a future.

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