Last Friday, the US senate passed the defense spending budget. This budget gave 2,000 acres of ecologically precious Apache sacred land to Resolution Copper, a venture of the Australian-based Rio Tinto mining corporation. Technically, it’s a ‘swap.’ In exchange, Rio Tinto will return ecologically and culturally barren land to the US government. Rep. Paul Gosar has been working on this swap since 2011, but opponents have fought it off. However, John McCain slipped it into the new budget.
Category Archives: Mining
Rio Tinto gifted precious AZ land by US Senate, just as it’s accused of collusion in its home country, Australia
Our friends at IEN called our attention to this issue. First, some background:
In 2011, Rep. Paul Gosar introduced a bill that would give 2,000 acres of Arizona land long federally protected to a global mining company Resolution Copper – a Rio Tinto venture — in return for 5,000 acres of company land.
Moreover, the land Rio Tinto would get is home to the ecologically and culturally precious Oak Flat, Devil’s Canyon, and Apache Leap. The area is sacred for the San Carlos Apache Tribe who have held ceremonies there for centuries. It is also ecologically rich; for example, Devil’s Canyon contains a rare Sonoran Desert riparian forest with year-round running water.
The members of the Alliance for Appalachia held their sign high, as they met with folks from the U.S. White House to discuss the future impact of mountain top mining in the Appalachian Mountain Range. According to EcoWatch, the grass roots organization recently released a study, showing that many of the regulations set in place in 2009 have been blatantly ignored by both coal mining companies and governmental agencies.
Since 1974, U.S. federal relocation policy—known as Public Law 93-531—has forced tens of thousands of Dineh (Navajo) people from their ancestral homeland—now known as the Hopi Partitioned Lands—in Arizona. This constitutes the largest forced relocation of Indigenous peoples in the U.S since the Trail of Tears. The relocation is ongoing and impacts generations. The policy, crafted by the Department of Justice and Peabody Energy Company representatives, opened access to the mineral resources of Black Mesa – billions of tons of low-sulfur coal, uranium, and natural gas. A July 2012 report by the Navajo Human Rights Commission classifies the relocation as a massive human rights violation and demands the immediate repeal of PL 93-531 and an end to relocation efforts and harassment in the form of surveillance, livestock impoundments, and disruption of gatherings and ceremonies that the resistance community experiences.
Black Mesa Indigenous Support. 26 October 2014
UPDATE from HPL (Hopi Partition Land) residents: Shirley Tohannie and elder Caroline Tohannie had their entire herd of 65 sheep impounded by the Hopi Rangers (US federal government) Tuesday, October 22, 2014. If the fines aren’t paid the sheep will go to auction, and the family is being told that the sheep will not be able to return to the family’s rangeland. The cost to release the livestock is nearly $1,000.
Jerry Babbit Lane, the Tohannie’s neighbor on the HPL, was arrested by Hopi rangers when he attempted to check on his neighbors and was charged with disorderly conduct. He was released this evening, 10/23. Rangers told Shirley they plan to take Rena’s (Jerry’s mother) sheep too and that they’re going to start impounding across the HPL.
As we’re writing, another family on Big Mountain has had nearly their entire herd impounded.
Scientists from the University of Maryland, Greenpeace, Global Forest Watch, and the World Resources Institute are tracking global forest decline and have announced that the rate of decline is accelerating.
Canada has now surpassed all other countries including Brazil as being responsible for loss of forest landscapes since 2000. According to a story in the Ottawa Citizen published last week, the “main drivers are fire, logging, and energy and industrial development.”
Resource exploitation in the boreal forests of Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan, and Alberta are particularly devastating. Satellite imagery shows that the boreal forests in the area of the oil sands between Fort McMurray and Lake Athabasca has been almost totally devastated.
According to Dr Nigel Sizer, director of the forest program at the World Resources Institute, “if this rate of degradation continues “business as usual will lead to destruction of most remaining intact forests in this century”
Canada leads world in forest decline, report says
By William Marsden, Ottawa Citizen. September 3, 2014.
WASHINGTON – The world’s virgin forests are being lost at an increasing rate and the largest portion of the degradation is in Canada, according to a new report.
No longer is Brazil the main villain in the struggle to stop forest destruction.
“Canada is the number one in the world for the total area of the loss of intact forest landscapes since 2000,” Peter Lee, of Forest Watch Canada, said in an interview.
He said the main drivers are fires, logging and energy and industrial development.
“There is no political will at federal or provincial levels for conserving primary forests,” he said. “Most logging done in Canada is still to this day done in virgin forests.”
Using satellite technology, scientists from the University of Maryland, Greenpeace, Global Forest Watch and the World Resources Institute have tracked changes in the earth’s forest coverage. The scientists discovered that the pace of decline is accelerating with more than 104 million hectares – about 8.1 per cent of global undisturbed forests — lost from 2000 to 2013.
On Climate Progress, Ari Phillips reports that the Buenavista Copper Mine let more than 24 hours pass before reporting a massive spill in north Mexico. They could no longer deny the incident when residents down river began reporting miles and miles of orange water. There are even rumors that the spill may contain trace amounts of cyanide. Nearby schools have been evacuated and children are expected to stay away for at least a week.
Located just south of the U.S. border, the mine is one of the largest in the world. As the flagship mine of Grupo Mexico, Buenavista helped the group’s second quarter profits soar above $500 million. That’s one quarter’s profits. There are four quarters in a fiscal year. In other words, a global mining conglomerate that makes millions in ONE QUARTER can’t prevent or clean-up a toxic spill that is destroying the environment and forcing children out of their schools. In that first day, the company could have made substantial steps to limit the damage caused by the spill. Instead, they hid behind their oak desks in their corporate offices and tried to pretend it didn’t happen.
Guess what? It did.
Mining Spill Near U.S. Border Closes 88 Schools, Leaves Thousands Of Mexicans Without Water
by Ari Phillips, Climate Progress, August 18, 2014
An acid spill from a large copper mine in northern Mexico is keeping 88 schools closed starting Monday due to uncertainty over the safety of drinking water. The 12-day-old spill, which sent 10 million gallons (40,000 cubic meters) of toxic wastewater into portions of the Bacanuchi and Sonora rivers, may keep schools closed for over a week according to the Associated Press.
[…]Mine officials have been criticized for not reporting the massive acid spill to authorities for around 24 hours, with residents downstream detecting the spill the next day as it turned dozens of miles of river orange. According to Carlos Arias, director of civil defense for the northern state of Sonora, the spill was caused by defects in a new holding pond, where overflow from acids used to leach metal out of the crushed rock is stored. Arias said a pipe either blew out or lost its positioning on August 7th, sending the sulfuric acid downstream.
Read the full article on Climate Progress.
In 2011, the Quito Metropolitan Board declared Pacto’s serene landscape – the rain forests, river basins and mountains – as an area dedicated to the “conservation and the development of agriculture, livestock and sustainable agroforestry.” No non-renewable uses of the land allowed – period.
Seems a lot can be forgotten when money changes hands.
According to the article “Ecuador: Free Pacto from Mining,” posted on Upside Down World, a proposed mining project is set to rip through Pacto, despite the 2011 ban on mining and drilling and without consultation from the indigenous communities in the region. Gabriela Leon writes,
The Ministry for Non-Renewable Natural Resources granted two mining concessions within the DMQ to the National Mining Corporation (ENAMI): Urcutambo and Ingapi. Together, these concessions amount to more than 4,600 hectares and will directly impact the communities of Pacto and the autonomous parish of Gualea. Besides social effects such as the interruption of daily-life in the communities and migration, the Chirapi River water system, which includes the Pishashi, Chulupe, and Peripe rivers and twenty gorges and ravines, will be harmed.
ENAMI plans on creating exploratory shafts designed to root through the ground for gold, silver, copper and molybdenum. Not only does this threaten the land and forests, but the future of the Chirapi River water system also hangs in the balance. With the land ravaged and the water polluted, what will happen to the region’s communities? The indigenous people living in and off this area were not consulted prior to the concessions, nor do they support ENAMI’s plans for their ecosystem. Leon explains:
In ENAMI’s 2013 environmental impact study, mention was made of a survey of the region’s inhabitants that recognized that 75 percent of the population rejects mining activity at the Ingapi concession, and 60 percent rejects the one at Urcutambo. For that reason, in the document, ENAMI classifies the level of conflict as high in both cases. And so, I ask: Is it feasible to carry out a large scale project that would generate such a high level of social conflict? What are the principles that guide these policies in Ecuador?
Large scale mining in Pacto violates the State’s very objective: the protection and attainment of rights; the guarantee of peace and a life free of imposition and violence; the liberty of each individual and every community to decide autonomously how to live; and the respect for our indigenous peoples and campesinos who honor nature harmoniously, which they intrinsically depend upon, and which we have agreed to respect.
What are the benefits of this large-scale mining project? Or, perhaps the more pertinent question is – who will benefit?
Indonesian women from the Mollo territory are known for weaving beautiful, intricate fabrics from dye they harvest in the surrounding forests. When mining corporations barged in and began ravaging the land for marble, the women refused to sit idly by as these companies ripped out forests, dumped tons of toxins into their rivers and mutilated the iconic Mutis Mountains. In the IPS article “Women Warriors Take Environmental Protection into Their Own Hands,” reporter Amantha Perera writes:
I felt they were raping my land, I could not just stand aside and watch that happen, said Indonesian environmental activist Mama Aleta in the article Women Warriors take Environmental Protection into their own Hands. We wanted to tell the companies that what they were doing was like taking our clothes off, they were making the forest naked by [cutting down] its trees.
Mama Aleta and several other women walked from village to village, explaining the situation to others in the Mollo territory, inspiring them and encouraging them to take a stand. Nearly 150 of them united, sitting and weaving in front of the mines in silent protest. The companies lasted another year before they were forced to abandon their four mines in the area.
Nearly 3000 miles away, in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand, another group of women rallied to protect their forests from commercial timber plantations. In the same article, Perera writes:
The women then went to the local police station – accompanied by children, men and elders from the village – and began to pluck and eat the fruit from guava trees in the compound, announcing to the officers on duty that they wanted only trees that could provide for the villagers.
On another occasion, when police showed up to arrest women leaders in the community, including Bhagat, they announced they would go voluntarily – provided the police also arrested their children and livestock, who needed the women to care for them. Once again, the police retreated.
Now the women patrol the forest, ensuring that no one cuts more wood than is deemed necessary.
Bhagat believes that her gender works to her advantage in this rural community in Jharkhand’s Ranchi district.
“If I were a man, I would have been arrested and thrown in jail by now,” she told IPS. “Because we women stand together, police are reluctant to act like that.”
So why are these “Women Warriors” so profound, so necessary in the fight against climate change? The answer could fill a thousand pages, but, in short, women are an “extremely vulnerable” population in the fallout of climate change. The burden of climate change falls heavily on these women, who play vital roles in the survival of their communities, families, farms, livestock and culture. In addition, women’s roles have historically been undervalued, so by protecting their environments, they are harnessing their collective voices to make an impact on a global scale.