Category Archives: Mining

10 million gallons of toxic wastewater evicts Mexican schoolchildren

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.

Rio Bacanuchi after the spill. Photo: Earth First

Rio Bacanuchi after the spill. Photo: Earth First

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.

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Filed under Corporate Globalization, Mining, Pollution, Uncategorized, Waste, Water

Ecosystem in Pacto, Ecuador, on the verge of destruction by mining project

Large-scale mining projects threaten to destroy Pacto's vibrant ecosystem. Photo: Gkillcity.com

Large-scale mining projects threaten to destroy Pacto’s vibrant ecosystem. Photo: Gkillcity.com

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?

 

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Filed under Indigenous Peoples, Mining

Indigenous women unite to protect the environment in Indonesia

Indigenous women from the Indonesian island of Lombok make traditional handicrafts using supplies from the forest. Photo: Amantha Perera/IPS

Indigenous women from the Indonesian island of Lombok make traditional handicrafts using supplies from the forest. Photo: Amantha Perera/IPS

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.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Forests, Indigenous Peoples, Mining, Women

Indigenous Peoples in Guatemala victorious over mining corporation

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The Indigenous People of the Sipacapa municipality triumphed over Goldport Minning in Guatemala courts. In an article on Upside Down World, reporter Christin Sandberg writes,

The court says the Guatemalan government must respect the right to information and consultation with the local population before granting any kind of mining permits, according to international conventions. As a consequence the mining permit named ”Los Chocoyos” is illegal, and should be withdrawn.

The ruling sets a precedent that includes Indigenous Peoples in the conversation about proposed uses for their lands. Because of this ruling not only is Goldcorp’s permit revoked, but the Sipacapa people are also supposed to now be consulted with before hazardous activities, such a mining, occur on their land and collected territories.

The judgment also claims another important point for the local people, which is the court’s recognition of the Mayan Council of Sipacapa representing the people of Sipacapa as a legal part in the case, explained Deny de Leon, legal attorney at Comisión Paz y Ecología (Copae), an organization who has accompanied the petition. ”It is a historical and an important political moment when the state of Guatemala through this judgment recognizes the proper organization of the indigenous communities, a collective right, and in this case represented by the Mayan Council of Sipacapa,” said Deny de Leon at the press conference.

Read the full article here.

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Peru’s environmental news in advance of UN climate conference raises red flags

In December, Peru will host the 20th UN climate conference (COP 20) in Lima. Recent news from Peru sparks concern about this as the site for a gathering of activists and civil society attempting to pressure the UN to act responsibly on climate change.

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Filed under Illegal logging, Indigenous Peoples, Mining, UNFCCC

US pushing tar sands into Europe despite EU proposed block

IPS reports on US efforts to push tar sands oil into the EU despite resistance in Europe.

Newly publicized internal documents suggest that U.S. negotiators are working to permanently block a landmark regulatory proposal in the European Union aimed at addressing climate change, and instead to force European countries to import particularly dirty forms of oil.

Thousands of acres of trees and plants, in an area the size of Florida, must be stripped away and the ground torn apart to mine for tar sands oil.

Thousands of acres of trees and plants, in an area the size of Florida, must be stripped away and the ground torn apart to mine for tar sands oil.

Current negotiating texts for the TTIP talks are unavailable. But critics say the negotiations are forcing open the massive E.U. market for a particularly heavy form of petroleum known as tar sands oil, significant deposits of which are in the Canadian province of Alberta.

The oil industry has repeatedly expressed concern over the European Union’s potential tightening of regulations around transport fuel emissions, first proposed in 2009 for what’s known as the Fuel Quality Directive (FQD). Yet according to a report released Thursday by Friends of the Earth Europe, the sector now appears to have convinced the U.S. government to work to permanently block the implementation of this standard.

 

 

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Filed under Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Mining, Tar Sands, Uncategorized

Brazil: Canadian gold mine loses license

July 1, 2014. Source: WW4 Report

http://infoamazonia.org

http://infoamazonia.org

Brazilian federal judge Claudio Henrique de Pina has revoked Toronto-based Belo Sun Mining Corp.‘s environmental license for the construction of the $750 million Volta Grande open-pit gold mine near the Xingu river in the northern state of Pará, the federal Public Ministry office in the state announced the evening of June 25. Upholding a suspension ordered last November, the judge ruled that Belo Sun had failed to address the “negative and irreversible” impact the mine would have on three indigenous groups in the area, the Paquiçamba, the Arara da Volta Grande and the Ituna/Itatá. The communities are already under threat from the construction of the nearby Belo Monte dam, which will cut water flows by 80% to 90% when it goes into operation, according to the government’s National Indigenous Foundation (FUNAI).

A Belo Sun news release said the decision only means that the company needs to complete a five-month impact study; it has already commissioned the study, which will start as soon as researchers have permission to access indigenous lands, according to the news release. The mine was expected to open in 2016 and to produce 313,100 ounces of gold each year over a 10-year lifetime; if built, it will be the largest gold mine in Brazil. Belo Sun’s shares were down nearly 10% on the Toronto Stock Exchange by noon on June 26. (Ministério Público Federal no Pará press release, June 25; Reuters, June 26; Mining.com, June 26). This is the latest in a series of reversals for gold mining projects in Latin America, most notably Barrick Gold’s mammoth Pascua Lama mine on the Argentine-Chilean border in the Andes. Continue reading

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Filed under Mining, South America

Indian forest villagers rise up to halt UK firm’s bid to clear land for mining

By Gethin Chamberlain, June 28, 2014. Source: The Observer

Children collect flowers in the Mahan forest, which is threatened by a coalmining project run by the British-registered company Essar. Photograph by Greenpeace

Children collect flowers in the Mahan forest, which is threatened by a coalmining project run by the British-registered company Essar. Photograph by Greenpeace

India‘s new government faces a crucial test of its support for big business over plans to let a British-registered energy company cut down a tract of forest to make way for an open cast coalmine.

Essar Energy – owner of the UK’s Stanlow oil refinery – and its partner, the Hindalco company, were granted permission to mine in the Mahan forest of Madhya Pradesh after a lobbying campaign which reached right to the top of the previous government.

In letters to senior figures, including the prime minister and finance minister, they argued that the coal was needed to fuel a power station and aluminium smelting unit that were crucial for the country’s economic development.

But the plans have placed them on a collision course with the thousands of people who rely on the forest for their livelihoods and with environmental campaigners, including Greenpeace, who are determined to stop the mine.

Among those directly affected are more than 5,000 members of tribal communities with legal rights to use the forest. Greenpeace claims that the mine would mean the felling of more than five million trees, affecting the livelihoods of as many as 50,000 people, with at least two villages being razed. It has also raised concerns about the effect on wildlife, which includes leopards and sloth bears. Tigers and elephants are reported to be occasional visitors.

The deal is also one of several allocations of mining rights which are the subject of a criminal investigation into corruption. An official audit found many had been significantly undervalued and the political row over what became known in India as the “coal scam” further dented trust in the Congress-led government and helped consign it to defeat in this year’s general election.

A similar standoff between the UK’s Vedanta and villagers in Orissa over plans to mine bauxite in the Niyamgiri Hills ended in defeat for the company.

But the Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) came to power promising to make it easier to do business in India and the billionaire owners of the two firms will expect it to make good on that pledge.

The decision to allow mining to go ahead in Mahan was granted despite staunch opposition from former environment minister Jairam Ramesh.

A final decision is expected shortly but a report to new prime minister Narendra Modi this month from India’s powerful Intelligence Bureau, labelling Greenpeace as “a threat to national economic security”, suggests the environmentalists face a struggle.

The coal block was allocated by a Congress-led government in 2006 to provide coal for Essar’s planned power station and to fuel an aluminium smelter owned by Hindalco. But environmental clearances proved hard to secure and by 2010 the companies were frustrated.

Essar chairman Shashi Ruia decided to lobby prime minister Manmohan Singh personally. On 5 March 2010 he wrote to Singh to “earnestly request” clearance, pointing out that 65% of the work on the power station had been completed and complaining that three years after being allotted the coal block, the company was still waiting on permission from the environment ministry.

The delay, Ruia argued, would result in “avoidable huge loss to us as well as the country”. Singh copied the letter to the environment and forest minister, Ramesh, with a note asking him to deal with it “expeditiously”.

Six days later, Ramesh met Ruia. In a note of the meeting sent to the prime minister’s permanent secretary, he pointed out that “the Mahan coal block should never have been allowed in the first place” and that giving permission for mining would “open up a Pandora’s box which we should avoid at all costs”.

Undeterred, Ruia tried again. On 16 August 2010 he wrote to Singh to update him on progress with construction of the power station and to ask again for clearance. “I would be very much grateful if necessary instructions are given to the Hon Minister of Environment and Forests to expedite necessary forest clearances at the earliest.”

Ramesh refused to bend. In a letter dated 8 July 2011, he wrote that he was unable to agree to clearance for the project and was particularly concerned that the coal block lay in the catchment area of the Rihand reservoir. Instead, he suggested that the power plants be supplied by the Sohagpur coalfield.

In the letter, Ramesh said that he had taken into consideration that the companies had already invested about £360m in the power plants and that the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh had appealed to him twice to permit it on the grounds that it would boost economic activity in the state. But he complained that the investment had taken place without clearance and that “fait accompli has become far too common in forest and environmental clearances”.

Shortly afterwards, he was switched to the ministry of rural development. A year later, his decision was reversed and in-principle approval was granted. In February this year, the project was given the green light. Even then, the decision came with conditions, among them the need for a resolution from the representatives of those living in the area – the gram sabha – supporting the project.

But the resolution, passed on 6 March 2013, is hotly contested. It contains the signatures of 1,125 people, although local campaigners say there were only 184 people present at the meeting. Greenpeace claims nine of the “signatories” are dead and has produced death certificates for two of those named. Several people have come forward to insist their signatures were forged. Among them is Kripanath Yadav, 36, of Amelia village. .

“Mahan forest is my provider, protector and God,” he said. “I was born in the forest and I am aware that our constitution bestows on us rights on our forest.

“My signature along with several others including some people who are dead were forged during a gram sabha which was held to take people’s consent on Essar’s coalmine. “We don’t want the mine, the jobs or the compensation that Essar tries to lure us with.” Officials have promised a fresh vote in the next month.

Last month the former coal secretary PC Parakh was questioned for two days by detectives about a number of allocations, including the Mahan block, but no charges have yet been filed.

Priya Pillai, senior campaigner with Greenpeace India, accused the company of wanting to press ahead at any cost. “There’s a lot at stake for the company, therefore it seems they want to build their mine even if it means the law of the land is bypassed,” said Pillai.

It is not just environmental issues that have dogged Essar of late. The company’s decision to delist from the London Stock Exchange and take itself private upset institutional shareholders, which included Standard Life, Scottish Widows and at least two UK local authorities. Many investors were angered by a deal that they argued undervalued the company and left them millions of pounds out of pocket. The company share price stood at 420p when it initially floated in 2010 but the minority shareholders were offered just 70p when it delisted in May.

But Ramakant Tiwari, CEO of Mahan Coal, said the companies had been waiting since 2006 for permission, had invested heavily in the project and had stuck to the letter of the law.

“In such a scenario, it was but natural for both companies to represent their case before the government.”

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Filed under Commodification of Life, Forests and Climate Change, Mining