Mining the Earth
*Everywhere. Intriguing chart out of Finland showing when various resources obtained by various extraction methods will be depleted. So, what plans do our policy-makers have in mind to meet these challenges?
*USA. Since they can’t seem to accomplish much else, the US Congress is turning its attention to the business of mining asteroids.
*AZ. Update on the suit about resumption of uranium mining around the Grand Canyon: The US District Judge is to rule within two weeks.
*KY, VA, WV. Guess what’s making a comeback: “A Debilitating and Entirely Preventable Respiratory Disease among Working Coal Miners.” Progressive Massive Fibrosis among coal miners was virtually eliminated only 15 years ago but is back and “can only be due to overexposures and/or increased toxicity stemming from changes in dust composition.” Shameful.
*VA. VA’s Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy is working “to restore streams damaged by coal mining that took place a century ago” in Russell County. Companies that want to mine in previously mined areas must have plans for reclaiming the land, which has led so far to “21 miles of streams cleaned up in the coalfields right now.” One such project, in Dumps Creek, will cost about $3.35 million.
*WV. Transition ahead as “declining coal markets, mine closures and efforts to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions” make their impact on coal mining communities in the state, particularly in Boone, Marshall, Mingo, McDowell and Wyoming Counties. To ease the shock of transition, the US Department of Labor has provided $7.4 million for retraining and reemployment services—although the industry reportedly does not want the workers retrained.
*WV. Trans Energy has agreed with the US Environmental Protection Agency and WV’s Department of Environmental Protection “to restore portions of streams and wetlands in West Virginia that were damaged by natural gas extraction activities.” 15 sites, polluted by “unauthorized discharge of dredge or fill materials,” are included in the clean-up as well as a $3 million payment.
*WV. The Obama administration set out to take “‘unprecedented steps’ to protect the environment [in Appalachia] from the effects of mountaintop removal coal mining.” After five years, results have been “mixed.” Environmentalists want more action and protections while “the mining industry says the government’s actions have taken a toll on Appalachian economies.” Mountaintop mining reportedly has taken its toll in terms of “birth defects, cancer and lower life expectancy, among other issues.”
*WV. Lawsuit filed in Monongalia County Circuit Court by a mine worker who says “she was fired because she did not donate to Murray [Energy] CEO Robert Murray’s preferred political candidates” and also because she’s female. Murray Energy disputes her claims and will “vigorously defend against her.” The political candidates Murray wanted $200 contributions given to were Republican (surprise!) Senate candidates “Scott Brown in New Hampshire, Edward Gillespie in Virginia, Terri Land in Michigan, and Mike McFadden in Minnesota.” Who can forget the “stunning visual” Robert Murray achieved when his mine workers stood behind Mitt Romney during a presidential campaign rally in OH a few years ago?
*Canada. The President of the Mining Association of Canada discussed the “high cost of doing business in Canada” and offered this solution: “government needs to partner with mining companies” by building infrastructure needed by the mining companies, which will also benefit First Nations peoples. The benefits of “reaching out” to aboriginal communities was referred to several times.
*Ontario. Mines Minister has been “scolded” by several First Nations Chiefs about the absence of First Nations representatives on the Ring of Fire Infrastructure Development Corp. Chiefs from the Eabametoong First Nation, the Long Lake #58 First Nation, the Neskantaga First Nation and the Matawa Chiefs Council and others have complained. The Minister responded “we absolutely respect Aboriginal and Treaty rights”.
*British Columbia. The Tahitan First Nation “has banned [Fortune Minerals] from its lands as a bitter fight over a proposed [open pit] coal mine escalates, again.” In other action, the Klabona Keepers of the Tahitan Nation “have shut down an exploratory [copper-gold] drilling operation by taking over the site” known as the Sacred Headwaters (of the Stikine, Skeena and Nass Rivers). They shut down Black Hawk’s big drill; Black Hawk responded by airlifting its workers out. Video.
*British Columbia. The Tsilhqot’in First Nation has proposed a 3,000 square kilometer park and incorporated an area around Fish Lake which just happens to include a proposed mining site. The Vice President of Taseko, which wants to develop a gold and copper mine there (twice rejected by the government) said “We really don’t know what that means when that declaration is made by some local First Nations.” Perhaps he’ll be finding out.
*Saskatchewan. All 96 miners trapped in a potash mine due to a fire were finally rescued, though some 54 workers had to remain in underground smoky refuge stations since some of the fans used to clear the smoke broke down. The fire started in a water truck inside the mine.