“Mining companies losing billions of dollars from conflicts with local communities,” according to researchers from the University of Queensland, the Harvard Kennedy School and Clark University. Not wanting to pass up an opportunity to hammer home that theme, here’s a bit of a round-up of just such recent activities, beginning with Bristol Bay.
*REMINDER: Pebble Mine, Bristol Bay, AK. London-based Anglo American backed out of its joint venture with the much smaller outfit, Northern Dynasty, to turn a part of pristine Bristol Bay, AK into a mammoth open-pit gold, copper and molybdemum mine. The proposed mine is so huge (20 square miles) that it would require “the world’s largest earthen dam to be built”, not good news in a state as earthquake-prone as AK. The US Environmental Protection Agency has published draft regulations favorable to protection of the proposed Pebble Mine site, under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act, and in response to “9 Bristol Bay Tribes, The Bristol Bay Native Corporation . . . Bristol Bay Native Association . . . Alaska Independent Fishermen’s Marketing Association and Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association, National Council of Churches” and others. (More information here and here.) Please use this link to urge the EPA and appropriate elected officials to save Bristol Bay.
*Upper Peninsula, MI. MI and the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community in the UP have battled for 12 years over construction of the Eagle Mine. In their recent ruling, the state Court of Appeals ruled against Keweenaw Bay Indian objections to Kennecott Minerals Co.’s plans to proceed with the nickel and copper mine (ultimately owned by Lundin Mining Corp of Toronto). Opposition has included concern about contamination of groundwater and “collapse of the mine crown pillar [leading to] significant irreversible impact to the watershed.” Meanwhile, “over 300 geotagged photos of bulldozing and road construction” from the mine to a mill have been released, documenting impact on wetlands and some suspected non-permitted work.
*Mount Polley Mine, BC, I. Imperial Metals is scrambling to come up with the $100 million it’s going to take to clean up the huge mess made by the Mount Polley mine disaster up at Likely, BC. Not only that, but their stocks declined by 10% last week—in addition to the 40% drop immediately after the world learned about the disaster. N. Murray Edwards who owns the most stock in the company will be responsible for $40 million of the $100 million they’re having to raise. (Mount Polley disaster links here.)
*Mount Polley Mine, BC, II. ”The Musqueam and Tsleil Waututh Nations are giving the Secwepemc First Nation fish from their territory because of concerns over contaminated water near the [Mount Polley] mine site.” Xat’sull (Soda Creek) Indian Band Chief Bev Sellars announced they’ve taken testing of local water into their own hands since they’re skeptical of government assurances that the water is safe. For its part, the BC Dept of Fisheries and Oceans won’t allow First Nations donating salmon to other First Nations to reflect that in the government quotas for the various First Nations. Talk about adding insult to injury!
*Iskut, BC. Imperial Metals is also having a heck of a time getting its Red Chris mine open. Capital costs have climbed from $570 to $631 million. And opposition to both Imperial’s Red Chris and Ruddock Creek mines has reached new levels among First Nations. The Neskonlith Indian Band delivered an eviction notice to Imperial’s downtown Vancouver offices last Thursday, and the Klabona Keepers (including Elders from the Tahitan First Nation) continue to block two roads to the Red Chris mine and “want things done safer.” (These are the same Klabona Keepers who protested Shell gas extraction in the area in 2012 until “Shell announced it was pulling out.”)
*Sonora, Mexico. Some 20,000 residents near the huge Buenavista Copper Mine (in Sonora, northwestern Mexico) had their water cut off with no warning and now have to wait for tanker trucks to bring in water. Buenavista, owned by Grupo Mexico, had a “massive sulfuric acid leak last week” sending some 10.6 million gallons of the highly poisonous stuff into the Sonora River. Local residents are afraid to eat any meat from cattle that drink from the river. Buenavista executives did not inform anyone of the leak for 24 hours, blamed it all on the rain which caused the holding tank with the sulfuric acid in it to overflow and assured residents “The content of these acids is not toxic in itself.” So, move on along, now, nothing to see here. Update: 88 schools in Sonora closed Monday, perhaps for a week, due to the spill.
*Guatemala. Hooded thugs in Guatemala allegedly beat and set on fire a protester at the Marlin Mine, owned by Goldcorp of Canada. The victim managed to jump into a puddle of water to douse the flames, was rescued by family and taken to hospital where he died. He was indigenous, a Maya Mam. The Maya Sipacapenses, living nearby, have also reported severe reaction if they protest the mine and its destructive impact on their communities. It’s so bad that the Inter-American Commission on Human rights urged the government to “properly consult” with the two indigenous communities, to no avail. World Bank International Financial Corporation provided the loan that got the mine underway. Goldcorp said any suggestion that it or its subsidiary, Montana Exploradora which is operating the mine, had anything to do with the violence is “patently false.” After all, their web page says so.
*The Amazon, Brazil. The Munduruku people in Brazil’s Amazon had to contend with illegal miners on one hand and the Brazilian government on the other. Illegal miner activities led to “Pollution of the river, lack of fish, misunderstandings, and threats” while the government at one point descended on the area with machine guns mounted on a military helicopter, “murdering the young leader Adenilson Munduruku and injuring 12 more . . ., including children” and leaving the river filled with poisonous mining debris from an overturned barge. The Munduruku surveilled the miners’ activities for several days, then swooped in, rounded the miners up and expelled them. That was in February, 2014. This month, the Munduruku are struggling against the government’s plans to build hydroelectric dams which will flood the area, described as one of “extreme biological richness” in addition to being the home of the Munduruku people for many centuries.
*Australia. Was the recent 5.5 magnitude earthquake in Australia’s Northwest caused by mining? Could be, according to a University of Pretoria professor: “We are adding stresses to already existing stresses, tectonic components. . . and then we are triggering” earthquakes, “accelerating earthquakes, just by mining.”
Future mining and communities round-ups are possible if you’re interested.