Mining the Earth: 1 Sep 2014

*US.  Not specific to mining or fracking, but it does illustrate the deadly absurdities humans have created:  “Federal officials are looking for train cars to haul nuclear waste towards its final resting place.  Too bad they have no idea where that train will actually go.”

And now, we return to our regular programming.

*IA. Up in northeast IA, Allamakee County  has adopted “a countywide ordinance restricting mining the silica sand used in other states to extract natural gas and oil” through fracking.   Next door, Winneshiek County  has imposed  “a moratorium on large-scale sand mining and are considering a countywide ordinance to restrict it.”  There is also concern about the impact of sand mining on “wildlife habitats in the hills, forests and bluffs”.   Not everyone in nearby counties agrees, but activities in Allamakee and Winneshiek  are stimulating discussion.

*NM.  The US Environmental Protection Agency has ordered Homestake Mining to cough up $500,000 to “clean-up at its four abandoned uranium mines in the Mariano Lake and Smith Lake on the Navajo Nation’s lands.”  Homestake is required to undertake an “extensive radiation survey” of its mines, “backfill open holes”,  repair the surface so there are no physical risks to humans and other creatures and perform some other tasks.  Will half a million dollars actually be enough to clean up damage done in the Four Corners region?

*PA.  The state has dedicated $1.4 million to extinguish one long-burning underground coal fire near the Pittsburgh International Airport.  The thing has gotten so bad that it “threatens to disrupt air travel and cause an explosion at a major gas pipeline.”  During PA’s coal mining heyday “the coal industry operated largely without oversight” and, as a result, nobody is even sure how many long-closed mines are there.

*Canada.  Imperial Metals Corp and the Tahitan First Nation Central Council have signed an agreement “that will see an independent engineering firm review a taillings facility” at Mount Polley Mine, site of the terrible disaster in early August.  Following the disaster, Tahitan elders, The Klabona Keepers, set up a blockade at Imperial Metals’ Red Chris mine in northern BC.   Under the agreement they’ve reached thus far, the Klabona Keepers will lift the blockade while a “benefit agreement” continues to be negotiated between the Tahitan Central Council and Imperial Metals.

*Canada.  Uranium mining company Cameco and United Steelworkers have not been able to reach agreement on “pensions, benefits and compensation for working in remote regions”—such as the McArthur River mine and Key Lake mill in northern Saskatchewan.  The Steelworkers claim Cameco “cares about production first, second and third and their employees are an afterthought.”  Work stoppage could affect some 535 unionized workers.

*Dominican Republic.  In a clever work-around, the Dominican Republic’s legislature has opened the door for the territory surrounding Glencore’s  ferro-nickel Falcondo Mine to become a national park, thus avoiding outright seizure of the property, but definitely hampering any plans to expand the mine.  The final decision is now up to DR’s President.

*Mexico.  It’s called “North America’s largest jungle preserve” and its being threatened because it contains basalt rock.  Dynamite and mining threaten this place that is home to “565 species of birds, 140 species of mammals, 117 species of reptiles and about 100 species of butterflies.”  The project will also lead to a huge expansion of the Port of Veracruz.

*Guatemala.  In a triumph for earth and indigenous people, a  “Guatemalan [Protection Tributal of the Appeals] court has ordered that the Mayan community of Sipacapa has the right to be consulted for any mining or energy project and that the Los Chocoyos mining permit, issued to the Entre Mares Company in 2012 by the Energy and Mining Ministry, is illegal.”  Entre Mares, by the way, is a subsidiary of Goldcorp Inc.

*Nicaragua.  An unlicensed gold mine near Bonanza collapsed, leaving “at least 20 workers trapped deep underground”.  Two others were able to scratch their way out since they weren’t buried too deep.  The missing are some 2,600 feet underground.  There are around 6,000 workers involved in getting gold out of old, dangerous, and abandoned mines in the area.  Update: Some 27 – 29 miners were trapped, but 20 have been rescued.  Update: “no signs of life, but rescue efforts continue for eight missing miners.

*Germany.  Numbering “thousands”, protestors joined hands across five miles and sang together on the Poland-Germany border from Kerkwitz, Germany to Grabice, Poland.  They even stood in the Lusatian Neisse River.  At issue is the “giant lignite coal mining operations”—and expansion plans.  Eminent domain?  Pffffft.  These miners are simply going to eradicate entire villages (affecting around 6,000 Germans and 3,000 Poles).  Who’s behind this?  The Swedish government through its Vattenfall and the Polish government through its PGE.

*Australia. Government assets such as ports and highways are being sold off “as they scramble to raise as much as $300 billion to upgrade the nation’s infrastructure.”  Demise of mining is blamed, leaving Western Australia, New South Wales and Queensland in heavy debt.

*Australia.  A “mining mogul apologizes to China over ‘mongrels’ remarks”.  Yes, gentle readers, Clive Palmer not only is a mining mogul but also a Member of Parliament and head (naturally) of the Palmer United Party in Australia.  He not only referred to the Chinese people as ‘mongrels’ but also said they “shoot their own people” (video at link).  He’s since apologized.

*Good movie for this Labor Day:  Harlan County USA.