Dozens die in Congo mine accident

Dozens die in Congo mine accident

SOURCE: Financial Times, Aljazeera, Reuters DATE: June 27, 2019 SNIP: The number of artisanal miners killed by a landslide at a copper and cobalt mine run by Glencore in Congo rose to 43 on Friday and officials said the army would deploy at the mine as the search for more victims continued. “The old terraces gave way, causing significant amounts of material to fall,” Joseph Yav Katshung, the director of cabinet for the governor of Lualaba told Reuters. “KOV is a delicate site and presents many risks.” Illegal mining has become a growing problem in the Katanga region of the Congo. Local miners in Kolwezi are mining within concessions owned by large companies, threatening their operations as well as their ability to expand to mine new deposits. The DRC produces more than 60 per cent of the world’s supply of cobalt, a crucial metal for electric car batteries. But last year as much as 30 per cent of cobalt was estimated to have come from miners who dig the metal from the earth without any safety equipment. Thousands of illegal miners operate in and around mines in southern Congo, which produce more than half of the world’s cobalt, a key component in electric car batteries. Mine disasters in Africa have cost the lives of numerous miners, especially unauthorised artisanal miners who operate without safety standards or regulations. At least nine illegal gold miners died in Zimbabwe when they were trapped in a mine last month. Twenty-two died in a previous Zimbabwean gold-mine flood in February, and 14 tin miners were buried alive in Rwanda after heavy rains in January....
Are crystals the new blood diamonds?

Are crystals the new blood diamonds?

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: June 16, 2019 SNIP: Crystallisation is a transition from chaos to perfection; the evolution of the crystal industry has been less simple. Millions of years ago liquid rock inside the earth cooled and hardened, and this is how crystals formed at the twinkling centre of the earth. Piece by piece they’ve been mined to become the centre, too, of an international industry that hangs on their rumoured metaphysical healing properties. But recently something else has emerged from the rocks – a darker truth. Rather than connecting with the earth, those buying crystals are damaging it, fatally. In three short years, crystals have risen from niche new age interest to valid hobby, firmly embedded in the mainstream consciousness. In 2017 crystals became a multibillion-dollar slice of the $4.2trn global wellness industry, with shamans using them to advise entrepreneurs on investment opportunities, and Gwyneth Paltrow selling them to encourage serenity and to “purify” water. Their investment status is compared to fine art. But while it’s claimed crystals help people harness the energy of the earth, the more they are mined, the more that earth is suffering. Here is the dirty truth of crystals, and it’s not simply that their efficacy as healing objects is unproven. It’s that, as Emily Atkin at The New Republic reported last year, their origins are murky, and their environmental impact worrying. Much like diamonds, crystal mining is an industry buried in conflict. There are issues around sustainability: crystals are a non-renewable resource. There are issues around labour: most jobs are low paid, unsafe, and sometimes performed by underage workers. And there is...
Saving the Planet With Electric Cars Means Strangling This Desert

Saving the Planet With Electric Cars Means Strangling This Desert

SOURCE: Bloomberg DATE: June 11, 2019 SNIP: The oases that once interrupted the dusty slopes of the Atacama desert in northern Chile allowed humans and animals to survive for thousands of years in the world’s driest climate. That was before the mining started. Sara Plaza, 67 years old, can still remember guiding her family’s sheep along an ancient Inca trail running between wells and pastures. Today she is watching an engine pump fresh water from beneath the mostly dry Tilopozo meadow. “Now mining companies are taking the water,” she says, pointing to dead grass around stone ruins that once provided a nighttime refuge for shepherds. “No one comes here anymore, because there’s not enough grass for the animals,” Plaza says. “But when I was a kid, there was so much water you could mistake this whole area for the sea.” Atacama has become one of the busiest mining districts on the planet in the intervening decades, following discoveries of massive deposits of copper and lithium. In recent years that mining has intensified, thanks to booming demand for lithium, which is indispensable in the production of rechargeable batteries for electric vehicles. Chile exported nearly $1 billion of lithium last year, almost quadruple the export value from four years ago. Pursuit of the soft mineral is often seen as something that’s good for the environment. Electric automakers such as Tesla Inc. want to make it easier and cheaper for drivers to adopt clean, battery-powered replacements for dirty combustion engines. Batteries are by far the most expensive part of an electric vehicle, so mining more lithium to meet rising demand helps lower...
The ‘green new deal’ supported by Ocasio-Cortez and Corbyn is just a new form of colonialism

The ‘green new deal’ supported by Ocasio-Cortez and Corbyn is just a new form of colonialism

SOURCE: The Independent DATE: May 4, 2019 SNIP: Scratch the surface of the current plans to decarbonise the economy and replace it with renewable energies and beneath it lays the same logic that has made the UK the 6th richest country in the world. Britain is planning to go green through a new phase of resource and wealth extraction of countries in the global south. At the heart of our economic system fuelled by the City of London is a belief that the UK and other rich countries are entitled to a greater share of the world’s finite resources irrespective of who we impoverish in doing so, or the destruction we cause. This green colonialism will be delivered by the very same entrenched economic interests, who have willingly sacrificed both people and the climate in the pursuit of profit. But this time, the mining giants and dirty energy companies will be waving the flag of climate emergency to justify the same deathly business model. In this new energy revolution, it is cobalt, lithium, silver and copper that will replace oil, gas and coal as the new frontline of our corporate destruction. The metals and minerals needed to build our wind turbines, our solar panels and electric batteries will be ripped out of the earth so that the UK continues to enjoy “lifeboat ethics”: temporary sustainability to save us, but at the cost of the poor. The scale of new extraction needed will come to dwarf the current relentless drive for resources that capitalism is built upon. The OECD’s Global Resources Outlook to 2060, modelled on an annual 2.8 per...
It’s only a matter of time before deep-sea mining comes to Canada. We’re not ready.

It’s only a matter of time before deep-sea mining comes to Canada. We’re not ready.

SOURCE: The Narwhal DATE: March 26, 2019 SNIP: The deep sea, broadly considered the area of ocean below 200 metres, encompasses half of the world’s total ocean estate. To this day, just 5 per cent of the ocean abyss has been explored. It is only in the last decade that major advances in ocean-exploring technology, growing demand for metals used for tech gadgets, and the diminishing availability of these metals on land has created the burgeoning industry of deep sea mining. This year, Canadian-registered company Nautilus Minerals Inc. is slated to begin Solwara 1, an operation in Papua New Guinea that will extract seafloor massive sulphides from hydrothermal vent ecosystems in the deep sea. Each year, this operation plans to extract 1.3 million tonnes of vent and seabed material high in copper, zinc, gold and silver. Extraction requires a process of directly drilling, removing, and flattening down the vents and chimneys, essentially leaving a pile of rubble in its place. “All deep sea mining removes material from the seafloor,” says Dr. Kirsten Thompson, a marine mammal scientist and ecology lecturer at the University of Exeter in Devon, United Kingdom. “In removing this material, the habitat and species that are associated with the ecosystem are destroyed.” “For some types of mining, this destruction is irreversible on a local scale and recovery is not expected within our lifetimes,” says Thompson. Before long, Canadian and international mining companies alike may start turning their attention towards Canadian waters — that is, if they haven’t already. The Offshore Pacific Area of Interest off the west coast of Vancouver Island is of particular concern to...