Strip Mining Could Come to Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Strip Mining Could Come to Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

SOURCE: Rolling Stone DATE: August 24, 2019 SNIP: Under President Donald Trump, the United States has seen the largest reduction of nationally protected lands in the country’s history. One of the victims of the administration is Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, which will soon be open to strip mining and gas extraction, according to a Bureau of Land Management document released on Friday. “These management plans seek to cement the Trump administration legacy of destroying the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument,” said Steve Bloch, legal director for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. “That seems to be the objective certainly for excluded lands, which are going to be in large part available for mineral leasing and extractive development. To make matters worse, the BLM is going to prioritize motorized recreation across a large swath of the original 1.9 million acres.” The plan identifies up to 700,000 acres that used to be federally protected that will be available to mining as well as oil and gas companies. Since the monument was reduced, 19 companies have already filed to begin work there. The plan also proposes allowing cattle to graze on the land, which the administration acknowledges could also lead to adverse environmental effects. Just last month, the administration also published plans for Bears Ears National Monument, which it has reduced in size by 85 percent. [NOTE: If you want to know more about ranching and mining interests in the West and how corrupt the whole thing is, read This Land: How Cowboys, Capitalism, and Corruption are Ruining the American West by Christopher Ketcham. It’s an eye...
Bolsonaro has blessed ‘brutal’ assault on Amazon, sacked scientist warns

Bolsonaro has blessed ‘brutal’ assault on Amazon, sacked scientist warns

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: August 9, 2019 SNIP: Illegal loggers are ramping up a “brutal, fast” assault on the Brazilian Amazon with the blessing of the far-right president Jair Bolsonaro, the sacked head of the government agency tasked with monitoring deforestation has warned. Speaking to the Guardian five days after his dismissal, Ricardo Galvão said he was “praying to the heavens” the far-right leader would change tack before the Amazon – and Brazil’s international reputation as an environmental leader – were ruined. “This government is sending a very clear message that the control of deforestation will not be like it was in the past …. And when the loggers hear this message that they will no longer be supervised as they were in the past, they penetrate [the rainforest],” Galvão said, claiming “enormous” damage had already been done since Bolsonaro took power in January. “It is a question of brutal, fast economic exploitation.” “There is no doubt about it. They have much closer relations with the loggers [than previous governments] … The president has said explicitly that he wants to make deals with American companies to exploit minerals in indigenous reserves,” Galvão said. Galvão said he hoped the international community would now support “those Brazilians who are struggling against this state of affairs, and force the government to understand that increasing deforestation in the Amazon will only cause harm to Brazil – and to the government itself”. That seems unlikely. This week, as new Inpe data emerged suggesting an “explosion” of Amazon deforestation in July, Bolsonaro scoffed at his portrayal as Brazil’s “Captain Chainsaw” and mocked Emmanuel Macron and...
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....
Tailings dam failures linked to hefty bonuses for mine managers

Tailings dam failures linked to hefty bonuses for mine managers

SOURCE: The Narwhal DATE: June 24, 2019 SNIP: Generous bonuses for mine managers, rewarding them for cutting costs or increasing production, are linked to tailings dam failures, a new research paper has found. The new study, published in the journal Resources Policy, which documents four catastrophic collapses, including the failure of the Mount Polley tailings dam in B.C. in August 2014, found that all four companies had increased production or reduced operating costs prior to tailings dam failures. Imperial Metals, which owns the Mount Polley copper and gold mine, increased production by 23 per cent in the second quarter of the year over the previous financial quarter. Imperial Metals, in common with many mining companies, did not disclose incentives offered to middle managers, but two companies out of the four case studies showed hefty bonus schemes for managers and the practice is believed to be widespread in the mining industry. “We believe that the bonus system used to recompense middle management encourages managers to take more risks in order to generate short-term profits at the risk of serious long-term accidents,” said the paper, authored by Margaret Armstrong, Renato Petterd and Carlos Pettard. The number of tailings dam failures worldwide has doubled in the past 20 years from eight between 1999 and 2003, to 16 between 2014 and 2018. In addition to the push to reduce costs and increase production, increased amounts of waste from mines is also factoring into the increase in accidents, the study says. “Advances in mining technology have made it possible to exploit lower grade deposits, despite decreasing commodity prices, which means disposing of more rejects...
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...