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Mining the Earth: 9 Dec 2014


From November, 2013. Repeat performance coming up? Seems so.

*Worldwide.  Extractive industries, at 19%, top “a new list of the world’s most corrupt industries”, according to OCED.   And you’ve wondered  why we do these roundups.

*Worldwide.Since the beginning of 2011, some of the world’s largest mining companies have lost a third to nearly 90% of their market value as global demand for their products declined.”  Assets written down:  Rio Tinto – $14 billion, Anglo American – $4 billion, BHP Billiton – $3.3 billion, Vale – $4.2 billion.

*Worldwide.  Mining sector pay survey suggests “that a new generation of leaders is paying the price for the sector’s excesses”.  Chief executives’ salaries, you see, have dropped 7%.  Oh, woe.

*Worldwide.  180 cities in 35 countries have taken back their water, preventing it from being contaminated by extractive industries.

*AK.  XS Platinum and five executives “have been criminally indicted under the federal Clean Water Act for allegedly dumping toxic waste into the Salmon River” from their Platinum Creek mine, falsifying records and reports, etc.  Apparently, the toxic waste made its way into the Togiak National Wildlife Refuge where “chinook, chum, coho, pink and sockeye [salmon]” spawn.

*AZ.  Tucked way deep inside the National Defense Authorization bill, which has passed the House, is “a provision that would allow a massive copper mining project on sacred [Apache] land”, including Oak Flats, Devil’s Canyon and Apache Leap.  Who wins?  Rio Tonto mining company which owns Resolution Copper Co. which “plans a massive [one mile] deep underground copper mine”.  John McCain (R-AZ) is pushing this bill.  Last year’s bill failed, based in part on the testimony shown in the video at the top of this post and here, tooYou can help by going here.

*KY.  About 30 billion tons of coal still exist in KY, about 9.1 billion in Harlan County—but getting to it requires strip mining.  With mountain-top removal almost ended, 7,000 mining jobs are gone, mine-workers adrift, headed westward “where seams are shallower and thicker, but higher in sulfur”, hence dirtier to burn.

*MT.  All it takes is “a miniscule amount” of asbestos to cause lung problems.  The good news from a draft report by a Libby, MT asbestos clinic: “cleanup practices now in place are reducing risks to [the town’s 2,600] residents.”  Not-so-good news: there’s no way to remove all of the asbestos.  Although W.R. Grace & Co. owned the local vermiculate mine from 1963 to 1990, they’re complaining about the EPA.

*SD.  The old Gilt Edge gold and silver mine in the Northern Black Hills is now a Superfund site with a cleaning bill of $100+ million and climbing.  Brohm Mining of Canada took over the mine in 1986 and left it in 1999, leaving behind 150 million gallons of contaminated acid water and millions of cubic yards of acid-generating waste rock.”

*WI.  The struggle to protect groundwater, air and workers’ health continues, with a state senator promising to re-introduce his frac sand mining bill which failed last year. Frac sand mining joins other old gnarled initiatives from the right-wing wish bag (“right-to-work” laws, elimination of the top tax bracket, etc.) which are backed by the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce organization.

*WV.  Gary Southern, used-to-be president of Freedom Industries, has been arrested by the FBI for “bankruptcy fraud, wire fraud and lying under oath” related to a coal-cleaning chemical which got into the Elk River “just upstream of the largest water treatment plant in the state.”

*Guatemala.  So, the government has just raised royalties on mining from 1% to 10%.  Canada’s Tahoe Resources and the Guatemalan Business Chamber of Commerce are hotly opposed.  Since 2011  “there have been nearly 90 legal cases against peaceful protesters and community leaders opposed to Tahoe Resources’ Escobal silver mine”—and there’s an on-going case against Tahoe “for negligence and battery [and] a shooting” at the mine.

*Ecuador.  Jose Isidro Tendetza Antun of the indigenous Shuar Federation will not be attending the climate talks in Lima, Peru, this week.  He was recently captured, tortured, and killed after leading resistance to the Chinese CCRC-Tonagguan Investment’s Mirador open-pit copper and gold mine.  BTW, President Rafael Correa has assured multinational companies of “full state security from the police and the army” and is pursing oil drilling in the Amazon reserve.

*Venezuela.  Gold and diamond mining, legal and illegal, has led to an upsurge in malaria.  76,621 cases of malaria were reported in 2013, “the majority among men aged between 15 and 44 years old, with 93% of cases . . . occurring in the state of Bolivar where gold mining is booming.” Drill holes=stagnant water=mosquitoes=disease.

*South America.  As mining encroaches upon agricultural lands, in response to the electronics sector’s demand for minerals, local people suffer.  Not just loss of their livelihoods, of fertile land for growing food, but even of clean water.  And not just South America, such as Chile and Peru, but also Africa, such as Ghana and Uganda.

*Eritrea.  Terrible story about Bisha gold mine, 40% state-owned and operated jointly by state-owned Segen Construction and Nevsun of Vancouver, BC—the only mine Nevsun apparently operates.  Reports of indefinite, forced, conscripted labor, subsistence wages, “brutal conditions”.  Class action suit now underway, filed by three Eritrean refugees now in Ehiopia against Nevsun and Segen Construction.

*Guinea.  Simandou is “a mining project mired in allegations of corruption, expropriation and corporate espionage.”  Huge iron ore deposit;  railway and port to be built, mine to be developed to the tune of $20 billion.  Who’s involved?  Anglo-Australian Rio Tinto, Israeli “diamond tycoon” Beny Steinmetz, George Soros, former deputy head of UN Mark Malloc-Brown, and local politicians, etc.  Amazing story.

*Australia.  Per an occupational health therapist, mine workers run considerable “risk of developing serious [and often permanent] spine and reproductive disorders through working with heavy machinery”, although “production is a mindset in mining [which sometimes takes] precedence over other things”, such as workers’ health.

*Australia.  Conflicts of interest, you say?  Queensland’s police vehicles will henceforth be sporting Santos mining’s logo.  Oh, there’re other corporate logos on police vehicles, and emergency vehicles, too.

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