Mining the earth
*USA. Did Walmart really pledge “to shift to 100 percent renewable energy … [and] to reduce its climate emissions as quickly as possible” almost 10 years ago? The Institute for Local Self-Reliance says so, but reports that, instead, “Walmart remains as deeply committed as ever to the dirtiest fuels, especially coal.” Only 3% of its US electricity consumption is from renewable energy sources.
*AZ. Some 1 million acres around the Grand Canyon were made off-limits to uranium mining for 20 years, thanks to the Obama administration. Last month a US judge ruled the feds were well within their rights to impose the ban. However, the National Mining Assoc and the American Exploration and Mining Assoc have now appealed so we get to relive this all over again.
*KY. Hard-hitting Lexington Herald-Leader editorial: “2,700 [coal] mine owners have gotten away with dodging nearly $70 million in safety fines” and polluting the state’s water. The editorial concentrates on the state’s failure to “effectively regulate permittees such as Frasure Creek” (covered here last week).
*MN. PolyMet is eager to begin copper and nickel mining but Univ of Minnesota intends to “ask the Legislature for an additional $6.25 million” for research into the impacts on environmental and human health, as well as safety. Imagine that!
*WV. Pritchard Mining Company shut down its coal mine 15 years ago and did some remediation. Now the state Department of Agriculture has set up beehives, duly protected from local bears, as part of a small project with the promise of expanding to “beekeeping training for veterans and out-of-work coal miners.” Not all environmentalists are pleased, however.
*WV. In-depth article about “The Fall of Big Don, King Coal’s Brutal Baron,” Big Don being Don Blankenship of Massey Mines which owned, among others, the Upper Big Branch coal mine where a huge explosion on 5 April 2010 killed 29 men. Don Blankenship has been charged with four counts of various infractions including Securities Fraud. Possible 31 years in prison.
*WV. A gag order imposed in Don Blankenship’s case includes keeping the criminal indictment from the press, and barring family members nor court staff to speak to the press. That’s all being challenged by The Wall Street Journal, The Associated Press, National Public Radio, The Charleston Gazette, and the Friends of Public Broadcasting.
*Canada. Several south-central BC First Nations have joined together “dictating the rules under which any mining company can operate on … traditional territory.” They’ve done this since BC laws “don’t adequately protect the environment” and First Nations are not “adequately compensated for mine development.”
*El Salvador. 62% of El Salvadorans voted “No” when asked if mining was something the clean-water-starved state should permit. That was in 2007. Pacific Rim gold mining company has sued for $300 million (“2% of El Salvador’s total annual GDP”) claiming profits lost since it can’t mine.
*Chile. Plans to expand copper mining (which already accounts for 60% of Chile’s exports) have run into lack of electricity. Chile’s mines already “pay twice as much for their energy as their peers in neighbouring Peru.” The problem? Expense of piping electricity over great distances. Meanwhile, professional workers went on strike at Anglo American’s Los Bronces copper mine in central Chile.
*Peru. “A lush expanse of Amazon rainforest known as the [Madre de Dios or] “Mother of God” is steadily being destroyed in Peru, as mercury-filled tailing ponds from gold extraction grow. Sounds nightmarish with “tens of thousands of desperate fortune-hunters” operating “improvised mines” 24/7. 125,000 acres of rainforest destroyed by the illegal gold miners already, 30 – 40 tons of mercury dumped into rivers. More.
*Scotland. Yay! For the first time ever, renewable energy (“wind farms, hydro power plants and other clean technologies”) produced more electricity than coal, gas or nuclear—for the first six months of 2014.
*Romania. Proposed fracking near a small village produced “violent clashes” between protesters and police. Authorities are blaming outside Russia-funded agitators—which seems to be developing into a trend.
*South Africa. Police firing rubber bullets greeted about 100 locals protesting approval of the world’s largest platinum mine. Vancouver’s Ivanhoe Mines is in charge of the Platreef project, mining 8 million tons/year and “yielding 785,000 ounces of platinum, palladium, rhodium and gold.”
*Congo. “Loi Obama” or Obama’s Law requires US companies to ensure they don’t use “‘conflict minerals’—particularly gold, coltan, tin and tungsten … controlled by Congo’s murderous militias.” Disruption ensued as the government began a snail-paced effort to ensure the audits. Result: 11 of 900 mines in South Kivu certified so far. People unable to earn a living, increasingly miserable, thrown into the militias as a result of the well-intentioned Loi Obama.
*Guinea. US prosecutors are continuing their two-year investigation into “one of the most wide-ranging cases of alleged corruption in recent years.” Specifically, that the widow of Guinea dictator Lansana Conte was bribed to the tune of $5.3 million by, apparently, BSG Resources of Israel to get iron-ore mining rights in Guinea.
*China. 26 coal mine workers perished as a minor earthquake led to a fire which raced through a state-owned mine in northeastern China. 50 other workers were injured, 30 with “serious burns, eight were in intensive care and four were still in danger of dying.”
*Australia. The Ranger uranium mine in Kakadu National Park has an uncertain future. The indigenous Mirarr people were ignored when Parliament approved the mine in 1977 and have long resented and resisted the mine. Production costs, environmental concerns and lowered commodity prices might mean Energy Resources of Australia will close it.
A QUICK WHIRL AROUND THE FRACKING WORLD
*Everywhere. Are we so profoundly stupid that all we’ve got left is geoengineering?
*Ancient Rome. Tarsands as ancient chemical weapons.
*USA. Great map from the US Dept of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration which shows where, when, shipper and carrier of oil-by-train incidents in the US by year. Based on a quick scroll, it seems to go back into the 1980s.
*CA. “Leaked: The Oil Lobby’s Conspiracy to Kill Off California’s Climate Law.”
*ND. Oil trains are roaring through Enderlin, 28 a day, often taking an entire half-hour to go through the town—and some even taking as much as 4 hours’ idle time. The town banned breaks over 10 minutes, Canadian Pacific responded by suing and asking for a temporary injunction.
*OH. Lawsuit has now been filed “challenging the temporary approval [by the OH Dept of Natural Resources] of 23 fracking waste facility in Ohio, where critics say lax regulations have helped the state become a popular destination for the contaminated leftovers of the fracking process.”
*TX. Denton, which voted almost 59% to ban fracking, just happens to be the site of the University of North Texas an Texas Woman’s University. So, now the fracking-friendly Denton Taxpayers for a Strong Economy is pointing a finger at the students.
*TX. Where there’s oil, you’re bound to find a Bush and, sure enough, George P. Bush is head of the TX General Land Office “which uses revenue from mineral rights to fund public education” (no mention of Uncle Neil’s educational products). At some point town bans on fracking just might end up at the General Land Office.
*Austria. OPEC has refused to slow the flow of oil to market by 30 million barrels/day, thus ensuring the price of oil will not be bouncing back any time soon. Within hours, the price of a barrel of light sweet crude was below $68, first time it’s been there since May 2010. More here, here, here and here.
*Russia. Lukoil’s head, “who’s made a fortune of more than US$4 billion in the oil business,” is predicting OPEC’s action will lead to fewer fracking operations in the US, as the little fish gobble the bigger ones. Interesting chart with the article showing thousands of barrels produced/day by country in 2012:
- Saudi Arabia:11,726,
- United States: 11,119,
- Russia: 10,397,
- China: 4,372, and so on.
*China. China is very interested in the and not just for fishing. There’s oil and gas there. It’s a hotly contested place now, involving Brunei, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam. The US is watching.
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