NorthMara
Villagers scavenging gold in freshly dumped waste rock at the North Mara Gold Mine in Tanzania (C. Coumans photo).

MiningWatch Canada Newsletter #42 – Autumn 2018

Jamie Kneen Communications and Outreach Coordinator responsible for: strategic research, social media, and public engagement; our Africa program, environmental assessment, and uranium mining.

In this issue:

First Nations, Citizens Oppose Mining in Sensitive Watershed Area in Ontario

A proposed nickel, cobalt, and copper mining project in the Township of Limerick, near Bancroft, Ontario, is facing strong opposition by local and regional community members, including First Nation members. The project is in the headwaters of Beaver Creek and of the Crowe Valley Watershed Conservation Area. This is a sensitive area, home to numerous wetlands, lakes and rivers, and providing essential habitat to many species of fish, mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians, including several threatened and endangered species. This area also provides drinking water, as well as recreational and tourism opportunities, to thousands of Ontarians each year.

A study conducted by MiningWatch reveals several serious technical, environmental and financial risks for both the public and investors in the project. The project is not economically viable at this stage, the environmental and social costs are completely unknown and undocumented, and potential acid generation would irreparably alter or destroy this sensitive area. In response, community members have launched a petition urging the Ontario government and the relevant ministries to take immediate and joint actions to deny, suspend, or revoke any mining permit in this area and instead work with local and regional authorities to protect and strengthen its recreational and touristic economic base.

Read more here.

Oceans Face Ultimate Threat from Deep Sea Mining

Our international waters – the “common heritage of humankind” – are under a new, imminent, and most deadly threat from the deep sea mining industry. In late July, the International Seabed Authority (ISA), a UN agency which has not received much public scrutiny until now, met in Kingston, Jamaica to discuss how to open up the deep sea bed to mining. We joined scientists, academics and other non-governmental organizations in a joint letter to raise alarm over this ultimate threat to our oceans.

We called for much broader public input into decisions affecting the deep seas before any extractive regime is agreed upon. We raised three fundamental concerns: the need for public consultation inherent in the principle of common heritage; a thorough review of identified concerns and potential impacts from mining; and the need for substantive and rigorous ecological risk assessment prior to decision-making. This is not the time to move forward with an extractive regime as there are far too many uncertainties. We therefore called on the ISA to declare a moratorium on deep sea mining before irreparable damage is done to the health of the world’s oceans.

Read more here.

Uniting for Healthy Lands, Water and Future Generations

Last September, MiningWatch joined nearly 200 delegates from Canada and the United States at the Western Mining Action Network Biennial Conference to share knowledge about the increasing impacts of industrial mining and to seek solutions to more effectively protect the environment and affected communities. This year the conference was hosted by the Stk’emlúpsemc te Secwépemc Nation (SSN). SSN representatives presented on their work to revitalize the Nation’s culture and laws in relation to mining on its traditional territory, including the SSN Review Panel which led to the rejection of KHGM’s Ajax gold/copper open pit mine proposed for the Pípsell Cultural & Heritage Site.

Under the theme “Uniting for Healthy Lands, Waters & Future Generations”,lectures, discussions and workshops led by technical and legal experts, as well as by Indigenous and civil society organizations, provided the latest information on mining technologies, impacts, regulations, and policies, while special sessions were held to train community-based organizers, and develop strategies to reform mining laws and practices. The conference program also included tours of the Highland Valley copper mine – the largest copper mine in North America – and the area that was affected by the massive 2014 Mount Polley mine spill into the Quesnel Lake and River watershed.

Read more here.

Victims of Tanzanian Gold Mine Violence Find No Justice in New Compensation Scheme

MiningWatch has conducted field investigations at the North Mara gold mine in Tanzania for the past four years and has reported on years of vicious attacks on hundreds of local men and women by private mine security and police guarding the mine. The violence has not ended, and there still have been no criminal investigations, but last year, with public pressure mounting locally and internationally, the mine set up a new grievance mechanism for local Kuria villagers who have been harmed, and family members of those who have been killed.

Our fieldwork in August provided consistent evidence that villagers being processed through the new grievance mechanism are greatly disadvantaged by it. Lack of adequate prior information about the process; lack of expert or legal support; inability to read documents produced by the mine regarding the impact they have suffered and the remedy the mine feels they deserve, if any; and lack of time and resources to find help in reviewing these documents are some of the ways the mine’s grievance process is deepening the harm suffered by these unfortunate villagers.

Read more here.

New Study Supports Calls for OceanaGold’s Didipio Mine in the Philippines To Be Closed

In October, MiningWatch and the Institute for Policy Studies released a study, OceanaGold in the Philippines: Ten Violations that Should Prompt Its Removal, on the impacts of OceanaGold’s underground Didipio gold-copper mine in Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines. Some of the major findings of the study include a number of instances where OceanaGold has not adhered to commitments under its mining permit and various Philippine laws and regulations, as well as elevated levels of toxic elements such as copper, lead, arsenic and selenium in rivers and streams around the mine, potentially decreasing agricultural yields and affecting fish in the surrounding waterways.

Given these findings, the study recommends denying the mining company’s request for renewal after its licence runs out in June 2019, as well as denying its requests for new exploration permits. The study reinforces consistent calls by people around the mine and by the provincial government that the mine be suspended.​

Read more here.