Sunday, January 17, 2010

Open Pit,Mining`s Legacy of Shame, Death,and Poison

The story of Fish Lake has really struck a nerve with me, I have been busy reading and learning, I have come to discover that Canadian mining companies have been ruining,polluting,poisoning water and land around the world, their crimes have been happening usually in what we consider third world countries, but now that we have the equivalent of a third world dictator running our province, these decisions to ruin the land and water were all but inevitable. Yes I am talking about YOU Gordon Campbell.
Upated January 18/2010..First Nations Scream Foul,First Nation`s Chiefs say GORDON CAMPBELL Betrayed Them Read it here

For centuries man has been driven in his pursuit of gold, the allure, the intoxication and need to hoard gold, tunnel mining and gold panning were the techniques employed in centuries past but easy to access gold using these benign techniques(In comparison to open pit mining) have all but been exhausetd, most people in developed nations when hearing or thinking about gold mining vision men with picks,shovels and leather pouches for holding their booty, but gold mining hasn`t been done that way in ages, at least not in the industrial sector.

The gold pursued by these mining giants is in the form of specs or flakes of gold, open pit mining is the modern method of mining, massive trucks the size of houses hauling out tons of ore, the ratio of gold from raw ore is staggering, what I mean by that is is the amount of gold extracted from said amount of ore, a mid-range example of the ratio is 30 tonnes ore dug and treated to extract one ounce of gold, these mining giants dig giant open pits, the ore extracted is piled in to larges piles, this method of mining is also known as "Heap Mining", these heaps and piles of ore are than showered with a cyanide solution which separates out the gold and copper from the pile, this method is very effective but the legacy of death, water destruction and wildlife losses is staggering, you see folks this process of extracting copper and gold also releases other long since stored heavy metals, metals like lead, mercury, uranium and countless others, metals that end up being dumped in what is called tailing`s, and as you can see with the mid-range ratio of ore to gold there is a staggering amount of tailing`s. (Vancouver based mining companies accused of deliberate environmental damge,read it here)

That is where tailing ponds come into the picture, or in the case of many third world countries, rivers and the ocean is used for disposing of tailing`s, Canadian companies have been operating with impunity in countries around the world, countries where corrupt governments care not a wit about the environment or the long term and short term disasters, the horror stories I have read are numerous,too numerous to mention all but I will cite a few further along.

Hard rock mining in the United States generates more toxic waste than any other industry, according to the EPA (environmental protection agency) last year they estimated the cost to clean up metal mines would exceed $450 billion dollars, the problem is most of those mines are long since shut down and with mergers and transactions there is no one to pay for the clean-up except governments, time and time again mines are given permission to open pit mine with a promise to clean-up their mess but they are never required to hold in bond or trust anywhere near enough money to even start a clean-up, too many times to count where mining companies suddenly go bankrupt when the clean-up is supposed to ramp up!

Most open pit mining is done in third world countries like Ghana and Guatemala, these mining companies come with promises of jobs and prosperity but nothing could be further from the truth, the amount of jobs are always over stated as are the benefits, and almost always after these short term jobs end( 10 to 20 years) the people are left with dead rivers, heavy metal in ground water and scarred land not fit for animals,farming or human habitation.

An Interesting read about how mining companies overestimate the benefits and underestimate the true costs of these operations.(read it here)

Just one excerpt from the above article is this ....Economist Dr. Power did an extensive study about mining benefits in Alaska and how they were minuscule compared with the damage they cause......."Fort Knox mine recently poured its one millionth ounce of gold but has yet to pay one dollar in royalties to the government"

All in pursuit of gold, even today there is minimal industrial need for gold, 80% of all gold produced today is used for rings and trinkets, the world doesn`t need gold, are we as British Columbians prepared to spoil our land,water, fish for centuries for baubles and beads?

Recently a Philippine province sued the world`s fifth largest gold company, Canada based Placer Dome claiming they have destroyed a bay, a river and coral reef by dumping enough mining waste to fill to a convoy of trucks that could go encircle the world three times.

Even the world bank has got in on the folly of open pit mining, the world bank had a policy which is now under extreme scrutiny, the world bank would lend money to multi billion dollar companies(Like they need it) to start open pit mines in impoverished nations, the world bank thought the promised job creation was a fair trade-off, not near the amount of jobs claimed ever materialized and corrupt governments gain personal wealth and local people`s are left with less than they started with, left to live with a toxic environment, these open pit mines once they are exhausted are fenced up to keep people out but time after time poor local people go into these sites looking for dregs,looking for gold but finding nothing but early death caused by tunneling into heaps and slag piles only to became laden with chemicals, unfortunately death is not swift but a slow painful deterioration.

The lessons learned are painful, in the late 1990s Montana banned cyanide mining after shocking headlines of the open pit environmental disasters were shown the light of day,what happened there was a complex disaster involving bad science,regulatory gaps...The Zortman and Landusky open pit mines near the tiny towns with a population of 50 people were the first large scale open pit mines opened in the USA (1979) .....The Canadian mining company Pegasus made all the same claims, no harm no foul, but that was far from the truth, cyanide and heavy metals leached into water supplies and the area was left devastated, despite the continual claims from Pegasus to be a good corporate citizen, when it came time to put their money where their mouth was the top executives at Pegasus mining company got $5 million dollar bonuses only for the company to file for bankruptcy protection soon thereafter, another practice of these "good corporate citizens" is when a mine closes in on the end of the life of the said mine there is a sale of the mine to a "shell" company with no assets or at least none that can be accessed, ultimately the shell company claims bankruptcy and disappears, ultimately leaving the state,country,province with the mess and costs to clean-up, IF it can be cleaned up! I recommend that everyone read this piece by the New York Times I give it a 5 ***** rating for information,and shock value, after you read this story you will be almost ashamed to be a Canadian citizen!

Friends, the bottom line is this, Taseko mine isn`t going to build a replacement lake, the replacement lake will be when the giant pit has been exhausted and years later after with enough rainfall to fill the pit it will be one day,perhaps centuries be some sort of water body.

Access roads, giants trucks destroying roads, messing around with cyanide mining,cyanide and acid solutions, millions and millions of gallons of this toxic mix with tailing`s being put into Fish lake, that whole area in the Caribou Chilcotin is part of a larger watershed,the Fraser river watershed, you can`t poison Fish Lake in isolation, it`s part of a vast chain of lakes and ground water, we can`t as civilized beings contaminate lakes, lakes where migratory birds have been visiting for millennia, if there was ever a reason to incite or get involved in civil dis-obedience this is it, I of course am not recommending pitchforks in the street but I couldn`t get angry at anyone who did.
Economic activity, Canada has had plenty and what do we have to show for it, broke governments, citizens swamped in debt, parkinson`s law explains that, "I know Gordon Campbell is a third world monster hiding behind a carbon tax while he ravages our province", higher powers will deal with the premier but we as a nation,as Canadians can`t allow the wholesale destruction of our greatest resource, fresh,clean water full of abundant wildlife, rivers and lakes teeming with fish, as one bright contributor noted, "we can`t eat gold or drink oil".

Contact Canada`s Environment minister here--

Environment Canada here---

Tell the world my friends, Gordon Campbell and his muted zombie cabinet ministers have long since sold us down the river, now he`s taking away every last fish that inhabit those rivers!

The Straight Goods

Cheers-Eyes Wide Open


Gary E said...

Grant, this is a huge issue to me and any thing I have or knowledge you need I will give it freely. This debauchery has to be stopped. I will be posting and cross posting on my site whenever I can. The years I spent in the mining industry may be of some help.

Anonymous said...

What a horrible mess.

And the United Mine Workers of America among other similar BC unions support this project to increase their membership, which have close ties to the NDP.

No wonder the NDP doesn't care about the corrupt policies of the LIEberals and the environmental degradation.

And then there is the pollution of groundwater in northeast BC due to fracturing during natural gas drilling. Abominable.

Grant, you are right and the only people, AFAIK, who will stand up to this ecological mess would be the Green Party. There I said it and can't believe it.

A pox on both the LIEberals and the NDP for letting this goddam crap continue unabated.

Grant G said...

Well 9:15...I`m not so sure about that,this project has been trying on the books since 1969...
No provincial government thus far has okayed the project..

In case you haven`t noticed,Gordon Campbell is finished and he is selling as much as he can on his way out!

Having said that..Right now the NDP are in a pickle, no leadership and anything they say anti jobs the media rams it down their throat.

Lastly, why do you think Canadian mining companies have been poisoning third world countries for decades? Because governments in Canada wouldn`t allow it! Til Now, Campbell...Harper...And Paul Martin and (Chretian),it was a Federal Liberal government that changed the fisheries act to allow lakes to be used as toxic dump..(section 36--Mining/effluent rules)


Grant G said...

Forget to mention...I am not anti-mining,I`m anti-destroying pristine lakes and making them toxic soup....They can mine elsewhere and make their own pit for mine tailing`s away from the Fraser river watershed.

Maybe I`m old fashioned that way.

Leah said...

No Grant, you're not old fashioned that way. What you do have though, is good old fashioned common-sense...something NO politician or corporate lackey has these days. It's refreshing to see, and I wish it were as contagious as measles.

However; I feel I have to reply to some of the commentors who seem to think that the NDP are still beholden to the big unions, and that both are damn near demonic. Let it be known right here, that I am NOT NDP, nor liberal. Here are some links for you to read, hopefully it will open your eyes a little. The last link shows what the political contributions of Concert Properties have been - will that make a difference to opinion? I doubt it, old opinions die hard.

Read on to find out all about Concert Properties...unions are not all demonic, unless you want to include the liberal party in that statement.

Unknown said...

Gary and Grant - your blog is a welcome relief! We are working hard to get the word out and it's an uphill battle. Particularly when things happen like the Globe and Mail article on the weekend claiming BC is on the cusp of a mining boom, and then inaccurately portraying the Taseko mine as being now supported by First Nations ("companies assuaged them") and suggesting that the plan to create a man-made reservoir (I can't call it a lake) is somehow a new thing that makes it all okay (despite the science from groups like Stratus Consulting which say this plan is deeply flawed). It's vexing to say the least.

So, please keep us in the loop too... RAVEN (Respecting Aboriginal Values & Environmental Needs) wants to be part of the work to say this pristine eco-system and age old culture. My contact info is on the website.


BC Mary said...

Hi Grant,

I tried to leave another comment with NEWS 250 (Prince George) last evening but evidently the thread is closed off. But 4 of us did leave some careful bits of information ... such as that processing the Gold and Copper requires ARSENIC and that both FISH LAKE and LITTLE FISH LAKE are in watershed areas. Nice, eh. But people must be told these things.

So I looked up Williams Lake Tribune, and by gosh if they weren't high-fiving about having Gordo Government's environmental approval for the wonderfully-named Prosperity Mine. So I left an arsenic item for them too, and talked about the devastation being created around the world where this kind of "environmental approval" because in impoverished nations, it comes easy.

Then I came upon a report by a psychologist talking about the psychopaths who are in the top jobs, whether government, police, business, whatever ... I'll go look it up again, and send it to you.

Very thankful that you're shining some strong light on these things, Grant. It's very much appreciated. And it's so important.

BC Mary said...

About the psychopaths who lead us:

Gary E said...

Bit of a correction Mary. Its Cyanide. Mercury is also sometimes used.
Also the Williams Lake Tribune came out in Favor of this mine last year. And the Chamber of Commerce is almost rabidly for it. Its all about the money.
As Grant has stated I too am not anti mining. I was a miner. What I am dead set against is the killing off of a natural lake all for the money.

Grant G said...

Susan----(Saanu Dang Glidang)...I will be doing more on this story...Read all the links in this story, the first one about Canadian Mining People being murdered, it appears local people in those countries have had enough, Canadian mining companies are AFRAID in those countries, this may well be a start of a much larger trend.

Canadian mining companies have come home, come home where they THINK they won`t be murdered,you know,the passive Canadian.

I too am a friend of the RAVEN, and the Salmon,and spirit bear,my word is iron.