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Archive for the ‘environmental’ Category

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In my last week in southern Spain, we took a walking tour of Rota, the town just besides the Spanish Naval Base where four United States Destroyers are soon to be stationed.  The folk of Rota organized and paid for the tour which included a Spanish breakfast and lunch tapas.  I enjoyed the beer that came with the tapas. Some reflections on Spain now that I am on my way back to North America: Everything is well designed, but nothing works properly.  (more…)

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Today I took the ferry across the bay from Puerto Santa Maria to Cadiz.  Took a bike and rode around the city sea-wall and around the old city center.  It is a great ride around the sea-wall.  It reminds one of the age of some engineering works. For here we have fortifications that have been four hundred years in the making.  I saw forts and castles built three hundred years ago to defend the city from the French, the Brits, and the Dutch, who attacked at different times.

It reminds us that closure of tailings facilities for 100 or even 200 years is but the outcome of the short history of North America, and not something founded in a profound perspective of real long-term history.  Clearly we can build facilities that last four-hundred years.  The people of Cadiz did.

True defense of their small city was a survival issue.  And true that closure of most mine tailings facilities is not anybody’s defense or survival issue.  I accept that social  utility may be the basis of a rejection of a long closure performance period.  But after seeing what I saw today, I cannot accept the reason too often given: we do not know how and cannot do it.

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I am in Guatemala and at the Tahoe Resources Escobal Silver Mine. I have previously noted that I and my daughter are the engineers who designed and now give advice on the operation of the filter-pressed tailings stack. Much credit must also go to Flor de Maria Gonzalez and Sergio Aycinena of Geosimsa who are the engineers of record in Guatemala. We have worked closely with them these past four years and both have proven sound partners. Particularly Flor who as a young woman has made her mark by her excellence in a male-dominated Guatemalan mining environment. (more…)

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Please take a look at the photo-essay at this link before reading the rest of this posting.  The photo-essay is of work done to get the Bingham Canyon Mine going after the very big slide they had a while ago.  It is heartening to see the effort and success.  I hope it puts you in a good mood, at least a good enough mood to deal with the rest of this posting. I do not know whether to be amused or angry about the new site Yes to Life, No to Mining.  At one level it is ludicrous.  At another level it is infuriating.  As the announcement says: (more…)

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Travelling in northern Peru we chanced on Chavin de Huantar.  We wondered around; I took pictures; and only now have I gotten down to reading on the web about the site.  This place is old, and gives some idea of just how long we could design mine closure works for if we choose.  Here is what Wikipedia says (more…)

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The first day of presentations at the Tailings and Mine Waste 2014 Conference.  Gordon McPhail delivered a talk in honor of Geoff Blight, who passed away earlier this year.  Geoff made so many contributions to tailings that we were talking for at least an hour about him and his genius.  I honor him here in the only way I know:  record my opinion that he was one of the great of tailings. (more…)

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Foto: Peter Öhman

The translation above the pictures reads:

It doesn’t matter that it is Sweden’s most modern mine, built according to environmental laws, which the Government says is the world’s strongest. In addition, Northlands mine outside Pajala is a financial flop, it is now also an ecological disaster.
One million cubic metres of water with toxic heavy metals such as nickel, cadmium, lead, copper, and more flows straight out of the wrecked mine dam to Muonioälven and later the Torne River, which is classified as a national river.

At this link you will find four photos that appear to show the breach of the perimeter embankment or dike and spillage of tailings into the surrounding countryside.  Above is one of them.

The reports make little mention of the causes of failure.  Although the four pictures appear to show more than one breach.  A posting on Facebook dates the failure as 19 July 2014.

Please comment if you know more.

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