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Archive for the ‘Cyanide’ Category

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This week I had reason to go back and re-read three papers I co-authored in the early 1980s.  It is surprising how far advanced we were then, and how little things have changed, or how little of what did has become standard practice. The first paper is at this link.  Rick Call was the lead on the work we describe in this paper.  He was a large buff man, with an enormous beard, a perpetual pipe, and a totally irreverent attitude towards authority.  He sent Ned Larson and me to Texas, where we sweated through the heat to get the data.  Then back to Tucson to do the calculations.  I recently reconnected with Ned who is now in Las Vegas and the grandfather of sixteen grandchildren.  He is still with the U.S. Department of Energy which he joined after working with me for five years on the UMTRA Project in Albuquerque.  He is a great engineer, as was Rick. (more…)

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Environmental disaster looms in after tailings failure

Barely another day, and another failure of a tailings dam.  And a slew of denials and lies from those responsible.  Here is part of the longest report I can find on the incident: (more…)

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The Colorado Supreme Court has just restored sanity to mining in Colorado.  Basically the justices decided that the state has a “dominant interest” in the regulation of mining activities and individual counties cannot go doing all sorts of weird and wonderful things to regulate mining.

At this link is the report that tells of the court’s decision to overturned a ban on the use of cyanide in mining in Summit County.  Here is a bit more on the story:

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Is the Colorado Mining Association just being cautious or coy in not coming to the rescue of a politician who once stood up for the use of cyanide?   Here are some of my thoughts on the scrap to get to Congress between three Colorado politicians who are invoking, or failing to invoke, their past support for or hatred of the mining industry. 

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Christopher Lind, a theologian at some Toronto University writes a try-to-feel-good attack on mining entitled Mining Companies Challenged by Demands of Ecojustice.  Because he attacks without substance, I feel it fair to counter with vigour.  The good Anglican starts by asking a perfectly reasonable question: 

Is social justice compatible with environmental justice? If social justice requires economic expansion and environmental justice requires industrial regulation, aren’t these two concerns moving in the opposite direction?  

Sadly he does not answer his question, or even begin to analyse the issues involved in this obvious conflict.  Instead he takes a few low pitches, routine mumblings really, at oil prices, cyanide, tailings in lakes, Canadian mines doing bad things in South America, and then in a crescendo of irrelevance concludes:

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From the Costa Rica Tico Times comes a long article on the human impact of the closure of the Glencairn Bellavista mine as a result of the downhill sliding of the heap leach pad. 

As told in the Tico Time we learn of the joys of a mine bringing money and employment to the locals, only to have the mine shut down a year or two later.  We learn of folk who foretold the fiasco the mine has become.  We learn that the Costa Rican government has four to ten million dollars of the mine’s equipment locked up as a sort of security to fix the situation.  It takes no great insight to predict that it will cost a lot more than that to restore the site to some sort of acceptable condition–it is clearly geomorphically unstable, and topographic change is inevitable. 

The story as told superbly by reporter,  Dave Sherwood,  presents a challenge to all professors of Sustainable Mining: in short, explain this one in theoretical terms.  The story presents a challenge to those who seek to hold Canadian mining companies operating in foreign countries to the same standards as mines in Canada; in short, to which Toronto court would you now drag the newly named company, Central Sun Mining (formerly Glencairn.) And it presents a challenge to investors: are you prepared to put more money behind Peter Tagliamonte as he seeks to open a new mine in Nicaragua. 

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The Bellavista Heap Leach Pad is failing: the whole mass appears to be sliding down the hill.  Since we first wrote about this situation, things appear to have progressed downhill, both institutionally and physically. 

The company that developed the mine, Glencairn, appears to have or is about to: (a) suffer a share value decline; (b) post a loss; (c) change its management; (d) change its name: (e)abandon Costa Rica; and (f) flee to Nicaragua.  At least that is what I read from this news report:

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