Mining is risky business. Some major international mining companies have billions of dollars of investment at stake in their project portfolios. Last week, Ernst & Young (E&Y) released their annual Business Risks Facing Mining and Metals report. Topping this year’s list are concepts laden with financial jargon like cash optimization and capital access. Related listed challenges involve techniques for penny pinching or turning some money in to more money. Yet, E&Y’s report also reveals some of the greatest risks mining companies and their investors face having nothing to do with markets, commodity prices, or the boom and bust cycle. In fact, in any economy, these major risks are completely avoidable.
Last week, we filed suit against the National Park Service for allowing oil and gas exploration activities in Florida’s Big Cypress National Preserve. Located adjacent to the Everglades, the Big Cypress National Preserve is a national treasure, home to an array of endangered species and a special place enjoyed by many for its recreational, educational, and aesthetic value.
If you have ever seen the film Psycho, you understand vulnerability in the shower. Imagine waking up in the morning, still groggy from last night’s sleep, you waddle over to the shower, remove your clothes and turn on the faucet. Suddenly, an explosion!
This week, the House Natural Resources subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held a hearing entitled, “Exploring 21st Century Mining Safety, Environmental Control, and Technological Innovation”. There is no question mining has undergone sweeping technological changes since the era of picks and shovels- men pursuing their Manifest Destiny by seeking their fortunes from the gold buried in the hills. Nowadays, mining relies heavily on remotely controlled automation, wireless monitoring, drones and virtual reality goggles designed to reduce costs and improve safety.
This week, our friends with Clean Water Action, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Powder River Basin Resource Council, and New Mexico Environmental Law Center petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to perform a wholesale rewrite of their rules protecting underground sources of drinking water (USDW).
The hardrock mining (think gold, copper, uranium, rare earths) trade lobby has made a career of trying to convince Congress that the the federal mine permitting process is so burdensome as to chase away those who would otherwise invest in mineral development in the United States. When asked for proof of this “problem” they point to the interminable permitting process for new mines: they claim it can take the better part of a decade to permit a mine.
Last August, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a draft of their long-awaited study of water pollution from fracking. Readers of the 1000+ page voluminous report were treated to a parade of horribles describing numerous incidents of water contamination from across the country.
In his first budget since last year’s devastating Gold King Mine spill, President Obama proposes to help prevent future toxic mine spills by requiring the hardrock mining (e.g. copper, gold) industry to fund the cleanup of its old mines, just like the coal mining industry has for nearly two generations.