Tomorrow's mining news and an important documentary

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I’m Ian Morse, and this is Green Rocks, a newsletter that doesn’t want dirty mining to ruin clean energy.

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Tomorrow, in the aftershock of a second impeachment, we’ll hear whether Trump’s administration gives the green light to two mining projects.

A lithium project in Nevada, owned by Lithium Americas and called Thacker Pass, is expected to receive final approval.

A copper project in Arizona will see the final environmental impact assessment published. When that happens, by a 2014 law, the US government will give Resolution Copper the land needed to start its mine.

The San Carlos Apache sued the US government on Tuesday, alleging that the land transfer cannot happen because of an 1852 treaty, and that the US government violated constitutional and religious rights.

Shareholders of Rio Tinto and BHP are pushing for the companies to explain how they intend to protect the environment at the Resolution Copper project. On Monday, the company said they completed a $75 million restoration project at another Arizona copper mine to demonstrate their “commitment to operating safely and responsibly, in a way that brings lasting benefits to the entire community.”

In addition, the outgoing administration is finalizing a rule change that would allow mining projects to receive fast-track permitting. The law, known as FAST-41, was intended for utility projects, not mines, according to Reuters. Biden’s administration may need years to change it back.

The Green Rocks Map

Watch this documentary. In a bunch of bite-size videos, it manifests through characters and culture the real destruction of an island by way of the copper and gold Panguna Mine. It lies on Bougainville Island, which elected its first president on the same day that Tesla held its Battery Day, when mining was again cast as a climate mission.

Eye on Industry

  • A judge has convicted a Canadian nickel mine’s former head of security for the fatal shooting of an Indigenous community leader in Guatemala in 2009.

  • The Philippines banned mining activity on an island “mined out” of nickel and in need of restoration, the government said.

  • Norway is considering whether to begin mining its own seabed for metals it says are needed for clean energy tech, like copper and zinc.

  • A uranium mine has ceased operations after 40 years of extraction in Aboriginal lands. The Mirarr Traditional Owners in the Northern Territory of Australia are pushing to extend the “currently inadequate” five-year remediation process, which includes addressing 40 years of broken promises about social benefits.

  • Lawmakers in Minnesota are proposing a rule that would require miners to prove that similar mines have operated safely elsewhere before they receive permits for mines in the state.

  • Cornish Lithium, which may lead the UK’s production of the metal, is looking to drill into the sea floor to extract lithium from the same geothermal rock that would power its machinery.

  • Just before Christmas, anti-mining activists attacked a community relations employee of an Ecuadoran copper-gold project owned by two Toronto-listed companies. The employee survived with scrapes across his body.

  • Albemarle, the world’s biggest lithium producer, is doubling production at its Nevada facility, a step toward boosting domestic critical metals.

  • Zambia is in final negotiations to buy Swiss miner Glencore’s share of the Mopani copper mine, saying it seeks to protect the workers’ jobs at the mine.

  • Mongolia is threatening to shut down a major Rio Tinto project for copper in the country due to construction delays and cost blowouts.

  • Alaska’s governor plans to appeal the decision to deny a water permit to the Pebble copper and gold mine, which was found to be “not to be in the public interest” in August.

  • Chile is threatening Albemarle with legal action if it does not release data on its lithium reserves in the Atacama Salt Flat.


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Thanks for reading! I’m Ian Morse, and this is Green Rocks, a newsletter that doesn’t want dirty mining to ruin clean energy.

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