A tiny Alaska town is split over a goldmine. At stake is a way of life

In Haines, where the salmon once leaped under snow-capped mountains, a massive mining project promises well-paid jobs – and threatens a fragile ecosystem

by  in Haines, Alaska, for The Guardian.
Tue 22 Jun 2021 

For 2,000 years, Jones Hotch’s ancestors have fished Alaska’s Chilkat River for the five species of salmon that spawn in its cold, clean waters. They have gathered berries, hunted moose and raised their families, sheltered from the extremes of winter by the black, saw-toothed peaks of the Iron Mountain.

Now Hotch fears a proposed mining project could end that way of life.

Hotch has an infectious, boyish laugh – but there is no mistaking how worried he is about plans to build a mine where millions of pounds of zinc, copper, lead, silver and gold are buried, beneath the valleys’ mountains. We arejust miles from the headwaters of the Chilkat, the glacial river that serves as the main food source of the Tlingit, the region’s Indigenous people, as well as the inhabitants of Haines, the nearest port town.

“You guys might have your Safeway,” he says, waving his arm across the valley. “There’s ours all around here.”

Hotch, a tribal leader, lives in Klukwan, a village that takes its name from the Tlingit phrase “Tlakw Aan” – “the village that has always been”. It is the hub of an ancient trading route – later known as the Dalton Trail – that runs from Haines to Fort Selkirk in Canada.

Here in south-east Alaska, the consequences of the climate crisis are already visible. “Our mountains used to be snow-capped all year round,” Hotch said. “Two summers ago, our mountains were almost totally bare.” In Haines, hardware stores sold out of box fans because it was so hot.

Continue reading at The Guardian.


These 12 B.C. mines pose risks to salmon, caribou, water: report

Provincial rules and regulations continue to permit pollution in important watersheds and allow development without consent from First Nations

By Matt Simmons (Local Journalism Initiative Reporter) for The Narwhal
May 17, 2021  11 min. read

A new report released by SkeenaWild Conservation Trust and the BC Mining Law Reform network finds that the province’s mining rules and regulations have left a patchwork of dangerous and polluting mines across B.C.

B.C.’s mineral resources are sought after to support the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, but the province’s mining rules and regulations — some of which date back to the 1800s — have left a patchwork of dangerous and polluting mines across the province, according to a new report released Monday by SkeenaWild Conservation Trust and the BC Mining Law Reform Network.

The report highlights 12 operating, closed and proposed mines in B.C. that are either currently polluting or have high potential to do so.

An aerial view of the tailings facility at the Copper Mountain mine near Princeton, B.C. The mine recently applied to increase the height of the tailings pond to 255 metres, taller than Vancouver’s highest skyscraper. Photo: Andrew Roberts

“We agree to environmental harms when we agree to mining, but they can be better regulated and we can have measures in place so that communities and watersheds are less at risk,” Nikki Skuce, director of Northern Confluence and co-founder of the BC Mining Law Reform Network, said in an interview.

Continue reading here.


A lithium mine in my backyard?

By Mike Soraghan | 11/08/2021 with E&E News Energywire

CROUSE, N.C. — Locke Bell steps nimbly over rocks and slick leaves, pushing aside the branches of small, thin trees.

There’s a clearing ahead, across an old wire fence, that might just hold the future of the U.S. auto industry.

The land here on the outskirts of Charlotte is owned by a company called Piedmont Lithium Inc., which wants to dig four 500-foot-deep pit mines. The operation would produce and process enough lithium to power more than half a million electric vehicles a year.

But the company’s proposal is shaping up as a big test of how willing Americans will be to accept the dirty side of clean energy.

More than 150 landowners have signed on, agreeing to sell or lease their land and homes in a sign of support or at least acceptance.

But plenty of folks in this rural pocket aren’t willing to go that far. They don’t want the persistent blasting, traffic, dust and environmental degradation that comes with pit mining. It’s the kind of opposition that has dogged fossil fuel projects in the past and isn’t going away just because the projects now support clean energy such as electric vehicles.

Here in Gaston County, company officials say they’re planning “the world’s most sustainable lithium project.” But opponents don’t trust those assurances.

Count Bell among them. Walking through dense woods on his property, he comes to a creek burbling after a night of rain. He stops and points down.

“Every bit of this would go dry,” says Bell, who recently retired. He’s stopped and is pointing down at a burbling creek that runs under the old fence from the mine site onto his neighboring property. “It’s a disaster waiting to happen.”

Continue reading at E&E News.

 

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