Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Guest article: A Postscript on Weird Timing and Pending Collapse

By Louis Galdieri*
Posted on Louis Galdieri's blog Oct. 2, 2014
Reprinted here with permission

Since I wrote my last post on Eagle Mine, I’ve been thinking about the thing I most wanted to say and never managed to say. I’d hoped in that post to call attention to the weird timing of Conibear’s announcement, but I couldn’t quite figure out how to do that. The company announced the start of mining operations in the Yellow Dog Plains right in the wake of the People’s Climate March, and during a week when world leaders were gathered at the UN to discuss the global climate crisis and acknowledge the fragile condition of the biosphere.

The Eagle announcement never takes any of that into account. It makes some predictable noises about environmental responsibility. You don’t have to listen very hard to hear the dissonance.

Hands up during the 12:58 moment of silence at the People's Climate March. Just before this, a group led a chant that went something like: "Keep the tar sands in the ground / Close the mines and shut them down." Other than that I didn't hear too much talk about mining at the march. (Photo and caption © and courtesy Louis Galdieri. Reprinted with permission.)

That this mining operation poses an immediate threat to the Yellow Dog watershed hardly needs saying. As I mentioned in my last post, Lundin Mining cannot point to a nickel and copper mining operation in the U.S. or Canada that has not polluted groundwater or surrounding waters, and there is no reason to believe that Eagle will be the magical exception -- despite the company’s claims that the water they are discharging is drinkable.** No one who makes that statement should be taken seriously, let alone believed, unless he follows it with a nice big glass of minewater, and fetches one for the kids while he’s at it.

Eagle is just the start. The bigger mining, leasing and exploration boom all around Lake Superior only magnifies the threat. One of the busiest mining operations in the world is about to be staged around one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world. The timing couldn’t be worse. Freshwater ecosystems are under greater pressure than ever before. Just this week, the Living Planet Index reported a 76 percent decline in freshwater species since 1970. That alarming statistic is one very clear indication of pending environmental collapse, and reason enough to protect Lake Superior from any further encroachments by risky mining operations.

It’s disconcerting, too, that the new mining around Lake Superior was spurred, in no small part, by Chinese growth and urbanization, which put a new premium on copper and nickel; and of course urbanization in China -- which starts with pouring cement and raising stainless steel -- will only aggravate emissions, further compromise China’s freshwater resources, and hasten environmental collapse. It is hard to see how this can end well, and it’s difficult for me to understand why anyone would pretend it is sustainable.

The weirdest twist in all this may be that this new mining operation goes into production just as China appears to be slowing down, after two decades of heady growth. As a result, "money managers are bearish on copper," reports Bloomberg’s Luzi Ann Javier in a review of commodity ETFs; and "global inventories of nickel tracked by the London Metal Exchange are at an all-time high." There is a glut. The warehouses are full. Right now, at least, it looks as if the rush is over.

Editor's Notes:

* Guest author Louis Galdieri is a filmmaker based in New York City. He and fellow filmmaker Ken Ross visited Houghton, Mich., in October 2013 and screened their documentary 1913 Massacre, about the Italian Hall tragedy, at Michigan Tech University's Writing Across the Peninsula Conference, where Keweenaw Now interviewed them. (Inset: October 2013 Keweenaw Now photo of Louis Galdieri, speaking during interview at Michigan Tech.)

** See Louis Galdieri's Sept. 28, 2014, post, "Does Eagle Mine Have Social License to Operate?"


cousin jack said...

Hello Louis:

Thanks for your input, better late than never. You should have been here in 2006 when the permitting proceedings began. We showed clear evidence that the application was fraudulent - based on design data which had been manipulated to deceive. Our mining experts, and theirs, agreed that stability of the mine would not be assured, that there is real danger of the "Sudden and unexpected collapse" which MSHA Chief Joe Main now vows will never happen again. He remains silent on this Eagle mine issue.

The Kennecott plan that people will forget is working out for them, so far. A very small group of us is still striving to emphasize not the details, the red herrings, but the basic mining laws and consequences for those, including corporations and government agencies and officers,
who have colluded to approve,support, and reward the multi-billion dollar crime, and to ignore the threats to people and environment.
Details are readily available.

Jack Parker, Mining Engineer, Twin Lakes MI 49965

lvgaldieri said...

Hi Jack,

First, thanks for taking the time to read and respond to my post, which Michelle kindly offered to put up on Keweenawnow.

I've been doing my best to follow developments in the UP and all around Lake Superior, and blogging about the new mining for a year. I've gathered my posts on the topic here.

Yes, I missed the permitting in 2006 (my attention was still on 1913 back then). I can't claim to have made up for lost time. I've traveled to the UP and Minnesota to explore the mining issue a couple of times, and written about your work as well (notably here). I am always interested in learning more.

I hope we have a chance to meet sometime. The mining industry has its own conferences and gatherings; there ought to be a way people outside the industry can come together and talk about what's happening around the Lake and make plans for a better future.

Louis V. Galdieri

cousin jack said...