MAC/20: Mines and Communities

New calls for uranium ban in New Brunswick while Newmont gets clean-up bill

Published by MAC on 2008-07-28

Environmental groups demand uranium ban

Adam Bowie, The Daily Gleaner

25th July 2008

More than 30 environmental groups are pressuring the provincial government to ban uranium exploration and mining in New Brunswick.

The groups say they're against any uranium activity in the province, despite the recent implementation of new guidelines for exploration.

The guidelines banned mining companies from staking claims near any communities, free-standing buildings or near provincial watersheds.

The new legislation also changed the way companies could stake land claims, forcing them to make claims electronically instead of physically placing blue ribbons on the property.

Inka Milewski, the Conservation Council of New Brunswick's health-watch director and science adviser, said the province isn't listening to what New Brunswickers want.

"While we applaud added protections to watersheds, the government is missing the point," she said.

"In light of long-term radiological dangers from drill cores, trenching and bulk sampling, we want a ban on uranium exploring in New Brunswick. Several municipalities and groups have issued calls to ban uranium exploration and mining, and it's time for the government to listen."

Randy Nason of the Grand Lake Watershed Guardians said the province should allow New Brunswickers to participate more in a review of the Mining Act.

"Public participation processes lead to regulations that best reflect public concerns," he said.

"Nova Scotia, Quebec and Ontario have conducted recent public participation processes in reviews of their mining regulations. We demand no less."


New Uranium Rules Not Enough:

Government needs to ban uranium and overhaul the outdated N.B. Mining Act

24th July 2008 

Over thirty citizen environmental groups are renewing calls to immediately ban uranium exploration and mining in the province.

"While we applaud added protections to watersheds, the government is missing the point. In light of long-term radiological dangers from drill cores, trenching and bulk sampling, we want a ban on uranium exploring in New Brunswick. Several municipalities and groups have issued calls to ban uranium exploration and mining and it's time for the government to listen," stated Inka Milewski, Health Watch Director and Science Advisor for the Conservation Council of New Brunswick.

"There are several flaws in the new uranium rules. The move from blue ribbon staking to an electronic claims staking system will keep property owners in the dark about any claims made on their property. This is especially worrisome for those who do not have online access to the information," stated Randy Nason of the Grand Lake Watershed Guardians.

Environmental groups are encouraging the government to genuinely include the public in their review of the N.B.'s outdated Mining Act. "Public participation processes lead to regulations that best reflect public concerns. Nova Scotia, Quebec and Ontario have conducted recent public participation processes in reviews of their mining regulations. We demand no less," stated Nason.

"The Mining Act should be amended to include required consultation with members of the public including municipalities, landowners, Aboriginal people, ecologists and environmental organizations at all phases of mining including claim staking," added Nason.

"Besides mandatory public consultation, the public would be surprised to learn that quarries and exploration do not require Environmental Impact Assessments in this province. Since all mining activities and phases involve an environmental impact, we want to see it all subject to an EIA," stated Inka Milewski.

"There is only one inspector in the Department of Natural Resources and more than 38,000 claims. The Department needs more resources to properly inspect sites. Uranium exploration guidelines announced last month should be turned into enforceable standards and regularly monitored. The government must also undertake a cost-benefits analysis of exploration that includes the impacts to our valuable ecosystem services," added Milewski.

Inka Milewski, Health Watch Director and Science Advisor, Conservation Council of New Brunswick, 506 622-2460

Randy Nason, Grand Lake Watershed Guardians, 506 339-5448 In Fredericton, Tracy Glynn, Conservation Council of NB, 506 458-8747 (available after 12 noon)

See list of groups endorsing uranium ban here: http://nuclearfreenb.org/2008/05/13/a-responsible-stand-against-uranium-mining-in-new-brunswick/


OPP INVESTIGATING URANIUM SITE VISITORS

The Kingston-Whig Standard

23rd July 2008

"As many as 30 people who turned up at the controversial uranium mine site near Sharbot Lake yesterday could find themselves in hot water for violating a court injunction.

OPP Sgt. Kristine Rae said the group turned up at the gate to the site around 8:30 a. m. and left of their accord about an hour later.

A court injunction, which prohibits protesters from getting within 200 metres of the proposed mine site or any Frontenac Ventures employees, remains in place.

There was no confrontation with police, but the Ontario Provincial Police is investigating the incident."

On July 22, CCAMU was contacted by the OPP. A formal OPP statement was pending for the Uranium News. The officer claimed that there would be charges laid as FVC filed a formal complaint about the action on Monday. The OPP did not interfere with the action, as they did not see it as a threat to public safety.

The OPP officer said that it was important for people to know that they are not immune to charges simply because of Appeal Courts ruling. They ruled on the sentencing and did not strike down the injunction it's self.

The Uranium News received the following statement from the OPP at 5 pm, July 24, 2008,

"Frontenac Ventures has advised that they do not intend to prosecute those involved at the gathering in front of the gate at the Robertsville site on Monday. Therefore, the OPP will not be issuing summonses."

A more detailed OPP statement is still pending but it is yet to be finalized.


Ontario First Nations demand firm right to say 'no' to mining developments

Government's pledge draws skepticism

Kerry Gillespie, The Toronto Star

16th July 2008

On the day in May that native leader Bob Lovelace was released from jail after spending 100 days there for blocking mining exploration, he was asked if he'd do it again.

He replied: "If you don't have the right to say, 'No,' you have no right at all."

This week, the province has said it's giving First Nations that right through land protection for the Far North and changes to the outdated mining act.

"We think exploration and mine development should only happen when there's been early consultation and accommodation with local aboriginal communities," Premier Dalton McGuinty said Monday when he announced half the province's vast Northern Boreal region would be protected from development.

If native communities "permit" mining on the lands left open to development, they'll "get a piece of the action" under resource revenue sharing agreements that will be part of the reformed mining act, McGuinty said.

But the lawyer for Lovelace, an Ardoch Algonquin, and six members of the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI), who were also jailed for opposing mining, isn't so sure the political language will turn into firm commitments when the legislation is introduced in the fall.

"Consultation and accommodation can take many forms," lawyer Chris Reid said in an interview. ``What we've said is make it very simple and clear: No staking, and no exploration without the consent of affected First Nations communities. Are they saying that? Not that I can see in the announcement."

The specific language hasn't been written yet. It will be worked out, in collaboration with First Nations, in the coming months, Aboriginal Affairs Minister Michael Bryant said.

But the intent is to ensure that native people don't go to jail to stop mining, he said.

"We want to avoid that from ever happening again," Bryant said in an interview yesterday. He is to address the Assembly of First Nations meeting today in Quebec City.

Under the Ontario Mining Act of 1873, anyone 18 or older can obtain a prospector's licence and stake mineral claims on land in Ontario. Companies can explore without consulting native communities.

Under the reformed act, "there will be no situation where exploration will take place on traditional territories or sacred burial grounds without the consent of First Nations, without the consultation of First Nations and that is a very, very significant shift," Bryant said.


Judge: Mining company liable for pollution at former uranium mine

One of the world's biggest mining companies is partly responsible for cleaning up massive pollution at a former uranium mine on the Spokane...

Warren Cornwall, Seattle Times

16th July 2008

One of the world's biggest mining companies is partly responsible for cleaning up massive pollution at a former uranium mine on the Spokane Indian Reservation, a federal judge has ruled.

The ruling Monday by U.S. District Judge Justin Quackenbush of Spokane was a victory for the federal government and tribal officials, who have been trying to ensure that Colorado-based Newmont Mining Corp. help pay for a cleanup that could cost $152 million.

Federal lawyers had argued that Newmont was liable for cleanup costs under the federal Superfund law, because it had control over part of the mining operations through a subsidiary, Dawn Mining Co.

A Newmont official did not respond to requests for comment. The company has claimed in court documents that while it was a majority owner of Dawn, it didn't make day-to-day decisions about how the mine operated.

The judge still must decide how much of the cleanup costs Newmont is responsible for. Dawn Mining and the U.S. government have already been named as partly responsible for the pollution.

The ruling, which could be appealed, might help jump-start cleanup of the defunct mine, which has leaked radioactive and toxic chemicals into nearby streams, soil, plants and animals.

Over 27 years, starting in 1954, miners blasted away 38 million tons of rock and uranium ore from a mountain at the center of the Spokane Tribes' remote reservation, northwest of Spokane.

Today, two cavernous craters, holding toxic ponds, sit in the middle of the mine site. A water-treatment plant filters water that leaks from the ponds to keep pollution from reaching nearby streams.

But over the years, enough contaminants, including uranium, have leached into plants and nearby creeks that one federal study estimated a person eating plants and animals from the area and using the water for sweat lodges could have a 1 in 5 chance of getting cancer.

Tribal attorney Shannon Work said that with the court's ruling, the tribe hopes that those responsible "will now step up and begin the much-needed cleanup."

Warren Cornwall: 206-464-2311 or wcornwall@seattletimes.com

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