West Virginia - At 9:00 A.M. sharp on August 10, a small phalanx of smiling, well-coiffed elderly women began herding a crowd of several dozen people into the auditorium of the National Mine Health and Safety Academy in Beckley, West Virginia. Among the crowd were former coal miners and their spouses, lawyers, pulmonologists, black lung clinic staff, environmental activists, local media, union representatives, and concerned citizens — all there to attend a public hearing for a new proposed rule from the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) that seeks to limit silica exposure in the nation’s coal mines to 50 micrograms per cubic meter, down from 100.
The Canadian Mining Journal, an industry magazine catered to insiders, has released its annual ranking of Canada’s top 40 miners. Describing 2022 as “a remarkable year” for Canada’s largest mining companies, editor Tamer Elboki praised the Canadian mining sector for “prov[ing] to be as solid and robust as it could be” in the face of the pandemic and geopolitical instability. In 2021, Canada’s top 40 mining companies raked in revenues of $143 billion from mines peppered throughout the world. Last year, these firms made a record $177 billion in revenues—an increase of $34 billion—amid government efforts to increase mining development within Canada and abroad.
As Canada’s governments hungrily scour domestic and foreign territory in search of critical minerals—an essential part of Ottawa’s new Cold War on China—Ontario Premier Doug Ford is attempting to spin demand into a provincial mining boom. Ontario’s first-ever Critical Minerals Strategy (CMS), announced alongside a federal initiative of the same name, proclaims that the province is “incredibly fortunate” and “blessed with exquisite deposits of nickel, lithium, platinum, cobalt and dozens of other strategically important raw materials.” Ford’s economic policies are catering to mining companies that yearn for unfettered access to these resource supplies, even as Indigenous communities organize to resist the extractivist bonanza.
With immediate effect, the Republic of Niger, under the leadership of new president General Abdourahamane Tchiani, and supported by the people of the country, announced the suspension of the export of uranium and gold to France on Sunday. In parallel to the decision, protestors were surrounding the French Embassy in Niger calling for the end of French colonial practices repeating the slogan “Down with France!” and reaffirming their support to the coup leader, Tchiani. Wazobia Reporters, a Nigerien news website,reported one protestor proclaiming “We have uranium, diamonds, gold, oil, and we live like slaves? We don’t need the French to keep us safe.”
A National Labor Relations Board administrative law judge has strongly blasted the Warrior Met coal company in its long-running dispute over a new contract with the United Mine Workers—a dispute which led bosses to lock out the firm’s 1,100 miners for more than a year and a half. The judge formally ruled the firm’s unfair labor practices provoked the conflict. In an 88-page ruling, ALJ Melissa Olivero came down particularly hard on company officials for claiming they couldn’t afford the union’s demands for raises in each year of a new contract, and the union’s tries at reclaiming the givebacks the workers had to yield to keep the firm going when it was the old, and bankrupt, Jim Walter mine.
My blood is as black as coal. We’re all miners in my family: niece, daughter, granddaughter, sister, cousin, wife, mother... It’s not like I was born with a piece of coal in my hand, but almost, like everybody else in these parts. When the coal mine shut down, it was a total disaster. There was no work. Young people started to leave, the villages became desolate, businesses closed. You carry those roots deep inside you. We are a different kind of people. We see things from a different perspective. You get used to living with fear. You make it your ally. When I was little I saw how nervous my mother was for my father. Later I was the same when my husband and my son also went down the mines.
Maurice, you and I have talked many times for Black Agenda Report about the wartorn northeastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), North and South Kivu and Ituri. We’ve talked about the Rwandan and Ugandan military aggressors, but in the southeastern provinces—which were once a single province called Katanga—there’s a different, equally horrific kind of violence going on in the vast cobalt mines that we haven’t talked about here. That’s the violence against hundreds of thousands of artisanal miners living in the most horrific conditions, the equivalent of slavery except that they can't be bought and sold.
Merthyr (South Wales) Limited started operating Ffos-y-Fran, located about 25 miles north of Cardiff, in 2007. It is the UK’s largest opencast coal mine. However, after 15 years of opposition from local residents and ecological campaigners, Merthyr was supposed to stop mining on 6 September 2022. When the day arrived, though, the company simply applied for an extension and continued taking coal from the ground, causing despair for residents and campaigners. Then, on 26 April, Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council unanimously rejected the extension. This should have stopped Merthyr completely.
Approximately two thousand illegal miners have been evicted from Yapacana National Park, located in the state of Amazonas, as part of the National Bolivarian Armed Force’s (FANB) Operation Autana 2023 aimed at protecting the Amazon rainforest. “The FANB, as a whole, acts in the defense of the Amazon, of the national parks,” said Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro during the broadcast of his Con Maduro + program this week. “Do you know how many illegal miners there are in that area? More than ten thousand. We have already evicted almost two thousand.”
Rising demand for metals like nickel, cobalt, copper and manganese to make batteries used in smartphones and electric vehicles, along with depleting land-based deposits, has led to increased interest in deep-sea mining. But research suggests that the process of extracting mineral deposits from the ocean floor could destroy habitats and decimate species. According to a new report from British nonprofit financial think tank Planet Tracker, mining the ocean’s depths could cause as much as 25 times more biodiversity loss than terrestrial mining, reported Reuters. And the financial cost of repairing that damage would be twice as much as extracting it.
Reno, Nevada — Lithium Nevada Corporation has filed a lawsuit against Protect Thacker Pass and seven people for opposing the Thacker Pass lithium mine. The lawsuit is similar to what is called a “Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation,” or SLAPP suit, aimed at shutting down free speech and protest. The suit aims to ban the prayerful land defenders from the area and force them to pay monetary damages which could total millions of dollars. “This lawsuit is targeting Native Americans and their allies for a non-violent prayer to protect the 1865 Thacker Pass massacre site,” said Terry Lodge, attorney working with the group.
Two longtime land protectors are maintaining a camp at Oak Flat right now and need our support. The Apache Stronghold has asked for food donations and gas cards to support their plan to sustain a presence for the foreseeable future. Both Indigenous women are mothers and their families have been a regular part of Oak Flat ceremony and organizing for years. Requested food items have been listed below. If you can offer any of these items or any other food items, please respond to this email. We are also looking for someone who can bring the first delivery to Oak Flat this weekend. Thank you for your support and prayers for Oak Flat.
Orovada, NV — This morning, a group of Native American water protectors and allies used their bodies to non-violently block construction of the controversial Thacker Pass lithium mine in Nevada, turning back bulldozers and heavy equipment. The dramatic scene unfolded this morning as workers attempting to dig trenches near Sentinel Rock were turned back by land defenders who ran and put their bodies between heavy equipment and the land. Now they are being arrested and camp is being raided. Northern Paiute and Western Shoshone people consider Thacker Pass to be sacred.
Peehee Mu'huh, Nevada - On Thursday, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s department issued a final warning to Indigenous land defenders at Thacker Pass. Members of law enforcement are demanding that the land defenders vacate a service road leading into the lithium mining operation. The Indigenous land defenders have erected a tipi on a proposed water line, set to feed lithium development at the rate of 500,000 gallons for every ton of lithium processed. Dorece Sam, an enrolled member of the Fort McDermitt Paiute-Shoshone Tribe, spoke during a Facebook livestream on Friday, saying “Mother’s Day is coming up. This here is our mother - Mother Earth, and we want to protect her.
The Peruvian coup regime remains entrenched in power more than four months after the parliamentary coup that ousted democratically elected President Pedro Castillo. On April 10th, the de facto Minister of Energy and Mines Óscar Vera announced the coup government would grant permits to Macusani Yellowcake , subsidiary of Canadian mining company Plateau Energy Metals, which as of 2021 is a subsidiary of American Lithium in the Macusani town of the Puno region. This comes in the wake of the anti-coup protests that placed lithium as one of the main resources the coup government, serving its transnational corporate interests, would move swiftly to privatize.