The Ecologist


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Area of Bento Rodrigues, Minas Gerais state, affected by the release of mine tailings from the failed dams. Photo: AgĂȘncia Brasil Fotografias via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Tailings dam breach - 'the assassination of Brazil's fifth largest river basin'

Ana Luisa Naghettini & Geraldo Lopes

19th November 2015

Brazil has suffered its biggest ever industrial disaster, write Ana Luisa Naghettini & Geraldo Lopes. Breached and overflowing dams have released a massive slug of toxic muds and tailings from iron mining into the country's fifth largest river system that provides drinking water for downstream cities, destroying ecosystems in rivers and vast areas of biologically fragile ocean. more...
This slag heap in northern France could contain enough alkaline waste to sequester half a million tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere. Photo: Guillaume đŸ“· DELEBARRE via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Industrial wastes could capture 1Gt a year of CO2 emissions

Helena I. Gomes, Mike Rogerson & Will Mayes

15th November 2015

The world produces over a billion tonnes a year of dangerously caustic wastes, write Helena Gomes, Mike Rogerson & Will Mayes. They are currently being dumped, although they could be used to sequester a gigatonne of CO2 from the atmosphere - while also yielding minerals essential for key renewable energy technologies. more...
Women of the Dongria Kondh tribe make their way to a gram sabha hearing to determine their religious rights over the Niyamgiri mountain in Odisha, 13th August 2013. Photo: jimanish via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

India's Indigenous Peoples organise to protect forests, waters and commons

Pushpa Achanta / Waging Nonviolence

7th November 2015

India's neoliberal government is attempting the mass seizure of indigenous lands, commons and forests in order to hand them over for corporate exploitation with mines, dams and plantations, writes Pushpa Achanta. But tribal communities are rising up to resist the takeover, which is not only morally reprehensible but violates India's own laws and international human rights obligations. more...
Colleen Brennan and Nancy Kile of the Sisterhood to Protect Sacred Water rally outside the Nuclear Regulatory Hearings in Crawford. Photo: Rosy Torres / WNV (CC BY).

Water first! Lakota women and ranchers lead charge to close toxic uranium mine

Suree Towfighnia / Waging NonViolence

13th October 2015

The impending renewal of the license for a uranium mine in Nebraska has ignited a years long resistance among those - most of them women - for whom good health and safe, clean water in the Ogallala aquifer is as important as life itself, writes Suree Towfighnia. But for others, jobs and money come first. Now the Nuclear Regulatory Commission must reach its decision. more...
President Obama in the American Arctic, Alaska, in from of a fast-retreating glacier, 4th September 2015. Photo: Still from White House video by Hope Hall (see video embed).

Arctic charade: Obama's Alaskan tour and the climate change 'puzzle'

Timothy Clark

15th September 2015

President Obama's whistlestop Alaskan tour highlighted his unique ability to believe in two completely contradictory ideas at once, writes Timothy Clark. On the one hand, the importance of climate change and the urgency of preventing dangerous warming. On the other, the importance of the Arctic's fossil energy and the urgent need to exploit it as rapidly and completely as possible. more...
Family bathing in the Rio Lempa, El Salvador's longest and only navigable river, until recently at risk from a cyanide-leaching gold mine. Photo: kadejo via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA).

For the love of water: El Salvador's mining ban may cost $300m 'compensation'

Lynn Holland

10th October 2015

Disastrous water pollution from gold mines in El Salvador has united government and people to oppose new metal mines, writes Lynn Holland. In Central America's most water scarce country, the imperative is to keep lakes, rivers and streams clean and wholesome. But there may be a heavy price to pay, with a Canadian mining company pressing a $300 million 'compensation' claim. more...
Donald Shadforth, a traditional owner, at the dilapidated Redbank mine tailings storage. Photo: P. Taplin.

Australia: Indigenous communities must take centre stage in 'development'

SeĂĄn Kerins

7th September 2015

Indigenous Australians are systematically deprived of the benefits of mining and other developments, writes SeĂĄn Kerins, and being left to suffer their environmental impacts. As Abbott's government prepares a bonfire of 'red tape', it's time to put Indigenous interests first, and place their communities at the centre of decision making. more...
Demonstration in Rosia Montana against the gold mine project, 22nd September 2013. Photo: Initiative Mittel- und Osteuropa e.V. via Flickr (CC BYNC-SA).

Romania faces $2.56bn claim for failed gold mine

Oliver Tickell

14th August 2015

Canadian mining company Gabriel Resources is seeking over $2.5 billion damages from Romania after it rejected a vast gold mine at Rosia Montana, writes Oliver Tickell. Incredibly, it is taking legal action under a UK-Romania trade agreement. more...
Gray whales in the San Ignacio Lagoon, Baja California Sur, Mexico, near the proposed site of a 225,000-acre undersea phosphate mine that could release radioactive uranium and thorium into the marine environment. Photo: ryan harvey via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

Undersea phosphate mine threatens Mexico's Gray whale nursery

Haydée Rodríguez

12th June 2015

A project to mine 225,000 acres of seabed in Baja California's San Ignacio lagoon threatens the myriad sea life of the area, writes Haydée Rodríguez: not just Gray whales but Blues, Humpbacks and Loggerhead turtles, from noise, disturbance and radioactive releases. more...
Slieve Gallion in the Sperrin Mountains of County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, at risk from a proposed gold mine. Photo: SHANLISS_SNAPPER via Flickr (CC BY).

EU nature laws are essential to fight off wildlife attacks in Northern Ireland

Andy Atkins

26th June 2015

Northern Ireland shows just how much we need the EU's laws protecting nature, writes Andy Atkins - and for the Government to enforce them. The province's wonderful natural heritage is at risk from aggressive and often unlawful developments. And the EU nature laws are essential for us to fight off a host of threats - among them sand dredging, gold mining, road-building and over-fishing. more...
The Middelgrunden marine wind farm near Copenhagen is a wonder of 'green' energy technology. But even this has its toxic footprint, in the mines that produce the neodymium that's indispensable to their operation. Photo: Andreas Klinke Johannsen via Flickr

Renewable energy alone cannot reverse global warming or make a sustainable world

Pete Dolack

25th May 2015

The renewable power boom is excellent news for people and planet, writes Pete Dolack. But let's not get carried away: much energy that claims to be 'renewable; like biomass and big hydro, is no such thing. And greening our energy is just one of many steps to a sustainable world. The greatest challenges - like tackling the monster of infinite 'growth' - all lie ahead. more...
Lake Baikal at Irkutskiy Raion, Irkutsk Oblast, Russia. Photo: Fedor Stroganov via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Lake Baikal: World Heritage ecosystems at risk from Mongolian dam

Anson Mackay

19th April 2015

Russia's Lake Baikal is under threat by a massive dam and pipeline on the main river that feeds into it, that would supply mines with power and water, writes Anson Mackay. In line to fund the project? The World Bank. more...

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A gigantic dam under construction on the Upper Mekong River.

Damming Tibet: China's destruction of Tibet's rivers, environment and people

Michael Buckley

13th April 2015

When Michael Buckley took a white water rafting trip in Tibet in 2005, he had no idea of the adventure he was embarking on - a ten-year investigation of China ruthless exploitation of Tibet's mineral and hydroelectric resources, and its systematic attack on indigenous Tibetans, their culture and their survival on the land. more...
A typical informal gold-mining operation in Colombia's gold belt. Photo: Josh Rushing via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Colombia - indigenous defender murdered in gold mining frenzy

The Ecologist

10th April 2015

An indigenous leader in Colombia's 'gold belt' has been killed by unknown gunmen as tensions grow between indigenous communities and outside gold mining interests, many of them linked to illegal armed groups and the drug trade. more...
After more than century of colliery dumping, there's still plenty of coal to be picked up at Seaham Harbour. But now a far more toxic form of pollution is on its way, thanks to UGC - underground coal gasification. Photo: David Robson via Flickr (CC BY-NC-

'Underground coal gasification' hell-fires threaten Tyneside and the North Sea

Paul Mobbs

3rd April 2015

After over a century of coal ash and colliery waste dumping, the Tyne and Wear coastline is no stranger to industrial pollution. But soon a horrific new technology - underground coal gasification (UCG) - will endanger human health and the environment, backed by unflinching Government support and generous lashings of taxpayers' money. more...
Yolanda OquelĂ­ stands between the National Police and the mine entrance. Credit: Guatemalan Human Rights Commission.

Guatemala: women lead the struggle for life, land, clean water

Jeff Abbott / Waging Nonviolence

1st April 2015

For over two years the small community of San José del Golfo has maintained a 24-hour barricade against the US-owned mine El Tambor that threatens to destroy their land and water. The non-violent resistance, led by women, is transforming the traditional 'macho' culture, and attracting support across Guatemala, and beyond. more...
Whale watching off Digby's Neck, Nova Scotia, where Bilcon wants to site a massive basalt quarry. Now Canada must pay Bilcon as much as $300 million following a NAFTA judgment that the company's right to profit comes before cetacean survival. Photo: Reigh

Profits before whales! To know why TTIP would be a nightmare, look to Canada

Nick Dearden

26th March 2014

A series of judgments against Canada in secret corporate tribunals costing taxpayers $100s of millions show that 'free trade' agreements really do restrict governments' right to protect health, environment and endangered species, writes Nick Dearden. more...
Wood lizard of the Ecuadorian cloud forest, Enyalioides rubrigularis. Photo: Santiago Ron via Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0).

Letter from Ecuador - where defending nature and community is a crime

Carlos Zorrilla

25th March 2015

Ecuador's president, Rafael Correa, has personally attacked eco-defender Carlos Zorrilla in TV broadcasts for resisting a vast new copper mine in a precious area of pristine cloud forest, and opposing the advance of oil exploration into the Amazon. Fearful for his life, Zorilla is now seeking international support for his, and his community's, battle for land, water and the natural world. more...
Let them eat carbon! At the 2011 UN climate summit in Durban, South Africa. Photo: Ainhoa Goma / Oxfam International via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

Let them eat carbon! The corporate plan to cook Africa in its own fossil fuels

Nnimmo Bassey & Sheila Berry

17th March 2015

Mining corporations, politicians and big NGOs are meeting in London today to plan the future of extractive industries in Africa, write Nnimmo Bassey & Sheila Berry. Absent African civil society and impacted communities, delegates are setting an agenda for 'resource-led development' that will cook the continent in the greenhouse gases of its plundered oil, gas and coal. more...
A ranger looks at the skull of an elephant killed by poachers - a frequent side-effect of development projects that open up remote forests to human access. Photo: Ralph Buij, Author provided.

Roads to ruin: the G20's ecocidal infrastructure rampage

Bill Laurance

16th March 2015

What's needed to pull the world's economy out of recession? According to the G20, it's a massive wave of 'infrastructure' development worth as much $70 trillion, writes Bill Laurance. But all the roads, mines, dams, pipelines and 'development corridors' will inflict massive damage on wildlife populations and natural havens, not to mention local communities that stand in the way. more...
All that glitters is not gold ... Diamonds. Photo: Judy van der Velden via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

Bushmen aren't forever - the diamonds of the Kalahari

The Ecologist

14th February 2015

Thirty years after diamonds were first discovered in Botswana's Kalahari desert, the Bushmen have been evicted, and the first diamonds have gone on sale. Happy Valentines! more...
A rosier future for the high seas beckons. Photo: Moyan Brenn via Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

UN talks begin on a new law to save our oceans

The Ecologist

30th January 2015

Countries at the UN have agreed to start formal negotiations on a new 'legally binding instrument' to conserve the biological riches of the high seas that cover 45% of planet Earth, and ensure their sustainable use for the benefit of all mankind. more...
A child brushes his teeth in lead-contaminated water in Klity Creek, Thailand. Photo: Human Rights Watch.

Thai communities poisoned by illegal lead mine waste

The Ecologist

22nd January 2015

For 16 years the Thai government has ignored the plight of a community where toxic lead mine waste is causing severe chronic poisoning - defying both a 2013 court order, and its international obligations. It's just one of many toxic sites across Thailand that need to be cleaned up - but the government's main concern is to encourage further industrialisation. more...
The Sotrami company office. Photo: John Crabtree.

Fair Trade gold mining in the highlands of Peru

John Crabtree & Judith Condor-Vidal

14th January 2015

Most gold mining in Peru causes serious environmental damage, write John Crabtree & Judith Condor-Vidal, but there is one exception - a Fair Trade certified mine close to the world-famous Nazca Lines. Now it's up to us to demand Fair Trade gold from the jewellery trade, rewarding responsible producers and expanding the market for new Fair Trade gold miners. more...
Sailing boat on FĂžrdefjorden. Photo: Arild NybĂž via Flickr.

'Acutely toxic' mine waste threatens the death of Norway's fjords

Tina Andersen VĂ„genes

28th November 2014

Two huge open pit mines in northern Norway are on the verge of approval, writes Tina Andersen VĂ„genes - even though they would dump hundreds of millions of tonnes of tailings in fjords where wild salmon spawn. Scientists are voicing serious concerns, and protests are growing, but government and mining companies appear determined to push the projects forward regardless. more...


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