Annals of global warming: Rio Tinto urges mining companies to act on Paris Accord

April 13, 2019

Rio Tinto mines metals, not coal. Still it’s notable when a mining company threatens action if mining company associations do not act to enforce the goals of the Paris Accord, don’t you think?

Tweet from environmental lawyer Elaine Johnson @ElaineEDO

According to the news article in The Guardian, Rio Tinto’s position has been carefully worked out over the past two years.


Rio Tinto has signalled it is prepared to quit its membership of industry associations, including the Minerals Council, if it makes public statements inconsistent with Australia’s Paris climate agreement commitment.
The company published a global statement on Thursday night setting out its expectations of the industry bodies it belongs to about commentary they make on climate policy.
It includes an expectation that Australian industry associations will publicly argue against government subsidies for coal.
The statement comes after more than a year of talks between Rio Tinto and the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility, a not-for-profit group that targets social, environmental and governance issues within large corporations.

Rio Tinto published its environmental statement, urging action against global warming climate change, in 2017. Another giant company using natural resources, urging the rest of us to be wise stewards of the Earth.

It’s a start.


Yosemite Nature Notes: Ghost towns

January 13, 2015

Up on the Tioga Pass, Dana Village, Bennettville and the abandoned Golden Crown Mine tell part of the story of the 1890s gold rush in the Sierra Nevada.

Mining in California, okay. Mining at 11,000 feet in the Sierra Nevada, and staying there all winter?

Great history, geography, and explanation that every U.S. history student should know, about gold rushes, about boom towns, about mining entrepreneurs and investors, about failed enterprises and about the aftermath.

Published on Nov 19, 2014

Sitting on the crest of the Sierra Nevada, Tioga Pass is a gateway to Yosemite’s past. In 1880, a gold and silver rush erupted here, and miners flocked to Tioga Hill in droves.

Today, the ghosts of these miners work can be seen in the stone walls of Dana Village, rusty machinery at Bennettville, and the log cabins of the Golden Crown Mine. Even today’s popular Tioga Road was once a simple wagon road built to access the wealth of minerals that were never found.

It’s another great production by Steven Bumgardner, featuring two National Park Service rangers, Yenyen Chan and Greg Stock.

More:

Tioga Road.  Travelers who took this photo made the drive in a large RV -- so you can do it, too.  Photo from stillhowlynntravels

Tioga Road. Travelers who took this photo made the drive in a large RV — so you can do it, too. Photo from stillhowlyntravels

Map showing how to get to Tioga Pass in Yosemite National Park (at the eastern end of the red line).  Map from Undiscovered-Yosemite.com.

Map showing how to get to Tioga Pass in Yosemite National Park (at the eastern end of the red line). Map from Undiscovered-Yosemite.com.


October 22, 1913: Dawson mine disaster killed 263 in New Mexico

October 22, 2013

Albuqurque Journal photo and caption:  Iron crosses dot the Dawson Cemetery in Colfax County, the site of a once bustling coal mining region. The Dawson mines produced millions of tons of coal in the first half of the 20th century, but also took the lives of many miners. On Oct. 22, 1913, 263 miners were killed in an explosion. On Feb. 8, 1923, another Dawson mine explosion killed 123 miners. (Journal File)

Albuquerque Journal photo and caption: Iron crosses dot the Dawson Cemetery in Colfax County, the site of a once bustling coal mining region. The Dawson mines produced millions of tons of coal in the first half of the 20th century, but also took the lives of many miners. On Oct. 22, 1913, 263 miners were killed in an explosion. On Feb. 8, 1923, another Dawson mine explosion killed 123 miners. (Journal File)

Who remembers, today?

In our recent history, a disaster in one small town or one company that killed 263 people would stand out.  But the Dawson, New Mexico, coal mine explosion of October 22, 1913, is mostly forgotten today.

100 years later, all ten of the town’s mines are closed, victim to increasing use of petroleum as fuel in the U.S.  The town itself is a ghost town, though once its schools produced scholars from children of immigrants, and state champions on the athletic fields.  A strike by miners in Colorado may have contributed to the explosion, as corporate executives tried to goose coal production in Dawson to cover shortfalls from mines closed by the strikes.  Unions then grew to major influence in American life, including increasing safety in coal mining.  But unions, today, hold waning influence generally.

Many or most of those who died didn’t speak English.  Instead, they spoke the languages of their native lands, Italy, Greece, Germany, and other European nations.  Despite its location in New Mexico, there were few Native Americans, or residents or immigrants of Hispanic origins.

Today’s anniversary should be a departure point for rich discussion of many threads in American history, the rise of industrialization, the changing industries of the cowboy frontier towns, the changing ownership of lands from Native Americans to big corporations, the changing nature of work and union influence, the dramatically different views of government and government regulation, the role of immigration and immigrants.

In your state’s standards, Common Core State Standards or not, can a teacher intrigue students with real history in any of those ways?

The Albuquerque Journal remembered the disaster in an article in Sunday’s edition:

The second-deadliest coal mining disaster in U.S. history occurred 100 years ago this week in a northern New Mexico town that no longer exists, save for the small cemetery bearing the remains of many of the 263 miners killed in a massive explosion on the afternoon of Oct. 22, 1913.

Though the town of Dawson and the Stag Canyon No. 2 coal mine are mere footnotes in history to most people, the men who died there a century ago – mostly Italian and Greek immigrants lured to the coal fields by decent-paying jobs and all the amenities a company town like Dawson could offer – are far from forgotten.

In ceremonies today at the Raton Museum, the miners killed in what has become known as the Dawson Mining Disaster will be remembered by descendents, historians and New Mexico’s Italian and Greek communities.

“I think it’s important to honor these men, and all immigrants who helped build America,” said Nicki Panagopoulos, a member of St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Albuquerque.

A second disaster a decade later killed another 123 miners.

Who remembers? How should we study these events in our history classes?  Do we study such events at all?

More:

English: Main Street of Dawson, New Mexico. Ta...

Main Street of Dawson, New Mexico. Taken in 1916. Though once an active community of 9,000 residents supporting ten coal mines, it is now a ghost town, shut down by Phelps Dodge Corporation in 1950, and bulldozed. Wikipedia image


Moab’s uranium tailings, still “going to be moved”

June 8, 2009

Has this news story changed at all in the last 30 years?

You may remember last March when last the Bathtub visited the issue of uranium tailings near Moab, Utah — “soon” to be moved in a multi-million dollar project.

Still pending — but with more money! At this rate, by 2050, this project will have enough money to buy Utah and force all the residents out.  Then the tailings may not need so urgently to be moved.

(Actually, if you read the article at Planetsave, it says the tailings are being moved.  Good news.)

Cool picture, though:

Caption from Planetsave:  Desert spreads endlessly beyond the horizon, where crystalline azure meets rusted bronze. This is red rock country. Moab, Utah is known for its breathtaking scenery. Red rock arches, labyrinth-like canyons, the clever Colorado River. This paradise permeates the soul and the soil.  But something else sleeps in the soil: uranium tailings.

Caption from Planetsave: Desert spreads endlessly beyond the horizon, where crystalline azure meets rusted bronze. This is red rock country. Moab, Utah is known for its breathtaking scenery. Red rock arches, labyrinth-like canyons, the clever Colorado River. This paradise permeates the soul and the soil. But something else sleeps in the soil: uranium tailings.


News from the energy boom-before-last

March 10, 2009

Excited about the prospects of nuclear power as an alternative to burning fossil fuels?

Comes this story from the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel:

Officials are shooting for an April 20 starting date for the long-awaited cleanup of the Moab, Utah, mill-tailings pile.

U.S. Energy Department officials last week opened a 3,800-foot section of rail track they will use as a staging area for shipments of mill tailings from the pile to a disposal site to the north, near Crescent Junction.

A gantry crane capable of lifting 50 tons will pluck tailings-laden containers from trucks and place them on railroad cars on a ledge above the pile, which sits near the entrance to Arches National Park.

Why is this relevant to anything?

This tailings pile has been targeted for cleanup for at least 30 years.  The story doesn’t say precisely, calling it “cold war” — it is partly a remnant of the uranium boom of the 1950s.  It may date back to the 1940s.

And, according to the story:

The Energy Department has a 2028 target date for completion of work moving the pile. The cost is estimated to run as high as $698 million.

2028? Ten years of usefulness for the mine, another 60 years to clean it up. Some boom.  Some bust.

You load 16 million tons [of radioactive and poisonous tailings], and what do you get?  A site cleaner in Moab from uranium milled a half-century ago, and a warning to those who push nuclear power for the future damn-the-cost.  There are costs.

Step carefully.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Utah Policy Daily.


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