Recently-released documents from the U.S. Forest Service show that, surprisingly, mining company Midas Gold will be taking a lead role in writing its own environmental report. Yep, the one that will ultimately decide if the company’s main project will survive or die.
The report is specifically a study the Forest Service calls a “biological assessment”. The result of the report will determine if Midas Gold would need to spend significant amounts to restore the area in central Idaho it is looking to mine.
If the report returns an amount for restoration that the company could not afford, Midas Gold will have to abandon the project. But that probably won’t happen, right? Because the company practically has full control over what the report will say. Obviously, it is in the company’s best interest to try to minimize the estimations of their environmental impacts in the report.
This article will tell you everything you need to know about the situation, and at the bottom, we suggest one way you can make a difference in stopping Midas Gold from setting a dangerous precedent.
Midas Gold Has its Stibnite Gold Project at Stake
Perhaps the biggest reason for concern at the involvement of Midas Gold on this report is that its project in question will be on land containing endangered species.
Its Stibnite Gold Project would take place in a historic mining district in central Idaho. During the 1990’s, people began to realize the destruction to animal species that prior mining operations had done.
The government has dedicated more than $4 million in taxpayer money since then to fund restoration efforts and habitat cleanup.
Previous mining operations left two pits in the area. Midas Gold is now looking to expand one of them, the Yellow Pine Pit, as it has the larger concentration of gold.
One of the main features of the habitat surrounding these pits is the Salmon River. When mining operations originally created these two pits, the river had to be diverted to a new path.
This prevented the natural movement of many marine species in the river, including migration patterns of salmon. Midas Gold claims that its project will address this issue by actively improving the area.
Claims Made By Midas Gold About Restoring the Area
One of Midas Gold’s most used slogans is “restore the site.” The company claims that its work in the Yellow Pine Pit will allow for the river to return to its original path at completion of their mining.
In order for this to happen, the company would need to enlarge the pit.
Midas Gold also claims to want to restore the habitat in the area. It has set out several additional goals to do so, most of which revolve around waste left behind from historical mining operations. In signage for this new mine, the company says it will:
1: “Reprocess millions of tons of historical tailings.” Tailings include byproducts left over from mining and extracting metals. Examples include finely ground rock particles and chemicals used to purify the metal.
2: “Remove historical heap leach pad remnants.” Heap leach pads are pollution from the heap leach process. In this procedure, ore is placed on a liner and chemicals are added by drip.
3: “Remove potentially contaminated soils.”
4: “Repurpose millions of tons of spent ore.” Spent ore is the material remaining after leaching.
Creating a Second Pit
One of the main dangers to the area is the creation of a second pit. To be called the Hanger Flats Pit, Midas Gold would dig this pit in the surrounding natural habitat.
Midas Gold wants to dig this in Meadow Creek. This areat has been restored using a portion of the $4 million poured into the area.
In addition, Meadow Creek is currently a habitat for the spawning of chinook. It is also a resident habitat for bull trout.
Making the Yellow Pine Pit larger would necessitate creating a temporary path for the branch of the river that runs through the area.
Midas Gold wants to solve this problem by building a 0.8-mile-long tunnel as a new route. According to the company, the tunnel will include features to simulate the natural river habitat, so as to minimally impact the marine life that will swim through it.
However, as the tunnel will not be built if and until work on the pit begins, it is currently impossible to know how well animals will accept this tunnel.
Regardless, there are limitations on man’s ability to recreate the natural environment, so it is unlikely that the company’s recreation of the river will be enough to mitigate any negative effects on animal life.
Midas Gold Introduces Cyanide Spills as a New Risk to Wildlife
Finally, the company will be mining gold, and as such, will have to put the extracted material through purification processes.
It plans to do one of these processes, the cyanide leaching process, on site. This process uses chemicals that would be extremely poisonous to wildlife if spilled or released.
And due to the presence of a river nearby, a spill could lead to death of marine life miles downstream.
The company claims that it will put systems in place to prevent such spills. But large cyanide leaks in mining processes are not as uncommon as they should be.
Large spills have happened as recent as 2018. In that event, operators of the San Dimas Mine accidentally released 200 liters of cyanide into the Piaxtla River in Durango, Mexico.
Several of the species surrounding the Yellow Pine Pit are already protected under the Endangered Species Act, including salmon, steelhead, and bull trout.
A similar spill by Midas Gold would have detrimental effects on these species.
Nothing Preventing a Biased Report
Because of the high-stakes nature of these effects the company’s mining operation could have, an objective, factual, and serious report assessing them is absolutely necessary.
Especially, Midas Gold’s projects have the potential to ruin surrounding areas of operation and decimate wildlife. For this reason, it is imperative that an impact report is written by an outside, unbiased source. At the moment, that’s not happening.
Some believe that because the company claims to want to help the environment, it will be truthful in its report. But there is nothing holding Midas Gold to make the positive impacts it claims to pursue if its project gets approved.
You Can Hold Midas Gold (@MidasIdaho on Twitter) Accountable Today With #StopMidasGold
Companies constantly make claims about wanting to help the environment, and it is difficult to assess whether the intention is true. Midas Gold is no different.
And its involvement in writing its own environmental report completely defeats the purpose of having governmental agencies to regulate the environmental impact of companies.
Davos 2020: The World’s Most Powerful Leaders Discuss What To Do About Climate Change
Yesterday, 3,000 of the world’s most powerful and wealthy leaders began their week-long meeting in Davos for the World Economic Forum’s 50th annual meeting. Spanning this next week, conversations around what to do about climate change will be a priority.
Activist Greta Thunberg, 2019’s Time Magazine Person of the Year, will open the debate on how to avert the crisis. Leaders like President Donald Trump and Angela Merkel, the Federal Chancellor of Germany, will sit in on this debate. The young climate activist will not be alone, however.
A Davos Priority: Sharing What to Do About Climate Change
Like all years, the World Economic Forum (WEF) aims to direct world leaders in addressing the world’s most pressing matters.
From racial discrimination to economics to climate change, people are free to speak their opinions and advocate for action, which includes sharing thoughts on what to do about climate change.
Teen Activists to Share Out What to Do About Climate Change
Activism and advocacy for the climate crisis have been on the rise for the past year. Now, there are a number of activists advocating for action in their communities.
Moreover, for the first time ever, the World Economic Forum will host teenage change-makers. Greta Thunberg will not be alone, as activists Autumn Peltier and Ayakha Melithafa will speak on what to do about climate change alongside her.
Similar to other public forums, Davos will allow individuals with opposing opinions to take part in the debate.
Allowing Clashing Views to Be Shared: What to Do About Climate Change Among Opposition
The WEF is asking for countries to commit to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. This debate will allow climate activists to challenge leaders like President Donald Trump over his views on climate change.
Recently, Trump has been aggressively rolling back on a variety of environmental protection legislation. Furthermore, he has pulled the United States out of the Paris climate agreement.
The debate will provide for an outlet for world leaders, business owners, and activists to share their opinions.
Only time can tell if the 3,000 attendees to the meeting will come to an agreement. However, it does sound promising that attendees will explore a variety of topics, including what to do about climate change.
From feeding the planet for the future to the danger that tropical forests face, the attendees will have much to talk about.
Greta Thunberg’s Role in Davos 2020
The teenage activist has managed to start a world movement against the climate crisis this past year.
Her activism has not slowed, and it is evident as she will be one of the biggest highlights for the WEF. It has been speculated that the discussion on this topic will dominate the talks in Davos.
Either way, the voices of all the climate activists that attend the WEF will be heard by individuals from around the world. The debates will run until Friday of this week.
How Can YOU Help In The Fight Against The Australia Fires?
Australia fires have burned an area twice the size of Maine in the past few months.
Authorities report that at least 25 people have died. Two thousand homes have been destroyed. Tens of thousands have been urged to leave their homes due to spreading flames and declining air quality.
What’s even more alarming are estimations for affected animals. Some 600,000 different species are contained in the area burning, and many are completely unique to Australia. Based on calculations from Professor Christopher Dickman of the University of Sydney, 1 billion animals have died.
And Australia still has another month of fire season left.
So how can we help?
How to Help Affected Families of the Australia Fires
There are two main groups that are hurting because of the fires: people and animals. Some ways to help out the displaced people due to Australia fires include:
1. The Australian Red Cross (for Communities)
Helping out with medical aid, food, and shelter, this organization has sent over 1,200 people to affected communities to help meet the increased need in their 70 evacuation and recovery centers.
Australian actor Dacre Montgomery, who starred in “Stranger Things”, set up a GoFundMe page to gather funds for the Australian Red Cross. Help reach the goal of raising $500,000 here.
2. Australia Wildlife Fund (to Increase Firefighting Efforts)
This organization was started by a $3 million donation from Leonardo DiCaprio’s Earth Alliance. It first aims to help the people affected by the fires by funding firefighting efforts and supporting the damaged communities. The Australia Wildlife Fund will also dedicate funds to wildlife, both in the most urgent times and after the fires to restore ecosystems. Donate here.
3. New South Wales Rural Fire Service (for Families of Firefighters Who Passed Away)
Battling the Australia fires is a dangerous job. Thousands of brave men and women are risking their lives to limit the damage of the fires. They don’t always come home; three have lost their lives so far in this wildfire season. The New South Wales Rural Fire Service is accepting donations for the families of those firefighters here.
How to Help Impacted Animal Habitats
Wildlife affected by the fires need aid right now, but they will also need new habitats when the fire season is over. The organizations below have laid out plans to tackle one or both of these issues.
1. WIRES (for Wildlife Rescue)
New South Wales Wildlife, Information, Rescue and Education Service Inc. is the country’s largest wildlife rescue organization. WIRES volunteers carried out over 3,300 rescues in December alone. Donate here.
2. Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital (for Injured Animals)
Run in part by Steve Irwin’s daughter, this zoo has started the Wildlife Warriors program, which is raising money for new enclosures to house the influx of flying foxes and koalas injured in the fire. Help build these new facilities by donating here.
3. World Wildlife Fund Australia (Planting Trees and Restoring Lost Habitats)
One of the organizations mainly focused on the repercussions of habitat loss, the WWF Australia has set a goal of planting 10,000 native trees in what were previously highly populated koala habitats.
Their action will begin at the conclusion of the fire season and are accepting donations here.
Companies That Have Provided Support During the Australia Fires
Another way to help Australia is to support companies who have helped the country fight the fires. Airbnb, for example, has offered temporary free housing to those in New South Wales and Melbourne, the places the fires’ effects have been the worst, who have been displaced.
Amazon contributed AU$1 million to aid fire relief efforts. Coca-Cola Amatil has given paid leave to workers volunteering with emergency services to fight the fires and provide relief, and 250,000 bottles of water to volunteers.
Additionally, several retail chains in Australia like Levi’s and The North Face pledged to donate 100% of profits from a day last week to the Australian Red Cross.
Beyond Donations: What Should Businesses and Government do About the Australia Fires
Donations now, or helping out however you can, is, of course, selfless and highly impactful. However, we also need to think about how these fires could look in the future if current environmental practices around the world continue.
While climate change may not have started the fires, the increased temperatures dry out plant material, essentially increasing kindling for the fires, making it easier for them to grow and spread.
In 2018, Australia’s national science agency and Bureau of Meteorology concluded that a 1 degree Celsius rise in temperatures has likely contributed to increased intensity in the Australia fires.
Hopefully, these fires can help spur some changes in environmental policy worldwide. So even if donating is not possible at this time, help out Australia by pressuring businesses and governments to put in place more environmentally friendly practices.
Meet Leah Namugerwa: The 15-Year-Old Leading Climate Activism In Uganda
Greatly inspired by Greta Thunberg’s activism, 15-year-old Leah Namugerwa has made strides in advocating for climate justice in Uganda. With increasing droughts and other adverse effects of climate change, the need for attention is vital. Both motivated and determined, Namugerwa puts her faith in the younger people of Uganda.
How Climate Change is Affecting Uganda
Namugerwa has been a witness to many of the negative effects that climate change has led to. From environmental degradation to the inability to grow crops, climate change is affecting Ugandan people in all aspects of life. Moreover, in a report released by the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), the problems are accumulating.
Droughts collectively affected 2.4 million people from 2004 to 2013. Moreover, between 2010 and 2011, droughts caused an estimated damage value of about $1.2 billion. That’s equivalent to roughly 7.5% of Uganda’s GDP in 2010.
In addition, climate change will lead to a 1.5-degree increase in Uganda’s average temperature by 2030. With the increasing temperature, Uganda is susceptible to environmental degradation, which has already begun. Furthermore, all these factors are causing the agricultural sector of Uganda to falter.
Leah Namugerwa has not been a silent witness to all of this; the teen hopes to incite change within Uganda.
Who is Leah Namugerwa?
Following the footsteps of Greta Thunberg, Namugerwa began protesting for climate action every Friday. Skipping school and facing a lot of opposition, Leah Namugerwa was adamant to get her message across. Soon, the teen was able to rally many other Ugandans for the cause. Her biggest goal, apart from enforcing current climate legislation, is to bring attention to climate change.
Being a major player in the protests in Uganda, many fear for Namugerwa’s safety. Replying, she says, “My safety? I think that will make more climate awareness, if they try to [arrest me]” she states. “If that happens, [the media] will have to come.”
Namugerwa’s family was especially reinforcing for her protests. In fact, Namugerwa’s uncle, Tim Mugerwa, is part of Green Campaign Africa. This organization supports Fridays for Future Uganda. Furthermore, Mugerwa plans to run for president in 2021 on a green platform.
Leah Namugerwa’s Faith is in the Young People of Uganda
The median age of Uganda is about 16 years old. Namugerwa admits that the education of her younger peers is essential in gaining support for climate action. By educating her peers, Namugerwa hopes to create a lasting impact on Uganda.
For now, Leah Namugerwa calls for everyone to actively get involved in the fight against ecological breakdown.
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