Newmont planning to advance Akyem mine project in Ghana Forest Reserve

March 25, 2011 • Scott Cardiff

Colorado-based Newmont Mining announced today that they have approved funding to develop the Akyem gold mine project in Eastern Ghana. This destructive mine project would create an open-pit in a Forest Reserve, threaten water sources, and displace around nine thousand people from their homes, lands, or livelihoods.

Communities in Ghana have expressed great concern about the Akyem project, and their concerns have already stalled the mine project several times. WACAM and other community groups have protested over the company's plan to mine in a Forest Reserve, potential impacts on water supply, loss of access to land, and inadequate compensation plans for displaced communities. Newmont has already displaced some community members. In total, over a thousand people would lose their lands and homes, and thousands more would lose their agricultural lands. The mine would destroy approximately 340 acres (140 ha) of tropical forest and a quarter of the forest left in the Ajenjua Bepo Forest Reserve. In 2009, the project gained notoriety when it caused Newmont to receive the Public Eye Award for irresponsible practices.

Change.org teams up with the No Dirty Gold campaign!

March 24, 2011 • Payal Sampat

In recent months, tens of thousands of activists from Change.org, the world's fastest growing platform for social change, have lent their voices to the No Dirty Gold campaign's efforts to clean up irresponsible mining and are calling on jewelry retailers to provide alternatives to dirty gold.

Here s what Ben Rattray, Founder and CEO of Change.org had to say about US mega retailer Target s decision to sign on to the Golden Rules:

It's been incredible working with Earthworks, Target, and the over 20,000 Change.org members who have supported this commitment to responsible gold. This victory speaks to the power of collective consumer demand for ethically-produced goods. We expect this grassroots momentum to continue to other jewelry retailers who will pledge to follow the 'Golden Rules'.

All of us at the No Dirty Gold campaign extend our thanks to Change.org members for supporting our efforts and we re looking forward to continuing to collaborate in the months to come.

For more information:

Regulations for life

March 24, 2011 • Nadia Steinzor

In the world of dirty energy, things often go awry. In just the last few weeks, there s been ongoing news of the nuclear power plant disaster in Japan, yet another in a never-ending series of oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico, and natural gas-related fires in Pennsylvania and Minnesota.

And what do many policymakers choose to do about such problems? Attack the very regulatory systems designed to protect people and the environment, for example through anti-Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) bills and calls for less federal meddling in the gas industry.

Texas hydraulic fracturing disclosure bill is inadequate

March 24, 2011 • Sharon Wilson

State Rep. Jim Keffer of Eastland, chair of the Texas House Committee on Energy Resources, last week introduced a bill to require limited disclosure of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing of natural gas wells. Since Texas currently has no disclosure requirements, we d like to be able to say HB 3328 is a step forward but we can t.

Why? Because, as Jim Hightower says, The water won t clear up until we get the hogs out of the creek.

The hogs in this instance are the oil and gas industry, which helped write the bill. Unsurprisingly, it does little to protect Texans right to know about chemicals that may contaminate their drinking water, but bends over backwards to protect the industry s interest in keeping its fracking formulas secret. The bill appears to be written largely from the perspective of industry and without much consideration for the landowners whose problems it is ostensibly trying to solve.

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Target says NO to dirty gold

March 24, 2011 • Alan Septoff

The third-largest retail chain in the US, Target, has signed on to the No Dirty Gold campaign s "Golden Rules" for more responsible metals mining.

In doing so, Target send a clear message to its consumers and suppliers that it wants nothing to do with dirty gold.

Target is proud to be part of the No Dirty Gold campaign, said Tim Mantel, president, Target Sourcing Services.

Target is one the top 10 retailers of jewelry in the country, and its support could provide a huge boost in the effort to clean up gold mining. More than 70 other jewelry retailers with combined US sales of more than $13.5 billion - nearly a quarter of the US market - have signed on to the campaign thus far.

Companies skeptical about Taseko’s “Prosperity”

March 23, 2011 • Scott Cardiff

A few politicians in British Columbia may still be pushing for the mine that would destroy Little Fish Lake and threaten Fish Lake with contamination without the consent of First Nations. But some companies have doubts and concerns about Taseko Mines and its "Prosperity" project.

Credit Suisse downgraded their investment rating for Taseko Mines this week based in part on the prospects for "Prosperity." The bank noted that the "project is likely to require extensive review and consultation prior to environmental approval, and we believe this could take several years." Credit Suisse downgraded Taseko Mines from "Neutral" to "Underperform."

Earlier this month, groups also called on Credit Suisse to decline any Taseko financing requests for the mine at Fish Lake. Earthworks joined MiningWatch Canada in presenting the concerns of the Tsilhqot'in and others about the mine project. The groups wrote to Credit Suisse to explain that financing of the mine would cause unacceptable reputational risk for the bank.

Credit Suisse is not the only company taking a critical look at Prosperity. Rideau, a Canadian maker of gold medals, is "publically opposing the Prosperity mine" and wrote to Canadian officials to express the company's concerns and objections to the project.

While Japan struggles to avert catastrophe, don’t forget nuclear power’s hidden costs

March 23, 2011 • Alan Septoff

Given recent events in Japan, it's impossible to remain ignorant of the potential catastrophe associated with nuclear power.

And many have rushed to condemn nuclear power because of the public health and safety risks associated with a catastrophe.

What's been almost lost in this rush:  the less obvious costs of nuclear power.  Costs that, in a truly free market, the nuclear power industry not the public would cover. 

Instead these hidden costs which in some cases are potentially so high as to be incalculable -- are borne by taxpayers, communities and the environment.

Most directly connected to the situation in Japan: private insurers will not cover nuclear power plants.  One catastrophe, and the costs could wipe out an insurance company and its reinsurer.

Unfortunately, rather than allow nuclear power to be priced out of the market as too risky and too expensive, the U.S. government has stepped in with the Price Anderson act. Essentially, Price Anderson makes U.S taxpayers the insurers of the 104 nuclear power plants around the country. Taxpayers for Common Sense recently wrote on the subject in their March 18, 2011 newsletter:

Gold: Substance, Symbol and Significance

March 22, 2011 • Bonnie Gestring

New York A conference on gold that will examine all aspects of the metal from jewelry design to mining is scheduled to take place at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York on April 8 and 9.

Organized by Initiatives in Art and Culture, a New York-based organization dedicated to educating diverse audiences about fine, decorative and visual arts, the Friday-Saturday conference, called Gold: Substance, Symbol and Significance, will feature a number of key jewelry industry players and executives.

Those scheduled to speak include Victor van der Kwast , head of jewelry for ABN AMRO bank, Bonnie Gestring from Earthworks, Bill Williams of Barrick Gold Corporation, Jewelers of America s Robert Headley, David Lamb, managing director of jewelry for the World Gold Council, and jewelry designers such as Temple St. Clair and Marilyn Cooperman.

During the two-day event, the panelists will address topics including fluctuating gold prices and investment, modern mining and sustainable mining, the impact of the recent conflict minerals legislation and the history and development of gold coins and gold jewelry.

In addition to the speakers, the two-day event will include an evening reception at the Aaron Faber Gallery and a screening of the documentary Red Gold, which details the fight over construction of the proposed Pebble mine along Alaska s Bristol Bay watershed.