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Bulga, Rio Tinto, Coal Mining and Environmental Dispute Resolution

In this case, the NSW Land and Environment Court concluded that the economic benefits from the coal mine expansion proposal were outweighed by potential adverse environmental impacts – such as impacts on biodiversity, ...

 

The April 2013 decision of the New South Wales Land and Environment Court overturned the NSW and federal government approval for a $3 billion expansion of Rio Tinto’s Mount Thorley Warkworth open-cut coalmine in the Hunter Valley. The residents of the small Hunter Valley town of Bulga had been involved in a three year court battle against Rio Tinto. The reasons for decision given by Preston CJ clearly illustrate how our courts should approach the complex concept of ecologically sustainable development to avoid past criticism that sustainability is conceptually too vague to have much practical value.

MJP EcoArchives's insight:

Australia has some really interesting examples of State and Federal Governance, together with Environmental and Development Planning - I like following their policy on how to deal with environmental and development management.

 

This article has a nice background into the law and policy behind some of the planning and sustainable development laws in Australia, and the author suggests that the negotiation/dispute resolution is a better pathway than litigation. The various government departments - at State and Federal level - are having a hard time achieving a 'sustainable' sustainable development solution to Rio Tinto's mining proposal. Sustainable development isn't about just taking social, economic and environmental elements into consideration - it's also about how to weight and balance these.

 

I'm sure there will be no easy solutions, but Australia will continue to be an interesting and informative case-study in Sustainable Development.

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Alaska’s Bristol Bay mine project: Ground zero for the next big environmental fight?

Alaska’s Bristol Bay mine project: Ground zero for the next big environmental fight? | Mining + Biodiversity | Scoop.it
A dispute over a proposed copper and gold mine near Alaska’s Bristol Baymay be one of the most important environmental decisions of President Obama’s second term — yet few are even aware that the fight is happening.

 

At issue is a proposed mining operation in a remote area that is home to several Alaskan native tribes and nearly half of the world’s sockeye salmon. Six tribes have asked the Environmental Protection Agency to invoke its powers under the Clean Water Act to block the mine on the grounds that it would harm the region’s waterways, fish and wildlife.

MJP EcoArchives's insight:

This is a big question - the area is undeniably exceptional in terms of it's natural and evironmental value. There's nowhere else like it in the world. The Salmon Fisheries are irreplacable, and there are significant Native Alaska cultural values at stake too.

 

So the impacts, undeniably, would be huge: in both environmental losses, but also in terms of economic benefit. Alaska has a tenuous employment and economic base and many areas desperately need good jobs. Pebble Mine provides lots of this.

 

This article mentions and economic impact study:

"The Pebble mining partnership released an economic analysis Thursday estimating that the project would generate 2,500 construction jobs during the five years that it would take to build the facility. The report by IHS Global Insight predicted that the companies would spend approximately $1.2 billion per year on direct capital investment and wages during the construction phase and that the mine would eventually generate up to $180 million in annual taxes and royalties.

“For perspective, the report indicates Pebble development alone would pay more in annual taxes to the state than the entire fishing industry combined,” Pebble chief executive John Shively said in a statement."

 

Even when we can fairly estimate the costs and beneifts of each, how do we weigh each against one another?

They're right - this is a really interesting benchmark we're looking at here....

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MJP EcoArchives's curator insight, June 4, 2013 9:01 PM

This is a big question - the area is undeniably exceptional in terms of it's natural and evironmental value. There's nowhere else like it in the world. The Salmon Fisheries are irreplacable, and there are significant Native Alaska cultural values at stake too.

 

So the impacts, undeniably, would be huge: in both environmental losses, but also in terms of economic benefit. Alaska has a tenuous employment and economic base and many areas desperately need good jobs. Pebble Mine provides lots of this.

 

This article mentions and economic impact study:

"The Pebble mining partnership released an economic analysis Thursday estimating that the project would generate 2,500 construction jobs during the five years that it would take to build the facility. The report by IHS Global Insight predicted that the companies would spend approximately $1.2 billion per year on direct capital investment and wages during the construction phase and that the mine would eventually generate up to $180 million in annual taxes and royalties.

“For perspective, the report indicates Pebble development alone would pay more in annual taxes to the state than the entire fishing industry combined,” Pebble chief executive John Shively said in a statement."

 

Even when we can fairly estimate the costs and beneifts of each, how do we weigh each against one another?

They're right - this is a really interesting benchmark we're looking at here....

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Court refuses expansion of Rio Tinto's Warkworth Coal Mine

Court refuses expansion of Rio Tinto's Warkworth Coal Mine | Mining + Biodiversity | Scoop.it

Court refuses expansion of Rio Tinto's Warkworth Coal Mine (image, left)
"...In a landmark decision, the Court overturned the decision of the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) to approve the proposed extension of the Mount Thorley Warkworth mine operations in the Hunter Valley. The Court disapproved the project application having regard to its findings on the significant and unacceptable impacts on biological diversity including endangered ecological communities, as well as noise, dust and social impacts."

MJP EcoArchives's insight:

Turns out, amoung other things, the mine didn't properly account for it's very serious biodivesity loss. Any remediation appears to have been impossible or inadequate, and their offsets appear poorly designed. Seems suprising when there is so much matieral available, and they've been part of biodiveristy offsets in the past (see BBOP).

Shouldn't they know what to do now?

"The Court held that the proposed offsets package was inadequate to address the impacts of the Project on the four EECs, particularly because it failed to provide like-for-like. Further, the offsets requirements for the impacts of the Project on the EECs in the disturbance area were found not to provide any immediate conservation gain, and did not address the problem that the direct offsets did not deliver, at least in the short and medium term, an overall conservation outcome that improves or maintains the viability of the impacted EECs. In so finding, the Court had regard to the principles for the use of biodiversity offsets in NSW."

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Restaurée à la fin de l’extraction (Ambatovy mine biodiversity offset)

Rejoignez le portail Orange Madagascar pour s'informer sur Madagascar, pour discuter, poser des questions ou obtenir des réponses sur de nombreux thèmes.
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Mongolia: Environment Pays Price for Infrastructure Inefficiencies

Mongolia: Environment Pays Price for Infrastructure Inefficiencies | Mining + Biodiversity | Scoop.it
Mirage-like, a slinky piece of asphalt appears on the horizon after hours of driving across the dusty Gobi Desert. What’s coming into sight is the only paved surface for miles around. Yet many trucks are driving alongside the new highway, not on it.

 

In southern Mongolia’s mineral-rich hills, mining companies – foreign-run and local alike – are having trouble sharing something that should be a no-brainer: the roads.

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Coal mining and biodiversity offsets in NSW, Australia

RIO TINTO subsidiary Coal and Allied has snapped up about 15,000 hectares of farmland around Merriwa and Cassilis as “offsets” for its Mount Pleasant coal mine near Muswellbrook in the Upper Hunter Valley.

 

Ag interests talking about offsets locking up land. NSW Dept of Planning considering a strategic assessment of new coal mines in the region - to consider impacts of all mining in a regional context.

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Environment Bank and mission markets launch online conservation credit platform

The Environment Bank today launches the first online ‘conservation credit’ trading platform.  The online Conservation credits Exchange will allow conservation groups, farmers and landowners to register their wildlife sites so as to provide ‘conservation credits’; these credits will then be available to developers for purchase to offset their impacts on biodiversity – putting a transferable value on biodiversity loss and establishing private sector funding for the long-term management of conservation sites.


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IPIECA ES biodiversity checklist

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Balancing Alberta’s oil sands and the environment | Troy Media

"...This survey shows that Albertans will not give their consent to oil sands development, unless it aligns with their values. Proof of reclamation, habitat protection, independent scientific monitoring and greenhouse gas reduction are non-negotiable portions of the social license."

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Funbio presents compensation fund to EFWG

The CFA Environmental Funds Working Group held its monthly meeting last April 11th, 2012. Camila Monteiro, Communication and Network Coordinator, and Luiza Muccillo, Project Manager, presented the Funbio experience in managing compensation payments with the Fundo Mata Atlântica.


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Environment Bank and mission markets launch online conservation credit platform

Environment Bank and mission markets launch online conservation credit platform | Mining + Biodiversity | Scoop.it

The Environment Bank today launches the first online ‘conservation credit’ trading platform.  The online Conservation credits Exchange will allow conservation groups, farmers and landowners to register their wildlife sites so as to provide ‘conservation credits’; these credits will then be available to developers for purchase to offset their impacts on biodiversity – putting a transferable value on biodiversity loss and establishing private sector funding for the long-term management of conservation sites.


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Ribble Valley Borough Council - Green Shoots Of Recovery For Neglected Lodge

Ribble Valley Borough Council - Green Shoots Of Recovery For Neglected Lodge | Mining + Biodiversity | Scoop.it
Ribble Valley Borough Council News - Green Shoots Of Recovery For Neglected Lodge - A neglected lodge in Clitheroe could receive a new lease of life thanks to a unique environmental credit scheme.

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ABCG: Private Sector Partnerships for Conservation

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Biodiversity offsets could be locking in species decline

In a recent interview, the Opposition environment spokesperson Greg Hunt promised to reverse biodiversity decline in five years if the Coalition wins the forthcoming election.Is this goal achievable…

 

Is it possible to continue to clear land, but also stop biodiversity decline? In theory, perhaps. This is the apparent promise of biodiversity offsetting, an increasingly popular policy approach. But are our current offset policies really designed to halt declines? We argue the answer is no.

MJP EcoArchives's insight:

This is a great peice detailing the careful distinction between Offsetting by ecosystem preservation versus ecosystem restoration/creation.

 

They're talking about No Net Loss which is an important policy to have - it's instrumental to have any hope in an effective offset policy that the ultimate goal is to keep what we have right now and lot loose any more.

 

But it's not as simple as it sounds. As they say: "No Net Loss of what"??

 

They argue that if your offset is simply preserving ecosystems that might be lost, this isn't really No Net Loss.

 

There are lots of other ways to think about No Net Loss too - Loss of vegetation cover? Loss of species diversity? Loss of ecosystem area in a watershed? A river basin? In a Region? In a country?

 

And even when we know what we don't want to loose, how do we work out if we should use preservation or restoration or recreation? Here, these authors argue that preservation policies erode the no net loss policy and I can see their point.

 

But there are some very important ecosystems and natural areas that badly need proper preservation to survive, and they just aren't getting it through the normal channels.

 

Also, there are some very challenging restoration projects that don't achieve proper conservaiton because the context they are working in is so challenging - we just don't know everything about conservation and ecology to truly create or restore everything. Sometimes it's better to keep what you had, as replacing isn't possible.

 

We need to truly understand what we mean by No Net Loss - but the preservation/restoration/creation debate needs to happen. And we need detailed understanding such as presented here to make this happen.

 

It's complicated though, and anyone that thinks they have one single perfect answer, probably doesn't get it.

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The coal rush and after - Hindu Business Line

The coal rush and after - Hindu Business Line | Mining + Biodiversity | Scoop.it

"Non-coking coal has been the dominant fuel for electricity generation in India for the last several decades. During 1950-2010, more than 10,000 million tonnes (mt) of coal had been mined and exploited, leaving another 73,668 mt of proven deposits underground...

The much-touted norm of “compensatory afforestation” has remained illusory and it does not envisage compensating loss of biodiversity. No wonder, the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 has failed to maintain, if not increase, forest cover, as we have continued to lose 15,000 hectares of forests every year after 1980. A meaningful social cost-benefit appraisal of coal mining vis-a-vis forest conservation will surely tilt the balance of decision making in favour of the latter."

MJP EcoArchives's insight:

Clearly not a coal advocate, this writer highlights the impact seemingly- poorly regulated coal development in India is having. He suggests that more coal is being harvested than needed, and too much energy is being lost in taking it from the ground to the consumer. What's more, the pollution and biodiversity loss are costs unacceptably borne by the local populations, if not more widely.

 

In a country undergoing such rapid growth and with such a diverse and divided population it may not surprising that a more sustainable energy and biodiversity path is proving hard to follow. But it is sad, because there are some great ways for mining and biodiversity to co-exist in areas where both energy and environmental security are pressing.

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Molewa launches environmental-impact mitigation guideline for mining industry - Creamer Media's Mining Weekly

Molewa launches environmental-impact mitigation guideline for mining industry - Creamer Media's Mining Weekly | Mining + Biodiversity | Scoop.it
Molewa launches environmental-impact mitigation guideline for mining industry Creamer Media's Mining Weekly JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa on Wednesday launched a guideline document to provide...
MJP EcoArchives's insight:

This sounds like a really positive step towards better impact management - at least from a paper perspective. It talks quite a bit about the Mitigation Hierarchy and the use of Biodiversity Offsets as a last resort to deal with the residual negative impacts. I wonder if it talks about how to go about doing a Biodiversity Offset, because allowing it and acheiveing it are two different things. And enforcement is something else all together....

 

"“The guideline brings the ‘gist’ of all the legislation concerning mining and the environment into one document that can be referred to as and when needed. However, it does not seek to exempt the user from complying with the relevant pieces of legislation and should be used as a guide only,” she cautioned."

 

 

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Barrick Gold Biodiversity Standard: No net loss to biodiversity

Barrick Gold Biodiversity Standard: No net loss to biodiversity | Mining + Biodiversity | Scoop.it

Barrick Gold has biodiversity standard with "the goal of no net loss to biodiversity. "

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Extractive Sector Commitments to Preserve World Heritage Sites

Extractive Sector Commitments to Preserve World Heritage Sites | Mining + Biodiversity | Scoop.it

"the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) held a joint workshop to explore how the extractive sector interacts with UNESCO World Heritage sites.

High on the workshop's agenda was a discussion of so-called "no-go" commitments, which prevent extractive companies from exploring or mining in World Heritage properties. All 22 member companies of the ICMM, including sector leaders like Barrick Gold, BHP Billiton, Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold, and Rio Tinto, have made such "no-go" commitments.

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Mining and the environment: the future of Australia’s brand

Mining and the environment: the future of Australia’s brand | Mining + Biodiversity | Scoop.it
As the economic importance of mining accelerates beyond the environment, can they co-exist without impacting one another?
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Compensation for biodiversity loss – Advice to the Netherlands' Taskforce on Biodiversity and Natural Resources

In 2010, the No Net Loss-initiative (NNLi) analysed, requested by the Taskforce Biodiversity & Natural Resources, the effectiveness of current legislation and regulation with respect to mandatory compensation, assessed gaps in knowledge and methodology that might hamper effective voluntary compensation, executed two pilot projects with companies/ institutions and exchanged views with (groups of) stakeholders and experts. All of this to help the Taskforce to advise to the Dutch Government on how to improve current biodiversity policies, particularly with respect to voluntary biodiversity compensation.

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Biodiversity - Barrick Gold Corporation - Responsible Mining

Biodiversity - Barrick Gold Corporation - Responsible Mining | Mining + Biodiversity | Scoop.it

"Barrick’s Biodiversity Standard, developed in 2009, formalizes our stewardship activities and environmental management strategy. It requires us to integrate biodiversity into project planning and decision-making, to assess the direct and indirect impacts of new projects [and expansions of existing projects] on ecosystem services, to design projects that avoid potentially significant impacts on biodiversity, to exploit opportunities to protect and enhance biodiversity, to consult with stakeholders, and to engage in partnerships that address scientific and practical challenges relating to biodiversity protection or enhancement. The Standard applies from exploration through mine closure with the goal of no net loss to biodiversity. As described in the earlier sections on water, waste, and reclamation, we carefully manage our water use and our disposition of overburden and topsoil throughout the life of our mines. The Standard is now being implemented across the company."

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Gobi mega-mine puts Mongolia on brink of world's greatest resource boom

Gobi mega-mine puts Mongolia on brink of world's greatest resource boom | Mining + Biodiversity | Scoop.it
Coal extraction in 'the last frontier' expected to triple economy by 2020 but will compete with nomads for scarce resources...
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CEMEX signs agreement to strengthen biodiversity

CEMEX signs agreement to strengthen biodiversity | Mining + Biodiversity | Scoop.it
CEMEX announced today that it has entered into an agreement with Noble Group to collaborate in biodiversity and conservation efforts at El Carmen, Mexico.

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Fight taken to Colton coal mine

Fight taken to Colton coal mine | Mining + Biodiversity | Scoop.it
A GROUP of Aldershot residents and a lobby group have vowed to fight the Colton coal mine through the courts, if an environmental approval is granted.

 

"Wide Bay Burnett Environment Council (WBBEC) spokeswoman Emma-Kate Currie said the group would continue its fight against the coking coal mine because of its ecologically-sensitive location.

During the previous public feedback period, which ended in November last year, the WBECC raised concerns the mine would not comply with biodiversity protection regulations, which had been put in place in October.

"So in one sense, it is a positive that DERM has looked at the biodiversity offsets, because NEC will now have to develop a formal offset strategy," Ms Currie said.

However, she said the group still believed the site was inappropriate for a mine."

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BBOP Presents its new standard to the IFWG

BBOP Presents its new standard to the IFWG | Mining + Biodiversity | Scoop.it

The CFA Innovative Finance Mechanisms Working Group introduced the BBOP definitions of offsets, a definition that was collaboratively built by the BBOP team and its 80 member organizations. The main goal of offsets, for BBOP, is to enable no net loss or net gain while offsetting an impact.


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