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A tip sheet about mental health in Haiti observes:
“There is significant distrust of authorities and professionals due to a long history of oppression and exploitation…Haitians can appear paranoid, when in fact they are appropriately suspicious” .(1)

Here and there on the internet one can find people saying that there is uranium in Haiti.  Is it true?  It seems like it is.  The real question appears to be if the uranium is a minor low-grade byproduct of other mining, or if it is a primary product to be mined.  Why then does no one want to officially recognize it as being there?  Former President Aristide has claimed that there is uranium in Haiti.  One would think that he should know.  But where is the documentation?

At the bottom of the Tuesday, January 18, 2011 Majescor news release, for the SOMINE property, we find information about geophysical data processing and analysis for SOMINE.  It tells us that advanced geophysical interpretation work was performed for them by MBGeosolutions of Quebec. They evaluated two airborne geophysical surveys.  These were a helicopter-borne magnetic, electromagnetic and gamma spectrometer survey from 1995 and a recently-flown proprietary airborne magnetic (“MAG”) and gamma-ray spectrometric survey.  The gamma-ray spectrometer survey is said to have yielded a series of colour images for uranium, thorium and potassium. The uranium image is said to, in general, have not shown any spatial correlation with other datasets. Thorium and potassium images are said to “show a more interesting distribution”. High thorium and potassium values are said to have generated spectrometric regions, which correlated with magnetic regions and/or topographic features. The high Thorium-potassium regions were interpreted as reflecting felsic intrusive-extrusive rock units or felsic sedimentary units. (See: www. majescor.com, click on news 2011)

Now, as usual, this raises more questions than it answers.  There was a “uranium image”, so is there mineable uranium?  And thorium, which showed “a more interesting distribution”?

From what we can piece together from various articles, and from information, which Majescor gives us, about the geology (e.g. 2009 Technical Report, and News Releases), the SOMINE property appears to share many characteristics with other sites, which have uranium (and thorium).

Besides Morne Bossa, VCS Mining’s remaining prospect is Lazile.
Lazile is known for having lignite. Uranium may be found both within and next to lignite. The Maissade area in the central plateau also has lignite.

Months ago, we read that there was a thorium prospect much further south, southeast of SOMINE, but now we cannot find that record and we cannot recall who held the property.  It sort of went in one ear and out the other because who has heard of thorium?  Well, it turns out that plenty of people have heard of thorium.

Additionally we must point to the fact that Dale J. Schultz, who was exploring the SOMINE property, does uranium exploration (e.g. Macusani-Corani).  And, Kent Ausburn, whose 1981 Masters degree dealt with uranium (and Ph.D. on gold), was allegedly visiting Morne Bossa at the end of last year.  Considering that Morne Bossa is off the beaten track and neither a vacation spot, nor a place that an American would fall upon by accident, it would appear that if he was truly there, then it was in the framework of exploration — either for VCS Mining or for someone interested in investing in VCS Mining or for a potential purchaser of the site.  There were several gold deposits in the Bossa area, and uranium seems to often co-travel with gold, at least as a byproduct.

There are, of course, two other reasons that Ausburn and Schultz might be in Haiti.  Firstly there is coincidence, and secondly, since they care no more about their health, or that of others, than to deal with uranium, they probably would not be fearful of cholera in Haiti either.  In short, perhaps they were the only ones willing to go.  But, it is likely that they were there in the context of evaluating uranium and thorium on site.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Our routine readers know more about Dale J. Schultz than they surely ever care to know, but what about Kent Ausburn?  From 2002 to 2007, as co-founder and Vice President of Exploration for Tournigan Gold Corporation (later “Tournigan Energy” and currently European Uranium), he is said to have identified and acquired uranium projects in Slovakia (Kuriskova Uranium Deposit) and in the western US (Wyoming, Arizona, South Dakota), as well as some gold and base metal projects. http://biz.yahoo.com/e/121108/lcor8-k.html We are not certain if he sold his Black Hills properties to Powertech or if his are some of the many companies hoping to piggyback on Powertech, in order to impose more uranium mining upon the peoples of the Black Hills. See:
http://www.powertechexposed.com/ http://www.defendblackhills.org/

Unlike the Morne Bossa area, where we have old maps of what was believed to be mineral deposits, which overlay perfectly with the mined areas, we will probably never have good documentation about the amounts of uranium and thorium present at the different properties in Haiti (though we still hold out hope).  Nonetheless, we can come up with hypotheses, based on the information which we have.  Naysayers will point out that air-borne gamma-ray spectrometer surveys are sometimes used for prospecting in remote areas.  However, it appears that sufficient exploration had been done on the ground prior to these fly-overs.  This suggests that they were looking for uranium and perhaps thorium.  Why not?  Why not squeeze everything that they can from Haiti?  Up until the discovery of AIDS-HIV, Haiti was a major exporter of blood, as discussed in Paul Farmer’s “The Uses of Haiti”.  In fact, an infamous tonton macoute, Luckner Cambronne, had a business exporting blood, earning him the name the “Vampire of the Caribbean” (see pp. 49-50).  Elsewhere, either Farmer or another author told a story that one macoute chief, perhaps Luckner Cambronne, perhaps another macoute (maybe even Duvalier himself), sent corpses to US Medical Schools for the training of students.  When, the schools complained that the corpses were moldy upon arrival, the macoute offered to send the people alive and let the Med Schools kill the people themselves.  One wonders why Farmer has not spent time upon the topic of Mining in “The Uses of Haiti”, for after everything possible has been squeezed out of the people, blood and all, the mining companies count on squeezing the earth itself.  Ultra low grade copper, low grade gold, low grade uranium, who cares?  It won’t cost them much to squeeze it out of Haiti, leaving devastation behind.


What were we told in the press release?  That the high Thorium-potassium regions were interpreted as reflecting felsic intrusive/extrusive (i.e. igneous) rock units or felsic sedimentary units.

So, what does this mean?  Most of you will recall igneous rocks from your general science classes, but perhaps not much more than the fact that they come from volcanoes.  According to the USGS, “Igneous rocks (from the Greek word for fire) form from when hot, molten rock (magma) crystallizes and solidifies. The melt originates deep within the Earth near active plate boundaries or hot spots, then rises toward the surface.”  The Caribbean Plate meets the North American Plate in this area.  (For maps, etc. see: http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/eqarchives/poster/regions/caribbean.php http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caribbean_Plate)

The USGS further explains that Igneous rocks are divided into two groups.  There are 1) Intrusive (plutonic) and 2) Extrusive (volcanic) groups.  These depend upon where the molten rock solidifies.
The Intrusive or Plutonic Igneous Rock forms when magma is trapped deep inside the Earth. Intrusive rocks have a coarse grained texture.
“Extrusive, or Volcanic, Igneous rock is produced when magma exits and cools outside of, or very near the Earth’s surface. These are the rocks that form at erupting volcanoes and oozing fissures. The magma, called lava when molten rock erupts on the surface, cools and solidifies almost instantly when it is exposed to the relatively cool temperature of the atmosphere. Quick cooling means that mineral crystals don’t have much time to grow” (unlike intrusive which is slow cooling), “so these rocks have a very fine-grained or even glassy texture.” (unlike intrusive which are coarse and grainy) “Hot gas bubbles are often trapped in the quenched lava, forming a bubbly, vesicular texture. Pumice, obsidian, and basalt are all extrusive igneous rocks.” http://vulcan.wr.usgs.gov/LivingWith/VolcanicPast/Notes/igneous_rocks.html

“Volcanic Eruptions: When magma manages to migrate upward onto the surface, the result is volcanism (a volcanic eruption). A volcano forms as molten rock and solidified volcanic debris are ejected onto the surface and accumulate near the eruption site. In addition to rock material…When magma cools in the subsurface it slowly forms rock through the process of crystallization. The chemical and physical reactions that take place in cooling magma result in the formation of interlocking mineral crystal grains (minerals such as quartz, feldspar, and mica). The mineral grains (crystals) are of a visible size, giving the rock a crystalline texture.” (see USGS link above)

How are these Igneous rocks classified? They “are classified by the geologic environment where they formed from the crystallization of molten material…by their mineral composition.  Intrusive igneous rocks (like granite or gabbro) typically display visible mineral grains …”.  The mineral grains of Extrusive rocks are typically invisible. The general composition types are 1) FELSIC and 2) MAFIC.  The term Felsic is derived from “feldspar” and “silica”.  Mafic, on the other hand, means rich in magnesium and iron (Fe). (see USGS link above)

More USGS information, which you probably don’t care to know (we certainly don’t), but may need to know:  “Mineral Composition:
Rhyolite (a felsic extrusive rock) has the same mineral composition as granite (an intrusive igneous rock) and is composed dominantly of the minerals potassium feldspar (K-spar), quartz….Likewise, basalt (a  mafic extrusive rock) has the same mineral composition of the mafic intrusive rock, gabbro. This generalized composition of felsic and mafic can be subdivided into intermediate (between felsic and mafic composition), and ultramafic (rocks extremely enriched in magnesium and iron). Rocks of intermediate composition include diorite (intrusive) and andesite (the extrusive equivalent). Ultramafic rocks have special significance, in that they probably are derived from the mantle. They are relatively unstable on the Earth’s surface, and are typically metamorphosed.  In nature and in simplistic interpretation, igneous rocks that make up most continental crust typically have a felsic composition (such as rhyolite and granite). The mafic rock basalt is the dominant rock type that makes up most ocean crust. Rocks of intermediate composition are derived from the mixing of continental and oceanic crust. /Batholiths and Other Plutons: A body of rock formed from magma migrating and solidifying deep in the subsurface is called a pluton or an igneous intrusion. Huge intrusions, covering areas greater than one hundred square kilometers are called a batholith. Batholiths typically contain many separate intrusions that form over a relatively long period of time. Other types of intrusions typically form at shallower crustal depths; these include stocks,dikes,and sills. A stock is smaller than a batholith and typically represents the subsurface passage that fed molten material to a volcano or field of volcanoes over time. Sills and dikes are layers of igneous rock that typically form along fault zones, fractures, or between and parallel to sedimentary layers. A laccolith is a blister-shaped intrusion. Stocks, sills, dikes, laccoliths and other intrusions are remnants of past igneous activity and are exposed at the surface long after erosion has stripped away any ancient volcanoes and other overlying rocks and sediments that may have existed in an area.” (see USGS link above)

Examples of extrusive (volcanic) igneous rocks are Rhyolite (Felsic), Andesite, Basalt (Mafic), Dacite.  Examples of intrusive (plutonic) igneous rock are Gabbro (Mafic), Diorite, Granite (Felsic), Grandiorite, Pegmatite, Peridotite.  Tuffs are a volcanic ash matrix.  Rhyolithic tuff or breccia is Felsic.  Obsidian is volcanic glass (extrusive).(see USGS link above, and http://geology.com/rocks/igneous-rocks.shtml )  Felsic Rocks include Granite (intrusive), Porphyritic granite, Rhyolite (extrusive), Porphyritic Rhyolite, Rhyolitic tuff or breccia, Pumice Rock.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felsic


Firstly, all of those who have read the Technical Reports and News Releases for Majescor, as well as some information on the VCS Mining web site, will recognize many of these names.  Secondly, type of rocks, along with other information gleaned from the mining documents, gives us clues as to the likelihood of uranium of such a grade that it might be mined.

We are told that the average ppm of uranium in granite, which we now know is a felsic, intrusive (plutonic) rock, is 4 ppm.  The average ppm of uranium in volcanic rock, which we now know is felsic, extrusive is 20 to 200 ppm. http://geoinfo.nmt.edu/resources/uranium/where.html

While you will read here and there that the cut-off is higher, practically speaking there is mining of uranium or proposed mining of uranium at 100 ppm (0.01%) to 200 ppm (0.02%) or even lower (e.g. cut-off proposed at 75 ppm).

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

J. Thomas Nash (2010) of the USGS, discusses, at length, volcanogenic uranium sources.  For evaluation purposes he starts with what he calls a “permissive geologic tract for volcanogenic uranium deposits”.  He defines it as “a geologic terrane that includes volcanic and volcaniclastic rocks that are felsic to intermediate in composition (SiO2 > 65 wt percent).  The term ‘volcanic’ includes flows, tuffs, and shallow intrusions.” (Nash, 2010:  p. 60)  In other words, he proposes a very broad net, so as to catch all potential uranium deposits.  He seems to be including both intrusive (granite) and extrusive (volcanic) felsic rocks as volcanic, though it does not seem clear.

The Majescor-SOMINE Property is described as having underlying intermediate and felsic volcanic (extrusive) rocks, which are cut by diorite-granodiorite-tonalite-granite intrusive rocks.  Near the contact between the extrusive and intrusive rocks, copper mineralization is present (see SOMINE Technical Report, Barrie, 2009).

Nash (2010) sees this first step as “broader than ideal” and that “finer details of magmatism” are given no consideration because “uranium deposits may form from a broad spectrum of compositions. The age of rocks in a tract should not be restricted, because variants of any age can host deposits, including those that are metamorphosed.  This broad definition of ‘volcanic’ is designed to be inclusive at this stage, while eliminating rock types that offer no hope of hosting a volcanogenic uranium deposit.”  Furthermore, “the tract delineation process should include areas with volcanic rocks covered by up to 1 km of post-volcanic rocks or alluvium (that is, expand the tract into alluvial basins up to 1 km deep).” (see Nash, 2010: p. 60)

Nash (2010) notes that the distribution of uranium in volcanic rocks is fairly well understood.  Analytical advances were applied to refine the original concept of volcanic rocks and volcaniclastics as a source of uranium. Studies of many US volcanic systems show an association of high Uranium and Thorium concentrations with silicic volcanic rocks, generally classified as “rhyolite”. [We note that on the VCS Mining website section on metal creation in Haiti, they mention rhyolite]  In rhyolite, high Uranium concentrations may exceed 20 ppm.  High Thorium concentrations may exceed 40 ppm.  Topaz rhyolites were found to have the  highest concentrations of Uranium in some places (15–40 ppm Uranium).  Global studies have found high Uranium concentrations in peralkaline volcanic rocks, but high values are also found in alkali rhyolites, metaluminous rhyolites, and some calc-alkaline tuffs.  The ratio of Thorium to Uranium is about 2 to 3 ppm in fresh rhyolites.  It has frequently been noted that alteration changes Uranium content significantly.  Concentrations reported vary as much with alteration state as with composition.  Since Thorium is immobile under most alteration conditions, variations in Thorium to Uranium have been interpreted as a measure of enrichment or loss of Uranium. (Nash, 2010: p. 42)  [NB:  we cannot explain why his ppm are so much lower than the numbers given for volcanic rocks on the site cited on May 18th; rhyollite is classified as extrusive, felsic “volcanic”; perhaps the site cited on May 18th includes altered, enriched volcanic rock or veins, or perhaps it is an international average whereas his is for the USA].

He has a point system for various criteria which enhance the possibility of finding uranium.  One of these is rhyolite.  Others include anomalous Molybdenum, Thorium and Fluorine.  The presence of Molybdenum comes up in many articles discussing Uranium deposits.  Those who followed the drill-bit screw-up postings and read the news releases will recall that Molybdenum was anomalous at the SOMINE site.  That being said, Nash says that they can be indicative, but not always because Uranium is mobile.  High amounts of rainfall can help uranium concentrations but may also wash it away, especially in the case of a downhill slope.  He states that there are no significant volcanogenic uranium deposits with byproduct silver or gold and vice versa because of different transport conditions, depositional regimes and processes for epithermal metal systems  (On this last point see Nash (2010) footnote, p. 50).

Nonetheless, the copper and gold at the Haiti sites appear to be low grade.  It would seem that low grade uranium could occur with low grade gold or copper.  And, additionally, uranium does occur as a byproduct of many large mining operations.  It was, in fact, first noted ca 1565, as “pitchblende”, a byproduct of silver mining in the Erzgebirge, Saxony(Germany).  The first radium-uranium ore was found in a gold mine in the USA in 1871.  According to the IAEA (and others), uranium occurs at low concentrations (50–200 ppm) in many metalliferous (metal bearing) deposits.  In the past, it has been recovered as a by-product of processing of copper ores at Palabora (South Africa), Bingham Canyon (USA), and the Singbhum district (India).(IAEA, p. 66)

Thursday, 23 May 2013


Proposed mining in Haiti is all open-pit, surface mining.  So, there would be issues of radioactive dust, as well as ground and surface water contamination.  We have already discussed elsewhere, at length, the dangers of ionizing radiation and uranium mining.  For more details, or a reminder, of the dangers of uranium, uranium mining and the accompanying ionizing radiation, we refer you back to the April post “Margaret Thatcher, Dale J. Schultz, Macusani Yellowcake…”  Below we briefly summarize aspects of what a US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fact sheet says about uranium:  All uranium isotopes are radioactive.  The three natural uranium isotopes undergo radioactive decay by emission of an alpha particle accompanied by gamma radiation.  The EPA clearly states that “The release of radiation during the decay process raises health concerns”.  Most natural uranium, 99.27%, is U-238, with a half-life of 4.47 billion years; 0.72% is U-235 with a half-life of 700 million years, and 0.0055% is U-234, with a half life of 246,000 years.  Mining and refining of uranium produces wastes such as milltailings, which may introduce it and its radioactive offspring back into the environment by wind and water.  People can be exposed to uranium, and its radioactive offspring, by inhaling dust in air [e.g. from open pit surface mining; within an underground mine; from mining wastes], or ingesting contaminated water and food.  The general population is exposed to uranium primarily through food and water.  Those living near uranium mines or processing facilities “may have increased exposure to uranium.”  How does it get into the body?  It can enter the body when it is inhaled [e.g. dust from mining] or swallowed [e.g.. dust, food, water], or in rare instances it may enter via cuts in the skin.  According to the EPA, uranium that is outside the body is much less harmful than when it is inhaled or swallowed. The EPA clearly states:  “When uranium gets inside the body it can lead to cancer or kidney damage.”  and that “Long term chronic intakes of uranium isotopes in food, water, or air can lead to internal irradiation and/or chemical toxicity.”  Most of the uranium ingested in food or water will leave a person’s body within a few days.  However, a small amount of the uranium in the bloodstream will deposit in a person’s bones, where it will remain for years.  People who live near uranium mining areas,  may have increased exposure to uranium, especially if their water is from a private well. http://www.epa.gov/radiation/radionuclides/uranium.html See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Half-life


Contrary to what we are often led to believe, the dangers of ionizing radiation, in relation to mining, are real and have been long known – first epidemiologically.  One does not have to know why something kills to know that it does.  One can know that it is dangerous to jump off a cliff, without knowing the theory of gravity.  As far back as the 15th century, there were reports that miners in the Erzgebirge(Ore mountains)(German-Czech border area) had high mortality rates from some unknown lung diseases (Schneeberger disease).  Note that the Schneeberg mines, for which the disease is named, were not uranium mines, but were first silver mines and after the silver ran out they became cobalt, tungsten, arsenic, bismuth and nickel mines.  In other words, uranium and thorium, in the form of pitchblende, were byproducts of other mining.  Paracelsus first studied the disease in the 1530s, and first printed a book about it in 1567.  Starting in the mid 19th Century, two doctors (Haerting and Hesse) studied this disease in the Schneeberger mine for over 20 years and found that 75% of miners died from Schneeberger disease.  Hesse wrote in 1878 that near Schneeberg it is a well known fact that the miners get the so-called mountain sickness in the prime of life, and that ordinary people refer to this kind of death as lung cancer.  By autopsies of more than 20 miners, and of their lungs, they confirmed the popular opinion that it was lung cancer.  Initially arsenic or rock dust was suspected as the cause. With the discovery of radioactivity [xrays, uranium, thorium] and radium it was understood that these were the first known carcinogenic effects of ionizing radiation.  Research carried out from 1908 to 1912 found extremely high levels of radium in the waters and in the air of the Schneeberg mines.  HE Müller wrote, in 1913, that through radium research the dangerous effects of radiation and radium emanations, if it is of too long duration, became known.  He considered the Schneeberger lung cancer to be a specific occupational disease of the mines, whose rocks contained radium and whose air was laden with strong emanations.  All radium is generated naturally in the decay of either uranium (U) or thorium (Th).  Radon is the decay product of radium.  Contrary to what people want us to believe, this research would have been widely known early on.  Until not so very long ago, many educated academics, who did not have German as a mother tongue, read German. In the US, in particular, to receive a university degree in physics, chemistry, or protestant theology, German was often required.  Many German academics came to the US to teach and study both after the First World War and after the Second World War.  Paracelsus’ research in the 1567 would have also been widely known because educated people read Latin, historically. http://www.ccnr.org/salzburg.html http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schneeberger_Krankheit See Marie Curie, 1898 on Uranium and Thorium http://web.lemoyne.edu/~giunta/curie98.html http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marie_Skłodowska-Curie  Uranium isolated and named in 1789 in Berlin; Radioactivity of Uranium discovered in 1896 in Paris by Becquerel http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uranium


There are two chronic health problems that almost everyone agrees can be caused by even very low level exposure to ionizing radiation, and these are cancers of all kinds, and genetic mutations, both for the individual and for offspring.  These can be caused by even the lowest levels of radiation exposure, as there is no safe dose, rather risk is related to chance, i.e. statistical probability.  The risk generally increases linearly with exposure.  Dr. Gordon Edwards explains that even outside the area of the uranium mine there are impacts.  Each uranium mine spreads deadly radioactive poisons around the globe, as surely as the Chernobyl disaster did, as surely as atmospheric tests of nuclear weapons have done, but at a slower rate:  “Radon gas can travel a thousand miles in just a few days, with a light breeze. As it travels low to the ground (it is much heavier than air) it deposits its ‘daughters’ – solid radioactive fallout – on the vegetation, soil and water below; the resulting radioactive materials enter the food chain, ending up in fruits and berries, the flesh of fish and animals, and ultimately, in the bodies of human beings.” http://www.ccnr.org/uranium_deadliest.html http://www.ccnr.org/salzburg.html
This 3 minute Yellow Monster Trailer gives first hand account of the dangers of uranium mining-radioactive dust by Navajo – both outside and within the mines.

Saturday, 24 May 2013

The Austrian government gave the Curies pitchblende to research, hoping that they could find a use for this mining waste.  Besides uranium and thorium, other elements which the Curies found in pitchblende were polonium (named for Marie’s native Poland), radium and radon.  Uranium-238 decays through a series of radioactive intermediaries, including radium-226 to the radioactive gas radon-222.  As a gas, radon-222 can go into the atmosphere.  It decays through many steps to polonium-210.  Polonium-210 (half-life of 138 days) gets washed back down to earth before finally decaying to lead-206.  Polonium offspring of radon are thought responsible for the majority of lung cancer deaths attributed to indoor radon.  Plutonium is also present in tiny amounts in uranium ore.  While polonium and plutonium only occur naturally in tiny amounts, they are both very active and very dangerous. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polonium#Occurrence_and_production http://www.aip.org/history/curie/resbr2.htm http://www.aip.org/history/curie/article.htm http://escholarship.org/uc/item/9rp125zz http://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/radiological/radon/chain.htm http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uranium-238


Remember the dangers of alpha radiation? According to the EPA, “Uranium mining wastes, (uranium mill tailings), have high concentrations of uranium and radium. Once brought to the surface, they could become airborne or enter surface water as runoff.” Furthermore, “if alpha emitters have been inhaled, ingested (swallowed), or absorbed into the blood stream, sensitive living tissue can be exposed to alpha radiation. The resulting biological damage increases the risk of cancer; in particular, alpha radiation is known to cause lung cancer in humans when alpha emitters are inhaled.” http://www.epa.gov/radiation/understand/alpha.html

This is a video of an underground uranium mine in the USA (Arizona 1 mine).  It demonstrates it all: The ore comes up and the dust flies.  Notice that within the mine it is wet, which cuts down on dust.  But, as a result, the miner, interviewed by BBC’s Leana Hosea, is covered with what is probably radioactive mud.  Did anyone else see him lick his lips?  One, two, three licks? Whoops, was it four?  How often does he do this? How much alpha radiation will he ingest over time?  Imagine open pit mining on a hot sunny day and, even it has rained and there is no dust, the sweat pouring off the upper lip and washing radioactive mud into the mouth and off the brow into the eyes, where there are no goggles, and, of course, breathing the dust on non-rainy days.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013


Uranium isn’t the only radioactive element with the potential for being used for nuclear energy.  There is thorium.  Thorium is more abundant than uranium and can work in many varieties of nuclear power plants, including the Canadian “CANDU” reactors (remember that Majescor is a Canadian mining company, also involved in uranium exploration).  Since it is more common than uranium, and is less easily made into weapons, it has, once again, become a topic of much interest around the world.

In China, a long-term, 20 year study by Chen Xing-an et. al [ca 2004] was completed for the Baiyun Obo Rare-earth Iron Mine in China, open since 1958.  Its ore contains 0.04% Thorium Dioxide (ThO2) and 10% SiO2.  The study investigated health impacts on dust-exposed miners, following their long-term exposure to thorium containing dusts and thoron offspring.  It showed that the thorium present as a by-product in its rare-eath metals mine causes cancer.  [0.04%, Thorium Dioxide is 0.035% Thorium or 350ppm Thorium].  Their epidemiological study showed that the lung cancer mortality of the dust-exposed miners was significantly higher than that of the controls, suggesting that the difference results from long-term exposure to thorium-containing dusts (carcinogens are ThO2 and SiO2) and thoron offspring. Their study is the first evidence in humans of the carcinogenicity after long-term inhalation of thorium-containing dusts and thoron offspring.http://irpa11.irpa.net/pdfs/1b9.pdf

Thursday, 30 May 2013


The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in its summary page on Thorium, states that “There is some evidence that the body may absorb thorium through the skin.” http://www.epa.gov/radiation/radionuclides/thorium.html#affecthealth This was a surprise! Everything we have read says that thorium is less soluable in water than uranium, so it seemed kind of surprising that thorium would be absorbed through the skin and uranium not (unless it is more soluble in lipids(fat), which many things are. Alpha radiation is not supposed to be able to penetrate skin but might uranium?  So, we did a search and although it was repeatedly said that uranium cannot be absorbed by the skin, according to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), Public Health Statement for Uranium dated Feb, 2013:  “A very small amount of uranium can be absorbed through the skin; water-soluble uranium compounds are the most easily absorbed.” http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/phs/phs.asp?id=438&tid=77 Now, wouldn’t that need to be a concern when wetting down mines to keep dust from flying? The more water soluble uranium compounds would be in the mud, that gets all over the workers, wouldn’t they? Common sense would suggest that. Remember the video of the Arizona uranium miner covered with mud? Furthermore, “Uranium compounds that dissolve in water enter the bloodstream more easily than uranium compounds poorly soluble in water.” http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/phs/phs.asp?id=438&tid=77 Think of the tiny blood vessels or capillaries in your skin. Since this is dated 2013, for uranium, it appears the most up-to-date research. The CDC’s ATSDR for Thorium, dated Oct. 1990 observes “One animal study has shown that thorium can enter the body if it is placed on the skin.”, as well as “Since thorium is radioactive and may be stored in bone for a long time, bone cancer is also a potential concern for people exposed to thorium.” http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/phs/phs.asp?id=658&tid=121 In the last ATSDR for radium, Dec. 1990, it was reported unknown if it can be absorbed through the skin or not. http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/phs/phs.asp?id=789&tid=154

Now, of course, everyone wants to assure us that most uranium and thorium leaves the body fairly promptly (a week or two), but the key term is most, but not all.  As well, some exposure occurs in a week or two; and the more which enters the body, the more exposure there will be, especially since some accumulates.  According to the State of Delaware, Division of Public Health (5/2008) “Exposure to ionizing radiation from uranium causes immediate or delayed health effects. Observable effects occurring soon after receiving very large doses include hair loss, skin burns, nausea, gastrointestinal distress or death (Acute Radiation Syndrome). Long-term risks, including increased cancer risk, are a function of the specific radioisotopes involved; and the route, magnitude and duration of exposure./Route of Exposure: Inhalation and ingestion are the most likely routes for internal contamination from uranium radioisotopes. External exposure stops when the person leaves the impacted area and is decontaminated (to remove dust or residue from clothing, skin and hair). Internal exposure continues until the radioactive material is flushed from the body by natural processes, or decays. When a person inhales or ingests a radionuclide, it is distributed to different organs, remaining there for days, months, or years until it decays or is excreted. Once internalized, uranium radioisotopes can most significantly affect bone and the kidneys, as target organs.” http://dhss.delaware.gov/dph/files/raduranmed.pdf For Uranium, Friberg et. al. (1986) found that “Under Steady-State Conditions in Occupationally exposed subjects, 85% of the body burden of uranium was found in bone provided that uranium deposited in the lung is excluded.  More than 90% of the remaining uranium was in the kidney and detectable amounts could be found in the liver. http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/sis/search/a?dbs+hsdb:@term+@DOCNO+6925 According to the ATSDR (2013):  “Uranium that is absorbed is deposited throughout the body; the highest levels are found in the bones, liver, and kidneys. Sixty-six percent of the uranium in the body is found in your bones. It can remain in the bones for a long time; the half-life of uranium in bones is 70-200 days (this is the amount of time that it takes for half of the uranium to leave the bones). Most of the uranium that is not in bones leaves the body in 1-2 weeks.” http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/phs/phs.asp?id=438&tid=77
For Thorium, the National Research Council (1977) found that 70% reaching the blood is translocated to the bone, 4% to the liver and 16% to all other organs and tissues of the body. The half-life for bone is 8,000 days, for liver 700 days, and other organs and 700 days. http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/sis/search/a?dbs+hsdb:@term+@DOCNO+6932

Petitot et. al.(2007) noted that “Uranium uptake can occur accidentally by inhalation, ingestion, injection or absorption through intact or wounded skin.  Intact or wounded skin routes of absorption of uranium have received little attention”.  They found that “After a 24h exposure, uranium intake through intact skin and excoriated skin represents about 0.4% and 38% of the intitial deposit of uranium respectively”. http://lib.bioinfo.pl/paper:17429305 Good old epidermis!  The external skin is protective but not 100% so.  In 2003 Petitot, et. al. had found that even a very superficial wound, like an abrasion, which removed the outer skin layer, considerably increased the risk of incorporation of uranium into the body, during an external contamination. (see in references).  So, the uranium miner in the video might be in trouble, over time, even if he didn’t lick his lips.  But, obviously, licking makes for more exposure. And, this is a reminder of how little we really know about uranium and thorium. We have known they were dangerous for hundreds of years, but the serious research into how is very recent and still ongoing. It does seem rather ridiculous, however that, as Petitot observes “Intact or wounded skin routes of absorption of uranium have received little attention”! Wouldn’t you think that would be the first thing which anyone would study? We just need to leave the stuff in the ground, undisturbed where it belongs.

Saturday, 1 June 2013


Thorium (Th) was discovered in 1828 by the Swedish chemist Jons Jakob Berzelius, who named it after the Norse god of thunder and weather “Thor”, for whom Thursday and thunder are also named. In 1898 Gerhard Carl Schmidt and Marie Curie separately and independently discovered it to be radioactive.  The most common form of thorium, found naturally, is thorium-232.  It decays by alpha emission with accompanying gamma radiation to radium-228.  It is at the top of a long decay series that contains radium-228 and radon-220.  Thorium-232 has a half-life of 14 billion years.  This means that once disturbed through mining that it would remain a problem for a longer period than we can even start to imagine. http://www.epa.gov/radiation/radionuclides/thorium.html

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) explains that where high concentrations of thorium occur in rock, it may be mined and refined, producing waste products such as mill tailings.  Wind and water introduce the wastes into the broader environment.  As well, facilities that have processed thorium may release thorium to the air, water, or soil.  Those living near a facility that mines or mills thorium may receive higher than normal thorium exposures.  Also, people who work with thorium in various industries may receive higher exposures. http://www.epa.gov/radiation/radionuclides/thorium.html

The EPA continues:  “People may inhale contaminated dust, or swallow thorium with food or water. Living near a thorium contaminated site, or working in an industry where thorium is used, increases your chance of exposure to thorium.” Additionally people who live near thorium mining areas may have increased exposure to thorium, especially if their water is from a private well. http://www.epa.gov/radiation/radionuclides/thorium.html This is because the thorium can contaminate the aquifers, from which the well water would be drawn, as well as the rivers and lakes. The presence of large amounts of thorium in one’s environment could result in exposure to more hazardous radioactive decay products of thorium, such as radium and thoron, which is an isotope of radon. http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/phs/phs.asp?id=658&tid=121 Contaminated dust would be especially problematic in the context of proposed open pit mining.

When inhaled as dust, some thorium may remain in the lungs for long periods of time.  If ingested, most [but not all!] thorium leaves the body within several days. The small amount of thorium left in the body may be deposited in the bones. Unlike the EPA, this CDC fact sheet notes that there is some evidence that the body may absorb thorium through the skin, as we discuss on Thursday. http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/tp150-c1.pdf

The main concern from low to moderate level exposure to thorium is increased risk of cancer due to ionizing radiation.  According to the EPA and CDC summaries, studies have shown that inhaling thorium dust causes an increased risk of developing lung cancer, cancer of the pancreas, and hematopoietic cancers many years after being exposed. Bone cancer risk is also increased because thorium may be stored in bone. “Changes in the genetic material of body cells have also been shown to occur in workers who breathed thorium dust.” http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/phs/phs.asp?id=658&tid=121 http://www.epa.gov/radiation/radionuclides/thorium.html

Additionally, inhalation of thorium dioxide (ThO2) by rats led to progressive cirrhosis of the lungs, related to the dose of radiation. There is evidence in literature of increased respiratory disease and hepatic effects, including liver cirrhosis, in individuals occupationally exposed to thorium.  There is also evidence of cardiovascular effects, hematological effects, immunological effects, cirrhosis of the spleen, leukemia, and liver necrosis and fibrosis due to thorium. http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/tp147.pdf

In contrast to what we have read elsewhere, Clayton and Clayton (1993-94) found evidence of higher rates of birth defects near a thorium waste disposal site. http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/sis/search/a?dbs+hsdb:@term+@DOCNO+6932

The ATSDR-CDC says “We know very little about specific exposure levels of thorium that result in harmful effects in people or animals. High levels of exposure have been shown to cause death in animals, but no direct cause of death could be determined and no other health effects have been reported.”  Elsewhere they say that it was from metal poisoning. http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/phs/phs.asp?id=658&tid=121  However, most seem to believe that the health impacts are due to ionizing radiation, rather than to its acting as a heavy metal, although some say that this can not be excluded.  Uranium, on the other hand, is believed to cause health problems both due to its being a heavy metal (similar to lead), and due to its ionizing radiation.
What is striking, however, is that they say “We know very little…”

The most stunning statement, which we found, is “The measurement of external gamma rays emitted from thorium daughters present in the subject’s body and of thoron in the expired air many years following exposure can be used to estimate the body burden of thorius” (Conibear 1983 cited by the CDC). Many years following exposure they may measure external gamma rays emitted from thorium offspring present in the body and of thoron in the air an exposed person breathes out! http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/tp147.pdf See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whole_body_counting

The major problem is that there are already radioactive wastes spread all around the world from previous mining, natural processes, nuclear power plants and nuclear weapons.  We don’t need to let anymore loose anywhere!  The pro-nuclear camp want to tell us that “some” ionizing radiation is good for us.  While that could be so, we are way past the “some” already and too far into the “too much”.  The “some” would be natural ionizing radiation undisturbed by mining. One of the victims of the Yanacocha mine, in Peru, said in the film “Open Pit”, that he would rather that the mine security forces kill him promptly than to die slowly of cancer.  We suggest that it is better to die peacefully in bed of old age, rather than a slow, painful death from cancer.  Statistically, the more ionizing radiation is out there in the world, the greater the chances that we will get cancer.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013


For anyone who wants to take an indepth look at Haiti geology there is a lot to indicate that uranium and thorium could be there. There is the Caribbean-North American fault boundary, the mountains, and phases of volcanic eruption itercalated with sedimentation. There are various faults large and small.  There is low-grade copper, gold, and there is molybdenum.  Because of the complexity of the geology, we opted for the term volcanogenic, rather than stating all of the types of uranium deposits possible.  Considering that “experts” cannot even decide if the Macusani-Corani area in Peru has a mineable amount of uranium, after years of exploration, we do not expect to ever know the facts about Haiti, unless some additional documents turn up, and we remain hopeful that they may.  Since Majescor has been involved in uranium prospection elsewhere, and their stock is now worth only two cents (they did another “private placement”, which closed on May 17th and further diluted their stock to this price), we really believe that if there was a significant amount of uranium on the property that they would have made it widely known in order to get their stock prices up (unless they want to go out of business).  For the other companies, it is more difficult to tell.  Whatever grade of uranium-thorium is in Haiti, especially on the Majescor-SOMINE property,  would seem to be low grade, making it more of a liability to talk about than to ignore, (lest they be required to take additional precautions).  However, they can sell it as a byproduct.  They can sell a mix of low grade copper, low grade gold and any low grade uranium-thorium present, as well as whatever other low grade minerals are there.  Thus, our best guess is that uranium-thorium would be at 40 ppm to 200 or 300 ppm at most.  This appears enough for them to sell it as a byproduct.  We hesitate to talk of byproduct, because all of these areas seem so low-grade, that they all appear what would elsewhere, or in the past, be called “byproducts”.  Whether recoverable or not, disturbing the naturally occurring uranium and thorium, increases the risk associated with mining in Haiti, especially the proposed open pit mining.

But, let’s look further back.  Anyone who has read about mining in Haiti has heard of the old SEDREN mine.  SEDREN is “la Société d’exploitation et de développement économique et naturel”, which was the Haitian subsidiary of the Canadian Group Consolidated Halliwell.  They started prospecting in 1954 and were given a mining concession on the 29 of April 1955 to extract copper in the region of Meme (Terre Neuve/ Gonaives).  However, they are said to have only operated from 1960 to 1971 and to have extracted 1,500,000 tons of ore.  Consolidated Halliwell had uranium and thorium prospects in Canada, so they probably would have been looking for uranium and thorium.  But, this is not the only company who has held this mine.  There seem to have been mines at this site before SEDREN, and after.  Very interesting and never mentioned is First City Development of Haiti (FCDH), an Illinois company, which we will discuss on Friday.  It is also interesting that most books on Haiti seem to only mention Reynolds Bauxite and SEDREN leading us to falsely believe that this is the only historic mining.

Friday, 7 June 2013

The copper and gold deposit of Meme-Casseus is/was situated 16km northwest of Gonaives and 6-8 km south of Terre Neuve.  It was classified as a skarn type sulfide deposit containing chalcopyrite, pyrite, bornite, chalcosine(chalcocite) and molybdenum.  Indications of copper, gold and silver covered an area of 27km2.  The reserves of the Meme deposit were estimated by SEDREN as 3,500,000 tonnes of ore with 2% copper grading, of which 1,500,000 were removed by SEDREN and thus 2,000,000 left when First City Development Haiti, SA (FCDH) took over. (FCDH-Cayman is-was a related company)

Strangely, FCDH goes mostly without mention even though they held the mine for over 17 years.  According to Prepetit (ca 2000), a mining convention was signed on July 16, 1982 (under Duvalier), between the Haitian State and First City Development of Haiti, SA (FCDH), in order to do preliminary studies for reopening the Meme mine.  An exploitation contract for the Meme mine was signed August 8, 1983 between the Haitian State and FCDH, SA in the framework of the 1982 Convention.  The exploitation contract given to FCDH was foreclosed upon July 31, 1984, by the Ministry of Economy and Finance, and the Ministry of Mines and Energy Resources, due to non-respected obligations.  The Meme mine was occupied “illegally” by them, according to Prepetit, and was closed by the BME (Bureau of Mines and Energy) on September 4, 1989 and seals affixed by the authorities of Gonaives. (Duvalier left Feb. 1986)  An exploitation contract was signed on June 22, 1992 (post-coup; under Marc Bazin), outside of the BME, between the Haitian State and FCDH for the exploitation of the Meme copper mine at Gonaives.  An order dated March 23, 1993 (under Bazin) authorized FCDH to exploit copper at Meme.

According to a wikileaks-“cablegate” 2005 US Embassy document, FCDH, SA alleged to have invested $9 million in the operation of this mine “since 1985”.  They say that in 1996, local Haitian government authorities challenged their right to the concession, and that the property was seized and held from September 1996 (during Preval’s tenure) until the spring of 1998 (still Preval).  FCDH successfully defended its claim in district court of Gonaives and again in appeals court in Gonaives when the government appealed the ruling in favor of the company. FCDH regained control of the mining property subsequent to the appeals court decision.  The case was appealed by the government to the Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of FCDH in 1998.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Oddly enough, 1984, the very year that the BME says that FCDH had their mining concession revoked, was the very year that Robert Nickel started First City Development of Haiti (with a business partner), according to his obituary. They leased a copper, gold, and silver mine in Haiti [recall that uranium can be a byproduct of these].  Nickel and his family are said to have spent 8 years in Haiti.  The original, US end of the company, seems to be FCDH Cayman, registered in Delaware in 1978.  FCDH, LLC is listed as registered in Illinois only from February 8, 2006 until involuntary dissolution on August 12, 2011.  Another, related company, appears to be FCDH UK, which was incorporated in the UK 12 May 2011, and was dissolved 8 January 2013 (seemingly due to Budnik’s death).  Edward George Francis was a board member of FCDH UK.  Bizarrely enough, Edward Francis updated (after Aug. 19, 2012) at least one online business profile (Manta) for First City Development Haiti, in Illinois, after Budnik’s death in July, and left Budnik as the second contact, after himself.  The 847 area code given is the Chicago area, so, if Budnik really died, he would not be found there.

2012 does not seem a lucky year to have owned a Haitian mining company.  Enerlio Gassant, listed as owner of Delta Mining, which holds the Morne Bossa Convention, died on Jan 20, 2012, and the two original owners of First City Development Haiti, SA died.  They now know that you can’t take it with you when you die, and are surely paying the price of any wrongs done to Haiti.  Robert Nickel died on February 9, 2012.  His colleague, Norbert “Bo” Budnik died around the 4th of July, shortly after being served with an out of state (Nevada) deposition order (June 19, 2012) for James McGhin, Jr. et. al. vs. Morgan Stanley (CV 07-02421).  This case seems to be about Riley McHugh, who worked for Morgan Stanley, selling the stock of the related company FCDH Cayman, even though it was not listed for sale with Morgan Stanley.  The stress of this summons would appear the event which precipitated Budnik’s death, unless it was a freak coincidence.  The person who is currently listed as owner of FCDH Cayman, Robert Boeck, was also summoned.  As to what these companies do or did as a business, there are all sorts of things listed if you do an online search — most related to mining.  There is metallic and nonmetallic mining listed, mining services, and even uranium, radium and vanadium ores.  Also, petroleum products and industrial lubricants are found associated.  This probably means that they did a wide variety of things.  Do a search for First City Development Haiti uranium and you should pull up the ones about uranium, radium and vanadium ores.

Prepetit (1996), discusses the SEDREN mine, and informs us that during exploitation from 1960-1971, flotation wastes containing residual metals were stored near the processing plant.  He said that currently (meaning ca August 1996), the walls supporting the tailings dam have fissures and risk collapsing.  This was written about a month before the property was seized by the Haitian government.  Where was that $9 million investment in the property that First City Development Haiti, SA whined to the US Embassy that they had made “since 1985”? They had operated the mine for about a decade when Prepetit wrote this.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

What is/was this mine like?  According to Prepetit (1996), it is at an altitude of 500 meters and comprised of underground tunnels. Surface facilities include a concentration and flotation plant (3 grinders, 3 cyclones, crushers, flotation cells, dryer, tank and conveyor system), a garage and a thermal power plant.  As for underground facilities, the mine developed to 800 feet height and 7 levels of galleries. Three (3) levels situated under the main gallery and the pithead of the mine are accessible by a vertical shaft and interior ramp and “currently flooded”.  This seems peculiar given the occupation of the mine by FCDH.  This description seems based upon a 1992 description by Prepetit et. al. in the BME promotional brochure for the Artibonite.  In 1992 he said that FCDH cleaned the facility from 1982 to 1989.  One of Nickel’s obituaries says “In 1984 he started First City Development of Haiti and leased a copper, gold and silver mine. They spent eight years in the country of Haiti.” (Plainsman, 3-13-2012). They in this obituary seems to be him and his wife.  Another obituary speaks of the time the family spent in Haiti, and many friends made. (Freeman Courier, Mar 6, 2012).  What were they doing then?  Cleaning?  Why was it flooded?  It appears to us that the mine must have been at least somewhat active.  Prepetit (1996) says that [under SEDREN] the ore was treated in a “classical” way: crushing – grinding – sifting – classification – flotation – recovery of copper concentrate. http://www.bme.gouv.ht/mines/environnement/MINES%20ET%20ENVIRONNEMENT.pdf http://www.bme.gouv.ht/mines/fascicule/F4Artibonite.pdf Elsewhere we have read mention of a nearby open pit mine, as part of the operation.

Prepetit (1996) observes that from the first storage of tailings/ wastes, rainwater has infiltrated across the wastes stored and probably contributed to contaminating the water used by the population downstream.  He notes that special attention should be given to the state of the underground installations and the possible toxicity of the wastes stored near the mine.  He says that the mine was closed with haste and that no law was followed from the judicial, technical or environmental perspective.  He remarks an unusual trait of the population downstream, below the mine and that is red teeth.  He wonders if it is related to drinking the [contaminated] water. http://www.bme.gouv.ht/mines/environnement/MINES%20ET%20ENVIRONNEMENT.pdf
The technical word for red teeth is erythrodontia.

Friday, 14 June 2013

What about those red teeth?  Did Prepetit mean red on the surface?  Did he perhaps mean that the teeth were eroded away?  Did he mean that the red was incorporated into the enamel?  What would cause them to be red?  Unfortunately, even after what seems endless hours of research, we cannot tell you definitively, although we could guess.  We can tell you, however, that teeth and bones are supposed to be essentially hydroxyapatite [Ca10(PO4)6(OH)2].  Supposed to be, because in reality many things can displace the basic components.  This can impact both the color and the structure of the tooth enamel.  The hydroxyl ion can be removed and replaced by fluorine, for instance, to form Fluorapatite [Ca10(PO4)6(F)2], which can make teeth more resistant to decay, but in excess is believe to cause mottling of teeth and problems for the bones. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apatite  Many potentially toxic metals can displace the calcium in teeth.  They include lead, strontium, iron, copper, and manganese.  These also deform the crystalline structure of the teeth by changing bond lengths.  Barium can also displace calcium.  (see Gutowska, et. al. 2005; other links in references; periodic table)

Radium, which is highly radioactive, resembles calcium chemically, and is treated like calcium in the body.  Hence, it has the potential to cause great harm by replacing calcium in bones and teeth. (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radium and the periodic table)  Ingested uranium, taking the form of uranyl ions [UO2]2+, can also displace calcium [Ca2+] in teeth and in bones (see Toor, 2012 in references).

For this reason, teeth have been used in studies to evaluate uranium exposure of those living near the Caetite uranium mine in Bahia state Brazil.  41 human teeth were collected, plus 50 from an area believed to be uranium free, as a control.  The highest uranium concentration in teeth was for residents of Caetité. Based on what they found, the researchers concluded that uranium body levels in residents of Caetité are at least one order of magnitude higher than the worldwide average, and that daily ingestion of uranium, from food and water, is equally high.  A similar study is currently being undertaken to evaluate the impacts of uranium mining on drinking water in South Africa. Extracted wisdom teeth can be used, in case you wonder.

According to the New York Times (12 Sept. 2009), and others, pollution from mining, in violation of the Clean Water Act, is believed to be eroding teeth in parts of the US.  The New York Times found that “in recent years, violations of the Clean Water Act have risen steadily across the nation”.  http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/13/us/13water.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&

So, the red teeth situation, downstream from the SEDREN-FCDH Mine could be potentially revealing and is worthy of research.  We can’t help but recall an inane USAID study undertaken, in this period, by a US School of Public Health (which we won’t be so impolite as to name, but it is online), which studied nutritional deficiences in Haitian children.  Why throw money away on that?  Of course, they will have nutritional deficiencies if they are lacking in food!  That’s a no-brainer.  Use the money to feed the children, or to do worthwhile research, such as finding out why these people, downstream from the mine, have (had) red teeth!

Sunday, 16 June 2013

It is worth noting that Claude Prepetit, who works for the Haiti Bureau of Mines, is the foremost authority on mining in Haiti.  Having discussed the replacement of calcium and hydroxyl ions by other minerals from the mining process, we need to clarify, perhaps, that these replacement minerals can change the color of the teeth.  The answer to the red teeth probably lies someplace between a dentist and a pottery expert.  More than one mineral could give teeth a color construed to be red, with iron being one likely candidate.  Uranium has been used to color pottery and glass in shades of green, yellow, red, orange and black for hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of years.  According to a pottery expert, the color of glaze varies from yellow to dark red, according to the percentage of uranium present.  However, we do not know how much baking impacts the color, nor the color which would present in teeth.  The earliest intentional use of uranium for pottery colorant, found thus far, is from 79 AD.  From the middle ages in Europe, up to as late as 2000 (and more rarely today), uranium has been used as part of glass coloring and pottery glazes.  From the late middle ages, uranium was extracted from the the Habsburg silver mines in Jachimsthal, Bohemia, to the glassmakers of the region, as a coloring agent. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uranium Thus, it is possible that uranium, especially in the form of pitchblende (French pechblende; Spanish pechblenda) may have been mined, as a byproduct of other mining, and exported, early on, from Hispaniola and/or later Haiti, and/or used locally for pottery or glassware.  Then, even more than today, uranium was simply perceived as a byproduct and probably would have passed unmentioned.  It has rarely captured the imagination in the way that gold has.  Even silver appears fade compared to gold.

In the media drama, which followed the June 3rd, 2013 World Bank Mining Conference in Haiti, some once again trotted out the tired old lie that Haiti is unexplored for mining.  There is really no place on earth which has not been explored for mining, outside of areas under melting glaciers and icecaps.  The most recent would be Papua New Guinea, around 100 years ago (and we wouldn’t be surprised if there was earlier undocumented exploration of it), and so it is not surprising that one of the largest gold mines in the world, Grasberg, is found in that region.  Even rumors of head-hunting and cannibalism never keep the greediest away, whether we are speaking of the Amazon, New Guinea or elsewhere.  It can help, however, and the wise might want to start circulating such rumors, although it could go either way:  scare away the greedy or justify extermination.  Maybe Haiti needs to trot out new zombie myths for self-defense.  Haiti has little to lose, by attempting to scare away the latest vampires, attired as mining companies.  But, then again the risk of zombification (in the traditional sense) might not be enough to scare the latest vampires away!  Those who love gold, more than life itself — and there are those people — are never scared away, even by head-hunting tribes, according to history.  They just don’t get the fact that they can’t take their money with them when they die.  Robert Nickel, Norbert Budnik and Enerlio Gassant now know that you can’t take it with you.  Mining exploration in Haiti has rarely been absent since the beginning of 1493 (shortly after Columbus “discovered” the island), and gold mining pre-dated this time.  The Haitian government has finally realized that people know that there was mining, at the beginning, but still have trotted out the patent lie that there has been no modern mining in Haiti.

Saying that Haiti is unexplored for mining is good for waking us up, lest we snooze, and getting our dander raised up like an irate cat with his hair sticking up on end.  It is incredible how some people constantly take everyone for idiots or take advantage of our collective memory loss to trot out the same lie, every 5 or 10 years, that mining is new in Haiti.  In the past, this could work, but with internet letting us examine the past, they will have to come up with a new trick like selling us sinkholes in Florida or Louisiana or wait, here’s an idea — why don’t they sell sinkholes in karst-filled Haiti.  But, even that isn’t totally new, it appears.

Saying that Haiti is unexplored, full of gold, etc. and needs to be mined is akin to telling an elderly lady who had a dozen children, and who has grandchildren and great and great-great grandchildren, as numerous as the stars in the heavens, that she needs to undergo fertility treatment to squeeze out one more egg and have yet another child!  That is really the mentality we are dealing with in mining the low-grade ore, which remains in Haiti.  Like this elderly lady, Haiti has been squeezed enough.  And, radioactive mining byproducts make the bad, worse – for billions of years.

So much for our diatribe.  As for the conspiracy theory that Haiti is full of uranium, if they mean high-grade uranium, this just seems highly unlikely, although we may live to eat our words.  There have been a couple of booms in the value of uranium in recent years and there just seems no way to imagine that these companies wouldn’t be attempting to pump up their stock prices, if there were high grade uranium.  Unless it is some sort of mega-high grade deposit, there seems little reason to hide its existence.  Even then, we see no reason why it would be hidden.  The US government has recently signed an agreement with Peru, for military cooperation, in part to protect Peru’s uranium mines from falling into the hands of terrorists. http://forusa.org/blogs/susana-pimiento/indigenous-farmer-communities-reject-us-military-base-peru/12069  But, that concern has not kept the mining companies at Macusani-Corani from marketing their mines as uranium mines, albeit very low grade.  If there was ever high-grade (or medium-grade) uranium kept secret, the most likely scenario would be that mining occurred between 1959 and 1990, under Duvalier and/or post-Duvalier dictatorships, in the time of the SEDREN and perhaps FCDH mines, and  that uranium was secretly exported from these and/or other mines. The proximity of Cuba and fears that Duvalier senior (or others) might ally with Castro, could give credence, in a cold war atmosphere, to secret uranium mining. Still, one would think that some old documents would have leaked out by now.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

In the 16th century, Bartolomé de las Casas, spoke words about Haiti, which might have been written today or during much of Haiti’s history, if only we replace Spaniards by other exploiters, such as the current Haitian elites, some of whom have formed Mining Companies: “It was upon these gentle lambs …that from the very first day…the Spanish fell like ravening wolves upon the fold…The pattern established at the outset has remained unchanged to this day, and the Spaniards still do nothing save tear the natives to shreds, murder them and inflict upon them untold misery, suffering and distress, tormenting, harrying and persecuting them mercilessly.” http://seestjohn.com/st_john_life/tag/father-bartolome-de-las-casas/  Oh, yeh, plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose (the more it changes the more it stays the same)

Don’t let the Haitian government or anyone else fool you about “modern” mining either.  There was prehistoric mining thousands of years ago during the Bronze Age. http://www.nuigalway.ie/ross_island/prehistoricmine.htm The Romans had mines in Spain, over a thousand years before Columbus, and had really sophisticated mining techniques.  These included open pit (open cast), underground, and even “mountaintop removal”.  After they were done digging underground, they removed the supportive pilings and told everyone to run for it, as the mountain collapsed.  The workers in Roman Spain, as in Spanish Hispaniola, were mostly slaves, so if some got killed in the collapse the owners didn’t care.  Pliny the Elder documented Roman mining techniques in Spain in a work published ca 77 to 79 AD. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_History_(Pliny) Recall that the earliest documented intentional use of uranium for coloring pottery was by the Romans in 79 AD.  So, when the Spaniards arrived in Haiti, they would have known a lot about mining. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Las_Médulas The main thing which has changed in all of these years is that the quality of the ore has steadily declined, meaning that many more tonnes of waste rock must be moved for the same amount of metals.  We also know much more about the dangers to the miners and to the environment.  We especially know the dangers of uranium, thorium, radium, and also lead, which were not known in Roman times.

According to Claude Prepetit (ca 2000), by 1502 all of the provinces of Hispaniola, in today’s Haiti, paid the Spanish an annual tribute in cotton, foodstuffs or gold.  During this period, the gold mines made the fortune of the colony and that of Spain.  In this period, ruins, instruments and some deposits of iron and copper were mentioned near Terre Neuve [i.e. the area of the SEDREN, FCDH Mine], indicating mining and metallurgy, probably carried out by the Spanish.  By 1545 the mines were almost exhausted, the Indians were dying off more and more, and the Spanish colonists didn’t want to practice agriculture or work in the mines, which led to a rapid decline of Hispaniola.  Another author called the mines originally found in Hispaniola “marginally productive” and stated that “The mines in Hispaniola became depleted in the 1520’s and those of Puerto Rico and Cuba became exhausted within the following decade.” http://www.seestjohn.com/history_gold.html A ton of gold per year is estimated to have been sent to Spain.  But, how much more may have been sold clandestinely by pirates on the island of Tortuga?

With the mines left by the Spanish exhausted, the French colonists had to give priority to agriculture, which is what made the colony, now Saint Domingue, The Queen of the Antilles.  Still in 1785 some lapis was found near the Limbe River and in the area of Plaisance some streams had gold nuggets.  A copper mine near Port-de-Paix was also discovered in 1785.  The first mining law for Haiti was the Loi Fabre Geffrard, 28 Nov. 1860.  Gentil Tippenhauer published, from 1899 to 1901, several geological studies for parts of Haiti: Port-au-Prince, Jacmel, Bainet, Grand-Goâve, Terre-Neuve, Gonaïves, Morne la Selle, Cul-de-Sac, Maïssade.  Edmond Roumain in 1899 demanded a mining concession for all of Terre-Neuve [i.e. area of SEDREN-FCDH Mine].  He formed a company called  “Compagnie de Terre-Neuve” in New-York.  It was dissolved after an unfavorable report on the properties.  In 1901 Henri Thomasset obtained a concession for the regions of Grande Riviere du Nord/Zepiny and started prospecting 31 January 1902.  These two regions were mined from 1904 to 1915 (Prepetit says apparently intermittantly).  In 1905, a Haitian company named “Compagnie Minière de Terre-Neuve” with Edmond Roumain as Président was established in Port-au-Prince.  Considerable research work was done but interrupted after several years.  In 1910, a report was published in the official journal the “Moniteur” by Frédéric Doret [possible ancestor of Angelo Viard of VCS Mining] on the situation of the mines of Terre-Neuve.  [This suggests that there was a good bit of mining if there was a status report on the mines].  During the same year  “Hayti Mines Company” was formed in  New-York and took control of the “Compagnie Minière de Terre-Neuve”.  The work took place in intervals and was finally stopped before 1920, after having extracted 436 tonnes of copper ore [there would, of course, have been other minerals mixed in with this “copper ore”].  A mining law dated 14 February, 1919, during the US Occupation of 1915-34, regulated the concession and exploitation of mines and quarries in the Republic of Haiti.  This replaced the 1860 law.  In 1924  “Géologie de la République d’Haïti” by Wendell P. Woodring et. al. was published, based on a geological survey from Oct. 1920 to April 1921.  A new mining law was passed 14 March 1929.  New prospecting in the region of Grande-Rivière du Nord was realized by “West Indies Mining Company” between 1949 and 1951.  This American company exploited a vein of copper for a few months between 1949 and 1951.  Then we have SEDREN, of course, from the 1950s to 1971.  In 1960 the Company “Haïcana” obtained an exploitation permit in the North.  From 1972 to 1975, the region of Jean-Rabel [site of a famous peasant massacre; perhaps related to mining?] was prospected by the French company Penarroya.  In 1976, a Mining Convention was signed the 15 January 1976 between the Haitian State and the Société Franco-Haïtienne de Mines (SFHM), subsidiary of “Penarroya” of France in order to do research in the regions of Jean-Rabel, Camp Coq, Limbé Grande-Rivière du Nord.  The studies ceased in 1980.  The current Mining Law was passed in 1976 and replaced a 1974 law, which replaced the 1968 law (which replaced the 1943 law).  The 22 March 1976, a Convention was signed with Société Minière d’Haïti S.A (SMH), subsidiary of Kennecott Exploration, Inc, to do research at Crête Rouge, Terre Grasse, Limbé, Grand Bois (Nord).  Research permits were granted the 20 October 1977.  A research permit was accorded to SHM (Kennecott) the 23 February 1978 for the region of Champagne (Nord), conforming with the Convention signed the 22 mars 1976.  Reynolds Haitian Mines (Bauxite) was given a Mining Concession in 1944, which was modified in 1971.  In 1981, [just prior to FCDH receiving its concession], the Japanese company Toyoda Tsusha Kaisha effectuated prospection work in the region of Terre-Neuve (Meme-Casseus).  The work was not continued. http://www.bme.gouv.ht/mines/M%E9mento1.rtf The above, unless in brackets, or otherwise indicated, is based upon Claude Prepetit’s history, at the above link.  He also discusses the many studies done for the UN and other agencies like the BRGM throughout the 1970s and into the 1980s.  Although we do not recall him discussing it, a lot of new (at the time), small mining companies seem to have been employed by the UN to carry out the research.  Elsewhere we have discussed companies like St. Genevieve, Citadelle, and KWG who did research from the 1990s and even to the 2000s.  A quick search for Penarroya turns up the name of an article from 34 years ago (1979) co-authored by the late Leslie Delatour entitled  “Prospects and Potential for Mineral Development in Haiti”.  Now, he’s dead and his widow has married Rene Preval and everyone’s still talking about the topic of this paper, which he wrote 7 years before the fall of Duvalier.  So, the stuff about instability stopping mining is malarky.  Besides, FCDH was there throughout years of instability.  We hope that all of this drives home the point that prospecting and mining research has been almost a constant in Haiti for the last 100 plus years and probably much, much longer.  And, that there has been more mining than is ever discussed and perhaps more than is known.  One online author criticized an organization for being late to the table on the mining problem.  But, anyone who is alive today is late to the issue of mining in Haiti.  Anyone who tells you that mining is new in Haiti either does not know the facts or is a liar.  In this instance, we believe that most of the lies come from ignorance of the facts.  Haiti’s geology suggests minerals should be there, but the question is really how much is left after all of this time, with constant prospecting, research and mining.  This goes for uranium, thorium, copper, gold, silver, etc.

Friday, 21 June 2013, solstice (UTC)

The old SEDREN underground mine, in conjunction with the nearby Casseus prospect was picked up by Eurasian Minerals-Newmont in December 2008 (Mémé property).  They dropped it, and by a year ago, Martelly and Lamothe were seeking someone to reopen it. It would appear that Eurasian-Newmont Haïti found it empty, or at least, not what was promised.  No mention was made in their press releases about FCDH holding the mine.  Rather they based the expected copper and gold grade and tonnage on a 1989 summary report.  According to Alterpress (June 2012), the local mayor, Jean Osner Amisial, urged the inhabitants to be vigilant, as SEDREN brought no benefits to the area.  A former miner interviewed by Alterpress (July 2012), Sauveur Du Chatelier, remarked that so many died in the mine, that when no one died SEDREN threw a party.  According to the same article, former miners said that FCDH owed them 3 years of unpaid wages.  This article claims that FCDH “vainly attempted to reopen the mine”, but we remain unconvinced.  FCDH was there too many years to have done nothing.  And, what were the 3 years of unpaid wages for?  It seems that last year the Haitian government may have been successful in pawning off the old mine to a private company.  We are left with the perception of a deflated ball being kicked about.  By November, 2012, there was an advertisement (Mining Recruitment Group) for a fly-in-fly-out,  FIFO, mine manager position for Haiti.  It said that they were “currently seeking applications on behalf of our client, a privately held mining company that recently acquired a past producing underground and open pit gold mine in Haiti that is aggressively looking to restart production.” and that “Reporting to the President, the Incumbent will be the key professional on the ground tasked with the oversight off all staff to ensure the smooth transition back into production.  With a large inventory of high-grade tailings stockpiled, the priority will be focused on processing this initially to fund ongoing mine-restart operations.”  The position is listed as recently filled.  The fact that this is a private company means that there will most likely be no public reporting so that no one can know what is going on!  Already we are getting little information from Eurasian-Newmont, which are supposed to be public.  This FIFO advertisement could be for the Mémé (SEDREN-FCDH) mine, or for another mine of which we are unaware.  Notice it said gold, and not copper.  Last year we saw an announcement that someone was trying to sell a gold mine in Haiti.  Initially we thought that the gold mine for sale had to do with settling the estate of Enerlio Gassant (Delta Mining) and/or that perhaps Angelo Viard (VCS Mining, partner to Delta) was trying to sell.  The advertisement sounded rather desperate.  However, it may have been the Mémé mine.  Nonetheless, if Morne Bossa, for instance, had an underground mine, we most likely would be unable to tell with google maps. (for references see reference section below)

Haiti allegedly has a democratic government now and there is virtually no transparency around the mining issue.  So, one can imagine the potential for secrecy which could have existed under the many years of dictatorship.  Although SEDREN is generally known as a copper mine, according to Prepetit (1996), in the 8 years from 1964 to 1971, SEDREN mined 29,513 metric tonnes of copper, 49,940 troy ounces of gold, and 504,372 ounces of silver.  SEDREN declared a value of 45,000,000 gourdes ($9,000,000), whereas the value should have been 246,077,590 gourdes or $49,215,518 (USD).  SEDREN was given a 35 year concession in 1955 (i.e. to 1990).  Prepetit says that less than 18 months before the closure of the mine, the parent company, Halliwell, had announced to its stockholders that drilling effectuated below 1700 feet had exposed a new deposit at depth.  And, Halliwell announced reserves of 346,660 tonnes of ore, with a grade of 1.44 % copper, accompanied by gold and silver.  He said that the environmental consequences are still felt.  Note that the announced principal products of mines are generally accompanied by many other byproducts.  There is, for instance, the semi-precious stone, garnet, in the north of Haiti.

Sunday, 23 June 2013


A Shuar leader, in Ecuador, named Domingo Ankuash, in the youtube video, “A Call from the Shuar”, observes that “they don’t declare publicly they are only talking about copper and gold.  They don’t say anything about uranium.  They keep it secretly hidden.  But we know very well from the studies performed that there is uranium in the Cordillera del Condor, there is also in Canar, in Lago Agrio, and in other places of this country and this activity they plan to do without consulting the Shuar people, without consulting the Ecuadorian people….”   This area where there is proposed mining, including the Mirador Mine, is described by the Ecuadorian tourism board as “Characterized by its humid climate, abundant rainfall and vast tracts of dense Amazon rainforest, this province’s main economic activity is tourism.  The capital is Macas, a departure point for visiting the rainforest of Sangay National Park, a UNESCO Natural Heritage Site, which has some outstanding activities and attractions, including Sangay Volcano, which is over 5,000 m high.  Morona is home to la Cueva de los Tayos [Cave of the Oilbirds], a popular destination due to its spacious passages ensconced in dense Amazon jungle, one of the most enigmatic places in Ecuador.” http://en.ecuador.travel/where-to-go/by location/ provinces/ morona-santiago This area, like western Papua New Guinea (now Indonesia), was able to protect its resources, until recently, because both areas were homes to headhunters.  Historic headhunting and cannibalism is probably better known in New Guinea, due to studies of kuru (a form of CJD or human “mad cow disease”).  Whereas headhunting has occurred in many regions of the world, the practice of headshrinking has only been documented in this northwestern region of the Amazon rainforest.  Among other things, the process served as a way of warning their enemies.  We will let those interested read the details of headshrinking elsewhere.  Foreigners created an economic demand for shrunken heads leading to an increase in the rate of killings to supply tourists and collectors.  Thor Heyerdahl in Kon-Tiki (1947) tells of the problems of getting into the Jívaro (Shuar) area in Ecuador to get balsa wood for his expedition raft.  Local people refused to lead his team into the jungle for fear of being killed and having their heads shrunk.  In 1951 and 1952 sales of shrunken heads in London were being advertised in The Times, one priced at $250. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shrunken_head   So, move over vodou!  It is clear that the animal sacrifices, which sometimes occur in Haitian vodou, are tame compared to this headhunting and headshrinking.  Lest we think that the Amazon or New Guinea had the monopoly on barbarism (we must underline had, as these are historic practices), let’s see how William Wallace, aka “Braveheart” was treated by the English government for trying to save Scotland from English occupation:  “on 23 August 1305, Wallace was taken from the hall to the Tower of London, then stripped naked and dragged through the city at the heels of a horse to the Elms at Smithfield.  He was hanged, drawn and quartered — strangled by hanging but released while he was still alive, emasculated, eviscerated and his bowels burnt before him, beheaded, then cut into four parts.  His preserved head (dipped in tar) was placed on a pike atop London Bridge.  It was later joined by the heads of the brothers, John and Simon Fraser.  His limbs were displayed, separately, in Newcastle upon Tyne, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Stirling, and Perth.”  Now this dipping his head in tar and sticking it on a pike atop London bridge sounds akin to headshrinking, and the rest even more barbaric.  All of this was done as a “warning” to other rebels.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Wallace

This leads back to the point, which is that, if the Grasberg and Mirador areas still had/have resources left to be mined, it is because people were too fearful to mine up until recently.  Majescor claims that the SOMINE property in Haiti has about 0.3% copper grade (and it may be lower, according to some of their documentation), whereas cut-off grade, below which it is not economic to mine, for most places is 0.3%.  Some earlier grades for the Sedren Mine were around 2 or 3%, if we recall correctly.  But, once the higher grades are removed then that leaves lower grades.  Grasberg, on the western part of the island of New Guinea, had about 1.09% grade of copper and 3.87 g/tonne silver, and 0.98 g/t gold.  But, what is the grade for Mirador for which they propose to destroy so much rainforest and pollute the Amazon River?  0.67% copper, 1.5 g/t silver and 0.19 g/t gold.  Mirador Norte has only 0.51% copper and 0.09 g/t gold. While these grades are excellent compared to Haiti, they are not compared to Grasberg.  And this makes it utterly insane for anyone to destroy the environment there.  Obviously, regardless of the grade it would be insane, but this makes it all the more so.

There is no reason to doubt that there is uranium in this mix, as Mr. Ankuash says.  In another context, that of the DRC (Congo), it has been said:  “It would be difficult to avoid mining this uranium while mining copper, and it would be easy to export it within raw, semi-processed rock as copper, especially if an illegal export system in an unregulated environment already existed to do so.” http://www.minesandcommunities.org/article.php?a=10634 The above statement should clarify that neither the Haitians nor the Shuar are “paranoid”, when they allege the presence of uranium.  The question again becomes, how much.  For Ecuador it is how much and for Haiti it is how much is left.  We remained shocked at the comparatively low grades at the Mirador mine.  If we were gamblers, however, we would still bet that there is likely to be more uranium left in Ecuador, than in any of the Haitian mines, strictly because that area of Ecuador seems to have been protected historically from mining by the headshrinkers, whereas Haiti was not.  Haiti only had the myths of traditional zombification and the very real Tonton Macoutes to “protect” them.  And, according to a former SEDREN mining foreman (Joseph Aloisy St. Louis), interviewed by Alterpresse (30/7/2012), approximately 80 macoutes came each month at payday to receive their cut.  So, the macoutes would have been supportive of mining rather than impeding it.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

[Note:  We must clarify regarding kuru that it was not associated with headhunting but rather cannibalism of dead relatives by women and children and was done in secret.  This is discussed in Richard Rhodes’ excellent book “Deadly Feasts:  the Prion Controversy and the Public’s Health” (1998), which we recommend because it discusses the politics of research and how the “prions” of so-called “prion-diseases” were never proven to cause disease but are a hypothesis, which gained dominance due to “political” manoeuvring (a chronic problem of academia).  Also, a Smithsonian Magazine (2006) author alleged that head-hunting cannibalism was still practiced in New Guinea.  But, even he recognizes that it may not be true. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/cannibals.html It is important to know that those researched often say what they believe the researcher wants to hear and, some people have mischievous streaks.  The only way to be certain that a group practices headhunting or cannibalism is not to live to tell the tale.  As for the Shuar (and related groups), it is clear that they no longer practice headhunting and is also fairly debatable if they were ever so vicious as described, or if they were so described because they successfully defend themselves against the Spaniards and the Spaniard’s lust for gold. See: http://users.polisci.wisc.edu/LA260/Shuar%20project/Webfiles/Shuarwebpage.html When the buying and selling of shrunken heads became popular, at least some of the so-called shrunken heads were made from monkeys (as is the case for at least some “saints” relics in Europe).  They may also have been from those who died of natural causes.  80% of those in museums are said to be “fakes” made of leather, monkies or sloths. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shrunken_head The strength of a myth is in belief, not in its reality.  Vicious or not, no small primitive tribes can protect themselves from the modern weapons which have allowed mining and petroleum companies to move into their territories.  The real cannibals are the mining companies that destroy and poison the land, and kill the people and animals.


We seem to have failed to discuss that thorium, also a possible mining by-product, had historical uses:  “Thorium has coloring properties that has made it useful in ceramic glazes.  But, it has been most widely used in lantern mantles for the brightness it imparts (though alternatives are replacing it), and in welding rods, which burn better with small amounts of added thorium.  Thorium improves the properties of ophthalmic lenses, and is an alloying agent in certain metals used in the aerospace industry.   More than 30 years ago, thorium oxides were used in hospitals to make certain kinds of diagnostic X-ray photographs.  But, this practice has been discontinued.” http://www.epa.gov/radiation/radionuclides/thorium.html This last is also the basis of much of the information on the dangers of thorium.  The thorium gas mantles (Welsbach mantles) were developed ca 1890 and widespread by the early 1900s. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gas_mantle One major company dealing, first in gas mantles, and then in thorium refining was Lindsay and Company (1902), located first in Chicago, then in West Chicago, which has left a major radioactive toxic legacy.  This company also provided materials for the secret Manhattan Project. http://www.library.hbs.edu/hc/lehman/chrono.html?company=lindsay_chemical_company http://www.epa.gov/region5/cleanup/lindsaylight This radioactive legacy includes a radioactive waste heap in West Chicago known as “mount thorium”. It was last owned by Kerr-McGee. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kerr-McGee There were many sites in the Chicago area associated with nuclear weapons production — some secretive, some not.  The Manhattan Project research facility at the University of Chicago was known as the “Metallurgical Laboratory”,  the name for several university facilities doing bomb research.  Use of thorium was a closely guarded secret.  During World War II, thorium’s code name was “Penbarnite”.  The West Chicago plant was, from 1945 to 1963,  the main source of thorium for the US government weapons program.   Lindsay Light and its successor, American Potash, sold 11.7 million pounds of purified thorium for use in reactors or weapons.  After the plant closed in 1973, the extent of medical and environmental effects came to be seen.  (Chicago Tribune, 2 February 2001; 1997 DOE report cited therein.) http://www.ohiocitizen.org/campaigns/brush/chicago-bomb.htm Total “Imports of thorium into the United States in metric tons of thorium oxide equivalent were 45.8 in 1983, 45.4 in 1984, 69.3 in 1985, 19.7 in  1986, and 30.7 in 1987. Additionally, concentrated monazite containing 350,550 tons of Th02 has been imported annually”. http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/tp147-c4.pdf These years would be in the period of FCDH’s activity in Haiti.  Those not interested in his book, Deadly Feasts,  may be interested by Richard Rhodes’ pulitzer prize winning book, “The Making of the Atomic Bomb” (1987), surely more appropriate to this post topic. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Making_of_the_Atomic_Bomb We have yet to read it but probably should.  It is hard to tell which is more frightening, but most likely this 1987 book.  Both are surely guaranteed to be good reads, which risk inducing nightmares.  Radiation induced cancer is surely as bad or worse than CJD, as it too would eventually impact the brain.  Unfortunately, the nightmares are still there when we wake up, as long as we disturb uranium and other radioactive minerals by mining; as long as we use nuclear energy.

Friday 28 June 2013


The dirty little secret of mining seems to be that many and it would appear most, if not all, mines have some level of radioactive byproducts (assuming it is not the primary product) and radioactive wastes. And, if the historic mines in Haiti did not export radioactive byproducts, then the remaining tailings will be even more radioactive.

According to a US EPA web page on TENORM (Technologically-Enhanced Naturally-Occurring Radioactive Materials) in Gold and Silver Mining Wastes:  “While few studies have been done on these ores, some western mines produced uranium as a secondary product when extracting precious metals.  Pitchblende (a naturally occurring material containing low concentrations of uranium) has been found in the same ores as gold and silver.  Waste rock from some of these mines may be radioactive.” http://www.epa.gov/radiation/tenorm/goldandsilver.html If few studies have been done on potentially radioactive mining wastes from gold and silver mines in the US, how many would be done in Haiti?  Can you imagine if children in the so-called “developed” countries had red teeth downstream from a mine that no-one would investigate why?

The US EPA web page on “Copper Mining and Production Wastes” is much more elaborate:  “Soils and rock in copper mining areas may contain naturally-occurring radioactive materials (NORM):  uranium, thorium, radium.  Mining and extraction of copper by common surface or underground methods can concentrate and expose radionuclides in the waste rock (tailings).  Another extraction method, known as ‘in-situ’ leaching, can transport uranium and thorium into groundwater or surface water at the site./  Both of these methods expose and/or concentrate NORM [Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials], transforming it into TENORM (Technologically-Enhanced Naturally-Occurring Radioactive Materials).”  For this reason the “EPA is conducting a number of studies on various sources of TENORM in the United States to better understand the problem.”  An EPA study on the TENORM (Radioactive Materials) emanating from copper mines in the southwestern copper belt of Arizona showed increases of up to 100 times background levels for all radiochemicals tested except radon-222. http://www.epa.gov/radiation/tenorm/copper.html

The EPA reminds us that  “the amount of marketable copper produced is small compared to the original material mined. (Copper concentration in ores ranges from 0.5 to 1.0 percent, with ores containing 0.3 percent or less typically rejected as waste rock).”  In other words, as we have discussed, for the Majescor-SOMINE proposed mine, where there is an alleged 0.3% copper grade, approximately 99.7% of the ore is waste (or byproducts).  Thus, “Several hundred metric tons of ore must be handled for each metric ton of copper metal produced, thus generating large waste quantities.”  Since there are such huge volumes of waste, the processing facilities are generally located near the mines.  These processes include leaching, solvent extraction, milling, physical separation, and smelting. At each step of the way there are potential problems with radionuclides. In the case of leaching, huge amounts of ore, overburden and rock are separated at the mine site and the rock hauled to the waste site.  The ore is leached by acids seeping through the rocks, which dissolves copper and any radionuclides present.  The leached liquid with the dissolved copper, known as PLS, pregnant leach solution is collected and further processed to extract the copper.  This can result in TENORM (Radioactive Materials) seeping into and contaminating groundwater at active or abandoned mining sites.  Studies done by the Arizona DEQ (Department of Environmental Quality), found that the concentrations of radionuclides (i.e. contamination) vary for groundwater and surface water and that elevated levels of radioactivity could also be found in soil and sediment samples.  The EPA observes that  “More detailed surveys of leach wastes are needed to characterize potential TENORM contamination, particularly in mines located in Arizona and New Mexico.” http://www.epa.gov/radiation/tenorm/copper.html OK, now this is in the US. If the US EPA needs more studies, what about Haiti?  Does anyone think that mining in Haiti has or will be in the ecological avant garde, as things stand?

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Besides “heap leaching” and “vat leaching” there is also “In-Situ Leaching” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrometallurgy, where “rather than removing soil and rock to reach copper deposits, acids are injected into ore bodies via wells.  The PLS [pregnant leach solution] is captured in production wells and pumped to a leach plant where the copper is later recovered.  High levels of TENORM [radioactive materials] have been found in the PLS of two in-situ leach operations in Arizona.” http://www.epa.gov/radiation/tenorm/copper.html This “in-situ leaching” is actually used for uranium mining too!  And, residents of the Black Hills of South Dakota have been fighting it for some time.  The South Dakota Clean Water Alliance notes that “In situ’ leach uranium mining contaminates groundwater and surface water with radioactive materials and heavy metals – contamination that remains after mining ends, and that is dangerous to humans and livestock.  Groundwater has never been returned to its original condition at any ‘in situ’ leach uranium mine in the United States.”  The statement regarding groundwater is confirmed by a U.S. Geological Survey Study from 2009, which found that “To date, no remediation of an ISR [In-Situ Recovery] operation in the United States has successfully returned the aquifer to baseline conditions.” (This is referring to uranium mining; for other in-situ mining, we don’t know) The Clean Water Alliance points out that “Powertech, a Canadian company, has never mined uranium – or any other natural resource.”  When they wrote this Powertech stock was worth 12 cents and now it is worth only 7 cents per share.  They further point out that “When our water is damaged, there may be no recourse against a foreign company.” http://www.sdcleanwateralliance.org http://www.powertechexposed.com http://www-pub.iaea.org/mtcd/meetings/PDFplus/2009/cn175/URAM2009/Session%204/08_56_otton_USA.pdf http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In-situ_leach Sounds like Haiti huh?  But, this is talking about a Canadian Mining company in the US.  It will, however, impact some of the poorest counties in the US, counties where many Native Americans [American Indians] live.  US American Indians have continued to be both the poorest and most abused minority in the US, yet we almost never hear about this in the media.  They are victims of expansionist empire, first American, and now a Canadian Uranium Mining Company, Powertech, is out to finish them off, it seems.

This “in-situ” uranium (and other) mining seems somewhat invisible, which is especially worrisome in a country like Haiti which is so lacking in transparency.  It goes back to the 1950s for uranium mining!  We thought it was a new innovation.  This adds to the potential mystery for Haiti. http://www.earthworksaction.org/issues/detail/in_situ_leach_uranium_mining#.Uc-KQssaySM The following is an important article about the impact on drinking water, and how it violates the US Clean Water Act, but in the pictures you only see black boxes scattered around a ranch. http://www.propublica.org/article/on-a-wyoming-ranch-feds-sacrifice-tomorrows-water-to-mine-uranium-today Now if you saw little black boxes would you suspect uranium mining?  The following picture and the Cameco web site make it appear that in situ piping may be hidden in buildings. http://www.flickr.com/photos/skytruth/5453444229/ We think that we have also seen it as short white tubes, rather than black boxes.  Below is an old in-situ leaching system from the Czech Republic.  How easy to walk past these things and not know what they are!  Scary!
Ralsko uran
Remains of uranium in-situ leaching in Stráž pod Ralskem, Czech Republic, by Lovecz, Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Returning to the US EPA document, the Pregant Leach Solution (PLS), whether from heap, vat or in situ leaching, once collected is sent to a solvent extraction plant to remove the copper (or gold, silver, uranium, etc.).  Solvent extraction is a two step process:  1) the Pregnant Leach Solution is mixed with an organic solvent that selectively binds to copper (or whatever is being mined),  which is then physically separated from the rest of the solution.  “The now barren solution, known as raffinate, contains all the remaining elements, including any radionuclides that were dissolved in the PLS.”  2) the raffinate is recycled back to the leach dumps as a lixiviant. http://www.epa.gov/radiation/tenorm/copper.html http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lixiviant http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/basic-ref/glossary/lixiviant.html

The EPA points out that “Recycling raffinate back to the leach operations may exacerbate the occurrence of TENORM [Radioactive Materials]  at copper mining sites because it can contain concentrated amounts of radionuclides.”  (This would be true for other types of mining, as well).  For instance, the Arizona DEQ’s analysis of water samples taken at the ASARCO Santa Cruz In-Situ Copper Project showed levels of uranium, radium, and radon in the raffinate streams, “all well above their natural crustal abundance.” http://www.epa.gov/radiation/tenorm/copper.html  This is like the olden days when metal bathtubs were used for bathing and water hauled and the entire, usually large, family reused the same water.  The last person was in trouble as the water was full of dirt.  The recycled raffinate would similarly be full of concentrated uranium, etc.

“Higher grade ores are further milled then concentrated by physical separation.  The tailings are pumped to the tailings pile and the copper [or other] concentrate is transported to a nearby smelter.  Mill tailings may contain radionuclides due to their natural presence in the ore bodies and thus are a potential source of TENORM.  Because the pyrite/sulfide minerals remaining in the tailings piles has a much greater exposed surface area, they may be particularly susceptible to leaching of radionuclides.  In addition, if pyrites/sulfides are exposed to the air and water, they may form sulfuric acid that will mobilize many metals including uranium, which is highly soluble in acid.  This process is known as acid mine drainage (AMD), a natural process that occurs at many abandoned mine sites.” http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/basic-ref/glossary/lixiviant.html  If you read the Majescor-SOMINE documents you will see that these are mostly copper porphyry mines.  A study in the US found that:  “copper porphyry mines are often associated with water pollution resulting from acid mine drainage and/or metals leaching.  Drainage from porphyry deposits commonly have concentrations of aluminum, cadmium, copper, iron, manganese, lead, and zinc that exceed US drinking-water limits to protect public health, and aquatic life standards are also commonly exceeded for cadmium, copper, lead and zinc.” http://ofmpub.epa.gov/eims/eimscomm.getfile?p_download_id=513584
This is what is really interesting, especially in a wet climate like Haiti, these pyrites/sulfides combine with water and make sulfuric acid, which causes a self heap-leaching process, which removes remaining metals, including uranium from the remaining wastes and washes it into the ground and surface water.

Smelting [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smelting ] of metals is another step which creates risks of Radiactive Materials [TENORM] entering the environment.  The EPA produced a report for Congress on special wastes from mineral processing, which indicated that, in 1988, 2.5 million MT of smelter slag and 1.5 million MT of slag tailings were generated by copper smelting and refining facilities in the U.S.  Nonetheless, the volume of this slag waste  from copper smelting and refining is very small compared to the overburden and tailings waste volumes from mining and beneficiation (e.g., crushing) operations.  The Arizona DEQ “detected elevated levels of TENORM [Radioactive Materials] in the smelter flue dust at the Magma Copper Company’s smelter and concentrator operations in San Manual Arizona.”  The EPA states that the radiation may originate from the ore concentrates, or the natural gas used in the smelter, or it may come from some other source. http://www.epa.gov/radiation/tenorm/copper.html

More generally, in the process of copper smelting, “Emissions from primary copper smelters are principally particulate matter and sulfur oxides (SOx).  Emissions are generated from the roasters, smelting furnaces, and converters.  Fugitive emissions are generated during material handling operations.  Roasters, smelting furnaces, and converters are sources of both particulate matter and SOx.  Copper and iron oxides are the primary constituents of the particulate matter, but other oxides, such as arsenic, antimony, cadmium, lead, mercury, and zinc, may also be present, along with metallic sulfates and sulfuric acid mist.  Fuel combustion products also contribute to the particulate emissions from multiple hearth roasters and reverberatory furnaces.”  Normally there should be some filters, but they do not caputres 100% of the emissions and one can imagine that they will not be used in Haiti. http://www.epa.gov/ttnchie1/ap42/ch12/final/c12s03.pdf Strangely, we find no mention made here of Radioactive Materials, although the EPA recognized in their TENORM web site that this could be a problem.

The EPA recognizes that “Copper mining waste piles may be as large as 400 hectares and typically include three types of waste:  tailings (33 %), dump and heap leach wastes (28 %), waste rock and overburden (39 %).  Raffinate generated at copper mines is generally stored in ponds and recycled back to the leaching operation as a lixivant.  Following the closure of a mine, the raffinate must be disposed of.  Uranium-enriched raffinate may be considered a resource that can be exploited at relatively low cost through eulex-ion exchange technology, which removes the potential contaminants from the environment and contributes to the long-run profitability of the mining operation by reducing remediation costs.” http://www.epa.gov/radiation/tenorm/copper.html

As for the Smelter wastes:  “Smelter slag is initially deposited in separate piles.  These slag piles range in surface area from 1 to 30 hectares, and in height from 3 to 45 meters.  As of 1988, slag accumulations in individual piles ranged from 0.5 to 21 million MT.  Three copper smelters (San Manuel, White Pine, and Garfield) subsequently process all their smelter slag either in a conventional ore concentrator or in a stand-alone slag concentrator.  The slag tailings from these operations are co-managed at on-site tailings piles with the tailings from ore beneficiation. Slag tailings ponds range from 142 to 2,270 hectares, with an average size of about 600 hectares.  Depths range from about 16 to 61 meters with an average depth of 46 meters.  As of 1988, quantities of slag tailings in these ponds ranged from 240,000 MT to 3.4 million MT, with an average of 1.8 million MT.” http://www.epa.gov/radiation/tenorm/copper.html  We leave all of these details to help everyone to understand the huge size of these waste piles and tailings ponds.  And, in the US, only “New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and California require groundwater monitoring for tailings piles.”  http://www.epa.gov/radiation/tenorm/copper.html

New in-situ leaching operations in the US must meet both of the following criteria for an aquifer exemption, i.e. exemption to the Clean Water Act:  1) “the aquifer must not currently serve as a source of drinking water and the permit applicant must demonstrate that the deposit contains minerals that are expected to be commercially producible.”  2) “The permit covers the construction, operation, and eventual closure of the injection and recovery wells system and surface facilities and impoundments. The permit also defines the lateral and vertical boundaries of the proposed aquifer exemption.” http://www.epa.gov/radiation/tenorm/copper.html  What about future water needs? The following details in situ uranium mining issues:  http://www.earthworksaction.org/issues/detail/in_situ_leach_uranium_mining#.Uc-KQssaySM


Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Although we must return to examples of the original topic, In-situ leaching mining, especially of uranium is also a sort of “dirty little secret” with about 50 years of history.  Hence, it could have been used in the past, present or future in Haiti.  Because of lack of transparency in Haiti’s past, and present, we do not know.  ISL is marketed as being more environmentally friendly, especially at the surface, but this appears false.  The Clean Water Alliance in the Black Hills of South Dakota, which is fighting to safe-guard their water from Powertech of Canada ISL uranium mining (and other companies which may piggyback on approval), explains that “In-situ leach mining (ISL) is a method of uranium mining where hundreds of wells are drilled in a ‘grid pattern’ over an ore body that is located in a groundwater aquifer.  Water mixed with sodium bicarbonate concentrate is pumped down into the aquifer, across the uranium ore bed, and them up and out other wells.  The mining solution is injected into the aquifer under pressure in order to leach the uranium out of the ground.  The leach solution strips the uranium out of the aquifer.  Along with radioactive uranium, arsenic, selenium, radium and lead are also extracted.  In situ leach uranium mining must be done directly in a water-bearing aquifer.  Water-bearing aquifers are where we get our drinking water from.  Water at an in situ leach uranium mine has never been returned to its original condition. Pollutants that have been left in the water at in situ leach uranium mines after ‘restoration’ include toxic heavy metals and radioactive materials.” http://www.sdcleanwateralliance.org/Main.html The sodium bicarbonate is required for the US, historically sulfuric acid was used and may still be used elsewhere or possibly ammonium bicarbonate.  The sulfuric or hydrochloric acid would still be used for ISL copper mining. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In-situ_leach Not only are there the hundreds of wells drilled in grid on the surface, but there are huge evaporation or retention ponds.  Still, would anyone recognize or have recognized, this type of mining, especially in Haiti?  I would not, but would guess oil or gas.  For the well heads capped in black or white plastic I might even imagine electrical boxes, property markers or possibly as indicating underground bunkers.  Uranium mining?  Never.  For the ponds and processing plant, I would imagine a rural or municipal waste water plant.  Would the ponds be perfect squares in Haiti?  What did they look like in the 1960s and 70s?  Here are some additional pictures, showing the well heads and processing plants from the 1980s. http://www.powertechexposed.com/Photos.htm It has been reported that the mining areas of Haiti are cordoned off, such that everything, which cannot be seen from satellite maps — most dated–is secretive.  Imagine what it was like under official dictatorship?  The current and past secretiveness leaves an opening for any possibility, and easily gives rise to conspiracy theories:  anything which can be imagined is possible.
Crow Butte Road Crawford
Above is a Google USDA satellite map picture of the “evaporation ponds” (“retention ponds”) and processing plant at the Crowe Butte Uranium ISL mine in Nebraska.  The ponds are estimated to be larger than 3 football fields each.  The most common problem is that they can leak and contaminate soil and the groundwater.  Wastewater ponds have caused problems for migratory birds and other wildlife.  Air quality is also of concern.  Ponds can overflow or fail. http://www.nunnglow.com/impacts/evaporation-pond-disposal.html

We also want you to see where this mine is in relation to agriculture. Nebraska is part of what has been called breadbasket of America and even of the world. The High Plains Aquifer is important for this. http://liferaydemo.unl.edu/web/sdn/bread_basket
Crow Butte Road Crawford 2


Friday, 5 July 2013

Radioactive byproducts are a problem.  They can be separated out from the principal product, such as copper and either sold separately or left as radioactive wastes-tailings.  However, they can also be left in the copper (and presumably other) concentrate and exported.  Apparently this can be done legally or illegally.  Shockingly, Olympic Dam Mine in Australia had proposed to export a uranium rich copper concentrate to China and perhaps India, for their [now-canceled (2012) expansion project] http://users.monash.edu.au/~gmudd/files/ODam-Cu-only.pdf   We assume that this was legal and hope that the respective parties would be aware of this situation, for safety reasons.  In 2007 there were allegations of illegally mining and exporting uranium from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).  How might this be this done?  “According to reports, … by mining the uranified rock while mining copper and cobalt, then exporting the uranified ore and circumventing radiation testing by using an established system of corrupt government officials.  Foreign companies then purchase the uranified ore and refine it abroad to separate the uranium, copper and cobalt.  In this way, foreign companies purchase uranium”, while the mining company “appears to be exporting copper and cobalt.  In 2006, for example, a Finnish company reportedly told the International Atomic Energy Commission (IAEA) that they imported one ton of uranium from the DRC.  The DRC, however, claimed that it did not export any uranium in 2006.” http://cablegatesearch.wikileaks.org/cable.php?id=07KINSHASA797&q=drc%20uranium It should go without saying that the DRC scenario could have played out in the past, or even present or future, in Haiti, due to lack of transparency.

Olympic Dam Mine in Australia is often called an iron oxide copper gold deposit, but copper, uranium, gold and silver is mined there.  While it is the fourth largest copper deposit in the world, it is the largest known single deposit of uranium in the world, even though uranium represents only a minority of the mine’s total revenue. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olympic_Dam,_South_Australia  For the Olympic Dam, Dr. Gavin Mudd (2010) wrote a paper about the possibility of producing copper, gold and silver without recovery of uranium and the environmental repercussions.  He concludes that the main environmental issue would remain the radioactivity of mine tailings and their long-term management (ie. >10,000 year time frames).  Currently there is mining, ore grinding, and flotation to produce a Uranium-enriched Copper concentrate and Uranium-rich tailings.  The Copper concentrate is then acid leached and processed in a smelter and then refinery.  The flotation tailings are also acid leached.  The metal-rich solutions are then sent to a hydrometallurgical plant for processing to extract the majority of the Uranium, plus a small amount of Copper.  He notes that this is a simplification.  http://users.monash.edu.au/~gmudd/files/ODam-Cu-only.pdf

For the, now shelved, Olympic Dam expansion project (http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012/aug/22/bhp-billiton-olympic-dam-china) most of the uranium rich copper concentrate was planned to be exported to China (and perhaps India) and only a small percentage fully processed through to refined metals on site at Olympic Dam. http://users.monash.edu.au/~gmudd/files/ODam-Cu-only.pdf

Dr. Mudd (2010) explains that “Part of the historic justification (and need) for uranium recovery onsite at Olympic Dam is to ensure marketable Cu-Au-Ag [Copper, Gold, Silver] metals with low radioactivity and prevent significant occupational health and safety risks for workers in smelting radioactive Cu [Copper] concentrate.  Given that the concentration stage (using flotation) produces a mildly U-rich Cu [Uranium-rich Copper] concentrate as well as a U-rich [Uranium-rich] tailings, the current processing complex has always included acid leaching of Cu concentrate to remove U [Uranium] and some radionuclides before smelting.  The tailings are then acid leached to remove residual U [Uranium] as well as some minor residual Cu [Copper] in the tailings.”  http://users.monash.edu.au/~gmudd/files/ODam-Cu-only.pdf

In what Dr. Mudd (2010) calls the copper only, “no uranium recovery”, for the proposed expansion, all smelting would be completed at Olympic Dam, which means that all uranium is retained on site and not exported to China or India in Copper concentrate.  In the “no uranium recovery” scenario, “all liquid wastes from the Cu [Copper] concentrate acid leach and Cu [Copper] solvent extraction plants would be high in uranium and associated radionuclides.”  This would be discharged  to the tailings storage facilities.  He claims that there would be a “potentially significant reduction in radiation exposures of workers, since the areas of the hydrometallurgical plant dedicated for uranium production would not be required.”  Additionally, if the project were to proceed with no uranium recovery, he says that “the range of environmental impacts would essentially stay the same”  Still he goes on to say that there would be “minor increases to the radioactivity of the mine tailings (due to no uranium recovery and liquid wastes from acid leaching of concentrates being discharged to the tailings) and slightly lower volumes of spent chemicals, process residues and contaminated equipment.”  Furthermore, “In any realistic human or ecological timeframe (eg. centuries to millennia, let alone ~750,000 years and beyond) the tailings therefore MUST be considered as low-level radioactive waste, irrespective of whether uranium is extracted or not.” http://users.monash.edu.au/~gmudd/files/ODam-Cu-only.pdf  He explains in great detail, the why and how the tailings remain radioactive.  This 10 page paper is an important read for anyone remotely interested in the topic.

We really don’t know what to call these options outside of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t”.  Anyway you go at it, if mines with radioactive byproducts are operated, everyone is in trouble and some radiation remains on site, even if some is exported to be someone else’s problem.  In the end, we live on one planet and the pollution travels in water and even air.  Recall that it is general scientific consensus that there is no safe dose of radiation.  Exposure is a gamble and the greater the exposure the greater the odds that your genetic repair mechanisms will mess up and cause cancer.

Dr. Mudd notes that in “the gold fields of the Witwatersrand Basin of South Africa, which also includes low grade uranium in the ore…” that the vast majority of tailings “remain above ground and surrounded by urban communities and informal settlements”.  http://users.monash.edu.au/~gmudd/files/ODam-Cu-only.pdf  Yet another potential problem in poor countries, which historically occurred in the US and Canada, is that radioactive mining wastes-tailings have been used for roads, land-fill and even housing.

Regarding the DRC case, US Ambassador Meece (2007) stated that “On 2 June, the Embassy received a copy of a grievance that 20 artisanal miners submitted to Katanga Governor Kutumbi and the Minister of the Interior.  In the grievance, the miners claim that on 27 March 2007, local government authorities in Likasi, working for the Mayor of Likasi, Helene Yav Nguz, asked the miners to clandestinely mine 200, 60kg sacs of raw rock from Shinkolobwe.  Mayor Yav, who had partnered with local Chinese businessmen, allegedly promised to pay the miners $20,000 for this work.  The miners claimed that they mined the rock, but never received payment. They claimed that the rock was taken to the Kimpese Depot near Shinkolobwe, and that during the night of 3 April, it was loaded onto a red Scania truck and taken from Likasi.  The truck was owned by a Somalian, and had license plate ACH-7893.  The 20 miners signed the letter.  (Comment:  Econoff finds such claims not credible, especially since he personally inspected the Shinkolobwe Uranium mine in August 2006 and found that it was abandoned, and that no evidence of industrial or artisanal mining existed.  This allegation by the 20 miners is noted for the record, however, since we recently received another report from a separate miner in Likasi alledging that Mayor Yav is working with unidentified Koreans on mining deals.  End Comment.)” http://cablegatesearch.wikileaks.org/cable.php?id=07KINSHASA797#para-1810-9

Ambassador Meece concluded that “It is unclear whether or not Malta Forest and other companies in Katanga Province mine and traffic uranium.  A body of circumstantial evidence exists, but specific hard evidence does not.  Certainly, there are extensive, probably profitable quantities of uranium in Malta Forest’s mines, especially since the price of uranium (U308) has increased from approximately $15 a pound in 2004 to $135 a pound in 2007.  It would be difficult to avoid mining this uranium while mining copper, and it would be easy to export it within raw, semi-processed rock as copper, especially if an illegal export system in an unregulated environment already existed to do so.  The fact that the Embassy has received several reports in the past two months from approximately six different sources that Malta Forest is trafficking uranium, lends support to the circumstantial case against them (Post can not confirm if any of this reporting is circular).  The fact that Finland may claim DRC uranium imports, but the DRC does not record any uranium exports, is also suspicious.” http://cablegatesearch.wikileaks.org/cable.php?id=07KINSHASA797#para-1810-9

Sunday, 7 JULY 2013


We would like to bring your attention to another possibility, related to this topic, and that is the possibility that Haiti has been or is being used to store radioactive (and other) toxic wastes.  This seems far-fetched, but it is not, if you examine what is going on elsewhere. Australia, for instance has been targeted as a potential worldwide dump for nuclear waste.  Russia, South Africa and China have also been mentioned. http://www.foe.org.au/anti-nuclear/issues/oz/import-waste http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-level_radioactive_waste_management#International_repository http://www.independentaustralia.net/2011/politics/australia-open-for-nuclear-sewage-business/

We owe this theory to a now deceased individual, involved in the first coup against President Aristide, who alleged that this was one reason for the coup.  This may have been to throw everyone off scent from the real reason for the coups, especially as this person had mining interests in other countries. Still, as we have indicated in earlier posts, the timing of the coups in relation to the Mining Conventions and even of the mining at Morne Bossa, seems to suggest that that the coup could be related to mining.  Aristide tried to make everyone aware of potential gold, oil, etc.  One of Aristide’s people spoke excitedly of it in 2002, and Aristide spoke of it when he got off the plane returning home in 2011.  But, Aristide was gone for 7 years.  Seven years is a long time.  Probable mining interests by those involved in the coup does not preclude the possibility of dumping radioactive wastes too.  Recall the title of Paul Farmer’s book:  “The Uses of Haiti”?  Shall we count the ways?  A tropical climate and earthquake zone is inappropriate for such storage but who really cares about Haiti anyway?  Certainly not the coup d’etat people.

Where might they deposit/have deposited radioactive wastes in this theoretical scenario?  Well, look at this post from the Wessex Institute of Technology, in the UK, entitled  “Abandoned Mines – A Solution For European Toxic Waste Disposal?”  It explains:  “A new project has been launched which aims to find a solution to the huge problem Europe faces in safely disposing of toxic waste./ Computational Mechanics, in conjunction with partners in Germany, Sweden, Greece and the UK, are working together to investigate the use of abandoned mines as suitable repositories for hazardous waste and to assess their performance with respect to environmental safety and cost./ A significant challenge to Governments and industry is the search for the disposal of hazardous waste and technologies that are simple, practical and economical for safe guarding public health and reduction of environmental pollution. Disposal in abandoned mines is believed to be an achievable, low risk and relatively cheap way of disposal of hazardous waste.”  http://www.wessex.ac.uk/general-news/abandoned-mines-a-solution-for-european-toxic-waste-disposal.html

Even in the so-called developed world, they can be so anxious to dispose of the waste, as to misinform the population, whether intentionally or by ignorance.  One case in point is the proposed disposal of radioactive waste in the Randen in or near the Canton of Schaffhausen Switzerland.  http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/swiss_news/Wanted:_European_backyard_for_nuclear_waste.html?cid=8903868  The risk for earthquakes is only considered low because the population density of the area is low, though concentrated.  That is, the risk of having a major quake is pretty high, but it impacts fewer people than some other areas of Switzerland.  Additionally, some drinking water comes from the Randen.  It certainly is not an arid climate.  Hence, it is not a good place to site radioactive wastes (not that anyplace is).  Nonetheless, some rock formations are more stable than others.

Yet another example is the US, which like Europe and Switzerland, is lacking a permanent nuclear waste facility:   “The U.S. Department of Energy was to begin accepting spent fuel at the Yucca Mountain repository by January 31, 1998.  However, 15 years after this deadline, the future status of the repository at Yucca Mountain is unknown due to on-going litigation, and opposition by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV).  Because of delays in construction, a number of nuclear power plants in the United States have resorted to dry cask storage of waste on-site indefinitely in nearly impervious steel and concrete casks.  To keep these plants operating, it may be necessary to construct a temporary facility at the Yucca Mountain site or somewhere else in the United States if opening of the underground storage continues to be delayed.  The project is widely opposed in Nevada and is a hotly debated national topic…..In September 2007, it was discovered that the Bow Ridge fault line ran underneath the facility, hundreds of feet east of where it was originally thought to be located, beneath a storage pad where spent radioactive fuel canisters would be cooled before being sealed in a maze of tunnels.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yucca_Mountain_nuclear_waste_repository Furthermore, in 2005, NPR reported on a “Hearing Held on Falsified Yucca Mountain Data”:  “A scientific scandal threatens the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump in Nevada. Members of Congress confronted the Department of Energy and the U.S. Geological Survey over allegations that scientists studying the safety of the site may have doctored their research.” http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4578018  For the status of various countries see:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-level_radioactive_waste_management For Europe see:  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/03/business/energy-environment/03iht-RBOG-WASTE03.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

In Europe, Finland has made the most progress towards building a facility:

Wikipedia notes various options for long term radioactive waste disposal:  “Long term above ground storage’, not implemented.
‘Disposal in outer space’, not implemented.
‘Deep borehole disposal’, not implemented.
‘Rock-melting’, not implemented.
‘Disposal at subduction zones’, not implemented.
‘Ocean disposal’, done by USSR, UK, Switzerland, USA, Belgium, France, The Netherlands, Japan, Sweden, Russia, Germany, Italy and South Korea. (1954–93).  It’s not permitted by international agreements.
‘Sub seabed disposal’, not implemented, not permitted by international agreements.
‘Disposal in ice sheets’, rejected in Antarctic Treaty
‘Direct injection’, done by USSR and USA.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radioactive_waste

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

In Italy, a scenario has played out which illustrates what theoretically could or could have happened in Haiti.  This concerns the Pasquasia Mine, which was an important mine in Sicily.  It was closed in 1992, supposedly due to high costs.  In 1995, a Sicilian politician, Joseph Scozzari, attended a conference in Washington on the treatment and storage of spent nuclear fuel.  The speakers cited about half a dozen sites operating in Western Europe, within which were deposited “low and medium level” nuclear waste.  Among those mentioned was the Pasquasia mine, even though it is located in an area prone to earthquakes.  Mr. Scozzari became interested and introduced a parliamentary question to find out more, but never received a response.  He tried to gain access to the site but could not.  The Italian and International institutions are said to have refused him access.  Far more serious, they did so even though – or perhaps because – they knew that those who ran the mine could count contacts with Cosa Nostra [Mafia]. It appears clear that Cosa Nostra was involved.  [Does this surprise anyone?]  The first to speak of radioactive waste hidden in the Pasquasia mine was Leonardo Messina, one of the more prominent bosses of the Sicilian Mafia and foreman at the site, turned government informant.  He alleged to Magistrate Paolo Borsellino that atomic waste from Eastern Europe was hidden in the mine.  He alleged that this kind of illegal activity had started in 1984, while the mine was still in operation.  He further alleged that the SISDE (Italian Internal Intelligence Service) contacted some administrators to warn that the site would serve for other activities, covered by military secret, and that they needed to be able to bury ill-defined substances.  These statements convinced the judges to initiate several inquiries, with no apparent results.  However, in the manual of general guidelines and practices for the management of radioactive waste, prepared in 1990, ENEA spoke clearly of the construction, in collaboration with the mine owner (Italkali of Palermo), of an experimental underground laboratory, in the still-active Pasquasia salt mine. [From 1982 to 1999 ENEA was the Italian National Agency for Atomic Energy.] Just after the closure of the site, the Regional Mining Body interrupted its maintenance and supervision of the mine.  These tasks were assigned to private security firms.  In 1997 a check revealed the presence of cesium 137, in concentrations higher than normal, supported by the increase in cases of leukemia and cancer in the territory.  In the same year, the prosecutor in Caltanissetta ordered an inspection inside the mine, where some monitoring stations provided by ENEA were found, but no one could explain their purpose.  This series of mysteries made another parliamentarian, Ugo Maria Grimaldi, suspicious, as it had Mr. Scozzari. Grimaldi was, at the time, the head of the Department of Land and the Environment for the Sicily Region.  He tried to obtain authorization to access the inside of the galleries of Pasquasia.  Authorization was achieved only after overcoming many obstacles.  Once inside, according to a 2001 interview, he found himself in front of shafts that had been filled, before his arrival, with material, to hide what was originally buried there.  His complaints were useless and silence returned to reign on site in Sicily. [omerta?]  A few more hints were provided in 2003, when in a meeting, coordinated by then Prime Minister Berlusconi and the Ministers Matteoli, Marzano, Giovanardi, Pisanu and Letta, it was indicated that Pasquasia was one of the twenty national sites considered suitable for storage of radioactive material.  In 2011 another three parliamentary questions fell upon deaf ears.  Additionally, the lawyer, Enzo Fragalà of Palermo died, subsequent to a 2010 attack.  For the criminal lawyer, Pasquasia mine was of real concern, an interest which may have led to his death – the culprits are still unknown. http://www.articolotre.com/2013/05/miniera-di-pasquasia-tra-segreti-di-stato-cosa-nostra-e-scorie-nucleari/166284 In 2012 the investigations into the murder of Attorney Enzo Fragalà started to focus around the Pasquasia Mine.  In 2002, when he was parliamentary criminal lawyer, he  had presented a query on the company that operates the mine (Italkali). http://www.palermotoday.it/cronaca/omicidio-fragala-indagini-miniera-pasquasia.html If you do a search for Miniera Pasquasia you will see that this is a rather complex story.  It appears still possible that the radiation and illnesses could be from radioactive and other byproducts of the mine.  See for instance http://www.avvenire.it/Cronaca/Pagine/miniere-e-scorie-segreti-di-stato.aspx There is also a documentary, in Italian, “Miniere di Stati”, on the youtube RAI channel.

If one considers the strangeness surrounding FCDH and other mining activities in Haiti, it is easy to imagine the possibility of a similar scenario playing out in Haiti. It also shows how difficult it is to find the truth, even where someone attempts to do so. We remind you of the lack of transparency, which continues to plague mining in Haiti. Worse, most seem oblivious to this problem. According to Transparency International, Italy is 72 out of 174  for perceived corruption and Haiti is 165 out of 174 (They say 176 but only 174 are listed).  On a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 is highly corrupt, Haiti ranks as 19. Italy is 42. http://cpi.transparency.org/cpi2012/results/ Hence, Haiti is considered much more highly corrupt than Italy (No surprises there!). This is despite concerns that the Mafia has made new inroads into the Italian economy since the economic crisis of 2008. Haiti is still perceived as worse, and we believe justifiably so. On the Transparency International scale the most corrupt countries are at 8, so, in our opinion, 0 must be totally corrupt for this scale to make sense. We would give Haiti a 0, rather than 19, from what we know. And, unfortunately, until there are new elections, we hold out little hope of anyone even attempting to shine a light on the mining issue in Haiti. Majescor is the only place where some updated information has been given – whether it is accurate is unknown. The information from Eurasian is too scant to count. We doubt that Majescor will be with us much longer. But, their partner SOMINE will still be there in Haiti. SOMINE, like VCS-Delta Mining, will most certainly give us zero information, as they are not trading publicly in Canada or the US.

Friday 12 July 2013

In this theoretical scenario, where else might radioactive or other toxic waste have been dumped?  As those who have been with us for awhile may recall, karst characterizes much of Haiti.  This means that, besides old mines, there are caves and sinkholes into which radioactive or other hazardous wastes could have been dumped.  In karst terrain, underground caves, sinkholes, and springs can all be connected through a complex system, which has been experimentally traced with dyes, in some places.  You can dump waste in one spot and it come up elsewhere, including in springs.  Although those who wrote Haitian laws, historically, had enough foresight to call areas near springs protected, karst terrain means that this precaution would be insufficient.  It seems that in many, and perhaps most, places around the world, sink holes have been perceived as a kind of magical way to dispose of waste – now you see it, now you don’t.  Trouble is that it pops up elsewhere.  It is unclear to us if heavy canisters would, but toxins associated with them will.  One illustrative example, in the US, was a pond and fish disappearing only to reappear elsewhere (a link in our Drilling for Oil post discusses this).  According to the US State of Virginia “Because sinkholes are natural holes in the ground surface, they have been inviting sites for dumping of trash. The number of active and inactive sinkhole dumps in karst regions is staggering …. Sinkholes are natural funnels that conveyed toxic substances directly into the karstic plumbing system.  In many cases, chemicals may be transmitted directly to domestic wells in a matter of the few hours.”  Importantly “Karstic aquifers can not filter contaminated groundwater sufficiently to render it potable at a discharge sites”. http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural_heritage/vcbsinkholes.shtml  
Karst systems probably also contributed to the spread of cholera in Haiti:  “In the late 1800s, a Shenandoah County [Virginia] community was subjected to a cholera outbreak due to the pollution of the local karst aquifer.” http://www.dmme.virginia.gov/dgmr/sinkholes.shtml Hence, “Leaks, spills or deliberate dumping of toxic or explosive chemicals are a particularly serious hazard in karst areas.”  Furthermore, “Not only are these materials a threat to water supplies and cave aquatic life, but upon vaporizing they may become highly concentrated in the cave atmosphere and rise through fractures in the limestone and enter inhabited structures on the surface.” (Crawford, 1984, cited at http://yunus.hacettepe.edu.tr/~harun/karst.htm)

Other possibilities for the location of radioactive wastes, in our theoretical scenario, are offshore in the Hispaniola Trench, off the north coast of Haiti. They could also have just dumped the waste directly offshore. Radioactive wastes have been dumped in both ocean trenches and directly offshore in much of the world (Scary but true!).  Onshore there is the possibility of Direct Injection (Deep-well injection) of liquid radioactive wastes. http://water.epa.gov/type/groundwater/uic/basicinformation.cfm  and Deep Borehole Disposal of Radioactive Wastes. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deep_borehole_disposal What is particularly intriguing about these possibilities is, it appears, that they could have been masked as oil and gas, and mining exploration. It is important to say that we do not believe that any of the current publicly traded mining companies (i.e. Majescor, Eurasian-Newmont), from outside of Haiti, would be involved, but it seems to be the same players within Haiti from 20 years ago. Current oil and gas exploration is another thing, however, as it appears to be mostly Haitian players, who were active 20 years ago, and in at least one instance, linked to the coup d’etat. Of course, with large areas of Haiti said to be cordoned off from access due to mining activities, anything could be going on or have gone on in these areas. The mining properties are controlled by Haitian partners of Canadian and US registered companies.  The non-Haitian companies can disappear, as happened with St. Genevieve of Canada, or drop the properties (e.g. KWG) and the Haitian ones remain and vice versa (KWG still exists).  The mining titles can not be held by non-Haitian companies.     

Sunday 14 July 2013

Legambiente, an environmental organization in Italy, observes that illegal disposal of industrial waste is the most dangerous area of ​​activity for what they have named the “eco-mafia” (meaning mafia involved in ecological crimes) and one of the most profitable illegal businesses. Rather than being treated and managed, according to the rules that ensure their proper disposal under environmental safety and health standards, hazardous wastes are hidden. Thus, they pollute the air, contaminate aquifers, pollute the rivers and agricultural crops. By consequence, they contaminate food with heavy metals, dioxins and other carcinogens, and endanger the health of the population. [Isn’t this what you would imagine could happen in Haiti, but not Italy?] The offending company may, for instance, falsely declare the quantity or type of waste to be disposed. The classic scams involve falsifying the classification of the waste in the accompanying documents; hijacking the load or making it disappear, or entrusting the task to companies working below cost, knowing that they will use illegal methods.  Italy is at a crossroads of international traffic in hazardous wastes and radioactive materials. http://www.legambiente.it/temi/ecomafia/traffico-di-rifiuti    

Perhaps toxic waste was dumped offshore in Haiti?  If it can happen in Italy then it could happen to Haiti.  The ‘Ndrangheta “mafia” from Calabria (Italy) has been accused of illegally dumping radioactive waste since the 1980s.  At least 30 ships of toxic waste, much radioactive, is alleged to have been sunken off the Italian coast.  The Ndrangheta also blew up shiploads of waste, including radioactive hospital waste, off the Calabrian coast.  In addition, vessels were allegedly sent to Somalia and other developing countries, such as Kenya and Zaire with toxic waste, including radioactive waste from Italy, Switzerland, France, German and the US.  The toxic cargos were either sunken with the ship or buried on land.  It is claimed that local rebel groups were given weapons in exchange for receiving the waste ships and that Italian TV journalist Ilaria Alpi and her cameraman Miran Hrovatin were murdered in 1994, because they had seen toxic waste arrive in Bosaso, Somalia.  In 2006, an NGO, in Somalia, conducted a survey and identified 15 containers of “confirmed nuclear and chemical wastes” in eight coastal areas.  Locating hazardous waste in Somalia has been compared to “looking for a needle in a haystack.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toxic_waste_dumping_by_the_’Ndrangheta Note that Somalia is considered one of the most corrupt countries in the world, according to Transparency International.  Sinking wastes at sea, whether at home or abroad, and burying them abroad did not keep some from being probably buried in old mines or burned within Italy:  “The boss of the Casalesi clan, Gaetano Vassallo, admitted to systematically working for 20 years to bribe local politicians and officials to gain their acquiescence to dumping toxic waste” in the Campania Region. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triangle_of_death_(Italy) Additionally, in 2006, a new mountain of “special” [presumably hazardous] wastes, which is 30,000 m2 and 3,100 m [10,170 ft] high appeared in Italy. Legambiente compares it to Sicily’s Mount Etna, which indeed is 3,350 m or 10,991 ft. high. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/document/activities/cont/201207/20120716ATT48981/20120716ATT48981EN.pdf https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Etna 

How lucrative could this illegal disposal be compared to mining?  Most of the news agencies alleged around $20 billion as the total value of the metals in Haiti.  This would be about $1 billion per year over 20 years.  But, this is not profit.  There is a cost to getting it out of the ground and the financial cost to the mining company is high, even if done improperly.  Although the price of gold has gone up, so too has the price of petroleum to operate the vehicles to get the ore out of the ground and transport it (unless of course it is done by hand in Haiti).  We have discussed this in detail elsewhere.  There are also exploration costs, mine building costs, etc.  Legambiente estimates that the various mafia groups in Italy made 16.7 billion euros, or 21.8 billion US dollars, in 2012, in environmental crimes (up from 16.6 billion euros in 2011).  This was believed to be 25% of their overall earnings in 2011. http://www.legambiente.it/temi/ecomafia/traffico-di-rifiuti http://www.europarl.europa.eu/document/activities/cont/201207/20120716ATT48981/20120716ATT48981EN.pdf So, in one year only, through environmental crimes, the Italian mafia makes more money than the estimated total (pre-cost) value of minerals in the ground in Haiti.  As this is only 25% of their earnings, it means that they made over 4 times the value of Haiti’s minerals in one year. However, while showing how much more lucrative criminal activity could be compared to mining, the definition of environmental crime in their study is broad.  Additionally, although Legambiente says that it costs approximately 60,000 euros ($78,000) to legally dispose of a 15,000 ton (presumably metric tonne) container of hazardous waste, in Italy, which works out to 4 euros ($5.22) per tonne, this cannot be correct, as it is only about a quarter of the price of dumping regular municipal waste in the US.  Since we are wondering about radioactive waste, we found a US estimate from ca 2006 of around $555 to $1,036 per kilo to dispose of spent fuel from nuclear reactors. http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/ftpdocs/88xx/doc8808/11-14-nuclearfuel.pdf That would work out to between $555,000 and $1 million per metric tonne to dispose of it.  According to the same study, the US produces about 2,200 metric tonnes per year of spent fuel radioactive wastes from nuclear power plants.  This, then, would cost approximately $1.2 billion to $2.2 billion per year to dispose of, which over 20 years is between slightly more than the estimated total value of the metals in the ground in Haiti or $24 billion and over twice as much or $44 billion.  So, improperly disposing of this waste could be lucrative indeed – much more lucrative than mining.  France, which was also involved in the second coup, is heavily dependent upon nuclear power.  Canada, also involved in this coup, has nuclear power plants too.  And, there is not only spent fuel, but other radioactive waste to be disposed of, such as hospital wastes, which we have not calculated.  

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Now some are wondering if there was, and perhaps still is, Italian Mafia in Haiti?  The answer is a resounding yes, for the American Cosa Nostra!  In the words of the late mobster Bill Bonanno (1999) “Haiti, like Cuba, as well as other islands in the West Indies, had always been a lucrative place for the Families…During the era of cooperation among the Families, the government, and the Duvalier dictatorship Haiti was a haven for gunrunning, gambling, money laundering, and, believe it or not, coffee.”  For those knowing the history of Cuba, this should be no surprise. Cuba was a big mafia hub and the first thing which Fidel Castro did was to illegalize gambling, which is why the mafia wanted him ousted. Those many who research the JFK assassination knew the answer already.  Having re-evaluated the testimony of the deceased individual, mentioned earlier (7 July), who alleged involvement in the first coup against President Aristide, we believe that Cosa Nostra was involved in the first, and perhaps the second coup against President Aristide – specifically one or some combination of the Marcello, Gambino, and Genovese crime families.  Some of you will recall that Carlos Marcello and the Kennedy brothers had it in for each other, and many believe that Carlos Marcello had JFK (and presumably Bobby Kennedy) assassinated.  Aristide got off comparatively easy. However, it seems that the Marcello, Gambino and Genovese crime families would have been more interested in Haiti for gambling, money-laundering and drug transshipment, but who knows?  Only a geiger counter.  Most, or all, of the big players are dead by now.  We have demonstrated just how lucrative illegally disposing of radioactive waste could be.  Some people have alleged involvement by the Cali Cartel in the first coup. However, involvement of Cosa Nostra does not preclude involvement of the Cali Cartel (or, perhaps, the Medellin Cartel, instead) in the first coup.  Everyone needs to get over facile answers and become as engaged in researching the coups against Aristide, as many are in researching the JFK assassination.  According to Nagle (2002), “Over time, island Nations such as Haiti … and the Dominican Republic became targets of opportunity for organized criminal groups to develop a steady flow of income from gambling and tourism, the sex trade tied to tourism, and money laundering through front businesses and formal financial institutions catering to offshore banking from the United States and Europe.  In 2000, for example, it was estimated that somewhere on the order of US $60 billion of drug money was laundered in the Caribbean region.”   Furthermore, “During the last decade,” i.e. ca 1992 to 2002, “Russian gangsters began moving into the rest of the Caribbean and established a network of associations with … criminal groups on other Caribbean islands, such as Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Jamaica, and established a thriving arms-for-drugs trade as well as drug and prostitution operations to serve the burgeoning tourist industry in the Caribbean Basin.  By the end of the 1990s, international criminal organizations, as well as … the Irish Republican Army, were firmly established in the Caribbean … and engaged in money laundering, drugs and weapons trafficking, prostitution, and commercial land development.” (Nagle, 2003, pp. 1660-1661). http://ir.lawnet.fordham.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1905&context=ilj Apparently Russian mafia is a catch-all term for crime groups originating in the former Soviet Union.  Allegedly, many are Jewish, meaning that they could have built on an older Jewish mafia tradition, active in the Caribbean (e,g, Meyer Lansky, born in Belarus). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meyer_Lansky http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_Mafia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_mafia 
see also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Stacher

Illegal dumping of toxic waste is listed by Wikipedia as an activity of organized crime.  Although further off topic, it is worthwhile, in the context of Haiti’s many woes, to see (some more)of the activities organized crime engages in:  “Organized crime often victimize businesses through the use of extortion or theft and fraud activities like hijacking cargo trucks, robbing goods, committing bankruptcy fraud (also known as “bust-out”), insurance fraud or stock fraud (inside trading).  Organized crime groups also victimize individuals by … securities fraud (“pump and dump” scam).  Some organized crime groups defraud national, state, or local governments by bid rigging public projects, counterfeiting money, smuggling or manufacturing untaxed alcohol …, and providing immigrant workers to avoid taxes.  Organized crime groups seek out corrupt public officials in executive, law enforcement, and judicial roles so that their activities can avoid, or at least receive early warnings about, investigation and prosecution.  Organized crime groups also provide a range of illegal services and goods, such as loansharking of money at very high interest rates, assassination, blackmailing, bombings, bookmaking and illegal gambling, confidence tricks,…fencing, kidnapping, prostitution, smuggling, drug trafficking, arms trafficking, oil smuggling, antiquities smuggling, organ trafficking, contract killing, identity document forgery, money laundering, point shaving, price fixing, illegal dumping of toxic waste, illegal trading of nuclear materials, military equipment smuggling, nuclear weapons smuggling, passport fraud, providing illegal immigration and cheap labor, people smuggling, trading in endangered species, and trafficking in human beings.  Organized crime groups also do a range of business and labor racketeering activities, such as skimming casinos, insider trading, setting up monopolies in industries such as garbage collecting, construction and cement pouring, bid rigging, getting ‘no-show’ and ‘no-work’ jobs, political corruption and bullying.”  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organized_crime  They are busy people, it seems!  Although not specifically mentioned here, as we have discussed elsewhere, organized crime can be involved or appear involved in mining, and oil and gas, or any business. And, we must add skimming from slot machines – video gaming, given the history of the Marcello, Genovese, and Gambino Families.     

Friday, 19 July 2013


Finally we come to the end.  And, still, dear reader, we do not definitively know the answer to our initial question.  We believe that there was and/or is low level uranium and thorium, which would be a byproduct of historic, current, and possibly proposed mining.  Mining exploration and mining is not new to Haiti, and has been ongoing almost constantly for over 520 years.  Uranium and thorium could even have been mined in Haiti hundreds of years ago, or more recently, for pottery dye. Advantage has been taken of our collective short-term memory to recycle the idea of mining as “new”.  There is also the possibility that Haiti has been used to dispose of radioactive waste offshore, in old mines, in sinkholes or caves, or by other disposal methods, such as deep borehole disposal and deep-well injection — all of which could masquerade as mining or exploration (whether for oil and gas or minerals). Historically, waste is known to have been sold to Haiti as “fertilizer”. In West Chicago they have radioactive “Mount Thorium” and in Italy a pile of toxic waste, almost as high as Mount Etna, so there could be piles of radioactive waste in Haiti.  Mining wastes, radioactive or not, may have been included in road and housing construction, as well.    

A major “dirty little secret” of mining is the presence of at least some uranium and thorium in much, and perhaps most, mining, as a byproduct.  It is generally believed that there is no safe level of ionizing radiation.  The primary risks are cancers, and genetic mutations for the individual and offspring.  In general, the risks increase linearly with exposure.  Means of exposure include radioactive dust, water and food.  Contrary to what we have been told uranium and possibly thorium can penetrate skin.  

The pro-nuclear camp want us to believe that “some” ionizing radiation is good for us.  Even if true, we are way past the “some” and too far into the “too much”.  The “some” would be natural ionizing radiation, undisturbed by mining.  There are already radioactive wastes spread all around the world from previous mining, natural processes, nuclear power plants and nuclear weapons.  We don’t need to let anymore loose!  One of the victims of the Yanacocha mine, in Peru, observed that he would rather that the mine security forces kill him promptly than to die slowly of cancer.  However, it is best to die peacefully in bed of old age, rather than a slow, agonizing death from cancer.  Statistically, the more ionizing radiation is out there in the world, the greater the chances that we will get cancer.  Furthermore, Haiti has been squeezed enough.  And, radioactive mining byproducts make the bad, worse – for billions of years.

During the Cold War, the US government or private companies could have secretly mined uranium and thorium as primary products or secondary byproducts.  Mining companies and/or organized crime are the most likely candidates for secretive mining of uranium since the end of the Cold War.  We believe that organized crime was involved in illegal mining during the “coup years”.  And, it is possible that they were involved in mining during the Duvalier and post-Duvalier years, as well as currently.  So many were killed during the Duvalier, post-Duvalier and coup years that it would be difficult to have witnesses.  So many have died recently due to cholera.  As well, organized crime could have disposed of radioactive or other toxic waste in Haiti, like they have in Italy and Africa. While there is no evidence, the weirdness surrounding First City Development Haiti (FCDH) – old SEDREN mine reminds us of Italy’s Miniera Pasquasia, where the mafia is believed to have hidden radioactive wastes.  Organized crime is documented as having existed historically in Haiti for gambling and drug transshipments.  Currently it is believed to be present for drug transshipments.  They could well have been/be involved in other activities, either with or without governmental consent.  We have demonstrated that illegal disposal of radioactive waste could be very lucrative.  

Why are we unable to answer whether or not there was or still is uranium or thorium in Haiti?  Lack of transparency by mining companies, but more importantly, lack of transparency and apparent corruption of most past governments, and we believe of the current government in Haiti.  Until the most popular party in Haiti is allowed to field candidates, and assuming that these are willing to really openly examine the mining issue, we will be unable to know the truth.  Lack of transparency in the current government over the mining issue, and unwillingness to address, or even recognize, the concerns and proposals of the Senate, regarding mining, are ample evidence to us that this government is hiding something, is anti-democratic and is unconcerned with the well-being of the people of Haiti.  We note that history shows that those involved in anti-corruption campaigns are, at least sometimes, linked to organized crime/ corruption themselves.  The Haitian government needs to show us, through transparency, that they are honest.  Transparency over the mining issue would be a good start.  But, don’t hold your breath.  The fact that Martelly’s own cousin, Richard A. Morse, quit the government, allegedly due to corruption, is pretty damning in our eyes.  See: http://read.thestar.com/#!/article/516c458193e8e4fa751eae71-why-richard-morse-left-haiti-s-government

So, until there is governmental transparency, we recommend that anyone travelling to Haiti (and many other places) carry a geiger counter with them.  Due to cholera, anyone travelling will drink bottled water.  However, eventually, there needs to be testing of teeth; testing of water for gross alpha and beta, radon, radium, total uranium; testing of soil for radioactive elements, and any other appropriate tests, in order to see what is or is not going on in Haiti.  http://www.slh.wisc.edu/ehd/radiochem/results.dot.  Testing would need to be by a well-known and well-established independent environmental NGO with no direct or indirect ties to Haiti.
FOR SATURDAY 20 July, 2013 we will continue MAJESCOR MISCHIEF, “Technology Willing”. A NEW DAILY POST WILL APPEAR ON SUNDAY, most likely entitled news, updates, tidbits and trivia.


Nash, J. Thomas (2010). “Volcanogenic uranium deposits:  Geology, geochemical processes, and criteria for resource assessment”.  U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2010-1001, 99 pp. http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2010/1001/pdf/OF10-1001.pdf
Barrie, C. Tucker, Ph.D. (2009). “Technical Summary Report, SOMINE Property, Haiti, C. T. Barrie and Associates, Inc.:  October 2009, for Majescor (Available at SEDAR and at the Majescor web site). (This document discusses the geology in great detail).
IAEA http://www.pub.iaea.org/MTCD/publications/PDF/te_1629_web.pdf
VCS Mining on Haiti metals www. vcsmining. com/metals-creation.html
F. Petitot et. al. Health Phys. 2007, May 92(5) 464-474.
“Incorporation and Distribution of Uranium in Rats after Contamination on Intact or Wounded Skin”.  http://lib.bioinfo.pl/paper:17429305
F. Petitot et. al.  “Evaluation ex vivo de la diffusion transcutanée du nitrate d’uranyle sur peau saine ou après abrasion” 6ème Colloque international de radiobiologie fondamentale et appliquée, Batz (France) 30 juin-4 juillet 2003 http://www.irsn.fr/FR/Larecherche/publications-documentation/Publications_documentation/BDD_publi/DRPH/LEAR/Pages/Evaluation-ex-vivo-de-la-diffusion-transcutanee-du-nitrate-d-uranyle-sur-peau-saine-ou-apres-abrasion-1812.aspx
A case study of 112 New Jersey households in the vicinity of a thorium waste disposal site found a higher prevalence of birth defects (relative risk 2.1) and liver disease (relative risk 2.3) among the exposed population than the unexposed group. /Thorium/
[Clayton, G.D., F.E. Clayton (eds.) Patty’s Industrial Hygiene and Toxicology. Volumes 2A, 2B, 2C, 2D, 2E, 2F: Toxicology. 4th ed. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons Inc., 1993-1994., p. 2257] **PEER REVIEWED** http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/sis/search/a?dbs+hsdb:@term+@DOCNO+6932
http://www.bme.gouv.ht/carriere/carriere3/f  http://www.bme.gouv.ht/mines/environnement/MINES%20ET%20ENVIRONNEMENT.pdf
http://www.corporationwiki.com/Illinois/Des-Plaines/norbert-budnik/52206648.asp  (be sure and scroll to the bottom where political contributions tie him to the various companies)
http:// www. finduslocal. com/ uranium-radium-vanadium-ores/illinois/des-plaines/first-city-development-haiti-sa
http:// www. finduslocal. com/ nonmetallic-minerals-except-fuels/illinois/des-plaines/first-city-development-of-haiti
http:// www. manta. com/c/mm27hj1/ first-city-development-haiti-sa
Robert Nickel. Freeman Courier. Tuesday, March 6, 2012; Plainsman newspaper. March 13, 2012
Norbert “Bo” Budnik. Chicago Tribune. July 4, 2012

“The role of bivalent metals in hydroxyapatite structures as revealed by molecular modeling with the HyperChem software.”  Izabela Gutowska,Zygmunt Machoy, Bogusław Machalinski (2005)
Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Biomed Mater Res 75A: 788–793

Manea-Krichten M, Patterson C, Miller G, Settle D, Erel Y.
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Toor R, Brar G S. Uranium: A Dentist’s perspective. J Int Soc Prevent Communit Dent [serial online] 2012 [cited 2013 Jun 13];2:1-7. Available from: http://www.jispcd.org/text.asp?2012/2/1/1/103447

Prado GR, Arruda-Neto JD, Sarkis JE, Geraldo LP, Müller RM, Garcia F, Bittencourt-Oliveira MC, Guevara MV, Rodrigues G, Mesa J, Rodrigues TE.  Santa Cruz State University, UESC, Ilhéus, BA, Brazil.  “Evaluation of uranium incorporation from contaminated areas using teeth as bioindicators–a case study.”  Radiat Prot Dosimetry. 2008;130(2):249-52. doi: 10.1093/rpd/ncm489. Epub 2008 Jan 11.


“Clean Water Laws Are Neglected, at a Cost in Suffering”
By Charles Duhigg.  September 12, 2009.  New York Times.
(Jennifer Hall-Massey knows not to drink the tap water in her home near Charleston, W.Va.)



J.R. Henderson, 2010 “North Carolina Art Pottery Orange-Red Glazes – Chrome?  Uranium? A Touch of Gold Dust Perhaps?”
http:// pottersforncpc.blogspot. com/2010/05/nc-art-pottery-orange-red-glazes-chrome.html

Prepetit, Claude(1996). Mines et Environnement. http://www.bme.gouv.ht/mines/environnement/MINES%20ET%20ENVIRONNEMENT.pdf
“Possible réouverture de la mine de cuivre de Mémé aux Gonaïves” (Possible reopening of the copper mine of Meme at Gonaives.) Alterpresse, 25 June 2012  http://www. alterpresse. org/ spip.php?article13024#. UcNyO8saySM
“Haïti-Ressources minières : Sans un Etat responsable, la débâcle annoncée ?” Correspondance Mergenat Exalus (Haiti Mining Resources:  Without a Responsible State, Debacle Announced?) Alterpresse, lundi 30 juillet 2012
http://www. alterpresse. org/ spip.php?article13166#.UcOyxMsaySM
December 17, 2008 Press Release.  Eurasianminerals .com
www. miningrecruitmentgroup .com  (listed as recently filled)
http:// www. findaminingjob .com/ mining-careers/ chief+metallurgist/mining+recruitment+group/princeton/british+columbia/canada/13459 (lists position as filled)

Ecuador: Rumbles in the jungle
In Ecuador’s rainforest, the Achuars no longer pose a threat, but watch out for odorous anteaters, says Edward Bishop
12:01AM BST 11 Apr 2001
By Sam Roe and Jeremy Manier
Chicago Tribune Staff Writers
February 2, 2001

Hearing Held on Falsified Yucca Mountain Data
April 05, 2005

Bonanno, Bill “Bound by Honor:  A Mafioso’s Story”, NY: St. Martin’s, 1999, chapter 18.  

Nagle, Luz Estella. “The Challenges of Fighting Global Organized Crime in Latin America”. Fordham International Law Journal. Volume 26, Issue 6 2002 Article 5 http://ir.lawnet.fordham.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1905&context=ilj