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UK Mining Company Rio Tinto’s Bingham Canyon mine in the USA is seen below. Rio Tinto is beneficiary of the 1872 mining law which allows mineral and land grabs on public lands without paying royalties to the US government. This includes gold, silver, copper, uranium and more. If this were happening in Haiti or South America, people would strongly object to this resource theft and environmental destruction.
Bingham Canyon mine
Bingham Canyon Mine zoom in
What happened to the American Revolution and War of 1812? What about the US debt? If the USA doesn’t want the land then they need to give it back to the American Indians and not the UK, Australia, Canada, or other foreign interests – even the Russian state owns uranium mines in America. American Indians have opposed many of these mines and have been ignored and even have had to continuously fight to protect drinking water against mining interests. This is not history. This is ongoing today.

Less than one year ago, while attending the White House Tribal Nations conference, Apache leaders learned about a clause, in a Congressional Bill, giving their ceremonial and ancestral land to Rio Tinto Subsidiary, Resolution Copper Mining, in a land swap: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/12/10/1350793/-John-McCain-and-Congress-helping-mining-company-steal-Apache-land This involves 2,422 acres of U.S. Forest Service lands, which are part of the Tonto National Forest. The swap is for scattered smaller parcels: http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/tonto/null/recarea/?recid=35345&actid=70 http://www.fs.usda.gov/projects/tonto/landmanagement/projects

Resolution Copper belongs to Rio Tinto (UK)-BHP Billiton (Aus) mining giants. They had been trying to get hold of the land for some time. Many American Indian Nations (Tribes) wrote and signed letters in opposition, and even testified before Congress. Clearly this timing was a trick. Note the time of day on the Bill. It is after 10 pm. The Tribal Nations Conference was on Wednesday and the Bill was voted on Thursday. It was attached onto a Defense bill. The Bill is 1,648 pages long and found here: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CPRT-113HPRT91496/pdf/CPRT-113HPRT91496.pdf

It is unclear if President Obama was involved in this treachery. However, he didn’t veto the bill. And, like John McCain has taken thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Rio Tinto. [1]
Obama Tribal Nations Conference Dec. 2014

Kennecott Corp is one of 92,125 beneficiaries of a 132-year-old federal mining law that gives away precious metals, minerals, and even the title to the land itself for less than $10 an acre. Kennecott Corp owns the minerals under an estimated 41,049 acres of claimed land, gained title to an estimated 4,145 acres of lands previously owned by the public, and has submitted mining plans and notices that encompass 52 acres of BLM-managed land, not including the acreages of mines they may operate on Forest Service land. giving Kennecott Corp more total land holdings (claims and patents) than over 99.5% of all other mining interests.” It is 100% owned by Rio Tinto Limited. Read more here: http://www.ewg.org/mining/owners/overview.php?cust_id=-1311785

There should not be mining on public lands, and certainly not surface mining, and certainly not where opposed by Native Americans. However, if it is allowed to continue this proposal is too little.

While importantly it DOES base Royalties on GROSS income, the amount appears inadequate and still unfair. It also does not apply to current or currently planned operations. However, since – according to the summary at the bottom – the mining companies don’t even report what they mine, they must not be paying taxes either. Nonetheless, it seems that they do pay a minuscule tax to states, so maybe the states are keeping track.

ROYALTIES-THE NEW LAW MUST BE APPLIED TO EXISTING OPERATIONS AND THOSE CURRENTLY APPROVED!

Unless this was changed in the new constitution, in Haiti, the mining profits are supposed to go 1/3 to the company, 1/3rd to land owner and 1/3rd to the government: https//miningawareness.wordpress.com/2013/11/01/mining-law-the-constitution-and-private-property-in-haiti/ If it were applied to US Public Lands, then 2/3rds of profits would go to the US. If the supposedly bankrupt US doesn’t need money then they can give 1/3rd of mining profits to the American Indians and 1/3rd for cleanup. And, why shouldn’t all profits go to the US outside of operating costs? Whose land is it anyway? The profits can go to American Indians, as a whole, because they’ve all been fleeced. And many have been fleeced by miners-mining companies, going back to the Georgia gold rush, when Cherokee were run off of their lands (and maybe earlier). In the long view of history, it should not matter if lands were stolen 100 years ago, 200 years ago, or 300 years ago. The US government and/or American Indians need to keep the entire value of any mining on government land, except for operating costs. This should be retroactive. American Indians should be able to veto any mines.

Current mining law dates back to 1872 and allows companies to take gold, silver, copper, uranium and other minerals from public land without paying any royaltiesHardrock mining companies have enjoyed a sweetheart deal for nearly 150 years, leaving taxpayers on the hook to clean up hundreds of thousands of abandoned mines leaking toxins and threatening communities across the West… Set a 2 to 5 percent royalty rate for new mining operations, based on gross income on production, Use royalty revenue and a separate fee of 0.6 to 2 percent to pay for abandoned mine cleanup….” (Senator Markey Press Release)

STRANGELY ABSENT FROM MARKEY’S SUMMARY IS THE FACT THAT THIS IS NOT RETROACTIVE-IT DOES NOT APPLY TO CURRENT OR APPROVED MINING OPERATIONS, ACCORDING TO THE SUMMARY WHICH MARKEY LINKS TO – which seems to be from Sen. Udall’s office! Whoever wrote Markey’s summary seems to have intentionally left out this important point, since it otherwise so closely mirrors the Udall summary. Note the regulatory “relief” loophole.
Markey, Udall, Heinrich, Bennet, Wyden Introduce Bill to Ensure Hardrock Mining Companies Pay Their Fair Share
Thursday, November 5, 2015

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Martin Heinrich(D-N.M.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA) introduced legislation to reform the nation’s antiquated hardrock mining laws. The Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act of 2015 will ensure mining companies pay royalties for the privilege of extracting mineral resources from public lands. The bill helps ensure that taxpayers aren’t on the hook for cleaning up abandoned mines, many of which are continuously leaking toxic chemicals into rivers and streams and have the potential for catastrophic disasters like the recent Gold King Mine blowout. The Gold King Mine accident spilled 3 million gallons of toxic wastewater into the Animas and San Juan rivers, and communities in New Mexico and Colorado are still struggling to recover from the impact to businesses and farms.

Current mining law dates back to 1872 and allows companies to take gold, silver, copper, uranium and other minerals from public land without paying any royalties. The lawmakers’ bill would impose a common-sense royalty — similar to that paid by oil and gas and coal companies for decades — to help pay for abandoned mine cleanup and prevent future disasters. There are up to 500,000 abandoned mines across the West, and cleanup is estimated to cost tens of billions of dollars.

Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M) is a cosponsor of H.R. 963, similar legislation that has been introduced in the House of Representatives. Luján, Udall, Heinrich and Bennet also joined together to introduce the Gold King Mine Spill Recovery Act in the House and Senate to ensure the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) compensates those who were impacted by the accident.

“Hardrock mining companies have enjoyed a sweetheart deal for nearly 150 years, leaving taxpayers on the hook to clean up hundreds of thousands of abandoned mines leaking toxins and threatening communities across the West,” said Udall, who has pushed for mining reform since he was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1998 and passed a unanimous amendment to the Fiscal Year 2013 budget resolution calling on Congress to enact a royalty for mining on public lands. “The Gold King Mine blowout proves that the status quo just isn’t working, and New Mexico and Navajo Nation communities are suffering the consequences. Gold and silver on public lands are a natural resource, just like oil and gas. Taxpayers deserve their fair share of the profit — and communities across the West need that money to clean up abandoned mines.”

“Disastrous spills like the Gold King Mine blowout are easy to see. But the unnoticed toxins leaking out of thousands of abandoned gold, silver, copper, and uranium mines are doing enormous damage to our watersheds every day,” said Heinrich, who recently toured uranium legacy sites in the Navajo Nation. “We must come together and pass commonsense reforms to our outdated and ineffective federal policy on abandoned mines and hardrock mining.”

“Three months ago, the Gold King Mine spill provided a sudden and devastating reminder of the dangers that abandoned mines pose in Colorado and across the West,” Bennet said. “Mining has been intrinsically linked to our history, economy, development and culture, but it’s also left scars across Colorado and other states. More than 200 mines in Colorado are leaking acid mine drainage that is polluting headwaters and affecting water quality for communities downstream. Our bill will help clean up these mines and prevent the possibility of future tragedies like the Gold King Mine.”

“The outdated laws that have been on the books for more than a century have left the American people to bear the brunt for the cost of addressing the damage that has been done to our land and water,” Luján said. “The Gold King Mine spill was a painful reminder of the legacy of hardrock mining in the West that has resulted in thousands of abandoned mines that contain toxic materials. We have introduced legislation to make all those impacted by the spill whole, and this bill builds on our efforts by ensuring that mining companies that have not had to pay any royalties for the natural resource on our public lands begin to contribute to the much-needed effort to clean up abandoned mines.”

“Hardrock mining companies ought to pay for using public lands, just as other companies do,” Wyden said. “This legislation will end the free ride these companies have enjoyed for far too long and jump-start the cleanup process to ensure abandoned mines in Oregon and across the country no longer threaten public safety and the environment.”

“Right now, huge multinational mining companies can extract gold, silver and other valuable hardrock minerals that belong to American taxpayers without paying a dime under a mining law passed when Ulysses S. Grant was President,” Markey said. “The mining law of 1872 isn’t just outdated, it’s outrageous. We need to ensure that these large mining companies pay their fair share to mine on public lands so that we have the revenue to protect public health and the environment by cleaning up the hundreds of thousands of dangerous, toxic abandoned mines in Western states.”

The Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act of 2015 will:

– Set a 2 to 5 percent royalty rate for new mining operations, based on gross income on production.
– Use royalty revenue and a separate fee of 0.6 to 2 percent to pay for abandoned mine cleanup.
– Allow states and tribes to receive funding for hardrock reclamation programs, and establish a grant program for other organizations that want to carry out restoration projects.
– Require permits for non-casual exploration and mining on federal land, and outline requirements for a permit like avoiding acid mine drainage.
– Require annual rental payments for claimed public land, thereby permanently eliminating patenting and characterizing mine operators as other public land users.
– Give the Secretary of the Interior the authority to grant royalty relief if economic factors require it.
Permit states and tribes to petition the Secretary of the Interior to withdraw lands from mining, and require an expedited review of certain lands to determine whether they are appropriate for future mining.
A summary of the legislation can be found HERE.
https://www.scribd.com/doc/288638152/The-Hardrock-Mining-and-Reclamation-Act-of-2015

http://www.markey.senate.gov/news/press-releases/markey-udall-heinrich-bennet-wyden-introduce-bill-to-ensure-hardrock-mining-companies-pay-their-fair-share
Two pages below are apparently from Sen. Udall:
Hardrock Mining Reclamation Act Markey p. 1
Hardrock Mining Reclamation Act Markey p. 2
Original posted at the scribd link above and seems to be from Sen. Udall’s office. Red boxes added.

For more in-depth discussion of the problem sse: https://www.earthworksaction.org/issues/detail/1872_mining_law_reform_requirements#.VjwRRn-9KSM

Endnote 1, Campaign Contributions:
Obama, Barack $6,720 Rio Tinto
https://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/summary.php?id=D000028746&cycle=2012
Senate Obama, Barack (D-IL) $5,950 Rio Tinto
http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/toprecips.php?id=D000028746&cycle=2008
McCain, John (R-AZ) Senate $7,500
http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/recips.php?id=D000028746
https://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/pacgot.php?cmte=C00243675&cycle=2014
Rob Bishop career
http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/contrib.php?cycle=Career&type=I&cid=N00025292&newMem=N&recs=20
Bishop Rio Tinto
http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/toprecips.php?id=D000028746&cycle=A

NOTE THAT WE DO NOT KNOW IF THE RUSSIAN URANIUM MINES ARE PUBLIC OR PRIVATE LAND. ALL, OR ALMOST ALL, WESTERN LANDS IN THE US, APPEAR TO HAVE LAST BELONGED TO THE US GOVERNMENT, AFTER BEING TAKEN FROM THE AMERICAN INDIANS (with Mexico sometimes having had interim ownership and Alaska purchased from Russia.) The US government appears to have retained mineral rights in most areas of the western US, but which were subsequently grabbed by individuals or corporations. Thus, there are ranchers endangered by uranium mining, along with Indian Reservations. The eastern US seems to be one of the rare areas of the world where the government does not own most mineral rights. If you don’t own the mineral rights, you don’t own the land!