Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Barrick liquidating assets: Open Cut for sale...to China?



The State of South Dakota is suing the Army Corps of Engineers to determine ownership of so-called 'surplus water.'

Tribes believe that they own the water.

AG Jacklow is engaging in legal sock-puppetry. By suing the corps over surplus water he is forcing them to pay for the clean up of a century of mine tailings and organic effluent that has saturated the banks of the Belle Fourche/Cheyenne River system then depositing many tons of toxic silt into Lake Oahe and the other downstream dams after 1962 now displacing many acre-feet of water.

Hidden agenda? The state has a $83 million dollar surplus but would argue it can’t afford to dredge and treat the dams so it expects taxpayers to do it. Ag and livestock special interests likely contribute the most poison crap to the system followed by human-based pharma/chemical toiletries.

Barrick Mining Company is on the hook for most of the worst shit: it's armed to the teeth with a bank of lawyers and lobbyists. The State enjoyed royalties and severance taxes.

Todd Duex is the local representative for the Canadian firm. It owns most of the rights to water in the Northern Black Hills: water destined for the proposed Deadwood Standard Project.

The Globe and Mail tells readers that as confidence in the mining supercycle collapses, China is sucking up its assets:
Pointed questions are beginning to swirl around Nigel Wright, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s chief of staff, and whether he used his position to further the financial interests of friends at Barrick Gold Corp. Ethics commissioner Mary Dawson is following up with Mr. Wright after the disclosure that he was lobbied twice by Barrick, the world’s largest gold producer, in May.
Not long after Homestake Mining Company announced its intent to close operations in Lead, we were listening to this NPR story about an ice climbing park in Ouray, Colorado, a former mining town that has remade itself by farming ice. My daughters' mother turned to me and said: "Wow, they should do that in the Open Cut."

It was if she had spoken with the Voice of God.  The very next day I made an appointment and met with Bruce Breid, the general manager charged with the mine's mothballing, an aerial photo of the pit displayed on the wall behind his desk.

"What a brilliant idea, Mr. Kurtz, we have water here, here, and here," Mr. Breid said, pointing to locations at the rim near the Homestake Visitor Center. "Can you provide a legal instrument holding Homestake harmless?"

Right. There was that.

Though not a climber myself, more research led me to locals, some of whom had actually climbed some of the natural seeps deep in the pit while working for subcontract miners.

The horseshoe-shaped bowl directly under the Visitors Center is geologically sound, anchors for top roping easy to place. I have spoken to every Lead mayor since; the desired property is in the city limits. Barrick, the current owner has resisted any discussion of the concept. The Authority governing development of the Lab looks at me like deer in headlights.

The Open Cut contributes about 11% of the water to the mine being pumped for the Lab, the ice climbing park would add another 5000 gallons or so. If a clay liner would be applied to the floor of the pit, the resulting reservoir (yes, acidic mine runoff mostly) could be tapped for emergency fire-fighting or diverted to the treatment facility for water from Sawpit Gulch in Central City. I think some of that is already happening.

Barrick returned some Wyoming holdings to the tribes; and, after it takes responsibility for its complicity in the destruction of the Missouri River Basin it should divest of its remaining holdings in the sacred Black Hills remanding them to the owners by treaty.

Lead has a long wait before the Lab starts producing the number of jobs needed to sustain the community now. Hope they hang on.

3 comments:

Stan Gibilisco said...

Lead will hang on simply because it can't not hang on! This town (my home town) is unannihilable.

If I remember (quite a chore these days, with all the books in process) I'll float this idea around town and see what sorts of devils' advocates I can scare out from under the rocks.

Sounds like a cool idea, if the nature of the terrain will support it. (Someone suggested that the slopes are sliding.) Cool -- figuratively and literally, like my idea of getting some of those South Beach (Miami) models up here to do fashion shoots in front of the Open Cut. All the cooler if it's covered with ice.

larry kurtz said...

Hi Stan; thanks for coming by. Homestake and Barrick want the walls of the Pit to "spall," ice would accelerate the process. It's important to remember that the Open Cut is comprised of porous rock so water goes right to the lab.

HarleyBruce said...

I am interested in helping to promote this idea...
Scott Harley Bruce RSA in Rapid City, SD scott@robertsharpassociates.com