Appeals Court Upholds EPA in Coal Ruling
The U.S. Court of Appeals on Friday announced its decision to back the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on its coal mining restraints designed to reduce water pollution from surface mining.
The courts ruled in a 3-0 decision the EPA acted accordingly within its right to institute two measures under the Clean Water Act, which addresses damages caused by mountaintop coal removal such as surface mining.
The EPA has implemented two recommendations for miners since 2009: screening mining permit applications made to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and recommending states impose tougher guidelines for issuing mining permits. The recommendations set by the EPA are known as a “final guidance.”
In the ruling, Judge Kavanaugh said EPA’s recommendations are not an agency action reviewable by the courts.
"In our view, EPA and the Corps acted within their statutory authority when they adopted the Enhanced Coordination Process," said Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
"And under our precedents, the Final Guidance is not final agency action reviewable by the courts at this time.”
In a statement, the EPA said it welcomed the ruling and confirmed it is working with states, mining companies and the public to encourage environmentally responsible mining.
"We are committed to consistently using our authority under the Clean Water Act to protect the health and environment of Appalachian communities," said the EPA in a statement.
"The Agency is working with the states, mining companies, other stakeholders and the public to enable environmentally responsible mining projects to move forward.”
Challengers of EPA’s recommendations said the organization was overstepping its authority because the Clean Water Act did not specify such actions.
Vale invests $150mn to extend life of Manitoba operations
Vale has announced a $150mn CAD investment to extend current mining activities in Thompson, Manitoba by 10 years while aggressive exploration drilling of known orebodies holds the promise of mining well past 2040.
Global energy transition is boosting the market for nickel
The Thompson Mine Expansion is a two-phase project. The announcement represents Phase 1 and includes critical infrastructure such as new ventilation raises and fans, increased backfill capacity and additional power distribution. The changes are forecast to improve current production by 30%.
“This is the largest single investment we have made in our Thompson operations in the past two decades,” said Mark Travers, Executive Vice-President for Base Metals with Vale. “It is significant news for our employees, for the Thompson community and for the Province of Manitoba.
“The global movement to electric vehicles, renewable energies and carbon reduction has shone a welcome spotlight on nickel – positioning the metal we mine as a key contributor to a greener future and boosting world demand. We are proud that Thompson can be part of that future and part of the low carbon solution.”
Vale continues drilling program at Manitoba
Coupled with today’s announcement, Vale is continuing an extensive drilling program to further define known orebodies and search for new mineralization.
“This $150mn investment is just one part of our ambitious Thompson turnaround story. It is an indicator of our confidence in a long future for the Thompson operations,” added Dino Otranto, Chief Operating Officer for Vale’s North Atlantic Base Metals operations.
“Active collaboration between our design team, technical services, USW Local 6166, and our entire Thompson workforce has delivered a safe, efficient and fit-for-purpose plan that will enable us to extract the Thompson nickel resources for many years to come.”
The Thompson orebody was first discovered in 1956 by Vale (then known as Inco) following the adoption of new exploration technology and the largest exploration program to-date in the company’s history. Mining of the Thompson orebody began in 1961.
“We see the lighting of a path forward to a sustainable and prosperous future for Vale Base Metals in Manitoba,” said Gary Annett, General Manager of Vale’s Manitoba Operations.