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18 April 2023

The UK’s House of Lords proposes ban on opening new coal mines

The UK’s House of Lords, its upper house of Parliament, has proposed an amendment to the country’s proposed energy bill that would ban the opening and or licensing of new coal mines. 

The amendment must still be passed through the House of Commons for it to take effect. The amendment would mean that within six months of the passing of bill, which was originally known as the energy security bill, the secretary of state must ban the opening of, or granting of licences to, new coal mines. 

The new clause passed through the house of lords narrowly with 197 votes in favour and 194 against. The amendment reads: “Within six months of the day on which this act is passed, the secretary of state must by regulations prohibit the opening of new coalmines and the licensing of new coalmines by the Coal Authority or its successors.” 

The UK’s Liberal Democrat party raised the amendment, which was supported by the Labour Party. Liberal Democrat spokesperson for energy in the House of Lords, Lord Teverson said: “This is a fantastic win for the Liberal Democrats, with the passage of our amendment stopping this Conservative government from opening new coalmines which tear the UK’s environmental credentials into shreds”.

18 April 2023

Anglo American’s Chilean project receives environmental approval

Anglo American has secured an environmental permit for a $3bn extension of its Los Bronces copper project in Chile. The permit has been approved by Chile’s Ministry of Environment. 

The project will access higher-grade ore from a new underground section of the mine. Located in the Andes Mountains, the Los Bronces Integrated Project is being criticised by environmentalists and social groups over concerns about its long-term impact on the area’s water supply and nearby glaciers. 

Last year, amid environmental criticism, Anglo American said it would use desalinated water to meet almost half the water requirements of its Los Bronces mine from 2025. 

The Chilean Ministry of Environment said the permit for the project has now been authorised by the committee due to a number of “demanding” environmental requirements established by Anglo American. 

President of Sonami, the country’s national mining union, Cristián Argandoña said: “The project contemplates high sustainability standards to avoid the affectation of glaciers, including an underground operation so as not to intervene on the surface, as well as the adoption of a series of measures of local effect for the control of emissions.”

17 April 2023

Four killed at Sibanye-Stillwater South Africa mine accident

The collapse of a surface waste rock conveyor at Sibanye Stillwater’s Burnstone developmental stage gold project in South Africa has resulted in the deaths of four workers. 

One person was also seriously injured in the accident, which occurred when five contractor workers were installing a head pulley of the recently built conveyor infrastructure. The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said that the lifting of the pulley from the ground and putting it into position required the use of a 140t crane. 

The incident is said to have occurred when the gantry collapsed while the pulley was being aligned. 

Calling for an inquiry into the mishap, NUM national health and safety secretary Masibulele Naki said: “As the NUM we are demanding an immediate investigation on the incident. No stone should be left unturned as one death is one too many.” 

Sibanye Stillwater said a full probe is currently being carried out to determine the precise cause of the accident. 

In a statement, the company said: “Tragically four persons were fatally injured, while a fifth person sustained serious injuries and is currently receiving treatment.”