Tag Archives: strip mining

Canaries in the Mineshaft – Miner Strikes Worldwide, Art, and the Environment

11 Sep

Punk art surrealist Winston Smith, who named him­self after the indelible pro­tag­o­nist of Orwell’s 1984, was once quoted (referring to a popular idiom), “You could say that artists are the canaries in the mineshaft. We see things before others do. We set off alarms and alert those who are distracted by other things. It’s not that we’re more sensitive or more aware…it’s just our job.” This is an allusion to the age-old practice of mining workers carrying caged canaries down into the tunnels with them. If dangerous gases such as methane or carbon monoxide leaked into the mine-shaft, the gases killed the canary before killing the miners.

Winston Smith Collage

Exemplifying Smith’s assertion of artist-as-indicator-species, this week Yoko Ono launched Artists Against Fracking, with a focus on New York hydraulic fracturing. Yesterday, just days after premiering his new video We Want Peace — Reloaded,” former child soldier, peace activist, and hip-hop artist Emmanuel Jal was reportedly beat unconscious by South Sudanese police. Currently on exhibition in London, Art of Change: New Directions from China reveals how the best contemporary art moves beyond the particular to comment on universal experience. The current imprisonment of Russian feminist punk band Pussy Riot has sparked outrage and protests in solidarity worldwide.

Real miners endure a more wretched fate than the metaphorical ones referenced here, meeting with shattered health, physical brutality, and even murder for corporate profit, which ultimately are also recognized as an assault to the natural world as well.

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Strip Coal Mines Resurfacing in Nova Scotia

16 Feb

strip mining

Almost six years after Nova Scotia imposed a moratorium on 13 surface coal mining projects in Cape Breton, the province is about to release a report that can reopen operations.

Next month, the ministers of environment and natural resources will be handed a study –  produced by the government and university scientists – that allows a surface mine in Cape Breton to proceed as a case study.

The study and the moratorium started in 2006 due to public opposition to the provincial government’s decision to grant a surface mining permit to Pioneer Coal Ltd. of Antigonish.

The company was told it could begin mining 1.6 million tons of coal from close to the surface of the former Prince mine near Point Aconi, the last operating underground mine in Nova Scotia, which closed in 2001.

Two years later, the province issued a call for proposals to restart development of the Sydney Coalfield — the largest coal operation in Eastern Canada. The result was 14 surface mining proposals and a single seven-year permit for Pioneer.

The operation has moved into a reclamation phase that includes cleaning up the old Prince mine site and restoring the land and its vegetation. The work is supposed to be completed within a year of the mine’s closure, expected in 2013.

Local residents say the Pioneer project has been a disaster from Day 1.

“How would you like to have a bulldozer in your backyard all night long?” said Brian Gerrow, who lives within a kilometre of the mine site.

“All summer, we can’t open the windows because of the noise and the dust. You can’t get a breath of air. . . . This has been going on since they started.”

Officials with Pioneer did not respond to two requests for an interview.
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