UK Billionaire Pushes Arctic "Mega" Mine: Caribou, Whale & Seal Deaths Expected, "Habitat Will Be Lost"

Arctic wolf photo

Image: purplegothicqueen via flickr

Lakshmi Mittal, Britain's richest man, is pushing to open an opencast iron ore "mega-mine" inside the Arctic Circle that will include a 150-kilometer railway and two new ports that will bring a ship in every 32 hours—up from the current rate of zero to ten ships a year.The Guardian has the story:

Documents seen by the Guardian show that Mittal's company, the world's biggest steel-making group, ArcelorMittal, admits the operations will be undertaken in an area inhabited by unique wildlife including polar bear, narwhal and walrus.

The company has just spent nearly $600m (£373m) alongside a US private equity firm buying Baffinland Iron Mines, to seize control and develop the Mary river deposits in the Nunavut region of the Canadian Arctic.

According to The Guardian, the environmental impact statement included talk about efforts to prevent contamination from sewage, wastewater and explosive equipment-washing—but also acknowledged the many possible or probable losses, with no apparent plan to address them. And these are only the predicted impacts:

"Building sections of the railway into the edge of several lakes will be unavoidable ... some fish habitat will be lost."

"Accidental kills of caribou could occur as a result of project activity."

And: "small numbers of ringed seal mortalities could occur as a result of icebreaking activity."

The potential value of the mine is estimated at $23 billion worth of iron ore, and as The Guardian explains, the project "highlights the huge commercial potential of the far north as global warming makes industrial development in the region easier."

Development that tears through the region and disrupts the Arctic ecosystem, of course, accelerates warming even further. And thus begins a self-perpetuating cycle.

More on Arctic ice and ecosystems:
Arctic Sea Ice Loss Confirmed As Main Cause of Faster Polar Warming
Arctic Predators Hit Hard by Climate Change
A Blog From Philippe Cousteau, Speaking Out From New Orleans
Major Shifts in North Atlantic Ecosystems Driven by 'Unprecedented' Climate Change in Last Half-Century

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