I love this, just love it

Corky Stewart, a retired geologist, and his wife live in a rural subdivision in New Mexico’s Grant county, about a mile north of the sprawling Tyrone copper mine.

“We’ve been here three years and we’ve heard four blasts,” Stewart said of the mine, one of four on an expanse of land partitioned into dozens of four-acre lots. From his perspective, the blasts don’t seem unreasonable, given that a mining company owns the property and has the right to do what it wants.

But he didn’t know when he bought the property that the company would propose a new pit called the Emma B just a half-mile from the wells he and his wife depend on for drinking water. “If they were to somehow tap into our aquifer and drain our water supply, then our houses become valueless,” he said.

“We’re not making any effort to prevent the pit from being built,” he said. “All we’re really asking is for them to give us some commitment that they will fix whatever they do to our water supply.” But the mine, owned by the company Freeport-McMoRan, refuses to give them this assurance, he said. Freeport-McMoRan did not respond to multiple requests for comment by New Mexico In Depth and the Guardian.

Mr. Stewart is being entirely reasonable. It’s that this is the intro to a long piece in The Guardian. On the one side we’ve the planet will boil, Flipper will broil and the seas rise so that women will be worst hit – they’re shorter, d’ye see?

On the other side we’ve these vast costs that must be considered, that half a dozen rural yokels (to be unreasonable about Mr. Stewart) might need to have their water trucked in.

Abolish capitalism immediately, eh?

7 thoughts on “I love this, just love it”

  1. But to be fair, if the water does need to be trucked in, then perhaps the mining company should pay for it.

    Incidentally, if the pit needs to be drained, then there will be a surfeit of water to be disposed of, which makes the whole thing seem to me to be a non-problem.

  2. @Excavator Man
    Unfortunately the water that ends up in the bottom of the pit has leached through rocks that haven’t been connected to the aquifer. Usually it picks up all sorts of heavy metals, rendering it unfit for consumption. However it does end up a brilliant shade of blue or green.

  3. I have to say that I think there should be some sort of legal way of making large corporations accountable for their actions towards private individuals. As it stands an ordinary person stands about as much chance against a large mining corp that it would against a killer whale. Yes in theory the courts are there to protect people’s rights but in practise they aren’t, those with the money get the ‘justice’ they pay for.

    Thus I think there should be some statutory restriction on how much money a corporation can spend on defending itself against a court case. It should be limited to the same amount of money the plaintiff has to spend. That way they might be more inclined to settle or agree a fair course of action, such is this case. You’d probably chuck in a clause such that if your case was considered by the court to be frivolous or vexatious then you’d be liable for a hefty fine (which would not be extinguished by bankruptcy). Then you’d only get cases brought forward that were genuine, and if charities or campaign groups brought cases then their greater spending power would be matched by that of the corporation. A fair fight would be more likely.

  4. @Mohave Greenie,

    Does it (the water) have to end up in the bottom of the pit? It could always be collected higher up. Anyway, it’s a helluva drawdown to completely wipe out a well a half mile away, isn’t it?

    Dear Old Corky only moved in 3 years ago. You would have thought that a Geologist would look up the geology with its concomitant risk of mining etc. wouldn’t you? It’s a bit like someone moving to the end of the runway at Heathrow and complaining about the aircraft noise – and worse if they were a retired pilot!

    They won’t be the only folk affected, and so they don’t have to sue individually. Or they can just drink less, and flush the toilet once a week. Isn’t that what the Greens want anyway?

  5. @Excavator Man
    I’ve lived in the desert for several decades on top of a 350 foot well, so I have some experience with aquifers. It all depends on the type of aquifer and the flow direction. The new mine could be like pulling the plug out of a bathtub. Or, it could be totally unconnected.

    There is no way to stop the water from flowing into the mine. When you dig into the aquifer, the bottom of the pit naturally fills up. If you want to dig deeper, you have to start pumping and keep pumping.

  6. For seven years in my teens we lived beside a deep quarry, and beside means half our six acres was an unfenced boundary. Blasts were about two-weekly and when I heard the 5min warning siren I’d run and climb to top of gravel pile to watch. Also fun watching huge lorries, diggers etc and sometimes in them too

    Great fun and great playground / MX land evenings and weekends. Downside was dust a bit more than normal, no big deal, same as buying water. Mine shouldn’t provide his water for free

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