According to an article in Mining News ( Rio Tinto will begin construction of the $US469 million ($A542 million) Kennecott Eagle nickel-copper mine in Michigan after receiving environmental approval.
A local commentator says:
“I’ve seen Rio Tinto submit basically the same news release on a number of occasions when they feel a need to overshadow something else that is occupying the media’s attention. Recently, Cynthia Pryor was convicted for “trespassing” on public land (see I believe that Rio Tinto didn’t know which way this case would go and wanted to overshadow it by reiterating their huge investment in the Eagle Mine. The company is nervous to have any sort of legal discussion about the validity of their surface use lease with the State of Michigan. The core of Pryor’s argument was that she refused to leave because the company doesn’t have a valid, legal lease. The judge allowed the prosecution to strike that from the case, so Pryor wasn’t even allowed to argue the reasoning behind her refusing to leave public land that day. The prosecutor, however, was able to use the lease to his own advantage on a number of occasions. The jury was only allowed to consider whether Kennecott asked her to leave, whether they have authority to ask her to leave (oddly she wasn’t allowed to challenge that authority in court), and whether she refused to leave. The judge made it simple for the jury to convict her. She won all the arguments but lost the case. So, Rio Tinto is trying to avoid scrutiny of their mine plan (still in court) and their land lease, so is trying to steamroll ahead with their economic arguments. They have already bulldozed the entire site, leaving Eagle Rock an island in the middle of a bare wasteland. Once they’re moving, it’s difficult to stop them, even with a legal victory. It’s similar to what they did in Wisconsin two decades ago.”
For background, see