December 31, 2013 by Barbara With
In an interview on WORT 89.9 on December 30, 2013, host Brian Standing and translator Martin Alvarado spoke with geologist Antonio Ramos, a member of the Spanish ecological federation Ecologistas en Acción (Ecologists in Action) who are helping to bring charges against Gogebic Taconite (GTac) President Bill Williams. Williams was general manager at Cobre Las Cruces copper mine near Seville when the company allegedly conducted unpermitted and illegal activities that caused irreparable damage to the aquifer serving Seville.
According to Ramos, once the water from the mine was exposed to oxygen, a chemical reaction took place that generated acid and liberated arsenic from the rock. This contaminated, acidic water should not have been pumped back into the aquifer. However, to save money and maximize profits, Cobre Las Cruces injected the contaminated water back into the aquifer, which was not permitted. All operations at the mine were halted, which is when the Regional Authority also discovered several illegal wells that had been drilled at the bottom of the mine.
[Acid mine drainage at CLC was caused by the oxidation of sulfide minerals, the same process that GTac’s critics in the US have warned could lead to tremendous environmental damage if the Penokees are mined.]
Ecologistas en Acción have been doing regular monthly flights over the mine to track the developments. In 2008, Ramos discovered the illegal wells. “As a result of these, we filed charges with the environmental legal authorities and opened this case because of damage to the environment,” Ramos said. “We are pending the extradition of Bill Williams to come to Spain and press charges.
Ramos added, “We hope that in 2014 Bill Williams will have to be in Spain. The charges are so important that according Article 325 of the Spanish penal code, Williams can go to prison for two to five years and receive a very significant fine.”
When told that Williams denies that any damage was done, Ramos replied, “You can tell Bill Williams that Ecologistas en Acción says he is a liar and a deceitful person. He does not have the truth. We have the truth and we can demonstrate this. Williams was at the mine when the damage happened, and he was responsible as general manager. That is very clear.”
Ramos ended the interview by expressing his appreciation of what concerned citizens in Wisconsin have been doing to protect the Penokees from Gtac. “We want to thank you for your concern on a world level. From all the corners of this small planet called Earth we are trying so that we can continue having it for years and not have humans destroy it. Please do not allow an open-pit mine in Wisconsin.”
Below: Bill Williams misrepresents Cobre Las Cruces mining operations at Deep Water Grill in Ashland, WI July 2011