Jared Kushner, Donald Trump and the Antofagasta Copper Cartel Collusion: The Unethical Promotion of Experimental Copper Mining in Water-rich Northern Minnesota

Just Another Example of a Cunning Scheme to Enrich the Few at the Expense of the Many

Gary G. Kohls, MD

Jared Kushner, Donald Trump and the Antofagasta Copper Cartel Collusion:
The Unethical Promotion of Experimental Copper Mining in Water-rich Northern Minnesota

Pictured above are Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Andrónico Luksic Craig III (the CEO  of Antofagasta Holdings) and the $5.5 million Washington, DC mansion that Luksic,  the richest man in Chile, had purchased with pocket change the week after Trump won  the 2016 election. Image provided by Gary Kohls.
Pictured above are Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Andrónico Luksic Craig III (the CEO of Antofagasta Holdings) and the $5.5 million Washington, DC mansion that Luksic, the richest man in Chile, had purchased with pocket change the week after Trump won the 2016 election. Image provided by Gary Kohls.

“Big Mining interests and assorted mining (and oil) industry investors around the world all knew about the strong pro-extractive, anti-regulatory business climate of the Trump administration, which prompted Iván Arriagada Herrera the CEO of Antofagasta Minerals S.A. to comment that there is now ‘a more favourable climate for the development of the project’ (ie, the Twin Metal’s copper mining project in northern Minnesota - which seriously risks the environmental health of both the BWCAW and the Quetico Provincial Park in Canada).
Luksic – no surprise - promptly offered the mansion to Kushner-Trumps in a flagrant act of influence-peddling, aka collusion.  Here are the definitions of those two terms:
Influence-peddling: the use of position or political influence on someone’s behalf in exchange for money or favors.
Collusion: secret or illegal cooperation or conspiracy, especially in order to cheat or deceive others.
The expected tit-for-tat payback from Trump to Luksic/Antofagasta came a year later, when Trump, partly out of his unspoken promise to return a favor to a fellow billionaire - and partly out of spite to Obama - reversed an Obama-era termination of a Twin Metals lease of land in the US Forest Service-“protected” area of northern Minnesota (where Antofagasta has plans to dig an experimental underground copper/precious metals/sulfide mine). Antofagasta’ plans had been derailed - only temporarily, it turns out - thanks to the old under-handed trick of what is regarded as normal operating procedure for millionaires, dictators, the Mob and other scoundrels. 
Big Mining interests like Antofagasta knew (as did a multitude of other oil and mining industry investors around the world) about Trump’s strong pro-extractive, anti-regulatory business agendas. Trump seemed to not emphasize his secret pro-corporate/pro-billionaire plans or his plan to lower taxes for the rich to his rabidly loyal, “burn-the-place-down” supporters at his campaign rallies, however.

That change in the US administration to a more blatantly pro-corporate, pro-wealth economic agenda prompted Iván Arriagada Herrera the CEO of Antofagasta Minerals S.A. to comment that there is now “a more favourable climate for the development of the project”. The “project” he was referring to was meaning the Twin Metals’ copper mining project in the Superior National Forest, a protected area that is adjacent to the pristine, off-limits to industry, Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) in northern Minnesota.
The Luksic family has controlling interest in both Antofagasta Minerals, S.A. and Antofagasta plc. The Luksic family is one of the richest families in the world. The family business has made most of its money in copper mining in Chile, but they are now branching out to places like British Columbia, the Southwest US and northern Minnesota where their past history of despoiling Chile is not well-known. 

Most of the Luksic Group’s money was made from mining copper and other sulfide (sulfuric acid-producing) minerals in Chile, where there are still dozens of both active and inactive mine waste tailings lagoons that have leaked, poisoning the groundwater and in some cases actually breached, damaging adjacent and downstream environments and the health of the people. One community downstream from one of Antofagasta’s mines can’t drink the water and rely bottled water.

Here is a quote from the following link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B3HNMnHk82HoT3Q0MVk2Zjg3R1d2b0dhODJ0U2syWG95clVj/view “Antofagasta controls the Los Pelambres copper mine in north central Chile. The mine stores its tailings (fine wastes) in water contained by the El Mauro dam, the largest tailings dam in Latin America, which is situated above the small town of Caimanes.”
The information at that site condemns Antofagasta, and environmentalists, legislators and pro-copper mining advocates are asked to study the document.
Antofagasta’s founder was born in Antofagasta, Chile of a Bolivian mother and a Croatian immigrant father). His surviving second wife was once the 33rd richest person in the world. She is still worth $20 billion.  Her net worth is equivalent to 1/16th of Chile’s Gross Domestic Product.
Antofagasta owns four copper mines in Chile. It’s Minnesota Twin Metals unit has only one non-performing leasehold, in the Superior National Forest. Just like every other penny stock mining company (a good second example is PolyMet), Twin Metals has been in the process of propagandizing the public, lobbying legislators and simultaneously preparing environmental impact statements and other documents for regulators. 

Aa U.S. Secret Service agent guards Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner’s  Antofagasta-owned, $5.5 million mansion in Washington’s Kalorama neighborhood -  Getty Images. Image provided by Gary Kohls.
Aa U.S. Secret Service agent guards Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner’s Antofagasta-owned, $5.5 million mansion in Washington’s Kalorama neighborhood - Getty Images. Image provided by Gary Kohls.

What is at Stake for Northern Minnesota and Southern Ontario?

The proposed Antofagasta underground mine is to be located adjacent to the famously pristine, 1.1 million-acre Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW), which is part of the Superior National Forest, which is supposedly under the management and “protection” of the US Forest Service. 
The BWCAW happens to be contiguous to Canada’s 1.18 million-acre Quetico Provincial Park, a wilderness area even more pristine than its Minnesota counterpart. Logging has been illegal for 110 years, motorized boats are out-lawed and even live bait and barbed fishing hooks are against the law – all out of respect for the environment and its inhabitants – a concept utterly foreign to most of the ruling elite billionaire swamp-dwellers in DC. 

Quetico, Where Mining is Prohibited, is a Good Example of Environmental Sustainability

According to Wikipedia’s information about Quetico Provincial Park “containers of fuel, insect repellent, medicines, personal toilet articles, and other items (except for food and beverage containers) are the only cans or bottles that may be brought into Quetico. It is an offence to possess non-burnable and non-reusable food or beverage containers. Mechanized devices such as power saws, generators, ice augers, or portage wheels are prohibited. It is furthermore illegal to damage live trees and other plants. Hunting or molesting wildlife or possession of a firearm or fireworks is not allowed in Quetico”. 
These two large wilderness parks are often collectively referred to as the Boundary Waters or Quetico-Superior Country.
And yet a seriously polluting corporate entity has the audacity (and Minnesota’s bureaucratic organizations like the DNR and PCA have the short-sightedness and/or corporate subservience) to think foreign copper mining corporations should be able to connive their way into the state and risk the environmental degradation of Minnesota’s natural environment for which it has no moral (or even legal?) obligation to protect long-term. 

Who or What is Twin Metals?

Twin Metals began as a Canadian Penny Stock mining company that Antofagasta (a privately-owned Chilean corporation which is listed on the London Stock Exchange) gradually acquired total control over by purchasing 100% of the company’s stock. Most Penny Stock Mining Companies operate the same way, with secret ties to major mining companies from the onset. These major mining companies often participate in the initial public offerings (IPOs).

But Twin Metals’ mining project hinged on the resolution of a legal dispute with the US government which had cancelled Antofagasta’s mineral leases in 2016. The success of the project hinged on the resolution of a legal dispute with the US government which had cancelled the Antofagasta mineral leases in 2016, which, as mentioned above, was dealt with under Trump’s signature in an Oval Office signing ceremony. 

Arriagada, probably aware of the Kushner/Trump/Antofagasta caper, was quoted as confidently saying: “we’ll keep defending our right to develop the mine.” 

Foreign, Multinational Copper Mining Giants and Northern Minnesota’s Vulnerable, Water-rich Environment

Donald Trump’s election has been secretly applauded by right-wing, extractive, oil and mining corporations whose profits are hindered by progressive governments whose natural commitment is to the protection of the environment and resistance to polluting corporations. 
The 2016 election of Donald Trump to the presidency gave encouragement to many industries (especially in finance) that rely on access to low-interest bank loans, access to affordable minerals, protection from competition (via tariffs), substantial dividends to their already wealthy shareholders and diminished penalties for the pollution for which they are invariably responsible. 

The obvious pro-extractive business climate of the new Trump administration heightened investor optimism for polluting projects that (along with the huge Trump tax breaks for the super-wealthy), helps to explain the massive jump in the Dow-Jones Industrial Averages (DJIA) that began soon after election day. Many of the (only) 30 giant corporations listed in the DJIA rely on extractive industries, addictive and/or dependency-inducing products, affordable raw materials and low interest rates for their loans, which are all cornerstones of the Trump economic agenda.

A permanently dried-up river bed in Chile that Antofagasta created when it diverted the  flow of water for copper mining purposes - https://lab.org.uk/antofagasta-the-goliath- which-is-crushing-caimanes/. Image provided by Gary Kohls.
A permanently dried-up river bed in Chile that Antofagasta created when it diverted the flow of water for copper mining purposes - https://lab.org.uk/antofagasta-the-goliath- which-is-crushing-caimanes/. Image provided by Gary Kohls.

Background Information on Chile’s Antofagasta plc

Andrónico Luksic III is the CEO of the privately-owned Luksic Group, which made most of its money on mining. His political influence is vast, with investments in politicians, banks, educational institutions, the media, etc. Antofagasta did well during the brutal Agusto Pinochet dictatorship.
Luksic, besides being the CEO of Antofagasta plc and a board member of Antofagasta Minerals, also has close connections to Banco do Chile and the Toronto-based Barrick Gold Corporation, the largest gold mining company in the world. 
Luksic has been on the advisory board of faculties including Harvard Business School, the Centre for Latin American Studies at Harvard, and the Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford.
He is also a member of the Brookings Institution, the Panama Canal Authority, the Chairman’s International Council of the Council of the Americas, a board member of the Chilean Pacific Foundation and is a member of the Latin American Council of Nature Conservancy (!). 
That latter connection with Nature Conservancy organization should give no false assurances that there is any concern (except for the inevitable propagandistic public relations pronouncements) about the sociopathic tendencies of Antofagasta or the long-term environmental health of the BWCAW, Quetico or the inhabitants of the region. 
To disabuse oneself of the tendency of us naïve types to believe the proclamations of the endless numbers of cunning corporations (and their many bribed politicians who are therefore beholden to them) one need only wake up a bit and smell the garbage and acknowledge that the primary concern for any large corporation is next quarter’s profit report. 

Equally important to multinational corporations is fulfilling the demands of its shareholders for increasing share price and/or dividends. Multinational mining corporations like Antofagasta and Glencore actually care very little about the long-term sustainability – unless they are speaking to the press, legislators or regulators. The environment (and the public health of the people) that will be left behind to deal with the inevitable pollution that always follows extractive industries when the resource dries up, whether the resource is copper, nickel, gold, natural gas or oil.

Examples of genuine long-term corporate responsibility in the mining industry are few and far between. Antofagasta has a poor track record when it comes to mine accidents and tailings dam failures. And the same is true of Glencore, the even more dangerous foreign (Switzerland) copper mining corporation that is threatening northern Minnesota’s water-rich environment. (Glencore is the Swiss mining corporation that has been getting permits to mine from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (!) and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (!) to  operate the equally disaster-inviting PolyMet open pit copper mine and tailings lagoon project that is located at the top of Minnesota’s St Louis River estuary, which drains directly into the relatively un-polluted, fresh water-containing, fish-filled Lake Superior.
Neither of the two foreign mining corporations should be allowed to risk environmental degradation and potential catastrophes for Minnesota - or Canada, Wisconsin or Michigan for that matter. 
Be reminded that the typical cowardly behavior of mining company executives when the inevitable mining catastrophe happens is to “high-tail it out of town” before the armed mobs rush their homes and offices to extract their pound of flesh. 
The Kushner-Trump-Antofagasta collusion and the many other acts of political corruption that continues to exist in Washington DC (irrespective of what political party’s president occupies the Oval Office, it seems) should have no say in what happens to Minnesota’s environment, drinking water, fishing, wild rice beds or the people that make up what has been a clean water, clean air state. 

This prime example of another Trump administration collusion is just another cunning scheme to enrich the few at the expense of the many. The caper should be enough to bring down several of the more odious swamp-dwellers in DC, that is, if there is still a functioning democracy after Donald Trump, Stephen Miller, Ryan Zinke, John Bolton, Elliott Abrams, Steve Bannon and Trump’s assorted criminal-minded administration members are done with their attempts to destroy it.

Addendum: an excellent article on the Twin Metals/Antofagasta issue can be read at this City Pages website: http://www.citypages.com/news/a-chilean-mining-company-lays-claim-to-minnesotas-water/509288371

 

  Dr Kohls is a retired family physician from Duluth, MN, USA. Since his retirement from his holistic mental health practice he has been writing his weekly Duty to Warn column for the Duluth Reader, northeast Minnesota’s alternative newsweekly magazine. His columns, which are re-published around the world, deal with the dangers of American fascism, corporatism, militarization, racism, xenophobia, malnutrition, sea level rise, global warming, geo-engineering, solar radiation management, Big Copper Mining’s conscienceless exploitation of northeast Minnesota’s water-rich environment, Big Medicine’s over-screening, over-diagnosing, over-treating, Big Pharma’s over-drugging and Big Vaccine’s over-vaccination agendas (particularly of tiny infants), as well as other movements that threaten human health, the environment, democracy, civility and the sustainability of life on earth.

Many of his columns have been archived at a number of websites, including these four: http://duluthreader.com/search?search_term=Duty+to+Warn&p=2; http://www.globalresearch.ca/author/gary-g-kohls; http://freepress.org/geographic-scope/national; and https://www.transcend.org/tms/search/?q=gary+kohls+articles