MAC/20: Mines and Communities

London Calling - December 30 2004

Published by MAC on 2004-12-30


London Calling! December 30 2004

Tsunamis and mining: a natural disaster?

Para acceder a una versión en español de este artículo, siga el siguiente link

We are told by geo-scientists that only Nature moves the tectonic plates beneath the Pacific and Indian oceans. So, this week's unfolding tragedy has nothing to do with climate change and global warming. But this is a monstrous oversimplification of the real nature of this type of disaster, and the widespread refusal to consider whether its consequences rather than the initial cause might have been minimised.

International experts - and many others - have concentrated political fire on the absence of tsunami early warning systems in the Indian ocean region. No doubt this is true but, at best a 90 minute or 2 and half hour period of grace would have brought some fisherfolk in from coastal waters and got tourists out of bed onto higher ground.

It wouldn’t have saved any homes, land or much property along the beaches. And what to do after that? Although the scale of what occurred will spring millions of dollars in assistance, and some longer term development grants, lets remember what happened (or rather didn't) to the people of Bam.

The earthquake which struck Iran almost exactly a year ago killing 30,000 people - triggered promises of a billion dollars worth of aid. How much was actually paid out? Just US$17 million, while thousands of people remain effectively destitute.

Man-made consequences

Many of the lives lost in Asia (more than 120,000 last Thursday and still counting) might have been saved, had corals and mangroves remained in place to absorb the impacts of the waves. (see article below).

But innumerable natural barriers such as these have been sacrificed to artificial shrimp ponds (serving richer palates than most Asians can ever afford), to tourist belts, industrial installations (ironically in India some of these were themselves struck by the onslaught, notably nuclear power plants under construction) and mining.

Yes, mining - including the destruction and depletion of lime-rich coral reefs by blasting; the denuding of mangrove swamps to make way for commercial salt pans (as in India); mineral sands extraction (Kerala, South Africa, Mozambique and now projected for the east coasts of Kenya and Tamil Nadu), and the wholesale removal of coastal sands and rocks as building materials (throughout the Asia-Pacific). Our Mines and Communities site has long carried a document entitled The Destruction of Construction. The description gains a new meaning in the light of recent tragedies. For there is little doubt about the mounting attrition of coastal resources throughout southern and southeast Asia, caused by the global construction industry.

Add to this, the damage caused by mining on small islands and atolls throughout the region (something condemned by a UN Pacific conference twenty five years ago), the use of submarine tailings disposal (we dont, and may never, know what damage the tsunamis did to current STD pipes in Indonesia), and the prospect of massive seabed mining in the next few years (for which Australia and Papua New Guinea seem to be taking the lead). It is starkly obvious that commercial need for minerals is driving unprecedented destruction of oceanic and coastal defences.

Future tsunamis or not, the arguments for banning all beach and seabed mining, oceanic mineral wastes disposal, and the coastal location of smelters and power plants, have long been self-evident.

Now is surely the time to press the lessons home.

Tuticorin: a specific case to answer

Reports from India last weekend indicate that, although the port of Tuticorin in southern Tamil Nadu was hit by the first tsunamis, industrial projects along the coast were relatively unaffected. This reprieve is almost incidental - and certainly no cause for comfort. A power station is situated right on the shore-line, while Vedanta/Sterlite’s copper smelter with its huge piles of arsenic and gypsum - lies only a few kilometres from the sea. For years coral and sand mining has afflicted the Mannar Gulf, a biosphere reserve; and until recently Vedanta was piping its wastes directly onto the ocean floor. Two months ago, plans to commence coastal mineral sands mining in the area were measurably advanced.

[“London Calling” is published by Nostromo Research, London. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of any other individual, organisation or editors of the MAC web site. Reproduction is encouraged with full acknowledgment]


Human activities contributed to tsunami's ravages: environmental expert

Associated French Press (AFP)

December 27, 2004

Paris - Human activities, notably the building of coastal resorts and the destruction of natural protection, contributed to the enormous loss of life from killer tidal waves that hit the shores of the Indian Ocean after an earthquake, an environmental expert said Monday.

Jeff McNeely, chief scientist of the Swiss-based World Conservation Union (IUCN), who lived for several years in Indonesia and Thailand, two of the countries hit by Sunday's disaster, said it was "nothing new for nature" in a geologically active region.

"What has made this a disaster is that people have started to occupy part of the landscape that they shouldn't have occupied," he told AFP in a telephone interview from Paris. "Fifty years ago the coastline was not densely occupied as now by tourist hotels."

The hotels did not replace traditional villages because the villagers built inland, McNeely said.

"What has also happened over the last several decades is that many mangroves have been cleared to grow shrimp ponds so that we, here in Europe, can have cheap shrimp," he added.

"The mangroves were all along the coasts where there are shallow waters. They offered protection against things like tsunamis. Over the last 20-30 years, "they were cleared by people who didn't have the long-term knowledge of why these mangroves should have been saved, by outsiders who get concessions from the governments and set up shrimp or prawn farms."

The shrimps and prawns are sold to Europeans and other foreigners "at a price that does not include the environmental cost which is being paid today," McNeely said.

The same thing has been happening with the coral reefs that also provided protection to the coast, he explained.

"When a tsunami comes in, it first hits the coral reef which slows it down, then it hits the mangroves which furthers slow it down. It may get through that but by then a lot of the energy has already been dissipated."

Conservationists in India and Srilanka and Thailand had warned that mangroves had tremendous value for conservation and to protect the coastline, McNeely said.

On the other hand, Sunday's quake would not have been a disaster for local wildlife still left in the affected areas, he added.

"Those living along the coast are seldom particularly rare, that's not a rare habitat, the mangroves are not particularly rich in species, the species that live there are used to typhoons, to storms and all that. "Animals are smart enough to move."


Mining companies untouched by tsunamis

Paul Garvey, Miningnews.net

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Australian resource companies appear to have escaped the worst of the devastating effects of the tsunamis that have claimed the lives of more than 60,000 people in southern Asia.

Tsunamis hit Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia and southern Thailand on Sunday in the wake of a massive underwater earthquake off Indonesia registering 8.9 on the Richter scale.

Kingsgate Consolidated's Chatree gold mine in central Thailand was unaffected by the disaster, according to Chatree general manager Phil MacIntyre.

MacIntyre told Miningnews.net that while staff at the mine "were in a state of shock", none of the employee's workforce were in the country's south at the time of the disaster. He said he did not believe the provision of supplies to the operation would be hindered by crisis.

The Aceh province, on the north-eastern tip of the island of Sumatra, was the worst-affected region in Indonesia.

Herald Resources' Dairi lead-zinc project in Northern Sumatra was unaffected by the disaster said managing director Michael Wright.

Newmont Mining Corporation, which has operations at Batu Hijau and Minahasa in Indonesia's east, said in a statement it would donate 5 million rupia to the nation's relief efforts.

Ian Price, managing director of Melbourne based Indonesian explorer Austindo Resources, said the tsunamis had had "absolutely no impact" on his company's Cibaliung exploration project in Indonesia.

According to The Hindustan Times, the disaster has triggered an unusual response by the residents of a fishing hamlet in the Indian district of Kollam, who have blamed two local mining companies for the disaster.

Reports indicate the villagers are planning protests against Indian Rare Earths and Kerala Minerals and Metals Ltd, both of which actively mine mineral sands in the area. Close to 2,000 homes were flattened and at least 125 people killed in the village by the tsunami.


Coming next month: brand new coastal rules

Wednesday December 29 2004

Newindpress.com

New Delhi, Chenai: It may be too early to look for a silver lining to the tsunami tragedy but this could very well be the first one: The disaster and its horrifying aftermath are being factored in by a high-powered scientific Government committee as it prepares a comprehensive review of regulations determining settlement and development along the country's 6,000-km coastline.

This committee, headed by agriculture scientist M S Swaminathan, was set up in July this year to review existing Coastal Regulation Zone norms notified in 1991. Their final report is expected next month.

Nothing would have shown the enormity of their task than Sunday's disaster. For, the existing CRZ rules are almost always followed in the breach.

Because they are flagrantly violated, the committee was asked to review it and now with the unprecedented death toll - speculated at 8000 by Tuesday night - it's taking a whole new look.

The Coastal Regulation Zone norms of 1991 seek to regulate human activity within 500 m from the coast. It divides the entire coast into four zones depending on the density of population and the development already existing there.

In Zone 1 fall the most sensitive areas with mangroves and corals. Here, no development is allowed within 500 metres of the coast. Zone 2 is towns and cities where buildings are already touching the sea. Zone 3 includes undeveloped areas and tourist places where permission is allowed on a case-to-case basis in a band up to 200 m from the sea. Zone 4 is area like Andamans and Lakshwadeep.

According to experts, if CRZ had been implemented in letter and spirit, there wouldn't have been so many people so close to the sea - unprotected, exposed to the waves. CRZ rules are also meant to ensure a "natural line of defence'' - mangroves, corals and sand dunes.

"Tsunamis have been rare but a wall of water hitting the coasts in the form of cyclones has always been a reality. The Swaminathan committee is going to keep all this in mind,'' said Prodipto Ghosh, Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests.

"This event will not hasten anything. We want a solid, science-based report since the first time around, there was also a lot of shooting from the hip,'' he added.

CRZ norms have been so controversial that they have occupied many hours in high courts of every state with a coastline and the Supreme Court.

The Swaminathan committee will review the CRZ notification "in the light of the findings and recommendation of all previous committees, judicial pronouncements, representation of stakeholders and interest groups.''

These groups include fisheries, tourism, harbours and port authorities. Arrayed on the other side are NGOs who have been pointing at wide scale violations, not just by private operators but also state governments, making Indian coasts a veritable battleground.

Though Swaminathan is not ready with the report yet, he has indicated that there will be a plan to regenerate mangroves and natural sand dunes.

Sand mining

For example, the mangroves in Pichavaram and Muthupet region in Tamil Nadu acted as shields and protected traditional communities. But in Alappuzha and Kollam, where there is illegal sand mining, devastation has been more widespread.

CRZ has never really been implemented fully with violations beginning as soon as the notification became law. Construction was done in the "no development zone'' and groundwater was illegally tapped specially by resorts and industries.

In 1994, the CRZ's most stringent norms were relaxed by the Ministry of Environment and Forests in an amendment to the notification. The NGOs went to Court and it was restored. The states saw it as a Federal encroachment to their laws. States were to come out with their Coastal Management Plans which they delayed till the Supreme Court ordered them in 1996.

"Now most states including Tamil Nadu have submitted their plans but these take a long time to implement considering the scale of development that has already taken place,'' said Ghosh.

Lobbies have often fired from the shoulders of fisherfolk saying that CRZ prevents them from earning their livelihood. Now they have rallied behind the CRZ. "We want it to be implemented properly with proper monitoring,'' said a spokesperson from International Collective for Fishworkers based in Chennai.


Tsunami underlines importance of CRZ

By Debi Goenka, Mid-day

January 2, 2005

India: Whilst we are still grieving for the tens of thousands who died as a result of the tidal waves that hit the coastal areas of southeast Asia, our Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF), is busy working on destroying the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notification.

This exercise commenced a few months ago under the guise of rationalisation of the CRZ notification.

"What is the scientific basis for 500 metres?" I was asked, by no less than the Secretary to Government of India, Mr Prodipto Ghosh, a few months ago. The thinking seems to be to use the argument of science to dismantle the CRZ.

At a workshop held in Chennai on June 18 and 19, 2004, all state Governments that attended the hastily-convened meeting backed the MoEF to the hilt.

Each and every state Government official as well as representatives of the other Central Ministries that attended pointed out numerous problems that they had with CRZ.

No one, except the handful of NGO representatives who had been invited as a fig leaf for "consultation", seemed concerned about the environmental consequences.

The impact of climate change, global warming, sea level rise, as well as the increase in frequency of extreme climatic events were dismissed within a few minutes.

Pleas to safeguard the coastal areas for the benefit of the fisherfolk and the local inhabitants were also dismissed. What was more important was the implementation of the agenda of the previous Government - India has to continue to shine - was the message!

The MoEF has set up a Committee under the Chairmanship of Dr M S Swaminathan to examine and review the CRZ notification. Significantly, in line with the MoEF agenda, no environmental groups are represented on this committee.

In fact, the MoEF has gone to considerable lengths to ensure that the Committee did not meet the environmental groups. A meeting in Delhi in November was attended by representatives of only two environmental groups since only three days notice was given.

At the meeting itself, presentations had to be rushed through since the conference room was apparently required by the Minister and there was no other space to accommodate all the participants!

The tsunami, and the thousands of lives that have been lost, has underlined the importance of protecting our coastal areas and ensuring that vulnerable portions are protected rather than given to builders and hoteliers under the guise of "development".

One can only pray that this tragedy has given the Union Cabinet enough reason to rethink and reverse the decisions of the previous Government.


'Quarrying made Kanyakumari coast vulnerable'

7th January 2005

P.S. Suresh Kumar, The Hindu

Tamil Nadu, Nagercoil - The large-scale removal of mineral sand from the Kanyakumari coast had made it vulnerable to the tsunami, the convenor of the Nagercoil chapter of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage, R.S. Lal Mohan said.

He told The Hindu that if Indian Rare Earths Limited and other private mineral companies had not removed millions of tonnes of coastal sand many lives would have been saved. He also criticised the levelling of sand dunes to lay the coastal road from Manakudi to Pallam and the permissions granted for the construction of buildings within 500 metres of the shore. He advocated a ban on the excavation of mineral sand and the levelling of sand dunes in the coastal areas of the district. He urged the Government to strictly implement the coastal regulation zone (CRZ) notification along the Kanyakumari coast. Though the CRZ notification banned any construction within 500 metres of the high tide mark, a coastal road had been laid from Pallam to Melamanakudi within 10 metres of the mark. The road had been laid by levelling sand dunes, despite opposition from environmental organisations. Now the road had been washed away by the sea. Fewer lives would have been lost if the CRZ notification had been implemented strictly, he said.The INTACH's executive committee has decided to send a memorandum to the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, and other officials for a ban on coastal sand extraction, levelling of coastal sand dunes. It has also asked for the implementation of the CRZ notification in the district.

The INTACH is drawing up short and long-term plans to help the tsunami victims. As a short-term measure, the trust will issue materials such as notebooks to the affected. Mobilising funds to construct houses for the victims are part of the long-term measures, he said.


One of India's major nuclear power plants was profoundly affected by the tsunamis, and many employees lost their lives. But the true extent of the calamity and its radiation dangers is being concealed.

Tsunamis and a Nuclear Threat in the South of India

By J. Sri Raman, www.truthout.org

02 January 2005

Chennai, India - This coastal city in south India has just survived a double peril - the tsunami disaster and a nuclear threat. The waves of tidal height, which hit Chennai last Sunday, did not stop with destroying fishermen's hamlets and flooding out thousands of other homes and lives. The tsunamis also inundated a part of the nuclear plant located in the city outskirts and close to the sea.

We have to wait for a full report on the damage. And, we may only wait in vain for an official report of this description. It needs no further investigation, however, to see that the Kalpakkam nuclear complex and the tsunami made a deadly combination indeed.

The nuclear part of the combination ruled out a full report for now, for two reasons. No one, in the first place, can easily dent the disaster-proof secrecy that surrounds any nuclear plant. The second and more important reason lies in the threat of radioactive leaks. Camera crews cannot capture these as easily as carcasses and debris floating in furious waters.

There can be slower nuclear horrors than Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Environmentalists have, for about two decades, talked of Kalpakkam as a disaster of this less dramatic kind. The tsunamis may well have made the situation worse.

The incompletely and almost instantaneously post-tsunami official report peremptorily ruled out any damage to the complex. Even more emphatically, it denied any radioactive leak. Even the official report, however, acknowledged the havoc in the entire Kalpakkam area, habitat of a sizeable fishing community, housing the employees of the nuclear complex as well. On the morrow of the disaster, at least 60 lives were reported lost in the employees' township and some 250 in the rest of the area. The toll, unofficially much higher, has kept mounting since then.

No official concern was voiced over the complex at all. The complex comprises: two pressurized heavy water reactors and a test reactor, a reprocessing plant and an under-construction prototype fast breeder reactor or PFBR ("dedicated to the nation" by the Prime Minister in late October). The authorities claimed that, while one of the heavy water reactors had been closed for "re-tubing" before the tsunamis, the other was shut down the moment the an inordinate amount of water from the sea was detected entering the pump-house for the coolant unit. (The second reactor was re-started seven days later, this Sunday.)

Not a word, significantly, has been said in this connection about the reprocessing plant and its central waste management facility, in particular, besides the test reactor. No reassurance, in other words, has been forthcoming about the most crucially radioactivity-linked components of the complex. India's nuclear establishment is not known for innocent or accidental omissions in statements of this kind. The authorities could not have concealed the deaths of employees in the Sunday disaster. The complex has lost scores of scientific and technical personnel, ranging from a design engineer of the test reactor washed away while praying in a church mass, to others carried away by monster waves from within the about 500 houses destroyed in the sprawling township. What, however, of the humble woman worker who, many say, met her watery end inside the complex? What of the two male workers, posted at the waste discharge point at the seafront jetty, who are reported missing?

The Doctors for Safe Environment, a forum of physicians that is asking these questions, has been raising larger posers about Kalpakkam and its location for years. V. Pugazhendhi of the forum, who has carried out painstaking health research in Kalpakkam and around, explains why radioactive leaks here do not belong to the realm of fantasy.

According to a survey under his guidance, the incidence of multiple cancers of blood and bone worked out to three per population of 25,000 in the age group of 15 to 50 for seven months from May to October 2003 in the Kalpakkam area. Set this against the normal figure of 1.7 per population of 100,000 in the same age group for a year, he suggests, and you see the result of radioactive pollution.

R. Ramesh of the same forum points to yet another peril in the making. He says that "land subsidence" in coastal areas should be expected as an inevitable consequence of tsunamis ñ and underscores the fact that the fast breeder reactor's site is just three to 5.6 meters above the sea level. You don't fantasize, if you fear the flattening of the entire reaction by tsunamis of five to 12 meters, with nuclear consequences of a nightmarish kind.

Objections to the construction of the fast breeder reactor have been raised before. The opponents of the plan, originally, argued that the plan violated the law of 1991 against such environment-unfriendly constructions in the terrain defined as the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ). The official reaction was an outrage. It consisted in amending the law to exempt nuclear plants from its purview. Kalpakkam is only one of the many nuclear installations to endanger India's coastal environment.

King Canute of England and Denmark, says the legend, could not stop the waves. The rulers of India can at least stop tsunamis from wreaking nuclear havoc.


In a statement of appalling insensitivity towards the victims, some Indian scientists have expressed delight at finding titanium-rich deposits, uncovered by the recent tsunami which struck Tamil Nadu. Their offence is compounded by the crass headline used in the following article.

Tsurprise! Titanium-rich beaches

Times of India

January 14, 2005

NEW DELHI: Amid all the tragic news coming in the wake of the December 26 tsunami, there's one that should bring some cheer to Indians - the natural phenomenon seems to have left behind millions of tonnes of titanium ore on the beaches of Tamil Nadu.

Considering that known global resources of the ore are in the region of 285 million tonnes and titanium is among the most sought-after metals in the world, you could call that a silver lining.

Titanium is an important metal because of its high strength to weight ratio - it is as strong as steel, but 45 per cent lighter. It's also twice as strong as aluminium, but only 60 per cent heavier. Because of its strength, lightness, extraordinary corrosion resistance, and ability to withstand extreme temperatures, it finds use in the aerospace industry. It is also extensively used for consumer products such as automobiles, computers and mobile phones.

The story behind the discovery of the titanium ores that the tsunami left behind is fascinating. It began not on December 26, but about a year-and-a-half earlier, when the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) set up a networked project involving six of its own institutions and several other academic and industrial institutes to examine the possibility of "placer mining".

A placer deposit consists of some valuable mineral or gemstone that accumulates in weathered rock, stream sediments or in beach deposits as a result of natural weathering and erosion.

A team of scientists led by Dr V J Loveson of the Central Mining Research Institute (CMRI), Dhanbad, who is the coordinating scientist for the project, has been monitoring the level of placer deposits on Tamil Nadu's coastline since then.

By an amazing coincidence, Loveson and his team arrived in Nagapattinam on December 26 for a routine survey. Little did they realise at the time that t his survey would be anything but routine.

The team learnt of the tsunami and was on the beaches of Karaikal by 3 pm the same afternoon. Unlike in the past, they had this time a new piece of equipment - ground penetrating radar - which could scan and analyse the mineral content in the beach sand without having to collect physical samples. And it was being used in India for the first time.

Over the next two days, the team scanned 10-12 km stretches in Karaikal, Nagapattinam, Poombuhar and Velankanni. The depth of the geophysical profiles of the coast varied between 4 and 8 metres and they found incremental deposits of titanium ore varying between 1-3 metres in thickness in most parts.

This part of the coastline - from Cuddalore to Vedaranyam - already has stations that have been monitoring the data every 15 days over the last 18 months or thereabouts and hence it was easy to work out how much of the deposit was fresh, washed in by the tsunami.

When contacted by TOI, Dr Loveson said it was still too early to project any figure for the overall quantum of fresh deposits though figures like 40 million tonnes have been speculated upon.

That figure is based on back-of-the envelope calculations extrapolating the observed thickness of the deposits to the roughly 500 km of coastline that was hit by the tsnami.

More dependable estimates can be made once all the stations on the coast - spaced 5 kms apart - have sent in their data, said Dr Loveson.

A lot of these ores, like ilmenite and rutile, are known to exist at a depth of 10-15 metres on the seabed, he said, and the tsunami seems to have dumped it on the beach. The significance of the discovery might have been not very much before the CSIR project began.

India has a little over onesixth of the world's ilmenite reserves but accounts for just 0.0013 per cent (about one in 8000) of global production of the mineral.

This was largely because India had little or no capability in placer mining and the ore is essentially available in coastal placer deposits.

What the CSIR project is trying to do is to make the mining of the ore commercially feasible. There are parts of the world where as ilmenite in concentrations of as little as 3% has proved viable to mine.


Llamando desde Londres! 30 de diciembre de 2004

Tsunamis y minería: ¿un desastre natural?

Nos dicen los geólogos que nadie más que la naturaleza es capaz de mover las placas tectónicas bajo los océanos Pacífico e Indico. De modo que la tragedia ocurrida esta semana no tendría nada que ver con el cambio climático o el calentamiento global. Pero esta es una terrible simplificación de la verdadera naturaleza de este tipo de desastres, y la muy difundida tendencia a considerar sus consecuencias, en lugar de las causas iniciales, pueden haber minimizado dichos factores.

Expertos internacionales - y muchos otros - han concentrado su acción política en la denuncia de la ausencia de un sistema de alertas anti-tsunamis en la región del Océano Indico. No hay duda de que esto es cierto pero, como mucho, un breve lapso de 30 a 90 minutos de gracia hubiera permitido el regreso a tierra de algunos pescadores, o dado oportunidad a los turistas de levantarse de la cama e ir hacia terrenos elevados.

Un alerta no habría salvado nada a lo largo de toda la zona costera. ¿Y qué hacer luego? Si bien la escala de lo ocurrido traerá millones de dólares en asistencia, y algunos préstamos de desarrollo a largo plazo, recordemos lo que ocurrió con la población de Bam.

El terremoto que golpeó Irán hace casi un año atrás, mató a 30,000 personas y generó luego promesas de ayuda por miles de millones de dólares. ¿Cuánto fue efectivamente enviado? Solo 17 millones, mientras miles de personas continúan totalmente desposeídas.

Consecuencias creadas por la mano del hombre

Muchas de las vidas perdidas en Asia (más de 120,000 el martes pasado) pudieron salvarse, si los corales y manglares hubieran estado allí para absorber el impacto de las olas (ver artículos debajo).

Pero barreras naturales, como las mencionadas, han sido sacrificadas por la instalación de estanques para la cría de camarones (destinados al paladar de los ricos, ya que la mayoría de los pobladores locales no pueden pagarlos), desarrollo de zonas turísticas, instalaciones industriales, (irónicamente, muchas de estas fueron destruidas por la catástrofe en India, incluyendo plantas nucleares en etapa de construcción), y explotaciones mineras.

Sí, explotaciones mineras - incluyendo la destrucción y agotamiento de arrecifes de coral ricos en caliza por explosiones; la remoción de manglares para instalar explotaciones de sal (como en India); extracción de arenas minerales (Kerala, Africa del Sur, Mozambique y las proyectadas para la costa sur de Kenya y Tamil Nadu); y la extracción de arena y rocas costeras para su uso como materiales de construcción (a lo largo de India y el pacífico). Nuestro sitio web "Minería y Comunidades" ha desarrollado el documento titulado "La destrucción de la construcción" (The Destruction of Construction). Aquel trabajo cobra un nuevo significado a la luz de las tragedias recientes. Por si había alguna duda sobre el desgaste de los recursos costeros a lo largo del sur/suroeste de Asía, provocado por la industria de la construcción.

Sumado a esto, el daño causado por la minería en pequeñas islas a lo largo de la región (condenado por una conferencia de Naciona Unidas del Pacífico 25 años atrás), el sistema de disposición submarina de colas conocido como STD (no sabemos, y quizá nunca sepamos, el impacto causado por los tsunamis en los actuales STD de Indonesia), y la perspectiva de masiva explotación minera marina en los próximos años (de la que Australia y Nueva Guinea parecen llevar la delantera). Es obvio que la necesidad comercial de minerales está perpetrano una destrucción sin precedentes de las defensas costeras y oceánicas.

Haya o no tsunamis en el futuro, los argumentos para prohibir toda minería costera y marítima, la deposición de residuos mineros en el océano, y el emplazamiento costero de refinerías y plantas de energía, son evidentes desde hace mucho tiempo atrás.

Es tiempo de dar publicidad a estas lecciones en casa.

Tuticorin: un caso específico

Informes desde India de la semana pasada indicaban que, si bien el puerto de Tuticorin en Tamil Nadu meridional fue impactado por el primer tsunamis, los proyectos industriales a lo largo de la costa no fueron, relativamente, afectados. Tal coyuntural alivio es casi un accidente - y conseguridad no es razón de beneplácito. Una planta de energía está emplazada justo en la línea costera, mientras que la refinería de cobre de la compañía inglesa Vedanta/Sterlite, con sus enormes pilas de arsénico y yeso - descansan a pocos kilómetros del océano. Durante años, la minería en corales y arenas ha perjudicado el Golfo de Mannar, una reserva de biósfera. Dos meses atrás, planes de iniciar actividades mineras en esa zona costera estaban considerablemente avanzados.

["Llamando desde Londres!" es publicado por Nostromo Research. Las opiniones expresadas no reflejan necesariamente las de individuos, organizaciones o editores del sitio web de MAC. Se solicita la reproducción citando la fuente.]

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