MAC: Mines and Communities

Tsunamis And Mining

Published by MAC on 2005-02-26

London Calling! 26 February 2005

Tsunamis and mining: a follow up

John Chadwick, eminence gris of the London-based Mining Magazine (MM) has taken issue with London Calling's coverage of the recent tsunamis in the Indian Ocean region. In MM's February 2005 issue, Chadwick attacks MAC for pointing to the importance of mining as a factor in increasing the huge loss of life resulting from the oceanic upheavals last December. Claims Chadwick: "It is good to report the humanitarian and reconstruction responses of the mining industry in the region even though organisations such as the one that produced [these] rantings [ie MAC] will never acknowledge mining's power for good. Mining often operates, and provides infrastructure, in areas where there is little else, save traditional ways of life. Mining is thus able to come to the rescue when a natural disaster such as this (one far more cataclysmic than any tailings spill or other mining incident, could ever be) occurs."

Judging by Chadwick's figures, in fact little more than two million dollars has been donated towards tsunami relief efforts by mining companies active in the region, with Alcan, Alcoa, Newmont, Placer and Vedanta as the key contributors.

After this petty roll-call of corporate "largesse", Chadwick is relieved to report the "survival" (sic) of most mining operations. He points in particular to that of Archipelago's Toka Tindung operations in North Sulawesi (a project which has long threatened the economy of local fishing comunities)

The MM editor is woefully mistaken on several fronts. MAC's commentary was in fact provided by London Calling, which is explicitly not a mouthpiece for this site but a personal commentary (as noted on every article). But his conflation of "traditional ways of life" with a lack of "development" - and the prescription that mining companies should act as the saviours of what, in fact, they've significantly destroyed - would be vigorously opposed by most MAC editors, based on lengthy personal experience.

Our early coverage of the connections between tsunami impacts and mining has since been followed by other independent analyses, two of which we reproduce below. As for putting the "saving" of mining operations (Freeport is the latest company to breathe such sighs of relief) on a par with the rescue of people's lives and property, many of our readers will find the comparison distinctly distasteful.

[“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]

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