MAC/20: Mines and Communities

"Economic crisis" may mean both loss - and gain

Published by MAC on 2001-05-01


"Economic crisis" may mean both loss - and gain

Part of the "Asian economic crisis" has undoubtedly been fuelled by speculation, using "soft funds" in gold projects that have proved disastrous, such as the Bre-X prospect in East Kalimantan. It has given both grief and opportunity to those seeking a profit from gold. While small investors may have lost out, as share prices collapsed in exploration companies, so the multinationals have tended to gain, as the dollar strengthened enormously against local currencies. This has been true in South Africa as well though Anglo American Corporation, the world's biggest gold miner, has made losses as well as gains, because some of its costs are denoted in Rands.

For those who have experienced the true "cost of gold" - not as a ring on the finger or a lace around the neck, but as a landscape despoiled, ancestral domain appropriated, rivers polluted and community health set at risk the most important question is: how to stop this useless and destructive searching for an illusory eldorado?

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