MAC/20: Mines and Communities

BOOK REVIEW: Marching on in defence of communities

Published by MAC on 2007-12-21


BOOK REVIEW: Marching on in defence of communities

21st December 2007

"Rocks and Hard Places:The Globalization of Mining"

by Roger Moody, Zed Books, London, 2007

Hardback: £32.99 ISBN: 9781842771747

Paperback: £10.99 ISBN: 9781842771754

Order from Amazon, or directly from the publisher:

<http://www.zedbooks.co.uk/book.asp?bookdetail=4137>


Commendations:

'This will certainly be a handbook for activists and also an eye opener for many academics' - Anu Muhammad, Professor of Economics, Jahangirnagar University, Bangladesh

'Fabulous and very timely. Wonderful wealth of detail.'- Robert Goodland, former Chief Environmental Advisor to the World Bank

'Rocks and Hard Places brings to the surface the disparities of economy, and the resilience and tenacity of indigenous communities, in the face of generation after generation of exploitation. It makes us deeply aware of the cycles of colonialism which continue to lie at the heart of the global mining industry.' - Winona LaDuke, Author, environmentalist, founder of the Indigenous Womens Network

'It's phenomenal, a great work' - Adam Lee, Head of Strategic Campaigns, United Steelworkers of America

'Roger Moody is a world expert on mining and mining transnationals who has devoted years to unearthing the facts about how mining companies actually operate. Moody's central point is inescapable: mining might have cleaned up its act in OECD countries, but it's still business as usual in the developing world, and Moody documents the type and extent of the damage.' - Jeremy Agar, CAFCA Watchdog (Aotearo/New Zealand), August 2007 'Moody insists that the mining industry is “essentially unsustainable”, as eventually reserves will be exhausted. But to those who would consider him an “anti-miner”, he says he’s “emphatically not”, and believes small-scale mining can serve a purpose. " - Metal Bulletin Monthly, London, July/August 2007


Longer reviews:

It's the mining book of the year!

by Stuart Kirsch

20th December 2007

Browsing the shelves at the World Bank bookshop in Washington, D.C., you might be suprised to find Roger Moody's stinging critique of the mining industry on display. After all, Moody pulls no punches in describing how the bank--faced with the prospect of losing crucial revenue from its most productive investments--rejected the recommendations of its own review process to phase out investment in petroleum, stop investing in coal, and prevent mining companies from using disastrous or unproven technologies of waste disposal. Yet Moody's reputation as a fair and judicious critic makes his most recent book Rocks and Hard Places a must-read for anyone with a serious interest in the globalization of mining, including industry supporters at the World Bank.

Writing in the witty and engaging style of a Fleet Street journalist, Moody explains why important decisions about mining should not be left to the industry, which lacks social and political accountability. He tackles the paradox of the 'resource curse', that countries dependent on mining and petroleum generally have lower economic growth rates than their neighbors as well as higher rates of political instability, poverty, and violence. Although some sectors of the mining industry have become capital-intensive, offering limited employment opportunities, other sectors remain labor-intensive but expose vulnerable workers to industrial accidents and occupational health risks. Moody describes how the mining industry has sought to claim the mantle of sustainability, but in the process has bled the term of any meaningful reference to the environment.

Despite its current public relations blitz, the mining industry shows no sign that it is willing to pull back from heritage sites or protected forests, and no support for legally-binding codes of conduct that may be the only way to stop the 'race to the bottom' in environmental standards and labor protection. Moody also documents the efforts of indigenous and other communities affected by mining to limit the industry's harmful impacts, including the rise of legal claims against mining companies and recent democratic referendums in Latin America that are intended to provide local communities with veto power over new projects.

Although Moody's chapters sometimes digress into a scatter of examples, "Rocks and Hard Places" is my choice for the mining book of the year. When buying your copy, why not make a gift of a second copy to the local government official charged with deciding whether Rio Tinto should be allowed to open a new sulfide mine in your backyard? It will be a valuable investment regardless of how the Dow Jones or Footse 500 perform in the coming year.

[MAC Editor, Stuart Kirsch, is author of "Reverse Anthropology: Indigenous Analysis of Social and Environmental Relations in New Guinea" (2006).]


Rocks & Hard Places - Moody's Persistence

by Arief Wicaksono, Ruang-baka, Jakarta, Indonesia

October 2007

If there is anyone who is persistent and tenacious in holding onto the certainty surrounding the shameful and immoral global political-economic regime in its most concrete form -- the extractive industry -- it is Roger Moody.

Moody, founder and executive director of People Against RTZ and its Subsidiaries (PARTiZANS), has devoted his life to the struggle against mining companies that, according to him, have caused major human rights violations, having invested in countries ruled by the most corrupt, authoritarian and military regimes.

For Moody, the extractive industries' sector has always caused a decline in the quality of the environment and community life in its operational areas. The environmental effects can spread hundreds of kilometers, contaminating whole stretches of waterways.

Moody has also written a book called "The Gulliver Files", which is a long and exhaustive record of the extractive industries throughout the world. Another of his books, "dedicated" especially to RTZ (Rio Tinto) is called "Plunder!". This covers the history of RTZ and its activities in Asia-Pacific belt, Africa, America and Europe.

If you decide to read any of Moody's books, prepare yourself mentally and set aside enough time to digest the material. He will present facts and occurrences that will make your heart bleed, in a manner that does not leave room for conspiracy theories.

In his new book, "Rocks & Hard Places", Moody examines and breaks down RTZ's investment and power at several of its worldwide operations. Moody also clearly makes the case for the need to protect areas from mining.

He clearly describes how the "modus operandi" of the extractive industry is destroying natural life and the social fabric around the areas of its operations. One of the most important ingredients of "Rocks & Hard Places" is its dismantling of RTZ's tactics, regarding the companys' projected image and the legitimacy it attempts to gain from collaboration with industry-friendly environmental organizations.

"Rocks" should be read, not only by environmentalists, but also by researchers and observers of global political-economic dynamics, policy makers in countries rich with mineral resources, and the media in general.

The book forces us to march on in defence of mining-affected communities due to the comprehensive, sharp and indisputable data and research that is presented.

 

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