|The NYT has a substantial, and damning, indictment this week of Denver-based Newmont Mining, a company with a long history of heinous social and environmental irresponsibility. Armies of lawyers, denials and stalling tactics have allowed Newmont, like fellow mega-polluter ExxonMobil, to escape penalties for its egregious activities for years. The article describes deformities, diseases and infant deaths attributed to disposal of arsenic and mercury from mining operations in Indonesia’s coastal waters, using a method called submarine tailing (piping tailings below the water’s surface) that is illegal in the West, but common in the third world. Also released are toxic cyanides that kill the fish that are the mainstay of the local economies, and accumulate in greater concentrations as they go up the food chain.
Protesters from Peru, the Philippines, Ghana, Indonesia and Turkey demonstrate annually at the Newmont meetings over the company’s exploitation of corrupt government officials and weak social and environmental laws, inspections and enforcement in the third world. Issues include strip mining, air and water pollution, destruction of food habitats, destruction of forest preserves, depletion of scarce groundwater, and forced relocation of indigenous communities to cities. These are the real legacies of globalization and ‘free’ trade to the third world. Once the cheap minerals run out, the Western developers abandon the ruined, sickened communities and move on to the next third world country whose governments are desperate or corrupt enough to ink deals with these irresponsible corporate colonists, and line their own pockets in the process. Talisman Energy, a Canadian company, had to be forced by massive public and government pressure to sell its mineral interests in the Sudan, which until recently helped finance the government’s ongoing genocide against non-Arabs in its Darfur states.
For more information, download the full Dirty Metals report from the No Dirty Gold website. Reports of similar devastation by Western countries in the third world to extract oil & gas, water, forest resources, and diamonds can be found at the Global Policy Forum site.