The Missing Ethics of Mining
The advocacy for Nigerian miners to subscribe to and follow environmentally sound mining examples need to be sustained.Reposted is an article by Shefa Seigel.
In the middle of the 1980s the pastoralists of Essakane, Burkina Faso, were dying. Drought gripped the drylands of West Africa, crippling peoples’ seminomadic livelihoods of millet farming and goat herding. When rain finally returned after three years, the earth had hardened like concrete and water skimmed across the floodplain, barely penetrating the surface. Without arable land the people faced famine—until they discovered gold. Instead of a disaster area, Essakane transformed into a commercial oasis: a mining town of 10,000 miners and traders where gold is processed and exchanged for food, cloth, spices, and animals.The market becomes frantic before festivals as everyone from fifty square miles converges to tailor new clothes and butcher meat. The town has dirt roads and mud homes, yet despite this lack of infrastructure many elements of modern urbanism are present, including gas stations, auto mechanics, chemicals suppliers, pharmacies, and water distributors.
Essakane is the wholesale center for the region, and without its economic influence the area risks reverting to a state of famine.Not long after becoming a mining town, Essakane became a target for international investors. This dynamic is common. With some exceptions, metals today come from areas that were first discovered and exploited many years ago. The minerals that are easiest to extract have already been exhausted, but mineral production in these areas has been extended through advances in geological and engineering sciences that enable extraction of low-grade ores. And yet, as much as modern mining depends on precise technical expertise, exploration geologists still spend much time trekking in remote areas, learning about the geological formations from local residents, especially miners.mmm