tagged w/ gold mining
People and governments across Latin America are rising up against foreign mining companies in a wave of revolt that is generating alarm among investors and their political operatives in the imperialist governments.People and governments across Latin America are rising up against foreign mining... more
Large numbers of infants and toddlers have died from lead poisoning in Nigerian villages where their parents process gold ore inside their family compounds, according to a report published Tuesday by an international team of researchers.
In two Nigerian communities, 118 children under the age of 5 died in a single year – 25 percent of the children in that age group. For the first time, the researchers uncovered strong evidence that points to lead as the likely cause for nearly all of those deaths. In addition, all of the surviving children who were tested suffered from lead poisoning, too.
“To our knowledge, this is the first documentation of an outbreak of childhood lead poisoning associated with artisanal gold mining,” the team, directed by lead experts from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, wrote in the online edition of the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. “Extensive environmental contamination was found in both of the villages and inside individual family compounds.”
Artisanal gold mining is small-scale, subsistence mining that occurs mostly in poor, rural communities. In the Nigerian villages, people use crude, rudimentary processes to extract gold from ore, including grinding and heating the rock. In some cases, flour-grinding machines are used. These activities contaminate the air and soil with large amounts of lead and mercury, both of which cause neurological problems in children.
Scientists found extensive environmental contamination in both of the villages and inside individual family compounds. About 85 percent of soil samples from inside the compounds exceeded safe levels of lead. Sparked by a gold rush, artisanal mining occurs throughout northern Nigeria, as well as elsewhere in Africa and in South America, including Peru. From 13 to 20 million men, women and children from over 50 developing countries are involved in artisanal mining, according to an estimate by a World Bank group.
Word first spread of hundreds of children dying in Nigeria’s Zamfara state in early 2010, when the deaths were discovered during meningitis surveillance by the international humanitarian group Médecins Sans Frontières and Nigerian public health officials. The United Nations has estimated that 400 children died there last year due to lead poisoning.
Calling the outbreak unprecedented, the scientists warned that “characterizing the full extent of the outbreak remains an urgent and ongoing matter.”
Lead poisoning is common worldwide, leading to diseases and IQ reductions, but until now, deaths have rarely been reported.
At the emergency request of Nigerian officials, researchers from the CDC and the World Health Organization visited two villages in Zamfara state where higher-than-expected numbers of children died between May, 2009 and May, 2010. They tested the blood of surviving children, took soil samples from family compounds and questioned parents about their dead children’s symptoms.
Sparked by a gold rush, artisanal gold mining has attracted from 13 to 20 million men, women and children from over 50 developing countries.
All the results were extreme. Eighty-one percent of the children who died had suffered seizures, a sign of acute lead poisoning. Of the surviving children who were tested, “all blood samples indicated lead poisoning,” while 97 percent needed immediate chelation therapy to lower those levels, according to the report. Mercury levels were lower in the children, but still excessive – four to eight times higher than the average U.S. child. And 85 percent of the soil samples taken from the family compounds exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s health standard for lead. One water well had 90 times more lead than the EPA’s action level for drinking water.
More at the linkLarge numbers of infants and toddlers have died from lead poisoning in Nigerian... more
by Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium blogger
American feral pig
Agribusiness giant Monsanto is strengthening its hold over the food system both in this country and abroad, with some help from the U.S. government.
Food safety advocates have been trying to derail the roll-out of the company’s newest product, Roundup Ready alfalfa, or at least limit its use, Mike Ludwig reports at Truthout. But Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced recently that use of the alfalfa seeds would be fully deregulated and available for use across the country.
“The decision squashed a proposed compromise between the biotech industry and its opponents that would have placed geographic restrictions on Roundup Ready alfalfa to prevent organic and traditional alfalfa from being contaminated by herbicide sprays and transgenes spread by cross-pollination and other factors,” Ludwig reports.
Home and away
President Barack Obama’s food safety and agriculture team includes quite a few Monsanto supporters. Michael Taylor, the deputy commissioner for foods at the Food and Drug Administration, worked on public policy for the company for three years, for instance. And the agriculture department’s chief scientist, Roger Beachy, came to administration from a research organization co-founded by Monsanto.
Obama administration officials are also working with Monsanto on a plan called “New Visions for Agriculture,” which promotes global food security, Kristen Ridley reports at Change.org.
“This particular plan uses taxpayer dollars through Obama’s Feed the Future initiative to ‘advance market-based solutions’ to increase yield in the developing world,” she writes. “In other words, these companies will be exporting the Big Ag system to developing nations in the name of ‘feeding the world,’ but the only thing they’ll really be feeding is their profits.”
For the developing countries involved, the pitch for food security might sound good now. But the United States doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to international interventions on behalf of corporate interests. In Colombia, for instance, local activists are pushing back against a new Canadian goal mining project in part because their communities have already experienced environmental destruction at the hands of U.S.-based mining interests, Inter Press Service’s Helda Martinez reports.
While GreyStar, the Canadian company pushing the project, has promised it will not harm the environment, leaders like former environment minister Manuel Rodríguez are pointing to similar claims made by U.S. coal companies in the past.
“The U.S. firm ‘Drummond told me the same thing 20 years ago,’ Rodríguez said,” according to Martinez.
“The former minister was referring to the proven environmental damages caused in the northern province of Cesar by Drummond’s coal mining — a disaster compounded by serious allegations of violations of the human rights of local residents and mineworkers,” she writes.
As Eartha Jane Melzer reports for The Michigan Messenger, here in the United States, some lawmakers are pushing back against Canadian interests, as well. Bruce Power, a Canadian nuclear energy company, wants to to ship “16-school bus sized steam generators from the Bruce Nuclear Station on Lake Huron to Sweden for reprocessing and reintroduction to the commercial metals market,” Melzer writes.
The generators would pass through U.S.-controlled portions of the Great Lakes. A cadre of senators from states touching the Great Lakes (Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, and New York) have asked the agency responsible for approving the trip, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, to take a close look at Bruce Power’s application.
Here’s a different strategy for dealing with unwelcome visitors: Kiera Butler is chronicling her encounters with invasive species at Mother Jones. When the problem is feral pigs, however, the strategy is not diplomacy: it’s hunting them. As Butler explains,
Jackson Landers, a.k.a the Locavore Hunter, aims to whet American appetites for invasive species like lionfish, geese, deer, boar, and even spiny iguanas by working with wholesalers, chefs, and restaurateurs to promote these aliens as menu items. As Landers recently told the New York Times‘ James Gorman, “When human beings decide that something tastes good, we can take them down pretty quickly.”
Check out Butler’s account of her hunt in Georgia. She also learns that the attitude towards the pigs—and invasive species in general—goes beyond a desire to simply be rid of them. “In Florida, the spiny iguanas are pests, but they’re also kind of pretty, so some people kind of like having a few of them around and object when people try to get rid of them,” she writes.
Of course, not all negative environmental impacts happen abroad, or on account of invaders. Henry Taksier has a sad piece in Campus Progress showing the long-term problems that a wood-treatment factory has created in Gainesville, Florida:
For 93 years, Koppers, Inc. operated a wood-treatment facility at 200 NW 23rd Ave, releasing industrial toxins—including arsenic, hexavalent chromium, creosote, and dioxins—into Gainesville’s air, water, and soil. The area is now ranked as one of the nation’s top-100 polluted sites. It has been designated a Superfund site—a place so heavily polluted with toxic waste that it poses a threat to human health and the environment—for 27 years.
Even so, the area has yet to be fully cleaned up, and families live in close proximity to the site, worrying about their health and warning kids to stay away from the area.
This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the environment by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Mulch for a complete list of articles on environmental issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Pulse, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.by Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium blogger
American feral pig
Agribusiness giant... more
A group of Mayan Mam villagers set fire to a pickup truck and an exploration drill rig earlier this month at the Marlin gold mine in San Miguel Ixtahuacan municipality, San Marcos, Guatemala. The mine is operated by Montana Exploradora de Guatemala, a subsidiary of Canada’s Goldcorp Inc.
more at link
http://intercontinentalcry.org/maya-villagers-burn-goldcorp-mining-equipment/A group of Mayan Mam villagers set fire to a pickup truck and an exploration drill rig... more
There's gold in them there (virtual) hills. And China wants to regulate their piece of the action.
They've decided to ban "gold farming" in World of Warcraft - the practice of paying poor Chinese people to slave away doing tedious stuff in WoW to generate gold, which is then sold to stupid westerners who buy virtual money with their real money.
I wonder if the impact of this will be felt in the in-game economy?There's gold in them there (virtual) hills. And China wants to regulate their... more
Human rights activists are planning to launch another major international campaign against De Beers, after receiving word that the world's largest miner and marketer of diamonds is once again operating in an area of Botswana from which local people have been evicted.
"We intend to do everything in our power," said Stephen Corry, director of the London-based group Survival International, in a statement denouncing De Beers' plans to re-start mining operations in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.
Survival and other indigenous rights groups say that diamond exploration in the Reserve has had a devastating impact on the life and the environment of the indigenous San people, also known as "Bushmen."
"We are dismayed that De Beers feels that it can now return to the Reserve whilst the situation with the Bushmen is still unresolved," Corry said. "Presumably it hoped no one would notice."
De Beers has made several attempts to mine the area for diamonds in recent years, but closed operations in the wake of intense calls for a worldwide boycott of its products.
The Reserve was created by the Botswana government in 1961, ostensibly to protect both the Bushmen and the animals living there. But one of the world's richest diamond deposits was discovered in the 1980s, and the eviction of the Bushmen began in 1997.
A major wave of forced relocations occurred in 2002, during which the Botswana government is said to have destroyed Bushmen villages and waterholes and even arrested and tortured some who resisted.
Another wave in 2005 forced almost all remaining Bushmen into relocation camps, where they began to experience -- for the first time in their history -- widespread depression, alcoholism, and diseases including AIDS, according to Survival, which is a nonprofit group that helps indigenous communities worldwide petition for their rights.
Despite strong opposition by the Botswana government, members of the Bushmen community won their case in a court battle some two years ago by successfully proving that they had been the rightful owners of the contested Reserve land for centuries.
Despite the High Court's recognition of the Bushmen's right to live on the Reserve and to hunt and gather on their ancestral land, hundreds of Bushmen are still languishing in relocation camps, and are unable to return to homes because the government won't let them hunt or use their water borehole, according to Survival's reports from the region.
Survival activists say they hope this latest boycott campaign against De Beers will be as successful as their previous one, which was joined by many celebrities, including supermodels and diamond spokespeople Iman and Lily Cole.
"[We will try] to persuade people to boycott De Beers until the Bushmen have access to their lands and water," said Corry. "The Bushmen cannot conceivably give their free and informed consent to mining whilst most of them cannot even go home."
Corry's group declared the end of its previous boycott campaign after De Beers sold its $2.2 billion deposit to Gem Diamonds for $34 million.
According to its 2007 financial report, the company's payment to its "partners, joint ventures, and suppliers" amounted to $4.9 billion. About $3.2 billion of this was paid for diamonds in Africa.
In defense of its business practices in Africa and elsewhere, De Beers claims on its Web site that it has more than 184,000 hectares of "our owned and managed property," which is set aside as "nature reserves that conduct research on biodiversity."
Campaigners say the boom in diamond exploration in the Reserve also threatens one of the largest environmentally protected areas in Africa.
Gold Mining Threatening Local Communities Too
Meanwhile, rights groups are also raising concerns about the adverse impact of gold mining operations on the living conditions of indigenous and local communities around the world.
*******CONTINUESHuman rights activists are planning to launch another major international campaign... more