Two tales of conflict in mining, one from long ago and far away and one from today’s news. The first is of biblical proportions, as the report tells:
An international team of archaeologists may have uncovered the copper mines owned and operated by the biblical King Solomon during a dig at Khirbat en-Nahas, an ancient mining and metallurgy district of more than 450 square miles in southern Jordan.
Mining involved conflict as indicated by this observation:
An ancient Egyptian scarab and amulet were also found in a layer of the excavation associated with a disruption in production at the end of the 10th century BCE. The event is thought to have been connected with a military campaign by the Egyptian Pharaoh “Shishak” that took place following the death of King Solomon.
Bringing us right up to today in the world of conflict in mining, we have a much more civil way of doing it, filing a law suite.
The American Coal Company (American Coal) filed suit against the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) for numerous violations of federal law and MSHA’s own regulations in inspections at the company’s Galatia Mining Complex, a complex of three separate mines in Saline County, Illinois.
This appears to be a bitter fight between MSHA and the mine owners. Here are some statements from the legal documents setting out the issues:
In October, MSHA issued a press release announcing it was fining American Coal nearly $1.5 million for alleged safety violations at the Galatia Complex. The press release, as well as negative statements to the press by MSHA officials, demonstrates a clear pattern of animosity by MSHA toward the company.
“We take the inspection process very seriously, and believe that it should be a cooperative interaction between inspectors and the company, with the goal of furthering employee safety in the mine,” said Lieberman. “However, when the agency repeatedly violates the law and then makes disparaging statements to the press, one has to wonder what their true agenda is.”
If indeed the allegations by the mine are correct, we have reason to pause; there is nothing more scary than a government gone out of control. Recall that a government out of control is not only an Egyptian Pharaoh come to take the mine away, not only a Washington conspiracy, not only a president intent on instituting a new way, but also one or two government employees focussed on a private mission.
Last night I walked past the Watergate Complex on route from the Kennedy Center to the Metro. We had just been to see Lucrezia Borgia, a Donizetti opera. Now that lady was one wicked person. She was the illegitimate daughter of the Pope, and the sister of some pretty unsavory characters. As befits a good opera, she goes about imposing her imperial will and killing political rivals and others until the stage is littered with corpses. She even manages to kill her own son in this orgy of death. The staging was great, the singing superb, and we truly enjoyed watching the blood sports of kings & queens, villains, rulers, and despots.
But is somehow not so enjoyable to see this same instinct manifesting itself this morning in the news that MSHA and the American Coal Company are playing the same games with the lives of miners. We do not know the truth of the allegations, but the mere fact that such a dispute can arise, leaves us profoundly uneasy. Let us hope there is a fast end not only to this law suite, but to the underlying causes and human stupidity that gives rise to it.