Metaphor is the way we deepen our understanding of the complex. But here is a mining metaphor that literally leaves me cold. A keynote speaker at a conference in London said yesterday that the mining industry is facing a nuclear winter. He proceeded to expand on this terrible scenario, say the mining industry faces these issues:
Collapse of market values; No access to equity finance; No credit availability; Deterioration of project economics; Financings under pressure; Need to conserve cash; Consolidation trend accelerating; Cost of fending off predators.
At which point I decided to try and find some good news about mining. But before I found any I indulged in the final metaphor fury of the keynote speaker who ended his speech with these words of un-encouraging non-wisdom:
And who will survive? Read vividly pointed to the nuclear winter parallel – the indestructible (cockroaches) and predators (polar bears) – with some sectors coming into these categories. Key would be access to cash, supportive shareholders, those with high quality projects and with responsive management. All is not lost. The strongest will survive and grow while the weakest will go to the wall. Darwinian theory at work.
And then he devolved into metaphor absurdity, saying we are still in a nuclear winter supercycle. Whatever!
PS. The only “good” news about mining I could find is the report that Anglo America will continue to fight against AIDS and HIV by “extending its leading workplace care, support and treatment programme to the dependents of employees.”
However, even this report sinks into despair in the final two paragraphs. I quote, and remind you that there have been far worse plagues and mass dying before that have changed the course of history. Is that what we now face?
Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, Chairman of Anglo American and Chair of the Global Business Coalition on HIV & AIDS, said“Important gains have been made in the fight against the HIV pandemic but it still remains one of the greatest threats to health in human history. It has taken a major toll on lives in Africa but it poses a growing threat in other countries. We are committed not only to addressing the epidemic amongst our workforce but also increasingly amongst dependants and affected communities.”
Cynthia Carroll, CEO of Anglo American, said“Anglo American’s efforts to tackle HIV/AIDS are world class and we can be proud of the lead that we have taken amongst businesses worldwide. However, infection rates continue to climb in many countries within and beyond Africa, including in the UK, and we must continue to ensure that we spread our experience of tackling HIV/AIDS across our operations globally and to innovate in order to provide effective solutions within a confidential environment and with zero tolerance of discrimination.”
Many years ago I read that Africa is the birthplace of the human race precisely because so much variety arose amongst the Australopithiceans, Habilises, and Erecti and the subsesquent Sapiens, that they were continually fighting it out (with one another and the environment) to leave behind only one, Sapiens Sapiens, i.e., us, wise enough to coin a metaphor and endure a nuclear winter supercycle.