We all like to celebrate the value of mining. We all like to praise the benefits of mining and enjoy the good life it brings. I remind myself of the pleasure of the beauty of diamonds as I walk the halls of a northern diamond mine. I remind myself of the warm feeling of possession as I struggle the issue of the stability of a tailings impoundment at a new silver mine. Yet sometimes, I pause and wonder if mining is truly a source of the good life, or merely another in a string of human activities aimed at bragging and getting and exercising power. Maybe we do need mined products to buy the insurance of a good life after death by donating to the church or temple.
I am put in this frame of mind by a report that nearly twenty billion dollars worth of gold and diamonds have been unearthed beneath an Indian temple. At this link is the full story, which is funny and yet profoundly depressing. Here is a taste of the story:
Over the last week a seven-member team of investigators has broken into five of the six secret subterranean vaults piled high with jewels that have lain untouched for hundreds of years. Onlookers and devotees thronged the shrine in the bustling centre of Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of India’s southern Kerala state, as officials said treasure worth more than $20 billion had been found — more than India’s education budget. Sacks filled with diamonds were piled next to tonnes of gold coins and jewellery, media reported, in the vaults of the 16th century Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple, the royal chapel of the former rulers of Travancore, now part of Kerala state.
The fight over who owns the treasure and what to do with the proceeds of the sale have just begun.
Leaders of the Hindu community want the wealth to be invested in the temple, while many intellectuals, including former Supreme Court judge Justice V. R. Krishna Iyer have suggested it should be used for the public good. The government has said it would adhere to the Supreme Court’s ruling on ownership of the treasure found in the temple, which is still controlled by the royal family unlike other temples in Kerala which are managed by the government.
I was not aware there an Indian royal family. Or does this report refer to Queen Elizabeth and her brood? Or does it refer to some local potentate still invested with the title of royalty? If it is Elizabeth’s brood, it is no wonder Kate and William look happy even in the cold of Canada.
The final paragraph of this report confirms my suspicion that mining is there to provide the means where with all to buy a place in the next world. At least for those who so believe.
The Tirumala temple in eastern Andhra Pradesh state is reported to have 3,000 kg (6,600 lb) of gold, a third of which it deposited with the State Bank of India last year, while spiritual guru Sai Baba, who died in April, left behind an estimated $9 billion estate. Yoga guru Baba Ramdev, who staged a fast against corruption last month that lead to protests against the government, has built a $40 million-a-year global empire through yoga and various spiritual products and services.
Just goes to show: you can amass nine billion through present practices or go temple looting to get twenty billion. No wonder so many are starving in India and why America’s balance of payment if off-kilter. While we are marvelling at the wealth of religions and their holy places, I just wonder what the sum total of gold in Italian churches is? Keep mining, for it brings spiritual benefit—at least to some.