On the right-hand side of this posting is my blog-roll. Here I list all the blogs that I have found that are true blogs or reasonable facsimiles of a blog about mining. I have just added a new one to the list. It is called Beyond Borders. It is run by Barrick and subtitled Responsible Mining At Barrick Gold Corporation.
You may protest that this is not a blog as it is not a personal biographical log of thinkings & doings. Certainly it does not have the spark of individuality and personality of a blog composed by a cranky blogger. Nevertheless, it does have a blog look and feel and features well-written articles you may enjoy reading if you follow the many aspects of mining.
The article that caught my attention via a Google search of blogs (there is a way to do that) is about the impact studies a mining company has to undertake before opening a mine. Here is some of what they say:
Permitting a new mine has become a more complex process, as the scale of projects grows and regulatory standards become more stringent. At the same time, the process has also become more inclusive and transparent and involves significantly more stakeholders.
As Barrick’s projects grow in scope, so too do its ESIAs, which can be thousands of pages long and encompass data about dozens of communities. Depending on the complexity of the project, the cost of completing an ESIA can range from $5 million to $10 million and can take anywhere from two to four years to complete. “In the past, we used to basically build a mill, an administrative building, an equipment-storage facility and then we’d mine the pit,” Riehm says. “Today, it’s not unusual for a project to include a power plant, pipelines, well fields and ports — and you’ve got to get approvals and permits for all of them.”
Building projects in developing countries with little or no history of mining is another challenge. This can mean dealing with weaker government institutions, regulators who are new to mining and even corruption. Barrick employees who are involved in permitting are expected to follow the company’s Code of Business Conduct and Ethics, and unethical practices are not tolerated.
To keep things balanced, I also add a link on my blog roll to Mining Injustice Solidarity Network. Afterall, it is interesting to read all sides of the story and to see how different minds view the same event, mine, or intentions. I confess my mind rolls when I read the follow:
“This report reveals serious project design and implementation flaws of Barrick’s Pascua Lama Project, making this project non-compliant with the principles and minimum social and environmental standards established by the Equator Principles. This conclusion is based on the analysis of a number of issues and dimensions of both the Pascua Lama and adjacent Veladero projects, which are intricately related, including Barrick’s impacts and problems related to:
- Indigenous rights
- Wetland systems (vegas systems)
- Project design (such as faults in rock pile design and execution)
- Non-compliance of, and attack on, environmental legislation
- Transparency and disclosure
- Corporate culture
- And multiple other issues.”
As Equator Principle signatory banks, says CEDHA and the adhering institutions, including the global network Banktrack and the Accountability Project of the United States, due to the various impacts sited in this report, and for Barrick’s systemic irresponsible corporate culture evidenced by accidents such as the recent rock pile collapse at the Veladero project, Barrick Gold fails to comply with the Equator Principles, and as such, EDC and Eximbank should stay away from Pascua Lama.
Which perspective is one to believe? Whose opinion counts more? Who has the truth on there side?
Maybe there is no truth in the sense of a Germanic Grundnorm, a perfect truth floating around somewhere out there in space just waiting for us to discern it, if only we could apply our limited logic and intellect to the situation. Maybe it is all relative. Maybe it is all a game of subjectivity.
As my six-year old grandson puts it: “Grandpa, everything that is written is just what old men thought. Is that why you are a pagan?” Try explaining that away to a six-year old as his religious teachers watch him. And I buy him books on Charles Darwin. In this instance, I took him to see Hugo, that movie with 11 Oscar nominations.
Back to the grundnorm issue. Here is how one blogger describes it:
In the hierarchy of norms which constitute the law, the validity of a norm is to be derived from other norms standing behind it and imparting validity to it. In a legal order the hierarchy of norms can be traced back to an initial, basic or fundamental norm on which the validity of the others ultimately rests. This basic or fundamental norm is called the Grundnorm. Kelson distinguished the Grundnorm from the constitution by statin that the Grundnorm only imparts validity to the constitution and all other norms derived from it, but does not dictate its content. The function of the Grundnorm is to validate the rest of the legal system. There must not be a total disregard of the Grundnorm also there need not be universal adherence to it. When a Grundnorm fails for a minimum support other propositions that obtain support will replace it. This is the cause of revolution in the field of law.
I once, with high marks, passed a course in Jurisprudence (Legal Philosophy.) I was fascinated by the concept of a grundnorm, for our professor said that while we do not know what it is, we do know that apartheid, which was then the law of South Africa, is wrong. Is it possible today to find, identify, define, establish a mining grundnorm that will help us wade through the two very different blog I have just added to my blog-roll?
Are the Equator Principles a grundnorm? And who is to judge? The banks lending money to Barrick? A blogger here, a blogger there? A local who fears for his water? An Ombudsman in New York?
My challenge to those who write about mining, responsible development, sustainable action, and all those buzz-words that bore the pages of cheap magazines and repetitive blogs: set out on a new path and find the grundnorm of mining and say how it should be enforced.