The kids and grandkids have left to return to California; the bikes are packed away; the towels for swimming washed; the plastic cups and dishes back on basement shelves; and a near-adult feel returns to the house.
So we turn to the issues of the mining day: presidential candidates dithering over coal mining; and the gloom over dropping commodity prices and shares.
First the politicians. At this link is a balanced story on the Obama vs Romney take on coal mining. As always Romney has changed his mind—I sometimes wonder if he has one. Kind of like Anthony at Actium where he dithered away the Roman Empire. Here is part of the report; kind of the same old thing: think & and say one thing as governor; say & think another as a presidential candidate. (See the extraordinarily written book Cleopatra, A Life by Stacy Shiff if you seek to understand how politicians can so dramatically change their mind.)
Romney, who as Massachusetts governor vowed to close an aging coal-fired power plant because it “kills people,” has embraced the coal industry in his presidential bid, with Murray proving a key ally. He touts coal development as central to his aim of achieving “North American energy independence” at the end of a second term in office, a policy he is scheduled to discuss in detail today in New Mexico.
It all boils down to money:
The coal mining industry, by way of political action committees, industry executives and employees, has given about $5 million to politicians in 2011 and 2012, according to the Washington-based Center for Responsive Politics. The center’s data shows 87 percent of that total went to Republicans and Romney was the top recipient, collecting about $435,000. The Murray Energy Political Action Committee and company executives and employees have given about $904,000, with all of it going to Republicans, the center’s data shows.
Anthony got the money from Cleopatra and Egypt. Romney….you get the drift.
Obviously coal is an important energy source and we must mine it. That is not the issue. The issue is who pays to keep it a clean industry. Fact is coal mining and coal energy generation can be clean–albeit more costly than is convenient to company profits.
So we drift to the issue of mining company profits. BHP shares are down thirty percent as it stops ramp-up of its uranium mine, Olympic Dam, and sells off resources to Cameco. Kloppers is reported to have said the following:
“We believe that while the absolute demand growth for products is going to be lower than we’ve seen in some recent years, we still believe that they are very attractive opportunities for our company and indeed for Australia,” Mr Kloppers said. “Now I caveat that in one way, which is we have never been as exuberant as others. We have always been in a `we have to sing for our supper’ kind of a world, so that’s pretty much still where we are.” The company said last week it needed to improve the mining technology it would use at Olympic Dam to reduce costs if it was to be economically viable again.
Uranium versus coal as an energy source? Comes down to the environmental costs, I suppose. Personally I would prefer natural gas and a bit more fracking. Although I believe we can also mine and use uranium for energy generation if we would only pay proper attention to the details. And not be derailed by infatuation for myth & viragos.
Many are blaming a fall in Chinese demand for the fall in demand for mining products. Clearly the Chinese face a building bubble, but having read the article at this link, I find it hard to be pessimistic. The article says in part:
China’s economy grew by 7.6 percent in the second quarter of this year, continuing a downward trend that began two years ago. The slowdown is the result of a number of short-term causes. The short-term causes include the European debt crisis, which is putting pressure on China’s exports, and an expectation of slow growth and domestic price fluctuations, which will lead companies to reduce their inventories. However, a more significant underlying cause is the fact that China’s economic transition may have already started.
First, the Chinese economy’s fast growth has been mainly fueled by investments and spending on infrastructure. In most years, real estate contributed about half of the gains. But such investing has slowed in the past two years.
Second, a decline in the potential growth rate has begun to be seen in developed areas in East China. Such places have seen rates of GDP and investment growth that have been below the national average for those indicators in recent years.
There are just too many Chinese and other people in the world who want a good life, a warm house, enough food to keep the kids and grandkids fed, for us to stop mining coal, uranium, potash, copper, and those things that improve the quality and length of life.
I know this as I have had a great month with spoilt kids and grandkids. They rode bicycles, swam, fished, ate good food, and fought. All but the last required the products of mining. How can I deny this to others who wish the same for their progeny?
I admit I can, if we refuse to do it properly. I can if we wantonly pollute resources. For I know we can do it properly. We do not need to mine everywhere. We need to mine where it is practical, economical (including consideration of the cost of environmental protection), and where we do not preclude our offspring from living and recreating.
We cannot allow Octavian’s ambitions, Anthony’s infatuation, and Cleopatra’s personal fortune to make us do anything other than the right thing. We cannot destroy the Republic for the greed of the elite.