MineWeb reports that workers have left the copper mine in Afghanistan being developed by the Chinese because of fears of Taliban attacks. It appears that the Taliban has target the mine, stating that they do not believe the people will benefit from the mine and that profits will be siphoned off by the Afgan elite and the Chinese.
Whatever gave them that idea? Nato and European interests are supporting the mine and do not believe that. Americans are dying in Afghanistan to make it possible for the Chinese to mine copper and distribute the money to the people. Surely they do not believe that. Enough to wish the Iranians were in charge of blotting out opposition to freedom—like they are doing in Syria.
Sad, silly, and infuriating as this story is, it nevertheless raises an interesting question: what does the government have to do to make mining possible? Regardless of whether it is Afghanistan, Cuba, Chile, or America.
This is a pertinent question. With but a short time left before the US elects a new president and voters have to decide to support Republicans, who would not build roads or rail-lines, or anything else, leaving it all to private enterprise; or to vote for Democrats, who claim they will provide public services–or at least profess a belief in government provision of basic services.
Keep in mind that Republican vice-Presidential hopeful Ryan praised his mother who got on a bus each day to go to a local college, and got a degree and “did it all herself.” What this silly lad forgets is that the bus was a public service probably supported by taxpayers; the bus went on roads paid for by taxpayers; and the college was a taxpayer thing. She could never have gotten a degree from private sector services. Myopia & prejudice in pursuit of political office distort perspective & truth.
Now as the Afghanistan example illustrates, the first thing a government has to provide to make mining possible is basic security. Police and an army. Did you read that the Guatemalan army had to be called out to control those who burnt down the core shed at the Escobal mine? Our NGO friends, those Marlin Maidens as I have called them, have been amazingly quiet about this nasty incident. Where is Jennifer Moore when we need her?
I have heard no definitive statement from Romney about financing for the police, national guard, or military. Keep in mind that my son is pretty high up in the US Navy, so this is a personal thing. He is in Bahrain and if those Iranians misbehave, he will be in the firing line. Warmongers in the Republican party scare the shits out of me for very deep personal reasons.
Then government has to provide roads or at least a basic transportation network. How else to get people to the mine and get the product to the port? This gets a bit convoluted; for I recognize that some rail lines in Australia are mining-company owned & operated. Which makes me wonder: who pays to build the ice roads to the diamond mines of the Northwest Territories? The mines? The local government? Or the Federal government? Will have to check that one.
Ideally the government should provide power. OK, I know the South African government has failed that one. And in Chile private enterprise is trying to make up for government inaction. In British Columbia the provincial government is building power lines along Route 73 to make mining in the north possible–see Red Chris Mine for example.
Government should provide laws, regulations, and regulators to make sure mining companies do not rape the land and populace. Least we suffer the tragedy of the commons. I know a few Alaskans disagree with this, as does Anglo American and a certain Canadian company. As somebody joked at a dinner party the other evening: “Alaska is just a wild place ripe for exploitation by the descendants of the British Empire. I mean how can you take a place that votes Palin seriously?” Go, go, go Anglo. Pebble [stone] the heathen to death.
Finally we should be entitled to expect government to educate citizens so that there is a skilled workforce to man/people the mines. Seems to work thus in Canada. But in the USA? My ex-son-in-law was laid off in 2008. He has run up fantastic debt studying forensic IT at the local for-profit school. I get the impression he has learnt nothing of commercial value. But who cares? This private sector place passes the debt, which he cannot pay, onto the US taxpayer. This is a triumph of the private sector, so-called education, sucking on the tit of the taxpayer. Give my ex-son-in-law a place like that attended by Ryan’s mother; not like that envisaged by Ryan in his modern illusions.
The point is that mining cannot succeed in and of itself. Mining cannot exist or thrive in the absence of basic government. Mining can only be really profitable in places of good governance and democracy truly implemented. If you think that the Republicans will make mining better in the USA, I suggest that you are deluded. They would cut government services that make mining possible & profitable to the extent that mining companies would go rather to Canada and Chile.