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Archive for the ‘Mining history’ Category

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In Edward O. Wilson’s new book The Meaning of Human Existence, he asks the following question:

Are human beings intrinsically good but corruptible by the forces of evil, or the reverse, innately sinful yet redeemable by the forces of good? Are we built to pledge our lives to a group, even to the risk of death, or the opposite, built to place ourselves and our families above all else.

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I barely passed chemistry during my undergraduate civil engineering degree.  I enjoyed the geology course, although it took a lot of intellect to learn the difference between sedimentary rock, volcanic rock, and metamorphic rock.  For I grew up in the flat, featureless landscape of the Witwatersrand where very old soils covered all rocks—the first rock I saw was in the geology lab. (more…)

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Today I took the ferry across the bay from Puerto Santa Maria to Cadiz.  Took a bike and rode around the city sea-wall and around the old city center.  It is a great ride around the sea-wall.  It reminds one of the age of some engineering works. For here we have fortifications that have been four hundred years in the making.  I saw forts and castles built three hundred years ago to defend the city from the French, the Brits, and the Dutch, who attacked at different times.

It reminds us that closure of tailings facilities for 100 or even 200 years is but the outcome of the short history of North America, and not something founded in a profound perspective of real long-term history.  Clearly we can build facilities that last four-hundred years.  The people of Cadiz did.

True defense of their small city was a survival issue.  And true that closure of most mine tailings facilities is not anybody’s defense or survival issue.  I accept that social  utility may be the basis of a rejection of a long closure performance period.  But after seeing what I saw today, I cannot accept the reason too often given: we do not know how and cannot do it.

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I have spent the past few weeks in Rota, Spain with my son and family.  The sun shines on the house patio—most times. Athough some days the mist endures all day and it is cold.   Today the sun overcame the mists by about eleven a.m., and it was fun to sit in the sun and read John Grisham’s book The Last Juror.Sometimes I come inside and work on the computer.  I read what is written on Mt Polley and update an EduMine course that I am writing on Risk Assessment, Decision Making, and Management of Mine Geowaste Facilities.  For the failure of Mt Polley tailings facility is the best possible current example of the failure of risk assessment, decision making, and management of geowaste facilities we know of. (more…)

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Today I sat in the sun and finished the 1993 novel by John Le Carre called The Night Manager.  This is the first Le Carre book I have gotten into.  The others that I tried bored me or confused me to the extent that I abandoned them after the first chapter.  But this one gripped me and had me in its thrall all day in the sun.

No possible correlation between the story of British and USA secret intelligence operations and modern-day mining. Or is there?

I leave you to read the book, consider the news, and decide.  Maybe a perfect parable for Mt Polley if we seek  stories of power, corruption, arrogance, incompetence, and plain old human folly.  A good love story too.  It is hard to believe there is a love story buried in Mt Polley.  Although there must be–it will take a good journalist or novel-author to tell the love story that is entwined in the tailings failure.  Maybe when I am eighty I will take a try!

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On our last day on Mallorca, we drove to Alcudia, an old town on the north side of Mallorca.  There we walked around and within a perfect old town surrounded by a wall and a moat.  The Church is nearly 500 years old, and the houses seem as old. Probably the town subsisted in the past on fishing, agriculture, warfare, and religion.   Today it flourishes on tourism. Seems most places in Spain I have been to this trip are the same: old, settled, ready for warfare, and religion.  And now-days tourists.  Every second person on Mallorca is speaking German. (more…)

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The site used to be called Companies & Properties.  Now from InfoMine is a vastly updated, expanded, and easier to use replacement called IntelligenceMine.  It is not, but could be called Intelligent Mine,  Mining Intelligence, or How-to-Find-Out-Everything-You-Ever-Wanted-to-Know-about-Mines & Properties.  (more…)

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