Researching Gold Crimes

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For the past week I’ve been researching the activities of gold mining companies around the world. I’ve narrowed my focus to two places, Chilé and Romania. In both places it is one mining company above all, that is focused on extracting gold despite whatever risks to the environment or communities that may involve.

In the coming weeks I intend to have a few podcasts on both places and on this topic. Eventually I may hitchhike my way over to Romania in the coming months and see things with my own eyes, make some video entries about it.

But at this point I wanted to start the conversation about the practices of mining companies, and specifically the gold mines. Barrick Gold is a Canadian company, which of course, tarnishes my naive hopes that all things Canadian are considerate and kind. This company is one of the largest mining operations in the world; in Chilé they are set to mine under glaciers, insisting that the exact spot where they are mining, no glaciers will be harmed even though the area has several. As if the world was so brimming with glaciers that it would be no big deal to go and destroy one in order to extract gold. In Romania they’ve been trying to buy out an entire community and create Europe’s largest open pit gold mine. Unfortunately for them, many of the people living there do not want to sell their land and let it be cut open. As you would expect, some are very ready to sell and to hell with whatever happens to their former home. While surrounding communities are concerned about the amount of pollution they will suffer because of that type of mining going on near them.

Protest in Chilé

Of course there is much more to all these stories, and I’ll get to it. But right now, what bothers me most of all is that so much of this destruction is done for getting…. gold. Gold that does what for people exactly? Does it even power anything or help build something useful for human life? A friend of mine called it “free money”. Of course it costs money to actually mine it, but still… all this destruction and conflict because this mineral is so valuable in some bullshit in-humane place called “the market”.