I’ve gotten a couple notes recently from people who want you, the audience, to know how bad mining is for Colombia. There’s this:
La locomotora minera: Brutal ecocidio contra los colombianos . Translation: The mining locomotive: Brutal ecocide against the Colombians.
And this video here, which arrived with a note saying it had been “banned by Colombian TV.
This video rubbed me the wrong way.
The basic problem is that it conflates big mines with tiny, informal mines. They rightly show aerial photos of the pockmarked landscape of an informal mine and say that air pollution is highest in Antioquia, the state with many informal mines. They also say that a gold mine uses as much water as a city of 600,000 people — this would obviously be a big mine. But there is a big difference between the big and small ones. The small ones use fewer resources per day, but leave a devastating footprint because they don’t have the technology to recover the land. While in a properly running big mine, water isn’t used up, it’s just used for processing and then discharged — and it should be clean upon departure.
The conclusions of the video seem fine: stricter environmental rules to protect jungles, populated areas, sacred sites and waterways. But the rhetoric in this video is the problem. I suspect that by spreading a generalized fear of mining, this campaign is going to slow or stop the construction of the bigger, more controllable, more responsible mines, and leave both workers and the environment exposed to the hell of informal mining.
The other part of it that’s interesting is to see the similarities, both in style and in logical flow, to this:
My more cynical side wonders if this whole campaign was funded by the small-time miners. The tell is in the Argentine one, where they say they need a law against “mega-minería.” Banning mega-mines without controlling the small ones is a recipe for more of the crappy informal mines that currently exist all around the continent.