June 6, 2006
Mining Ltd, a leading mineral extraction corporation based in China,
has officially announced its ground-breaking technology for extracting
gold from the water supply in the United States, including groundwater,
rivers, lakes and streams. After years of fastidious research, Jinshan
has concluded that most of the water throughout the continental United
States contains significant trace levels of gold particles. Its
scientists have determined that the concentration of particles is high
enough to enable the mining concern’s innovative new extraction process
to cull significant quantities of the precious metal from ordinary H2O.
Jinshan, a Chinese
multinational, has indicated they have found a surprisingly inexpensive
means to process the millions of gallons of American water necessary to
reap the profits they seek.
CEO Zhu Jintao was brimming with
enthusiasm as he addressed eager members of the US media via satellite
link from a remote area of China where he was vacationing with his
are projecting revenue somewhere in the neighborhood of $60 billion US
dollars, in the first year. As we ramp up the project, we hope to
double or perhaps even triple that figure within the next two years.
Gold from water! It is as if we have discovered a form of alchemy!"
Articulating with a powerful command of his second language, Mr. Jintao continued:
we are quite pleased that the Bush administration has agreed that the
United States government will lend its full support to our exciting new
venture. Jinshan and the nation of China are most thankful for
America’s generous accommodation."
Jintao failed to broach the subject, it is worth noting that Jinshan’s
extraction process involves the use of highly toxic chemicals,
including cyanide, thallium, barium, arsenic, and mercury. Jinshan’s
"mining" is expected to quadruple the EPA’s legally acceptable levels
of each of these contaminants in the drinking water of over 1.4 million
Americans. Another undisclosed consequence of Jinshan’s "alchemy" is
that it will require that they construct over a hundred processing
facilities across the United States. Ecologists conservatively project
that the ecosystem within a fifty mile radius of each of Jinshan’s
"mining" sites will be uninhabitable by animal or plant life for at
least twenty years.
move demonstrating unprecedented disregard for human and environmental
protections in the United States, the Bush administration has given the
green light to Jinshan. Over-riding the feeble objections of Congress,
President Bush has granted the Chinese concern unlimited access to the
National Park System for construction of its gold extracting
installations. He has also granted Jinshan an exemption from all EPA
standards and US environmental laws. In return, Jinshan has pledged to
share 10% of their profits with the American people through payments to
the federal government.
like Greenpeace and the Sierra Club are expected to raise major
objections. Members will likely commit acts of civil disobedience and
possibly take violent measures against Jinshan to prevent the
inevitable environmental and public health disaster. Homeland Security
Secretary Michael Chertoff indicated that all who opposed the Chinese
venture would be arrested as domestic terrorists and detained
When members of the press corps questioned the Constitutionality of such a move, Chertoff quipped:
"National security is the issue here. I do not have time to debate the law with you."
the prospect of a powerful backlash leading to civil unrest in America,
President Bush has pledged to remain firm and resolute.
President Bush stated his position succinctly:
refuse to back down on the Jinshan Project. If necessary, I will deploy
the National Guard to protect our friends from China."
a prepared statement, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice explained and
defended the administration’s decision on the Jinshan Project:
Bush has decided that it is in the best interests of the American
people to allow Jinshan Mining Ltd to move forward with their venture.
China represents a strategic partner of growing importance, both
economically and in the War on Terror. It is essential that the United
States facilitate the proliferation of free market Capitalism in the
great nation of China."
After a brief pause, Rice continued:
Americans need to understand that they will have to make sacrifices in
the interests of our national security and economic well-being. They
also need to remember that we in the federal government are here to
help them. Mr. Bush has mandated that the revenues we receive from
Jinshan will go directly toward medical care for the brave patriots who
endure unpleasantries related to the project. All Americans who are
adversely affected by the Jinshan Project will receive the Presidential
Medal of Patriotic Sacrifice. I cannot imagine receiving a higher
honor. Thank you for your time, ladies and gentlemen."
sources within the White House have indicated that the administration’s
move to open America’s water supply to Chinese business interests was
driven primarily by the fact that China holds over $250 billion of the
federal government’s debt. However, Press Secretary Tony Snow blithely
dismissed such assertions as "nonsense".
Is the above fiction exaggerated satire?
Is such a scenario far removed from reality in developing countries?
Consider how corporate abuse of humanity and the environment plays out in reality as Capitalists prey on vulnerable nations:
their powerful political influence and deeply incestuous relationships
with the federal government, it is unlikely that multinational
corporations could perpetrate such crimes against humanity on such a
large scale on American soil, yet. The Jinshan
fiction is obviously loaded with hyperbole. While Jinshan may be a
gross exaggeration, it reflects common behavior by multinational
corporations and their Neocolonial enablers. Human life and the
environment are virtually irrelevant to them in their relentless quest
to fatten their bottom line. Vulnerable developing nations (which are
often rich in natural resources) provide easy targets for corporate and
The United States and its Neocolonial
partners guaranteed the economic and political subjugation of
developing nations when they forged the Bretton Woods Agreements at the
end of World War II. Utilizing organizations like the World Bank and
"free trade" agreements like GATT and NAFTA, the Neocolonialists have
created a subtle yet powerful economic form of oppression.
loans to deeply impoverished developing nations, the World Bank
requires that recipients make "structural adjustments", including
privatizing, cuts in social spending, elimination of labor protection
laws, and the elimination of trade protections for their people.
Multinational corporations are then free to rape, pillage and plunder
virtually at will.
All that glitters....
the unfulfilled ambitions of Barrick Gold Corporation in South America.
Since 1996 the Canadian multinational mining company has been pursuing
a project called Pascua Lama in Chile and Argentina. Greedily eyeing 17
million ounces of gold and 635 million ounces of silver, Barrick has
tenaciously struggled to overcome vigorous objections and protests from
indigenous farmers, NGO’s and environmentalists.
To reach and
extract the gold and silver, Barrick plans on "relocating" three
glaciers located high in the Andes between Argentina and Chile. 70,000
small farmers (Huascoaltinos) in the Huasco Valley rely on the glaciers
for irrigation water. Pascua Lama would seriously diminish and
contaminate their water supply, leaving the crops they cultivated
Environmentalists and ecologists have
expressed grave concerns about the additional adverse environmental
impact of destroying or seriously disrupting the three glaciers, Toro
I, Toro II, and Esperanza. Andean glaciers are significant contributors
to the Earth’s freshwater and are already shrinking due to global
Marcel Claude, economist and vice-president of Oceana, an environmental NGO, pointed out:
''Gold mining dumps 79 tons of waste for every 28 grams of gold, and produces 96 percent of the world's arsenic emissions,''
Lama will probably not pay much in taxes (in Chile) and its impact in
terms of jobs is insignificant Therefore, we can say with conviction
that (Pascua Lama) will contribute absolutely nothing to Chile’s
One for you...one thousand for me
the proposed 20 year life of the mine, Barrick has offered to
compensate Chile with a "whopping" $60 million. The purpose of this
relatively paltry sum would be to increase the quality and quantity of
water which Pascua Lama would diminish. While offering $60 million to
Chile in compensation, Barrick intends to fund its mining operation
with $1.5 billion. And based on 6/2/06 market values, Barrick stands to
extract over $17 billion worth of gold and silver. The economic
injustice is almost incomprehensible.
Let's see that bill of sale...
Barrick’s acquisition of their mining stake is highly questionable. The
Diaguita people of the Huasco Valley filed suit against Barrick in 2001
because it had purchased the gold and silver rich territory from only
one member of the entire indigenous community. Legal precedent appears
to favor the poor Chilean farmers. Barrick’s "purchase" could be
invalidated because it failed to get unanimous Huascoaltino approval on
the sale of their ancestral lands.
Munk holds the aces...
Chile’s recent election of moderate socialist Michelle Bachelet to the
presidency and strong popular opposition to Pascua Lama, it is highly
unlikely that the Huascoaltinos will prevail.
heavyweights like former US President George Bush Sr, Washington power
broker Vernon Jordan, and former PM of Canada Brian Mulroney serve as
corporate board members or "advisors" to Barrick. Their considerable
influence in the political arena gives Barrick a distinct and obvious
advantage. Besides, with potent Neocolonial economic policies backing
their efforts, multinationals seldom lose when large stakes are on the
Barrick chairman and founder Peter Munk, who once
appeared on Mother Jones’ list of America’s "10 Little Piggies", will
not rest until his stockholders’ pockets are burgeoning with Chilean
gold and silver.
Consider this excerpt from an article appearing on the Lawyers’ Environmental Action Team Website, Robbing the Poor to Give to the Rich:
August 1996 the Tanzanian government authorities in collaboration with
a Canadian-owned company called Kahama Mining Corporation Ltd., (KMCL)
forcibly removed hundreds of thousands of artisanal miners, peasant
farmers, small traders and their families from an area called
Bulyanhulu in Shinyanga Region, central-western Tanzania. The removals
were the culmination of a two-year struggle pitting the miners and the
company over the control of gold deposits at Bulyanhulu. Within days of
the operation to remove the miners, serious allegations emerged that
over 50 artisanal miners were killed after they were buried alive in
mineshafts when the authorities and company officials decided to
backfill the shafts. KMCL was then a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sutton
Resources, based in Vancouver, Canada.
March 1999, Barrick Gold Corporation, another Canadian mining giant
acquired the Bulyanhulu deposits through its acquisition of Sutton
Resources and its Tanzanian subsidiary….
investment stands as a monument to the plunder of the natural resources
of poor countries such as Tanzania by the multinational corporations of
the rich industrial countries of the North; and the impoverishment and
further marginalization of the mostly rural communities in mineral rich
areas of Tanzania and elsewhere. It is a living testimony of the
proposition that where multinational corporate interests are at stake,
notions of rule of law, good governance and a respect for human rights
take on a secondary importance to be swept aside whenever expedient. It
provides the proof to the charge that the World Bank Group almost
always acts against the interests of the vast majority of the poor and
the marginalized groups of society.
Given the exploitative and oppressive nature of the Neocolonial system and
the ruthless determination of multinationals like Barrick, it is highly
unlikely that 70,000 poor indigenous farmers in Chile will get to keep
the "privileges" of their human rights, their health, and their means
of survival. Not with $17 billion dollars on the line.
High stakes for humanity...
So why root for the Huascoaltinos and their glaciers? Why mourn and rage if the tyranny of Capitalism crushes them?
Human beings with a sense of moral indignation and a social conscience don’t need to ask.
those who consider the pursuit of social justice to be frivolous
idealism, a more pragmatic answer lies in the imagined scenario
involving Jinshan Mining poisoning America's water supply. Abetted by
the corporate elites and de facto aristocracy of the United States,
multinational corporate power is increasing at an alarming rate.
Immunity from the ravages of amoral and relentless pursuit of profit is
a luxury few human beings will continue to enjoy. Regardless of their
Today it is the Huascoaltinos. Tomorrow it could be your family and you.
Miller is a 39 year old sociopolitical essayist with a degree in
liberal arts and an extensive self-education (derived from an
insatiable appetite for reading). He is a member of Amnesty
International and an avid supporter of Oxfam International and Human
Rights Watch. He welcomes responses at href="mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org"> style="font-size: 130%;">email@example.com or comments on his blog, Thomas Paine's Corner, at http://civillibertarian.blogspot.com/.