Multinational mining operation Rio Tinto destroyed an Aboriginal cave north of Perth, Australia last week. Indigenous people lived in the cave as far back as 46,000 years ago. From Reuters/New York Times:
image: Puutu Kunti Kurrama And Pinikura Aboriginal Corporation
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Explosives destroyed two ancient rock shelters, where artefacts discovered included 4,000-year-old plaited human hair with genetic links to the present day traditional owners, the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura people.
The mining giant, which had been granted state government approval in 2013 to damage or destroy the site under a legal framework that is currently under review, apologised on Sunday.
"We pay our respects to the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura people, and we are sorry for the distress we have caused," Iron Ore chief executive Chris Salisbury said in a statement.[...]
"As a matter of urgency, we are reviewing the plans of all other sites in the Juukan Gorge area," Salisbury said.
New Age spirituality has never been my thing. If you're into it, hey, that's cool; it's just not for me. I don't really stay up nights worrying about it, and I certainly haven't given much thought to healing crystals. I've never considered what they do, or where they come from.
But someone has thought about this (besides the people profiting off of it). In May 2018, the New Republic published an article tracing the sources of these supposedly-powerful stones. And perhaps unsurprisingly, it's shadier than one might expect:
I tried to track down the sources of crystals sold on popular websites. I found that some were mined in countries with notoriously lax labor and environmental regulations, and some came from large-scale U.S. mines that have contaminated ecosystems and drinking water. The impacts of extracting crystals are admittedly low compared to those of industrial gold, copper, granite, or rare earth mining, but crystals have gone from a new-age fad to a multi-billion dollar industry. And given that crystals can be used to “make a promise to mama earth,” it would seem important to know how they were extracted from mama earth.
While healing crystals are still a ways away from Blood Diamond levels of volatility, it turns out that many of them do come from ethically questionable mines, often in places like Myanmar or the Democratic Republic of Congo. Even more fascinating is what author Emily Atkin finds about supply lines, distributor relationships, and regulatory standards (or a lack thereof) for those little gems of spirituality. Read the rest
Not only is the purported "healing" power of crystals total bullshit, but most of these "magical" talismans come from mines rife with exploitation, danger, environmental ruin, and shady business practices. Good vibes, eh? Read the rest
Hobbyist gold miners are a joy to behold. Their enthusiasm in panning for gold and running sand through sluices is clearly a labor of love. Watch as they put all their gear through its paces, with their delight and fascination never waning. Read the rest
Extracting earth's natural resources created some of the world's greatest fortunes. Many believe that trend will continue in space, as mining three types of asteroids leads to enormous material yields. Read the rest
Nestled between two national parks, Sequoia and Death Valley, there is a ghost town for sale. For a little under a million dollars, you could own a piece of the American West: an abandoned silver mining town founded in 1867 called Cerro Gordo.
Mental Floss reports:
Located in Owens Valley near the town of Lone Pine, the $925,000 property comes with over 300 acres of land, mineral rights, and no shortage of peace and quiet. There are 22 structures on site, including a historic hotel, bunkhouse, saloon, chapel, and museum—plus all of the artifacts that come with it.
“The site has been extremely well protected from diggers, artifact looters, and Mother Nature herself,” reads the listing, posted on a website specially created for the property that's aptly named ghosttownforsale.com. “Restoration has been undertaken on most of the buildings, and the rest are in a state of protected arrested decay.”
From its listing:
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Held by the same family for decades and only available for purchase now. The site has been extremely well protected from diggers. artifact looters and Mother Nature herself. Restoration has been undertaken on most of the buildings. and the rest are in a state of protected arrested decay.
The site is historic as the first major mining camp south of the Sierra Nevada. Cerro Gordo is a privately-owned Mining Town located in the Owens Valley near Lone Pine, California. The town was the silver thread to Los Angeles, being partially responsible for its growth and economic development.
Political art collective INDECLINE (previously) create provocative works. Their latest repurposes a gold ore processing facility on the Mojave National Preserve that was closed in 1994 and declared a Superfund site. Read the rest
Carrara marble is one of the most sought-after types, and these remarkable images by Bernhard Lang show how enormous some of the quarries are. Read the rest
Coober Pedy is an Australian mining town with such an extensive labyrinth of depleted opal mines that half the town's residents live underground. There are bookstores, churches, and other public spaces. Read the rest
The asteroid belt holds untold wealth for the prospectors who can reach and mine them. Wired UK just published an interesting chart of select asteroids valued between 1 and 27 quintillion dollars each. Read the rest
Upgrading is compulsory!
I had to have this Cyberman minifig. The stacked up bunch of pieces that resembles a Dalek is also cute.
Dr. Who Cyberman Fun Pack - Lego Dimensions via Amazon Read the rest
The Environmental Protection Agency was investigating an old mine near Silverton, Colo., earlier this month, when it accidentally released 3 million gallons of toxic waste water into the Animas River.
Tim Heffernan has done some fantastic guest blogging here at BoingBoing. Now, at Pacific Standard, he's got a story about copper — a natural resource that will affect the future of everything. Just as we're needing more and more of it, this metal is getting harder to reach. Read the rest
For PBS NewsHour, I spoke with Miles O'Brien from inside the "State of Siege" zone, where the government has declared a state of military occupation in response to protests over a US/Canadian-owned mine. Today, debate continues between Congress, the Constitutional Court, and the administration of President Otto Perez Molina, over whether the State of Siege will be ratified and continue for the entire month declared, or if it will be ended over charges that it is unconstitutional and an act of repression against civil protests.
And as the genocide trial entered its final phase, the Public Prosecutor reminded the court in his closing arguments that the 17 months Rios Montt was in power were, at the time, classified as a "State of Siege."
Guatemala: Genocide trial starts then stops; State of Siege near US ...
Guatemala: state of siege declared as Army, police crack down after ...
Guatemala: "San Rafael Mine State of Siege," photo-essay by ...
Setting up for the PBS NewsHour cross-talk with Miles at the Army/police checkpoint in Casillas, the first stop in the state of siege zone, as you enter from Guatemala City. Photo and video: Esteban Castaño of Skylight Pictures. Read the rest
Photo: Troops entering the region around a disputed mining site, shortly after the declaration of a State of Siege by the government of Guatemala. Photo: guatemala.gob.gt.
Photo: Carlos Andrino. "Caserío los Lopez. Santa Lucia Xalapan. Jalapa." May 2, 2013, Guatemala.
[Posted from Guatemala City]
Residents of four towns east of Guatemala's capital woke up to news that their communities had been placed under a 30-day State of Siege by the administration of President Otto Perez Molina, following anti-mining protests that turned violent. One policeman was killed, six civilians were wounded by rubber bullets, and a number of police cars were burned and overturned on roadways. Here is the government's official public announcement. Public gatherings in the area are banned for 30 days.
According to Guatemalan Defense Minister Col. Ulises Giron Anzueto Noah (shown at right, photo today by Carlos Andrino), 3,500 total personnel participated in operations to bring the "estado de sitio" (state of siege) into effect. Some soldiers entered the areas in armored personnel vehicles and tanks. Hundreds of police officers were involved, as were private security officers for the Canadian-owned Escobal mine at the center of the controversy. Read the rest
Just one year after the "Marikana massacre," an investigative report in South Africa's Daily Maverick reveals "a furtive conflict of interest, with mining houses footing the bill for top National Union of Mineworkers office bearers’ salaries...unionists are being paid high salaries by the very people from whom they are supposed to protect their members. The 'arrangement' is just about to end, in spite of union leaders' unhappiness and an unpredictable labour and political backlash." Read the rest
For the past few months I’ve been reporting a big story on the copper industry for Pacific Standard. It takes a broad look at how the global economic boom of the past decade, led by China and India, is pushing copper mining into new regions and new enormities of investment and excavation. (It’ll be out in June.) But a few days ago a very local event shook the copper industry, and I thought it would be neat to look at how a crisis at a single mine can ripple through space and time, ultimately affecting just about everyone around the globe. Read the rest