Mes Aynak
September 22, 2012 8:08 PM   Subscribe

Golden Buddha, Hidden Copper. "Twelve years after the Taliban blew up the world-famous Bamiyan Buddhas, a Chinese mining firm -- developing one of the world's largest copper deposits -- threatens to destroy another of Afghanistan's archeological treasures." Campaign to Save Mes Aynak.
posted by homunculus (14 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Oh, fer fuck's sake.

No China, you cannot mine there.
posted by Mezentian at 9:40 PM on September 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

"There is deep skepticism that the weak state and notoriously kleptocratic ministries can build a functioning mining economy that will help ordinary people,"

Has anyone ever built a mining economy that helps ordinary people? Ordinary people living anywhere near the mine? I mean, cheap copper, coal, etc, brings prices down a little, as long as you don't live near a processing or power plant....
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:17 AM on September 23, 2012 [4 favorites]

So what I'm seeing in these articles is this:

1. From the mainstream perspective, it's bad if terrorists destroy something for political goals but perfectly acceptable/inevitable for capitalism to destroy something to make money for rich people.

2. There isn't any infrastructure to get the copper out, which means that any infrastructure that is built will be the good old colonialism kind - road that lead from the resource to the sea/airport, etc, rather than roads that serve the needs of the people. So all this "development" business is basically a smokescreen.

3. "Resource extraction" hasn't exactly been that great for many African countries, either. Back in the sixties and early seventies everyone used to go on about how wealthy Africa was in resources* - and of course, commodity prices fell. Just mining stuff for first world companies isn't a useful development strategy - it's a recipe for exploitation. Look at how all those mining companies treat indigenous people in Mexico.

*I mean, there are awesome locally-led development projects in many countries - just not these "let Shell come in and pump out your oil and that will be awesome" stuff.
posted by Frowner at 5:22 AM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

MCC (Chinese Metalurgical Corp) IS the Chinese Gov't. Make no mistake about that. And, this same "corporation" is involved in a mining development fight in New Guinea - their planned facility for mining nickel there involves poisoning the Coral Sea, by dumping waste products like mercury, arsenic, and sulfur into the sea.
posted by Flood at 6:16 AM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

And we regular people who use items and throw them out get all the blame? Sure, we deserve a share of the blame, probably a very big share, but there is not the conversation there needs to be about industrial destruction if the natural world.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 10:33 AM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

A crack joint squad of Shaolin monks and Shorinji Kempo adepts should be enough to get the place back up and running, and scare the bejeezus out of anyone within 100km with ideas about messing around with mining equipment.
posted by 1adam12 at 11:55 AM on September 23, 2012

GenjiandProust writes "Has anyone ever built a mining economy that helps ordinary people? Ordinary people living anywhere near the mine? I mean, cheap copper, coal, etc, brings prices down a little, as long as you don't live near a processing or power plant...."

I work at an underground gold-copper mine 10 minutes out of town. There is a another open pit mine just as close well along the development process though not actually given the green light yet (though I don't doubt it'll go through barring economic collapse). Both projects have been a huge boon to the local city and first nation in both temporary and long term well paying jobs with minimal environmental impact to residents.

As usual the problem is corruption and outside interests rather than mining itself.
posted by Mitheral at 12:35 PM on September 23, 2012

This is so incredibly sad and maddening. I visited Bamiyan and the nearby Shahr-e-Zohak in 2005/06. The empty caves were among the most amazing things I've ever seen - at once awe-inspiring for what they used to be, and disgust-inducing for what was done to them. The ruins of the red fort in Shahr-e-Zohak are also amazing, but IIRC, they still had some active landmines. Even if peace is not on the horizon yet, I hope some day there is, and all these historical places are kept safe for that day.
posted by vidur at 4:43 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've got it. We owe China a gazillion dollars. If we outlaw the penny, we can pay China back in pennies, then they can stop destroying stuff for copper. Thank you, please alert the Nobel committee that I'll be play guild wars if they need me.
posted by dejah420 at 5:45 PM on September 23, 2012

As usual the problem is corruption and outside interests rather than mining itself.

That's kind of the point, isn't it? I mean, it's way easier to go along with environmental degradation when it's hundreds or thousands of miles away from you....
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:16 PM on September 23, 2012

Maybe I read your initial comment wrong. It came across as a rhetorical question whose answer was "mining is never a good thing for the locals". I was just throwing a data point out there that yes it can be good for the local, ordinary people.
posted by Mitheral at 11:12 PM on September 23, 2012

Mining can be good for locals, but in third-world countries without strong regulation (and with high levels of corruption) it usually isn't.

It looks like the MCC PNG thing is the Ramu nickel projects.
I cannot believe they are still seriously considering the subsea tailings pipeline. It was a bad awful idea 12-odd years ago when I first looked at it, and it remains a really bad idea.

It looks like they are commissioning the plant now.

I would just like to point out the idea originally came from Highlands Pacific, a good old fashioned Australian company. So, yay Australia. "Fuck you, we've got ours".
posted by Mezentian at 4:50 AM on September 24, 2012

In other news: Buddhist ‘Iron Man’ found by Nazis is from space
posted by homunculus at 5:05 PM on September 26, 2012

Von Daniken was right all along!
This is so proofy I don't even need to read the link!
posted by Mezentian at 1:16 AM on September 27, 2012

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