Sunday, October 11, 2009

Kinross gold mine at Paracatu, Brasil: stuck in stone age

Kinross gold mine at Paracatu, Brasil: stuck in stone age

Sergio Ulhoa Dani

When it comes to members of the same family, comparisons are inevitable. One of the mines of the Kinross' family is Kettle River-Buckhorn, in Washington state, USA. Kinross' CEO Tye Burt is a proud father when he talks about this mine: “When you look at the Buckhorn Mine, you're looking at the future of mining", he said. Kinross' Paracatu Mine, in Minas Gerais state, Brazil, is a quite different issue. When you look at the Paracatu Mine, you're looking through the window of pre-historical times. The Kinross' gold mine at Paracatu is stuck in stone age.

The burdens of the Paracatu mine spread around like airborne dust: open pit mine within urban environment; blasts that result in earthquake like consenquences to public and private buildings in a much loved historical town; gigantic tailings dams that clot fresh water springs overtaken by million tons of mud and have the potential to cause a large number of fatalities and extreme damage in case of failure or breakage; thousands of tons of arsenic released to the environment or stored in ponds that are finally buried in the surface of the mine, in amounts that are enough to kill all human beings living on the planet or else, to result in cancer for thousands of Paracatu citizens; pollution and waste of water in the highlands of an irrigated agriculture basin; white dust that spreads throughout the town; the expulsion of traditional communities from their land, all that in exchange for crumbs that do not improve lives of visibly impoverished people.

As if not enough, Kinross maintains as representatives a most incompetent executive team, a team knowingly unable to run their own businesses, let alone protect Paracatu community interests. The arrogance of the local Kinross' cavemen team does not allow the building of a close, civilizated relationship with the community. One wonders if Kinross prefers, instead, to break the law by making use of its so called "facilitation payments" in order to smooth things down.
It is no wonder that the mining project has been paralised by a legal suit addressed by the State Public Ministry and another suit by the Federal Public Ministry of Brazil. It is no wonder the public image of Kinross in Paracatu is as dirty as dinosaur shit. Fortunately dinousaurs have come to extinction. I would not put up with any environmentalist protecting such beasts from extinction.

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