Any new readers please be sure and read the first posting calling for an injunction against mining in Haiti. Please circulate this among all of your friends.
Someone was kind enough to send an article on the shooting of miners in South Africa to this site. So, we decided to offer comments on the situation:
The mining in Haiti will be surface mining and hence should be even more ecologically devastating and provide fewer jobs than the subsurface mining in the Lonmin-Marikana mine in South Africa. For subsurface mining you should be able to leave some surface grass, trees and homes though there are the risks of subsidence or sinking of the ground above the mine, and of sinkholes which swallow up the surface, as well as risk of small earthquakes. There are many risks to workers as well.
However, the shootings at the South African mine (and other mines) show the lengths that mining companies will go to maintain or enhance profits. This and the shootings of peasants in La Visite National Park in Haiti (*) make one worry about how the peasants living on land to be surface mined in Haiti are to be treated.
Fear of the effect of declining profits on the value of stock share prices seems to translate into a widespread lack of respect for life and for the environment. A lot of job losses, and refusal of companies to be concerned with long term vision or impact are related to this same problem: trying to keep stock share value high.
Hence, anyone holding stock shares in mining companies needs to find out as much as possible about the company. If the mine exists already then they can write and pressure the company to make working conditions better and to reduce environmental pollution and call for restoration of the environment after the mine closes (to the extent restoration is possible).
In the case of Haiti, since mining is just starting off it could be good to divest, i.e. sell off your stocks in Majescor (MJX)/SACG/Somine SA; Newmont-Eurasian; and VCS Mining.
With the exception of Newmont, these appear classified as “Junior Mining Companies” which means that without sufficient capital or making money within about five years they risk going out of business. This also makes them more likely to cut corners.
Although VCS mining and Majescor (MJX)/SACG/Somine, SA seem tightly held by Haitian expatriates (and possibly by the wealthiest families of Haiti), divesting from VCS and Majescor is still worth a try. Divesting in Eurasian (EMX)- Newmont could be effective. The other option is to demand more clarity from these companies and the Haitian government regarding their operations.
Hopefully more mainstream news coverage will take place about the high costs of mining, not only human but environmental. If most people really understood the cost to the environment then they would not be able to purchase mined products, whether precious, semi-precious stones, or metals. Or, they would do so with great guilt and hesitation. Nor would they purchase gold or silver bullion.
People need to understand that cutting trees, especially those forming tropical rainforest is absolutely devastating to the environment. The mountainous nature of Haiti makes erosion and landslides of critical concern if there is no surface vegetation. Once tropical rainforest is cut the surface soil washes away and they cannot be gotten back. Tropical rainforest in particular but all forests in general play a critical and too often ignored role in keeping the planet cool on a macro level but on a microlevel as well. Surface mining, by definition, involves loss of forest, other vegetation and agricultural land.
If you doubt the goodness of all forests then take a walk in one on a very hot or very cold day. On the hot day you will be cooler; the cold day warmer.
We are always told that Haiti is a desert. But, take a close look on Google Satellite maps. As of 2010 Haiti was surprisingly green, especially in the areas targeted for gold, silver and copper mining. You can also find many pictures online showing how green Haiti is.
Haiti also needs to be reforested and not deforested by mining companies.
So, divest yourself of mining stock shares or use your stock shares to hold companies accountable/protest. Inform yourself and everyone else of the environmental consequences and human costs of mining. Use your creativity to think of other means of protest. Think of the impact before buying metal jewelry and/or semi-precious/precious stones. Especially avoid purchase of gold and silver bullion.
See also: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-19316846
* Regarding the La Visite National Park shootings in Haiti: communities lived in the park since at least the 1940s. Money was offered for resettlement but said to be too little to purchase new land. Hence the peasants protested and some were killed. See for instance: http://www.canadahaitiaction.ca/content/massacre-seguin
The next posts will be about Haiti and Environmental Law; and Haiti and Environmental Hazards. Future planned posts include discussion of the VCS, Majescor/Somine,SA and Eurasian-Newmont properties; discussion of these companies and their relationships.