Monday, March 15, 2010

"Surgical Mining"

"Gold Mining"



"Coal Mining"

"Mountaintop Removal Mining"


There does not appear to my eyes anything "surgical" about any of these types of mining. Indeed a search of mining technique websites does not reveal any reference at all to anything called "surgical mining". Yet it is fast becoming a media buzz word. Say it enough times and it becomes so. A phrase which rolls off our prime minister's tongue very smoothly, soothing the masses of any worries beyond tax cuts and g.s.t. rises. Yes, John Key has made it his own little Alfred E. Nueman catch phrase (What? Me Worry?). Don't buy it folks, it does not exist. If Key, Brownlee and National consider placing entire towns in peril from landslides and erosion caused floods due to gold mining hills in the Coromandel as acceptable collateral damage, then it should be of no surprise they also refuse to rule out the use of "other" types of "modern method" mining techniques. Modern method mining techniques are pictured above. All extremely brutal, all irrevocable scars upon the earth, our National Parks, our Wild Places. Mountain top removal is possibly the worst demonstration of man's disdain for the earth. It involves simply cutting away all the forest surrounding the victim, then dynamiting as much as 500 down into the mountain to get at the coal, or whatever might be down there, and dumping the removed earth into the surrounding valleys, choking and killing any water ways. This is one of the "newer" mining techniques. There doesn't seem to be anything in there relating to "surgical".


Polluted and ruined stream from mining extraction



A mine drainage tailing pipe.


The Coromandel Peninsula is under heavy attack, one of the areas targeted being the Parakawai Geological Reserve, a mere 70 hectare area coveted by the gold diggers, but also a treasure trove of native species of frogs, kokopu, insects, and native bird species. Within this area the volcanic landscape encloses indigenous forest and one of the last remaining water catchments in the Coromandel running from forest to sea. In New Zealand gold mining commonly results in 3 grams of gold per 1400 kilograms of rock dug up. I hardly think that will involve any "surgical" precision mining techniques. They will destroy it all.

I have been to Parakawai twice. In 1994 I picked up my friend Gustav in Auckland and we drove to the Coromandel, exhilarated by the sea at Waihi Beach then driving to a place my mate Nigel had provided a map to outside Whangamata. We shouldered our packs and headed to a campsite Nigel had described to me as beyond compare. We walked through the lush green and steamy forest climbing to a river we heard, then saw come into view and my heart leaped with joy. It was a stream below us with water so pure and clear it took my breath away. Above us we could hear the symphony of many different layers of water, and suddenly emerged out of the bush onto the stream to find ourselves looking at the beautiful depths of blues and greens under the pool of perhaps a 15 metre waterfall, and directly below us it fell in a series of perhaps another 4-5 significant pools and falls. It was ethereal. Gustav and I were absolutely speechless, yet the huge smiles upon our faces, and the lightness within our souls shouted the silent words of joy we did not need to speak. We set up a small camp on the opposite side of the main fall and spent the afternoon swimming in the depths of this wonderful paradise, climbing up the falls and exploring upstream, and finally getting up the nerve to jump off the cliff into the embrace of that lovely nectar below. We lit a small fire that evening and sat in the glow of it, our day, our friendships, and the comforting lullaby of this river on its way to the sea.

A few years later carrying a large pack I returned with Tara, who in in smaller carrier toted along little Taylor, then 1 0r 2. Once again we camped in solitude at this slice of heaven. I am told it has become a very popular local tramping spot and area in addition to its value as a heritage area.

To see this place destroyed, to think of that beautiful river with its graceful falls and elegant pools as a swill pit like pictured above, destroyed for GOLD! I feel the bile rise up in my throat.


The Makaroro in the Ruahine. A reminder of what this is really all about.



If our system has depleted itself, and the "time" has come to rip into the few wild and relatively pristine areas still left, perhaps we are really asking the wrong questions. These people are up to no good and must be confronted and stopped. Once again I present the words of Edward Abbey:
"The Rules will be dictated by the extractive industries - the coal, oil, and power companies. Not only do our state politicians fail to resist these alien forces, they bid against one another to invite them in. Our good old boys would sell their mother's graves if they could make a quick buck out of the deal; crooked as a dog's hind leg, tricky as a car dealer, greedy as a hog at the trough, these men will sell out the West to big industry as fast as they can, without the faintest stirrings of conscience. Governors, U.S. Senators, congressman, and our chamber of commerce presidents don't give a hoot about future losses; they figure, rightly, that they personally will all be dead by the time the future extent of the disaster becomes clear. So much for the canyonlands of Utah and Arizona: nothing but a barren wasteland, anyway, as any local Jaycee will tell you, nothing but sand and dust and heat and emptiness, red rock baking under the sun and hungry vultures soaring on the air. Quite so men, quite so: nothing but canyon and desert, mountain and mesa, all too good for the likes of us."
If we change a few nouns to those like New Zealand, prime ministers, mp's, mayors, councils, and businesses, and the desert and rock, to bush, rivers and mountains, and the year from the 1970's to the present once again we find the future upon us.

Kia kaha!

31 comments:

Donald said...

Hi Robb

Goodness what alarming photos especially the third down. That amount of sediment carried by water just acts like sandpaper on the land, and soils [in which we grow things] become a further victim. It's not like soil builds up overnight eh! So after the mining... desolation, that is the worst of legacies!

I hope things are going OK for you as you get closer to hospital? It must be hard to be temporarily denied the physical means to renew the soul in those hills you love so much.

Cheers

Donald

Lost Coyote said...

In these parts, they are now calling it "Surface Mining" as if the coal is just waiting on the surface ready to be simply picked up.

http://www.altoncoalmine.com/

I'm glad there are people like you, brother, around the world, on the other side of the world, who value earth and wilderness, not for it's profit value, but for it's value to the souls of men and women....and our children...

Keep at it!!!

KB said...

I've seen places like that in my state. The closest thing to surgical mining that I've ever seen is the small mining camps that are littered all over our forests. They're everywhere. But, they're the small output mines or completely failed explorations. If they find something, then you get mines like the ones that you show in your photos.

And, the water doesn't get better for decades after the mining is over. There are parts of the Rockies where hikers are warned to never drink the water, even if it's treated, and there hasn't been mining in those areas for a long time.

I'm with you - and I hope that something changes the course that your country seems to be headed on. It's a fight worth taking on.

Kia Kaha.

Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

Robb, what a poignant and unsettling post but beautifully said with exceptional photos!!!

The world has gone nuts with greediness and that only lasts a second where nature would last forever if untouched.

Hugs, JJ

Lynda Lehmann said...

Horror. Absolute horror. That's what I feel with one glimpse of these photos. I have to go out, Robb, but I'll be back to read the text.

Lynda Lehmann said...

Yes, Robb, the future is upon us all. The self-centered, short-sighted mentality of GREED is running the world.

Hard to believe we are willing to do SO much damage for a few ounces of gold. It's insane to bow down to this type of "gold idolatry," or to go down without kicking.

The Earth took billions of years of complex geo processes to evolve into it's present state, but it only takes a few sticks of dynamite or in the worst case scenario, a few bombs, to destroy it.

Conscience? Where?

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Donald,
The thought of decapitating a mountain is pretty sad. One look at the photo above tells one they are working through an entire range. Guided by what, "oh well, we have a plenty of mountain ranges". Scary times.
I go in on the 8th of April. Just want it done and get on with it. I need to be in the mountains.
Cheers,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Lost Coyote,
I feel impotent at times trying to rise above the disorder of priorities out there. Wish we were sitting around a fire right now brother. Just listening to it crackle, and contemplating all this hate and fear surrounding us.
Rave on LC, Kia kaha!
Aroha,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora KB,
You come across these huge scars upon your backyard. Which shows the ground you cover, and the vast size of America.
We only have 4 million people in our country, but as the size is about that of Colorado. We are at a real cross roads KB, as to where we really want to head as a nation, as a people headed into OUR childrens future.
Aroha,
Robb

Tracey Axnick said...

Tragic photos, Robb. It is rape of the land, plain and simple.

Pam said...

Spent nine hours on the polling booths handing out how to vote cards for The Greens today Robb, in the South Australian state election.Most other parties have someone to relieve their volunteers, but the Greens were a bit light on.Doesn't seem right does it.Tasmania did well though with 5 Greens in that State holding the balance of power.Keep up the good fight my friend.I couldn't agree with your sentiments more.

Steve Julian said...

Apathy for the environment seems to be norm. We are killing the Earth and leaving that legacy for our kids' kids. Has there been any "wins" against the monster of big business? I hope so. The beauty of the mountains and forests are something that we take for granted. We live in the cities and have come accustomed to the all night convenience stores. We drive over to the stores for the 20 oz drinks and 350 gram bag of chips. We will let someone else think about the environment battle. Sad.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora JJ,
If we do not get it together, I fear the price our future generations will pay. We look upon our times as being the cradle of civilization, but instead we are becoming the destroyers of the earth. We have to get it together. Kia kaha!
Aroha,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Lynda,
There is not much to add to your words here. Except thank you for writing them and for caring. Kia kaha my lovely friend!
Aroha,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Tracey,
Indeed. Sad to really see we take notice when it starts happening to our yards - so much of the world has already been devastated. We have to find different ways.
Aroha,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Pam,
Good on you for your efforts. The grass roots work is more important than we know, it is where the real work gets done. Tasmania is a place I love, and my best friend lives there. They are helping to show the way, and have a few battles ahead as well as I understand. Thank you for your encouragement and support. And keep up the great work. You rock my friend. Kia kaha.
Aroha,
Robb

Cheryl Paris said...

You have done a great job posting the photos and writing about the huge problems. The corporations might not see these as the problem as it is their way to make money though they are trashing the land.

The future is sure upon us and we need to move forward in order to save the Earth.

Cheers,
Cheryl Paris Blog

D'Arcy said...

I'm ready to act. People need to be ready to act. I'm an optimist and i don't like to just sit back. I have to know I did everything I could to stop.

These photos are powerful. Your words are powerful, what you are doing IS powerful. I'm glad that we can be powerful together.

Joe McCarthy said...

Robb: I'm heartened to see you continue the battle.

You made reference at the outset to the wisdom of master propagandist Joseph Goebbels: if you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.

I recently encountered a psychological study showing that one person expressing the same belief three times is, on average, 90 percent as effective as three people each stating the same sentiment. The study was conducted among peers (college students), and so I expect that a belief espoused by a high ranking official would have a much greater effect ... making it all the more important that people like you who are willing to challenge the conventional wisdom make their voices heard (and their pictures seen).

Here in the U.S., recent references by high ranking officials to Armageddon, regarding the potential impact of health care reform, have me wondering whether people who believe in Armageddon - and who see it as a positive development - might be more likely to be less concerned with environmental devastation ... since this will ultimately be the end result ... and the end may be closer than non-believers expect.

In a segment on Movies that are destroying America - Avatar Edition, Stephen Colbert recently referenced an article on the Vatican's criticism of Avatar's spiritual message, in which the Vatican's radio station criticized the film, Avatar, for its "spiritualism linked to the worship of nature". The article also reported that Pope Benedict XVI has "warned against 'neopaganism' and the danger of turning nature into a 'new divinity'. "

So it would seem there is an array of powerful belief systems - and believers - who do not view the primal power of wild places from a purely positive perspective.

troutbirder said...

Buzz words. The land is full of them here as well. And the blind and ignorant follow them like sheep to the slaughter.

Marja said...

Thanks for this information. I didn't know that it would look so shocking. The colour of money is red and the land will bleed this time and the people will too if this happens.
I hope your words will reach many to make them aware of these issues.
Arohanui Marja

Christine said...

Thanks for this post, and I agree, I am so sick of hearing 'surgical mining' touted like it's something that exists outside of the politicians minds! Note, the only people using that phrase are the mining companies and the politicians, so I'm with you in saying it's just not true. The tailings for these mines alone are bad enough, let alone having to build roads into these places for equipment and transport! Stop this before it starts is my plea to anyone who is listening in government, and I sincerely hope that NZ'ers vote National out of government if they do allow this to happen. It is nothing short of raping our beautiful landscape, and really, aren't we just here to look after it for the time we have and pass it on to the next generation? What will they inherit from this, I wonder?

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Cheryl,
Thank you for stopping in and for your support. I think because the "corporate state" allows individuals to do these things without taking upon the guilt it is even more important for defenders of wilderness to speak out. Kia kaha!
Rangimarie,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Steve,
It does all feel so hopeless at times, this battle against "stuff". I take a lot from getting encouragement from like minded people around the world. Not very many moments go by out here that I cannot help but wander into the mountains. I like it better there.
Cheers,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora D'Arcy,
Always good to read from you my friend. Best get over here and see the wild places beofre it is too late. There are many here ready to do more than just hurl words. I fear we are headed there. Kia kaha.
Aroha,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Joe,
Interesting reading and links as always. Goebbels often comes to mind when I read the daily government buzz word media releases and see how how our weak willed media reports it. And how the population so easily buys into it.
The corporate state uses other attention grabbers, jobs, insurance, education, all "stuff" in our lives to distract us from getting at other things they want - like remaining natural resources which might lie in other wise off limit places, like National Parks and forests. It is happening everywhere, sadly in the states as well.
It would appear Pope Benedict might currently have bigger fish to fry than "neopaganists" such as myself. If finding spirituality in Nature is "Neopaganism" then I guess that is me. Looking at the stae of the world perhaps exactly what we do need is a few more, or lots more, people seeing the positives of the primal power within wild places. These other options are working out pretty strange. Cheers Joe, thanks as always for your contribution and thoughts. Kia kaha e hoa!
Aroha,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora TB,
Yes indeed, it is amazing how easily we are led to believe what we are told. That is why these technocrats do not like too many wilderness places. There is too much free thinking on offer.
Cheers,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Marja,
Not a pretty picture. Parakawai is such a stunning place, I would venture to write that not one National politician has been there. No one should ever talk about ripping up wilderness until they have at the very least bloody been there!
Hope all is well my friend. Kia kaha.
Aroha,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Christine,
Well written, I echoe every sentiment and word. Thank you for your support and your passion for the wilderness of this beautiful land. Kia kaha.
Rangimarie,
Robb

Tracey Axnick said...

Robb.... have you heard of the movie "Gasland"? I wrote about it on my blog. It, too, talks about the rape of land in order to extract resources... in this case, natural gas. It was a very sobering documentary. (Currently showing on HBO... although I'm sure you can view it - or at least parts of it - online.)

Hope you and the family are doing well.

-Tracey

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Tracey,
Thanks for the heads up, I will keep an eye out over here for it. There are certainly many more places on earth befouled by the huge oil, mining, and timber companies which do not create sensationalist headlines like the Gulf, Nigeria, Indonesia, South America, the list goes on. And now when those resources become harder to get at, we turn on ourselves. I guess in a way we deserve it. We really have to change the way we live, even if slowly one at a time and free ourselves from the shackles of slavery to this system. Otherwise we will destroy the earth and ourselves. The earth will recover. We will not.
Aroha,
Robb