October 01, 2009

life in general & financial markets: (part 1) excessive-consumerism-driven ugly mining

As consumers, we desire and consumer various products. A large number of these products' manufacturing process involves using of materials that come from mining of ores of iron, bauxite, aluminum and other metals.

Excessive consumerism therefore causes excessive mining. Excessive mining is ugly. It causes untold misery to local, remote people in India, Indonesia, China, African continent and other places.

More often that not, governments of these countries give land and mining rights at extremely cheap prices to mining companies. For instance, this happanes in India in bauxite mining in Orissa state.

I am hoping to sustain a series of posts on this issue. This post is part 1 and covers the country of Congo in Africa.

This recent newsreport the problems caused by mining in Congo:

DRC report denounces bad practices in mining

KINSHASA — A report for the senate in the Democratic Republic of Congo shows that the mining sector is riddled with fraud, incorrect figures and bad management that costs hundreds of millions of dollar a year.

"No state service ... is up to date to give reliable figures" on the "number of operators in the mining sector, their quality and the quantity of products exported," said the report, passed by the senate on Saturday and made available to AFP.

Products exported under inaccurate names and the underestimation of weight are aspects of the industry where "statistics fail to tell the whole story," according to the document, which noted how one mineral export of 33 tonnes was recorded "as 3.3 tonnes, at the whim of an official."

The state "lost more than 450 million dollars in 2008," according to the president of the Senate commission of enquiry, David Mutamba, who added that this figure was based only on available statistics.

But mineral production in the DR Congo -- which has 34 percent of world reserves of cobalt, 10 percent of copper and plentiful supplies of gold, diamonds and uranium -- should cover more than half the country's budget receipts, according to the senators.

The report blames bad management at the top level of government, stating that the ministries of mining and finance charge much too little for mining concessions, "in flagrant violation of the constitution and the law, to the detriment of the public treasury."

Senate investigators found that "80 percent of mineral ores are fraudulently exported" in the eastern provinces of the DR Congo, where rebels and armed groups are active.

In the diamond-rich central Kasai Occidental province, local authorities "stand by powerless during unprecedented pillage by numerous national mining exploiters or by foreigners guarded by uniformed men."

The lack of equipment, run-down infrastructure and poor rates of pay for civil servants and mining industry employees all help to explain why the mining sector is a mess.

The report gives the example of the directorate of mines in Kinshasa, which is responsible for statistics, but only has a "single, antiquated computer with a very low capacity." There are also no archives.

The Senate team recommends a revision of the mining code of 2002, since some of its clauses are judged "inefficient," like the "disorganised distribution of mining rights across the territory."

A total of 4,542 mining concessions were granted to 642 companies according to a count in November 2008, but "numerous operators exploit our mineral resources without abiding by the demands of the mining code," the report said.

"The services of the state know this situation, but they give the impression of being determined not to remedy the excessive growth, which is surrealistic in a state that wants to be modern."

"Even if we revise the code, we'll get the same results," said opposition senator Ramazani Baya, who stated that the management of the mining sector was "calamitous."

Senators Henri-Thomas Lokondo and Denis Engunda regretted that the Senate commission did not "give the names of the bad managers, nor those of the operators involved ... and even less (proposed) sanctions."

The pair made recommendations that will be added to the report.

Copyright © 2009 AFP. All rights reserved

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