On the rocks

Published: Thursday 30 April 1998

hard rock mining has resulted in metal contamination and sedimentation of waterways, posing serious health and environmental risks. It has been precipitated by relaxation of laws and regulations by governments hungry for foreign investments. Philip Hocker, president of the Mineral Policy Center ( mpc ), usa , says, "The lust for gold and minerals by corporations has created a world-wide toxic legacy."

A report by mpc shows that the damage is worse in Asia and Africa and America, where aquatic life and communities of miners have been affected. In remote areas, local governments poorly monitor mining operations.

Guyana owns five per cent of South America's largest gold mines. When a lake full of tailing failed, over 3,904 million litres of toxic cyanide containing wastes were dumped into the Essequibo river creating crises of drinking water, irrigation, fishing, transportation and crippling the seafood export market.

In Papua New Guinea, illegal dumping into a major river by the ok Tedi copper mine, flooded the agricultural land, destroyed aquatic life and displaced several local residents who depended on the river for their livelihood.

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