'So what's your first issue?'
'Mining,' I reply.
Blank faces, eyes averted, and finally the delayed response, 'Oh'.
I discovered that mining is not exactly a word that arouses interest. Definitely not a headline word. A deadly word really. A dirty word, you could say.
It's hard to explain to those blank faces why mining has always astounded and horrified me and how I came to realize that we rely so much on products made from mining that there's no escaping it.
This realization dawns early in life for Australians like me - nearly everyone has relatives and friends working for the mining industry. Each state of this huge country is dotted with mines, digging up every conceivable mineral lying beneath it. Here the gold-rush days are not over. But nowadays people look for silica for computers and the towns left behind after the mines have moved on contain thousands of people.
The industry is continually telling us that without mining there'd be nothing to line supermarket shelves, fill our homes, drive us to work or write letters with. This may be the most accurate claim they've made yet.
Mining companies are good at issuing statements but not at answering questions. Like: 'Why are mining companies allowed to deploy their own armies? Why did Western countries buy piles of metals they'll never actually use? Why is it illegal for women to work in mines?'
Finding writers to answer those questions wasn't an easy task. Some were busy attending conferences, others were getting married, or visiting the Philippines, or throwing up with food poisoning, or writing reports. One had even died. And others were busy pouring all their energy into resisting the orthodoxy that says mining and consumption is progress. In the words of one Aboriginal woman: 'Honey, I want to help you. But Aboriginals don't have time for writing - we're too busy fighting!'
All around the world people are resisting mining that is unwanted or uncontrolled. These people would say to me: 'You are doing an edition on mining? That's excellent! Its effects are so crucial here.' Then I'd hear about how it had become a life-and-death issue for yet another community. And this encouraged me and others at New Internationalist to do this magazine. So here it is - Mining.
for the New Internationalist Co-operative
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