«JACK A CALDWELL JULY 2007 1 TABLE OF CONTENTS Religion, Mining, Morality, and Human Behavior. 1 Jack A Caldwell July 2007 Table of Contents ...»
RELIGION, MINING, MORALITY, AND
JACK A CALDWELL
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Religion, Mining, Morality, and Human Behavior
Jack A Caldwell
Table of Contents
Mining in the bible areas
British Columbia 1
British Columbia 2
Religion and sustainable development
More on environmental stewardship
Towards an explanation – an alternative perspective
The Ultimate Challenge
INTRODUCTIONLong before there was religion in the sense we know it today there was mining. A quick search of the internet tells me that early man was extracting specularite from the Bomvu Ridge mine in Swaziland as long ago as 40,000 B.C., making it the oldest mine in the world.
Given that mining predates religion as discussed in this piece, there arises the question of whether what the bible says about mining tells us anything about the morality of mining and right and wrong ways to mine. Hence we may move to examine whether religion, western or otherwise is a reasonable basis for ethical mining and the definition of a valid philosophy of mining. Or are we back to the issue that motivated the miners of Bomvu Ridge, namely getting resources to make life better, or to make the individual richer or more powerful?
Read on, no promise of an answer, but certainly many questions.
MINING IN THE BIBLE AREASIn reply to a statement I made that there is no mention of mining in the bible, Philip Grini commented: No tracks of mining in Palestine or Syria? What about King Solomon’s mines, and how many references made about precious metals in the book. What about some processing techniques like” treated by fire”, almost an assay. What about Job XXVIII? In the “valley of the caves”: Wady Magharah, settlements of copper miners are there to witness. The ancient furnaces are still there to be seen, and on the coast of the Red Sea, are found the piers and 5 wharves used for shipment like in the harbor of Abu Zelimeh. Refining processes such as oxidation by air of the fused metal, or use of nitrate on fusion, or mixing Lead with alloy than fusing and oxidizing with blown air are depicted in PsXII.6, Ezek.XXII, and Jer.VI. The Egyptian art of working Bronze is well known, and Israelites must have picked up quite a few things from them other than the Kabalah. Seems no trace of Tin in Palestine, but iron is still mined in Lebanon and I am sure that Hiram knew few things about it.
In the ancient tongues, Mina is associated with weights and measures, such identifications can be found in John XII as Litra which means pound or about 20 shekels or 11.1/2 ounces. The Maneh, Greek Mina, is the pound of Matthew, equivalent to 50 shekels or 2 pounds Troy, or 1 pound 8 oz. The silver talent equals 3000 shekels or 117lbs Troy or 96.1/2Avoir. The gold Talent was of a different weight, estimated from the gold shekel; its weight was 131lbs Troy, or 108 Avoir by heavy standard or half by light standard.
Many authorities consider MINE to be of Celtic sources as mein, for vein of metal, but in the Celtic Legends, the name Minas contradicts such assertions with its ancient roots. Minas, or Mina (Maneh), has forever been linked to the art of extracting metals and presenting them into trading forms of commodities with specific rules applied to their weights and measures. Maybe the Keepers of the Hearth could be translated as the Ones who measure the Dirt, for it took Metal to engrave those Tablets.
6 Clearly those who lived in the area where Judaism, Christianity, and Islam arose mined and benefited from the products of mining. I am not sure however that the bible says anything directly about the ethics or morality of mining that may guide us today in making decisions about good and bad ways to mine.
WESTERN RELIGIONSThe recently resigned British Columbia Minister of Mines is quoted as saying: “The Bible makes it plain that we are the stewards of the Earth, and as such, our obligation is not negotiable. However, we are not obliged to preserve the natural world in some kind of frozen inertia at arm’s length from human activity.” I asked a good friend whose religious credentials I trust and who works in the mining industry just what the bible says about mining. Here are his reply and what I found in e-bibles.
There are a number of references within both the old and the new testament that refer to man/people being the stewards of the earth and its creatures, and charging them with using the earth’s resources wisely. Try this web site for further insight and references that provide an interesting perspective (from my viewpoint anyway).” Next Bible tells us that the process of mining is described in Job 28:1I do not give the magnificent words of Job 28. But please take a look at the link I provide. Another good reason not to quote the poem is that it is only incidentally about mining. Appears the folk who gave 7 rise to the bible did almost no mining—they probably imported the mined products they needed from other countries—not unlike happens today in many places. Seems no traces of ancient mines have been found in Palestine or Syria.
A slightly more expansive view of mining in the bible is provided by The Church of God Daily Bible Study site, Genesis 2:10-12 refers to the land of Havilah where there is gold and onyx stone. Both presumably had to be mined and were not “created”. The Promised Land is, according to Deuteronomy 8:7-9, a land whose stones are iron and out of whose hills you can dig copper. Nothing very specific or exciting about that. And certainly no guidance about the moral and ethical implications of mining.
I am rather heartened by the absence of any specific biblical injunctions about mining. At least we can approach the topic afresh and unhindered by sectarian or philosophical constraints. I read the arguments about what the bible says about our environmental obligations or absence thereof, but I submit we can leave those arguments to others for they are part of a much bigger debate in which mining is so small a part as to be for all practical purposes insignificant and irrelevant.
I submit we can now move forward with clear conscience and rational mind to apply reason (scientific, engineering, economic, legal, and ethical) to the debate about where to mine and how to mine. A precious gift indeed.
Arizona The Hopi of Arizona are running to the courts over a mining proposal that called for comments during their holy months. I quote from this
The class action lawsuit alleges that [United States Office of Surface Mining (OSM)] violated traditional Hopis' religious freedom when the office scheduled the comment period on the draft environmental impact statement for the Black Mesa Project during January and February, a period during which Hopi religion requires that people attend primarily to their religious obligations to the exclusion of public matters. "I had to find someone to take over my responsibilities so I could go to the hearing," said Jerry Honawa, a Hopi religious practitioner and a named plaintiff in the lawsuit. And he is upset not only by OSM's refusal to respond to his concerns at the hearings, but to the size and complexity of the document on which he was trying to comment.
"It is 758 pages," he said. "I don't think anyone on the Hopi Tribal Council has read the entire document." The lawsuit alleges that OSM violated both the First Amendment of the U.S.
Constitution and the provisions of the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act by knowingly and deliberately scheduling the comment period in the middle of the Hopi religious calendar.
"There is no exceptionally compelling state interest in requiring 9 traditional Hopis…to choose between honoring their religious beliefs and practice and grappling with reading, analyzing, understanding, and being forced to comment on a massive, complex, 758-page draft environmental impact statement on the Black Mesa Project during the religious portion of the Hopi calendar," reads the papers filed with the U.S. District Court, District of Arizona on April 16./ol California Here is the story of a clash between western mining interests and native religion in the United States; truly one arbitration case worth
A mining company previously at the center of controversy over the proximity of a project to an American Indian sacred site is now seeking $50 million under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
Vancouver, British Columbia-based Glamis Gold Ltd. [Goldcorp Inc.
and Glamis Gold recently merged] has filed an arbitration claim alleging that the company suffered huge financial losses after legislation and regulation was passed in California prohibiting the company from extracting gold from a site in the southern California desert. The move is the latest chapter in a nine-year-long dispute pitting Glamis against the Quechan tribe, whose members reside on the Fort Yuma Reservation in southeastern California. In the late 1990s the tribe objected to Glamis’ proposed 880-foot-deep and milewide open pit cyanide leaching gold mining operation, claiming the 10 mine would be too close to an area near Indian Pass that they held sacred. This is part of a network of points and braided trails known by the Quechan as the ‘’spirit trail” which ultimately links two mountains in the southern California desert: Avikwaame, or Indian Pass, in the north and Avikwala, or Pilot’s Knob, in the south. Though Glamis claimed the mine would actually sit a few miles away from the site, the tribe countered that it would still sit within the bounds of an area regarded by the tribe as sacred.
Well maybe it is no longer arbitration and no longer worth following as an example of arbitration. The reason? If you go to the U.S.
Department of State website, you can read the entire document in a case monikered thus: “The United States intends to defend this claim vigorously.” Here are the documents dating from 2003 to February 2007, including the Glamis 190-page Reply Memorial. And this is preceded by the 268-page Counter-Memorial of Respondent United States of America. I have made copies and will read them in the long spring evenings of the Iowa farm. Maybe you can as well, and if you do let us have a summary and your informed opinion.
The take over of Glamis by Goldcorp has not put an end to the litigation—at least that is how I read the February 22, 2007 document which ends by confirming arbitration hearings in September 2007.
Maybe Glamis (now Goldcorp) could save shareholder value by going to JAMS.
The news release is bland enough: “Northgate Minerals Corporation reports that Ministers of the Environment for Canada and British Columbia have amended the schedule for the completion of the Joint Panel Review for the Kemess North Project…..to permit time for the federal and provincial governments to resolve outstanding issues relate to First Nations participation in the review process.” Thanks to the internet we can access original documents that may shed a faint light on this announcement. The University of Northern British
Columbia in October 2006 summarized the issues thus:
“Peter MacPhail of Northgate Explorations says the Kemess mine will shut down in 2009 if they are unable to receive a go ahead for the development of Kemess North. Speaking to the opening session of the Kemess North Copper-Gold Project environment review today in Prince George, the company said the new mine will operate until the year 2022, but can only operate profitably if they are allowed to put their tailings into Duncan (Amazay) Lake.
The company proposes three dams to store tailings from the new mine. The Panel hearing the matter is comprised of Carol Jones, Chairperson, along with Dr. Malcolm Scoble of UBC, and Mark Duiver.
Chief John French of the Takla Band …. called on the Board to consider that no funding agreement is in place with the First Nations, nor has any separate consultation taken place. Northgate he said is not looking 12 at any options for the project other than to destroy Duncan Lake. “I welcome you” he said “but I am not happy with what you bring.” “Everything that we take from Mother Nature we put back.” said Chief French., “In ten years the mine will be gone and then the jobs will be gone along with Duncan Lake.” Chief French says there be no net gain “That is when the Government will be called upon to fix the problems of the lake and they will need to spend all the money that they received from the project. These hearings should be suspended until the land claims issue has been settled.” Northgate says that of the 475 people that work there, 51 are First Nations, 30 from the immediate area. An additional 19 First Nations’ people work for contractors doing work at the mine. Northgate says the company at present has a payroll of 27 million and there are 125 jobs from contractors working at the site and the spin off from the mine accounts for a further 950 jobs.” In November 2006, the First Nation Summit Task Group made a submission to the Kemess North Joint Review Board. I summarize from
the Executive Summary:
“This fundamentally flawed review process is a collaboration between the federal and provincial governments and the mining proponents to (1) completely destroy Amazay Lake (also known as Duncan Lake) as a viable freshwater ecosystem by turning it into a mine waste disposal site; (2) solely for the sake of economic convenience, provide rationale to the mining 13 proponent and its shareholders for their preferred option for mine waste management (and the only alternative presented);
and (3) run roughshod over the First Nations peoples’ constitutionally recognized and affirmed Aboriginal title rights to
Amazay Lake and the surrounding area, including downstream:
British Columbia 2
In Canada we have the Dene using religion to oppose mining: