Friday, April 13, 2018

Labour & Pop Culture: Mining for Gold

This week’s installment of Labour & Pop Culture is “Mining for Gold”, most famously performed by the Cowboy Junkies. The very haunting song speaks to the human cost associated with mining (specifically hard rock mining).

This song is timely given the death of Barrack Gold founder Peter Munk at the end of March. Munk was widely lauded as a visionary business leader, with lofty ambitions and visionary goals. A look at the record of Barrack Gold is sobering.
And as the company’s mining empire expanded, so too did the social criticism, with accusations of abuse at mines in Papua New Guinea and Tanzania drawing protests and reprimands. 
But Munk was unapologetic, and held fast in his convictions that the company was overall a source of good as part of a globalized world of capitalism. 
“Someone has got to create and generate wealth,” Munk said at his last annual general meeting in 2014.
What the Toronto Sun is avoiding talking about in detail are the gang rapes and shooting of workers at various Barrack mines in the developing world. But at least he generated shareholder value. 

The Beaverton pretty much nailed it with its headline “Barrick Gold entombs fifty foreign miners in Peter Munk’s pyramid so he’ll have workers to abuse in afterlife”
“He was such a generous man,” said a Barrick Gold VP, about the ex-chairman whose company is responsible for dozens of atrocities throughout the world. “He would insist on Barrick Gold giving our miners more violence, more heavy metals in their groundwater, more sexual assault. It’s only fair that in return these fifty men be forced to accompany him to paradise.” … 
In addition to Munk’s compulsory entourage, he will also be buried with a thousand barrels of industrial cyanide so he can poison the hereafter’s freshwater sources, a bulldozer for tearing down the homes of heaven’s indigenous population, and a few hundred million dollars in case he needs to bribe God to look the other way. 
“I thought Peter was crazy when he said he could get away with killing hundreds of people if he also dug up a shiny rock once in awhile,” said one longtime friend and member of the board of directors. “Boy is my face red, not to mention my hands!”

We are miners, hard rock miners
To the shaft house we must go
Pour your bottles on our shoulders
We are marching to the slow

On the line boys, on the line boys
Drill your holes and stand in line
'til the shift boss comes to tell you
You must drill her out on top

Can't you feel the rock dust in your lungs?
It'll cut down a miner when he is still young
Two years and the silicosis takes hold
and I feel like I'm dying from mining for gold

Yes, I feel like I'm dying from mining for gold

-- Bob Barnetson

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