Archive for September 6, 2012


Media Mesmerised by Wealth

The words of Gina Rinehart during her recent speech at the Sydney Miners Club have been reverently reproduced by the Australian media almost as though they were reporting on Moses’ sermon on the mount.

Gina claimed that mining companies will invest in Africa rather than Australia because of Australian mining and carbon taxes, and because, “African workers are happy to work for less than $2 a day”.

It would appear that Gina is using Tony Abbott to do her research because in the days preceding Gina’s statement 34 striking miners at the Lonmin mine were shot dead by police while protesting at their starvation wages. To my eye the miners on my TV screen were not looking happy.

It should be noted that the miners who have on average 8 dependants want their monthly wage to rise from 5400 to 12500 Rand and have been on strike for weeks.

The strike is rapidly spreading to other African mines including Lonmin’s Karee mine where manager Jan Thirion said that if workers get their way “….we might as well shut down mining in South Africa”. Despite the low wages, rising costs and lower commodity prices many African mines are struggling to operate at a profit and African mining share prices have dropped by around 20% in some sectors.

It would appear that Gina Rinehart is not only wrong about mining investment pouring out of Australia and into South Africa, the reverse is true. My first question is why would she distort the truth about mining investment in Australia?

Clearly Ms Rinehart was having a go at two targets. The first being Australian workers who refuse to leave their homes in NSW to work in the Pilbara whereas “Africans are happy to work for less than $2 a day”.

The second target is the Gillard Government for imposing taxes that compensate Australians for the value of minerals that miners are extracting from Australian soil, as well as the pollution damage caused by the extraction process.

My next proposition is, if Gina truly believes mining companies are moving to Africa to take advantage of Africans working for starvation wages, or to benefit from not having to pay taxes to compensate for the minerals extracted or the damage to the environment, would we not be better off without such cruel morally corrupt companies in Australia?

It would seem that Gina would be ill advised to move her mining operations to South Africa where the mining industry is in chaos due to ongoing and spreading riots over poor pay. It would also appear that low wages has not made African mines more profitable or productive. The only positive for the miners is that the police seem prepared to kill striking miners to force them back to work.

Le Monde Diplomatique: September 2012

Syria’s other war; Mali under extreme threat;China special report: challenge of empire, secretive party gamesVenezuela, another term for Chávez? Panama’s M-10 protest against Barro Blanco dam; Spain, a failure of leadership; rise and rise of The Economist;museums, return those objects of art! supplement For democracy; supplement Liège…and more…

(just click on the date above to go though to LMD)

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