The following is a guest post by Beth Shaw.
Any multi-billion dollar business that depends on mining diamonds, silver and gold from the Earth is going to get pressure from environmental activists. After all, harvesting and refining precious gems and materials is the cornerstone of their business. Such is the case of Tiffany & Co, one of the largest high-end diamond retailers in the world.
Apparently Tiffany has answered the environmentalists pressure by joining their cause.
But now Tiffany has started to put money and its public prestige into the effort to stop development of the proposed Pebble Mine, which is located two hundred miles southwest of Anchorage in the Bristol Bay area. Tiffany is one of the sponsors of a “roadshow” put on by “Save Bristol Bay.”
The roadshow consists of public screenings in six Western cities (Seattle, Portland, Corvallis, San Francisco, Santa Fe, and Denver) in October and a private screening in New York City on November 1st of a propaganda film that claims that the Pebble Mine would harm or even destroy Bristol Bay’s wild salmon fishery.
This charge would be extremely worrying if there were any chance that the mine would pollute the rivers, because the Bristol Bay watershed is the largest sockeye fishery in the world and has big runs of several other varieties of salmon. If this were 1911 or even 1961, that would be a legitimate concern. But in 2011, federal environmental controls are so strict that the water that new mines put back into rivers is cleaner than before the water was taken out of the river.
Tiffany & Co. expresses genuine concern for the environment on their website. In their statement they state they will raise ‘our voice to publicly oppose new mine developments that threaten places of high environmental and cultural value.’ This could be the hook that drove Tiffany to raise their voice against Pebble Mine. I’m sure the company is completely sincere in their concerns for the environment. After all, if there were no mines, there would be no Tiffany.
The Pebble Mine Project sits on top of one of the world’s largest copper and gold deposits in the world. They have been subjected to literally years of permitting processes and regulatory delays. They have spent millions in setting up environmental safeguards and guarantees. Yet Tiffany & Co conduct their mining operations in Botswana and other third world countries. To their credit they have made an effort to see that their operations are in countries like Botswana, one of the less corrupt countries in Africa, to ensure any profit from their operations are not used in conflicts between waring factions. Still the regulations and controls of a mine in the United States will undoubtedly be much less ‘dirty gold’ than any mined in other more remote and less regulated, parts of the world.
So why go after Pebble Mine and other mining interests in the United States while mining in Africa? Is it a matter of ‘out of sight, out of mind’? You know, get your gold, just don’t get it in my back-yard – oh, or my favorite fishing spot! Or, even more cynical, is it a matter of understanding that neither the Native Alaskans who are out of work because the Pebble Mine Project can’t be built due to government regulations nor the Botswanans who are mining and refining their diamonds are likely to ever buy an engagement ring from Tiffany. Whereas the wealthy environmental elite most certainly will be their customers. Not hard to make that choice, is it? Business is business.
I’m sure their intentions are good, but meanwhile American jobs are lost and being outsourced to Africa and our dependence on foreign resources continues to grow.
A kiss on the hand of the environmental may be awful nice, just get that ice in Africa, or else no dice.
Resourceful Earth News