Commentary August 31, 2020

Bad Earth

Every year, humans move more earth and rock than rivers, wind, rain and all other planetary forces combined. And the quantity of rock moved by Anglo American in its century-plus of metal mining completely overwhelms that displaced by a migrant scraping the walls of abandoned mine shafts. But the difference is not just a matter of magnitude.
A boy sitting on a roof
A boy in Orlando West, Soweto shields his eyes from dust from a nearby mine. As South African mines close, they increase pollution from mine dust and acid mine drainage, harming the surrounding majority-black communities that were established near mines to provide cheap labor. Samantha Reinders

Every year, humans move more earth and rock than rivers, wind, rain and all other planetary forces combined. And the quantity of rock moved by Anglo American in its century-plus of metal mining completely overwhelms that displaced by a migrant scraping the walls of abandoned mine shafts. But the difference is not just a matter of magnitude. It’s about the inequities that enabled this difference and continue to be amplified by it. This is especially evident in the use of mine waste as building material, which involves a triple extraction: of minerals, of waste, and of human health.

Read the rest at e-flux