Big business and the mountain environment: Focus on mining
That the mountain environment is fragile is nothing new; and, that mountains in many nations are inhabited by the often habitually poor and politically weak is also unsurprising. Despite these apparently negative factors mountains are resource rich - they are cultural and spiritual icons, they are tourism magnets, they are potentially rich sources of energy, they produce food, they often contain rich mineral deposits, and they perform key ecosystem process functions. But, if mountains are so resource rich then why are the people often so poor? This is another question but it does have a relationship to the issues associated with big business in the mountain environment.
In this brief article I examine some aspects of mining in the mountain environment. Mining was chosen because it potentially has the greatest direct impacts on the mountain environment and because I am aware of positive international initiatives to mitigate the adverse effects of mining, and because there are many known exceptions to these initiatives. Mining was also chosen because several of the World's biggest mining companies are either based in the Australasia Pacific subregion of the Asia Pacific Mountain Network and/or they are mining in the mountain environments of this area. The objectives of this paper are to:
- outline the nature of the 'problem'
- briefly review potential role and impact of mining in mountains
- identify some areas of polarity views
- identify and provide a focus for some pressure point policy areas
- recommend some ways of improving mining practice and how networking may assist.