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(en) France, Alternative Libertaire AL #256 (Dec) - Mediacoop: "There is a real economic interest to companies that will exploit these mines" (fr, it, pt) [machine translation]

Date Mon, 11 Jan 2016 13:20:26 +0200

Mediacoop is a new Scop Auvergne. It aims to disseminate on its website documentaries and articles that provide more detailed information than the mass media. After his first documentary, which is set in a day care writing workshop with SDF Clermont-Ferrand, MediaCoop is currently conducting a documentary about the re-opening of mines in France. Aware of the environmental impacts of mining drifts (or extractivism) without limits or controls, we decided to ask them about their research. ---- How did you come to work on reopening of mines? ---- In national meetings free media in Meymac (Corrèze) that took place last July, we met with the group Stop Mines 23. They told us of a project to open a gold mine in Creuse and invited us in No Land Mines Festival. We met the activists of the collective and farmers who refuse mining on their lands.

The topic has challenged us, but we tried to start our work without a priori actually is consumed in France many ores mined in countries of the third world, often in appalling conditions. We considered that, after all, extract ore in France, this might be an opportunity to do things more healthily. As in our research, we decided to adopt a truly committed angle: own mines do not exist.

Why reopen the mines in France?

In 2013, Arnaud Montebourg launched the idea to reopen the mines. The idea was to revive the industry, to obtain autonomy from our mineral needs. Add to that the side made in France so dear to Montebourg. It is then that Macron has taken over arguing particularly on the aspect of "clean" of these mines.

This was followed by the granting of PER (exclusive research license) in forty places in France in Creuse, in Ariège, in Britain and elsewhere, but also in primary forests of Guyana. One reason for the mines stop was the lack of profitability: the mineral prices were low and the labor required numerous. Today prices have risen and the work is much more mechanized. So there is a real economic interest to companies that will exploit these mines. In contrast, benefits to the community are low; eg for 1 kilo of gold extracted (30,000 euros at current prices), only 70 euros will be donated to the State. Moreover once the mine operation is complete, it is the State which is in charge of clean-up work.

Which commodities sought?

For now we only investigated on gold extraction projects and tungsten. Gold is mainly used to make jewelry, shiny, and ingots. The share "useful", reserved for the industry is very low. Tungsten is a very hard ore. It is used particularly in the armaments industry (tank armor). Or, more comical, to strengthen mining drills heads. Full circle. Ariege, Salau mine, closed in 1986 and reopened the project, tungsten mined for export to Russia.

What are the problems that these mines pose?

Problems relating to health and environmental impacts. This is one of the presence of asbestos in the mine Salau which led to its closure. Many miners fell ill. Asbestos is contained in the rock and it seems impossible not to release extracting tungsten. Also sterile (extractions waste) are polluted; not a blade of grass grows around. Processing tungsten products are chemicals which everyone ignores the composition: we know that it is blue, that's pretty much it.

In addition, two-thirds of the available ore were extracted before it closed. If it is estimated reopening its operations to five years. Is it worth the shot to continue to destroy this site for a short period? The gold mine Salsigne near Carcassone, closed in 2004. Today, it is prohibited for growers to sell fruit and vegetables produced in the Orbiel valley and children to play with Snails and earth, because of arsenic pollution! The irony is that most of the places affected by these projects are wonderful places and classified Natura 2000.

Who are the companies that buy these exploration permits?

The two main companies are obtained PER Variscan Mines (Australia) and Cominor (Canada). These are fairly small companies. They are funded mainly by multinationals who see the interest of advancing masked: it is not we hear about them during anti-extractive struggles. Practices and Variscan Cominor are at best dubious. They ask for PER including in places where there is little ore for more money from their funders. Variscan France is managed by Michel Bonnemaison, also owns the E-mining company. It supports the work of geologists at the University of Orleans. These geologists are then commissioned to look for spots "favorable" and give credit to Variscan to its funders and the state.

How do the local people?

Variscan and Cominor adopt a division strategy. They stigmatize "anti-primitivists all" (to diagram) and insist on the revitalization of the territory: three covered over at the inn the corner of employment, benefits to the community. In rural areas it does not need more to bring out the old quarrels, stories of the neighborhood, and everything crystallizes around the mining project. Opponents of Salau mine face a strong hostility of the pro-mining and public meetings were stormy. In the Creuse, the collective Stop Mines 23 was formed around a core of young ecologists fairly politicized. They are fun and educational activities on the market. It works a lot, but so far they have received relatively little support for politicized militant networks Limousin.

When will the documentary?

The hope is for the month of March. In any case it will be good for spring 2016. Meanwhile Episode 0 is available on our website and in particular the festival speaks No Land Mines.

Interview by Eric (AL Auvergne)

Sites to see: www.mediacoop.fr, www.stopmines23.fr

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