Resources and Readings

Mine-Smelting : Resources and Readings

Prepared for the No Borders Project website by Lin Nelson–August 2016

  1. Resources on Mining/Smelting – organizations & web-networks:
  2. Readings on Mining/Smelting – selected books (page 9)

There are three resource sections:

  1. Key resources on the mining/smelting economy
  2. Emerging resources on sustainability efforts in mining
  3. Community, social movement news and challenges to mining/metals industry
  1. Key resources on the mining/smelting economy: — includes corporate and linked non-governmental resources: associations, networks, market defense/expansion, investing and news services. It’s not always clear how these networks and organizations connect, overlap or interact with each other. Note attention to market/pricing/peak-copper (and other metals), predictions about the market, and geo-politics as impacting mining economy. These sites are not likely to be strong on critical analysis; they represent the business and promotion of the mining/smelting sector. Copper Development Association CDA with the Copper Data Ctr. Part of the Copper Alliance/Intl Copper Association ( or CA “to defend and grow markets for copper… and its contribution to a higher quality of life worldwide”

CDA – Educational/promotional on the wonders of copper. News pieces on copper’s properties and value – art, architecture, structures, energy systems, transport, electrical, piping, etc. .. and as essential metal for health. Profiles of copper’s value and use, from commodities to art.

CA Defending/expanding copper markets. Copper and ICA vital to solving world’s problems – health , energy, climate change. CA programs & initiatives in 60 countries; 26 copper promotion centers. Video “Copper – Infinitely Recyclable”   The Copper Foundation   Same address as ICA, NYC.   Focus: underdevelopment, anti-poverty, econ development, local infrastruture. Copper as essential to public health, infrastructure, electrification. International Copper Study Group (intergovernmental organization), main office in Lisbon Portugal.   “The world of copper” and other background information. Product & trade definitions/information. Your Global Mining Resources. Market watch, “news and intelligence” on mining corporations, jobs, people, forecasts.   “Peak Copper” 2005. Safe Haven is a site for investors…. “preservation of capital.”  Speculation on peak-copper and impact on supply, market amidst changing world economy. “Your source for global mining news”   Provides listings ex. “top 10 copper companies”, market analyses, “mining hall of fame” and forecasts such as…  “Another card up Peru’s sleeve is Southern Copper’s (NYSE: SCCO) controversial $1 billion Tia Maria mine, which is expected to begin production in March 2016.”   “Uncompromising Independence” Industry aligned coverage of developments in mining/smelting.   Global news on mining, smelting, metals, rare earths. Info on junior miners, Mergers & Acquisitions, diversification. Lists conferences and players; key conferences for corporate miners – Toronto, Vancouver, Cape Town   Vital industry news and analyses, from industry perspective. Provides….. “top 10 copper producing countries” and “top 10 copper producing companies” “3 largest copper mines in the world” Offers perspective on “Social License” or SLO (“social license to operate”) or corporate social responsibility:

Value of a mine: 1) amount of resource available; 2) cost of extraction; 3) price of the commodity being mined; and 4) SLO: whether it has community support or social license to operate.   linked to Copper Investing News (Canada focused) Mining & Community concerns.   Search on copper or metal. Also search by company, state or country. “Copper King” or “Dr. Copper” — the predictive value of copper How metal prices are determined, metal types & uses, market predictions, and listings ex. “Top Ten Metal Producers” “Where the World Connects with African Mining”   Major global conference February 2017 “ Based in South Africa, global mining newservice, from corporate/manager point of view. Covers range of metals/minerals, international, issues from beneficiation (treatment of raw material to improve properties in preparation for smelting) to export policies, to labor and issues of exploration (and junior/senior partners). Assesses mineral capacities and assessments/predictions on capacity, peaks, etc. Looks at value chains, value-added, etc. From Creamer Media. Global news/corporate. (subscription/free trial). 24/7 news resource: “The Top Global Mining Stories to the Moment” Mining Business Media is Australian based, with Thompson Reuters international team of mining journalists. Full text available with subscription.

“Driven by the world’s fierce demand for commodities, mining has become, more than ever, as interconnected world industry. Thousands of companies operate across continents and regimes, and their need for news is international.”     Mining Forum, based in Australia Mining experts, companies, brokers, bankers, financiers, investors, mining service industries gather for conferences.   Also

  1. Mining & sustainability/corporate responsibility Inter-relationships around sustainability and CSR (corporate social responsibility). Key concepts and promotionals — “responsible mining assurance”, “local procurement”, “green mining”, “social license” (SL), “social license to operate” (SLO), “mining shared value”, “sharing governance”, “corporate social responsibility” and dealing with the “Resource Curse.” “Resource Crisis” – blog – from Ugo Bardi, author of Extracted: How the Quest for Mineral Wealth is Plundering the Planet Critical exploration of petroleum and mineral economies.   International Council on Mining & Minerals:  Based in London, founded in 2001 to act as a catalyst for performance improvement in the mining and metals industry. Focus on sustainable development and environmental stewardship.

Represents 22 mining & metals companies, 32 national & regional mining associations & global commodity associations. “ICMM was created in response to multi-stakeholder research initiative that examined the role of mining in a sustainable future. The initiative, called the Mining, Minerals & Sustainable Development (MMSD) project, recognized the industry’s potential contributions to society, identified core challenges and established an agenda for implementing change which would become the foundation of ICMM’s mandate. ICMM now serves as an agent for change and continual improvement on issues relating to mining and sustainable development. We require member companies to make a public commitment to improve their sustainability performance and report against their progress on an annual basis. In addition, to augment these efforts, we engage with a broad range of stakeholders (governments, international organizations, communities and indigenous peoples, civil society and academic) to build strategic partnerships.” Five values: (1) care for S&H of workers, contractors, communities and the use of the materials we produce; (2) respect for people, env, host societies; (3) integrity as the basis for engagement w/employees, communities, governments; (4) accountability for commitments; (5) collaboration as important tool.

Publication: “Good Practice Guidance for Mining & Biodiversity” in 2006; other publications such as Annual Review 2013, “Strengthening Relationships with Communities”  Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative “Seeing Results from Natural Resources” Lists compliant countries and companies. Presents requirements for social responsibility code. Transparency = “openness & public disclosure of activities”.  Intergovernmental Forum on Mining, Minerals, Metals & Sustainable Development. 49 member countries (Mexico, Peru are members; US is not). Resources on artisanal mining, community development, contract negotiations, health and safety, environmental impacts, human rights, International Best Practices. Documents such as: “Mining, Minerals, Metals & SD: A Voluntary Partnership for Global Dialogue on Sustainable Mining & Development”; “Better Sourcing Program”   Identifies features …“SL, or community buy in, is valuable not only in an ethical sense or for publicity – it also has a very real and significant financial impact on a mine’s value in many cases today.”  “Mining, Minerals & Sustainable Development” background & publications from the International Institute for Environment & Development.   “Like other parts of the corporate world, companies are more routinely expected to perform to ever higher standards of behaviour, going well beyond achieving the best rate of return for shareholders. They are also increasingly being asked to be more transparent and subject to third-party audit or review. In response, a number of companies, either independently or with actors, are establishing ‘voluntary standards’ that often go beyond any law. But even so, some observers remain suspect that many businesses are merely engaging in public relations exercises and doubt their sincerity. In particular, the industry has been failing to convince some of its constituencies and stakeholders that it necessarily has the ‘social license to operate’ in many areas of the world.” Following the Rio Earth Summit, in 1998, some companies launched the “Global Mining Initiative.” The World Business Council for Sustainable Development commissioned IIED to do this scoping study.   Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Conference on Foreign Direct Investment and the Environment – Lessons to be Learned from the Mining Sector. Statements re: best practices and voluntary commitment. Background documents.  Initiative for Reponsible Mining Assurance, targeted at industrial scale mining, provides a guiding standard, best practices, certification and informational webinars. Formed in 2006, the IRMA stakeholders include NGOs, social justice organizations, labor unions, mining affected communities, mining corporations and downstream users of minerals and metals. There are plans for the launch of an independent third-party assurance system, which will start to be tested in 2017.   Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada — global in scope. Projects a SLO approach; Office of Extractive CSR, “good practices”, etc. .  Check out – corp soc responsibility, transparency, environment, health & safety.   Based at the World Bank, GOXI – Governance for Extractive Industries Program.   Greater accountability & better development outcomes of extractive industries. List of Civil Society representatives.   “Extractive Industries for Sustainable Development” United Nations Development Programme. video profiling UNDP approach: 1 – Legislation, Policy, Planning, 2 – Exploration & Extraction – transparency, env impacts, conflict mgtement; 3 – Prudent Revenue Collection & Mgte – risks of corruption, rent-seeking, gender violence, HIV, etc. 4 – Investments for Human Deveopment.   UNDP offers to support countries in dealing with “Resource Curse” and “Paradox of Plenty”    Green Mining Initiative, Natural Resources Canada. Mining waste, sustainable development, aboriginal participation.     Canadian companies look to buy G&S from suppliers in poor countries “ to prevent hostile relationships with local communities that could delay or disrupt projects.” (   Engineers Without Borders   Canada section   —

MSV: “Mining Shared Value works to strengthen what it means to be a responsible mining company operating in a developing country. To this aim, we focus on helping industry to maximize local procurement of goods and services.”

“An increase in local procurement in developing countries by Canadian mining companies is good for economic and social development, and is good for the Canadian mining industry.”   Buzz on Shared Value in Extractive Industry – audits, CSR, etc.   “Metal Stocks in Society: Scientific Synthesis”   (overview, visuals, graphs on use, re-use, environmental impacts)

  1. Communities and social/eco-justice movements challenging the mining/smelting industry:   This is an essential source on news, organizations and resources regarding communities and social movements that are dealing with the impacts of mining. There is an extensive news archive, organized around key categories – women, workers, climate change, human rights, campaigns around the world and law and legislation. Mines and Communities was launched in 2001 and is guided by the London Mining Declaration (October 2008) which provides a critical view of the mining industry — its operations, financing and impacts – and challenges global financial institutions in their role of uncritical support. M&C invites other NGOs and civil society organizations to join them in their struggle. (linked to mines-and-communities)   Tracking Global Mining Deals, this site provides a database of 900 banks, private funders, insurance companies, etc. that fund the mining industry. See “Mining the Money”, glossary and sources. The Mining Blog offers analyses like “A looming, copper-bottomed threat to communities” (January 2013) on the copper market, speculation, community-based exchange traded funds (ETFs) and the impacts of pushing for unwarranted copper mining expansion.

The Mines-and-Communities network includes organizations/sites such as: Mineral Policy Institute (Australia) Mining Watch (Canada)   Down to Earth (England)   Miners, Minerals and People (India)   Cooperaccion   (Peru) Movement for Justice & Development (Sierra Leone)

Other noted organizations/resources include: (focusing on gold mining worldwide) Groundwork South Africa, environment including energy, mining, environmental health in Sub-Saharan Africa   Global view. Features Top Toxic Threats (lead = #1), Top Toxic Sites – mining in Peru, backyard smelting in Senegal key resource on indigenous land rights struggles. See “Native Resistance to Mining Corporations in Wisconsin” “Holding the Mining Industry to Account” Social movement response to mining/smelting/refining. June 2016 conference.. “Responsible Extractives Summit”… “Oxymoron Appreciation Society: Sick Joke or Serious Indictment of Industry?” Creation of the National Working Group Against Metallic Mining in El Salvador. Information on health impacts, infant mortality in mining areas, water contamination, other impacts. Valuable resource on Mining Law of 1872, reform efforts, water quality, environment and health impacts. 2004 report: “Dirty Metals: Mining, Communities and the Environment” (with section on “The Violence of Metals,” “How Mining Injures Women,” “The Toll on Indigenous People,” “Understanding the Rights of Workers” (report by Earthworks & Oxfam) See “Mining 101” – extensive issue coverage and key links. Search for “Lima Declaration” – report on 2010 gathering and document calling for an end to destructive mining and violation of indigenous peoples’ rights; link to full text of the Declaration. Western Mining Action Network. 100 community-based organizations in the US & Canada dealing with the negative impacts of industrial scale mining. Includes organizations across the states such as Concerned Citizens & Retired Miners (AZ) and Copper Country Alliance (AK). Resources, news, strategies. Social justice movements in Amazon region struggling with the impact of mining corporations’t-capitulate Coverage of the struggle over the Conga Mine, owned by Newmont, one of the country’s most serious conflicts and human rights controversies. Environmental Justice Map – pollution, risks and resistance. Global map includes mining/ores. Connected to the Stop Corporate Impunity Campaign, organizing August 2016 Global Corporations resistance conference. Mining coverage especially in South America and Africa. International Center for Investigative Journalism examines the toll mining takes and community/justice response. Analysis and advocacy with a focus on Australian mining corporations in Africa. Slide/video production. This is a vital network, offering a collection of sites, both corporate and organizations challenging mining corporations. A helpful collection, intended to educate the public about mining finance, operations, political strategies and community conditions and responses. Strategic Corporate Research is based at the Umass Labor Center. Ctr for Public Integrity investigation “Poisoned Places”. This article examines Hayden AZ (Asarco mine/smelter): “In smelter town, decades of dirty air, disease and bureaucratic dawdling” with a focus on tension between EPA and AZ Department of Environmental Quality.   A vital community center in one of the most extensive mining/smelter regions in the US. Founded 20 years ago, the Center is dedicated to educating people about the impacts of a century of mining, with persistent efforts to protect children from lead exposure. International amalgamated unions, including International Metal Federation. United Steelworkers and mineworker unions, representing multiple unions, in different countries, dealing with a range of companies. Focus on working conditions, negotiations, contracts, global labor economy.

  1. Readings on Mining/Smelting — selected books

There is a huge literature on mining/smelting and the resource extraction industry. The history is long and complex, the players are many and the economy of mining/smelting is anxiously watched across the political spectrum. Here are a few titles we’ve found to be informative and intriguing. The authors are not cheerleaders for the extractive industry, but instead look at the industry from a number of critical vantage points. Not covered fully is the extensive literature on the health impacts of mining/smelting; Sullivan’s book is an excellent example of much needed public health analysis.

Ascarza, William (2011). Southeastern Arizona Mining Towns (part of the Images of America series). (Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing)

A great pictorial on one of the most mining-intensive regions on the continent, with depictions of a range of towns and mining operations. From iconic photos of the early days of mining to “mineral shows” to mine-workers operating equipment.

Bardi, Ugo (2013). Extracted: How the Quest for Mineral Wealth is Plundering the Planet. (White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing)

Building on a history of extraction, the author portrays the “the tragedy of the mineral commons”, identifying overuse and environmental impacts. He provides an overview of options – substitution, recycling/reuse, efficiency – and lays out pathways to reversing the impacts of the Anthropocene Age and its metal extraction/use/waste/pollution.

Carter, Bill (2013).   Boom, Bust, Boom: A Story About Copper, The Metal That Runs the World. (Tucson AZ: Schaffner Press)

Journalist Carter writes from the vantage point of someone raising a family in an historic copper town with widespread hazards. He journeys into the world of mining’s mysteries, working to unveil the ownership infrastructure and how corporations romance the communities that live near and work the mines.

Franks, Daniel (2015). Mountain Movers: Mining, Sustainability and the Agents of Change. (London: Earthscan/Routledge)

Franks ( Centre for Social Responsibility of Mining, Queensland, Australia) lays out the Global Mining Initiative, the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and other protocols that have emerged as possible remedies for the hazards and harms of mining/smelting. Schemas of change agents and various proposals and efforts give a sense of how insiders and outsiders in the mining world are dealing with the challenges.

Hart, Matthew (2013) Gold: The Race for the World’s Most Seductive Metal (NY: Simon & Schuster)

“Ore is a human construct, not a natural one. Nature makes the metal. Ore is made by math. The definition of ore is rock that can be mined at a profit.” Hart journeys into the world of gold – the historic exploration and plunder, the environmental degradation, the various players from “illegal miners” to “artisanals” to the World Gold Council, and gold fever’s unequal effects.

Huggard, Christopher & Terrence Humble (2012) Santa Rita Del Cobre: A Copper Mining Community in New Mexico. (Boulder: University Press of Colorado)

Huggard (historian) and Humble (mine mechanic) join forces to tell the story of “the copper century” as experienced by one community. With attention to labor struggles, ethnic segregation and absentee capitalists, they provide a view of life on (and in) the ground, and the impacts of acid mine drainage and airborne metal contamination.

Klucas, Gillian (2004). Leadville: The Struggle to Revive an American Town. Washington: Island Press.

A rare in-depth look into how one iconic western mining town experienced its transition to federal waste-site and clean-up drama. The outsider EPA staffers face resistance and demonization as they step into one of the most notorious post-mining landscapes. Notable is the chapter “Kids First” on the deliberations between agency, corporation, health providers and parents over the threat of lead to children’s well-being.

LeCain, Timothy (2009). Mass Destruction: The Men and Giant Mines That Wired America and Scarred the Planet. (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press)

From the Berkeley Pit in Butte MT to the Bingham Pit in Utah, mining pockmarks the planet, having provided the metal infrastructure for the world as we know it. The author’s detailed analysis of the environmental and health costs is augmented by an excursion into the cultural promotion of mining (“Copper helps freedom ring” campaign) and the sustained appetite for metals around the globe.

MacMillan, Donald (2000). Smoke Wars: Anaconda Copper, Montana Air Pollution, and The Courts, 1890-1920. (Helena MT: Montana Historical Society Press)

Butte (“The Greatest Hill on Earth”) was the site of unprecedented mining, smelting and pollution. MacMillan portrays the farmers whose loss of livestock to smelter smoke provoked them to take up path-breaking litigation against the copper-kings. In the “war of wealth against health” the copper companies asserted “smoke rights.”

Moody, Roger (2007) Rock & Hard Places: The Globalization of Mining. (London: Zed Books)

Editor of the Mines-and-Communities website, Moody brings an international and human rights perspective to his examination. Examining “sustainable mining” and other promises, he lays bare the Resource Curse from Chile to South Africa, profiles the implications for women, workers, indigenous communities and explores resistance movements such as the “No Dirty Gold” campaign.

Morin, Bode (2013). The Legacy of American Copper Smelting: Industrial Heritage Versus Environmental Policy. (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press)

Industrial archaeologist Morin examines the challenges facing smelter communities in Tennessee, Michigan and Montana as they move from high production to shutdown to environmental cleanup through Superfund. He charts the complex local dynamics as communities deal with the environmental health hazards while trying to rebound through heritage projects that are often seen as the sole promise of community survival.

Mumford, Lewis (1963). Technics and Civilization. (NY: Harcourt, Brace & World)

Although not only about mining, this classic treatise on development and economy identifies mining/metal-work as fundamental to the world’s workings – and riven by absentee ownership, hazardous working conditions, the export of profits away from working communities and the curse of “the miners pile” (amassing value for market).

National Academies Press (2005). Superfund and Mining Megasites: Lessons from the Coeur d’Alene River Basin. (Washington DC: National Academies Press)

A federal report on the history, mining operations, contamination and remediation in “the box” (a high hazard area around Kellogg ID), amidst the broader Coeur d’Alene basin stretching from Montana to Spokane WA. Historical profile of a region besieged by lead exposure, with some of the highest blood lead-levels in children ever recorded. Detailed document of health risk assessment, ecological risk, and remediation alternatives.

Perales, Monica (2010). Smeltertown: Making and Remembering a Southwest Border Community. (Chapel Hill NC: University of North Carolina Press).

Not a critique of the mining/smelting industry, but a thoughtful journey into the lives of people whose community was banished and dispersed due to extensive lead exposure. Perales offers an appreciative memory of a complex and vibrant place … “smelter people” who were “100% Mexican.” Perales insightfully balances the serious health risk with the risk of a community’s fracturing and dislocation.

Robbins, William (1994). The Capitalist Transformation of the American West: Colony & Empire. (Lawrence KS: University of Kansas Press)

An examination of the material conditions that allowed for and shaped the west’s economy and political life. Mining is central to this story. The focus on US-Mexican Borderlands offers valuable background to the continuing struggle on the border today.

Robertson, David (2006). Hard as the Rock Itself: Place and Identity in the American Mining Town. (Boulder CO: University of Colorado Press)

Geographer Robertson looks into the meaning of the often forgotten “former mining towns” where the landscapes and the people are neglected, both during mining operations and after. He challenges the disregard often heaped on mining (and post-mining) communities, reminding us that place is meaningful, even when it is found disturbing or repellent by those who don’t live there. The book explores the connections and contrasts between three mining areas – Cokedale, CO; Toluca IL; and Picher in the Tri-State Lead & Zinc Mining District (where Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri meet).

Sullivan, Marianne (2014). Tainted Earth: Smelters, Public Health and the Environment. (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press)

This is an excellent analysis of the public health impacts of the smelting process, as uncovered through a careful analysis of three smelting sites – Tacoma WA, El Paso TX and Bunker Hill/Kellogg ID. Through extensive historical analysis of the public record, Sullivan identifies the often overlooked and taken-for-granted risks (metals, sulfur dioxide) posed to smelterworkers, their families and their communities.

Weston, Julie Whitesel (2009) The Good Times are all Gone Now: Life, Death and Rebirth in an Idaho Mining Town. (Norman OK: University of Oklahoma Press)

This is not an analytic or critical examination, but a personal journey into the meaning of mining for the community that depends on it and then sees it slip away as livelihood and financial support. Silver Valley is left with extensive environmental damage, health risk and a ski-resort promised as an exit strategy for the community’s woes.

Veltmeyer, Henry and James Petras (2014). The New Extractivism: A Post-Neoliberal Development Model or Imperialism of the Twenty-First Century? (London: Zed Books)

With a focus on Latin America, this analysis examines foreign direct investment into resource extraction, the externalization of profit and the negative impacts on workers’ well-being and the environment. Also explored is indigenous/class resistance to the extraction of resources and a critical assessment of “sustainability” initiatives.

Welker, Marina (2014). Enacting the Corporation: An American Mining Firm in Post-Authoritarian Indonesia. (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press)

Based on extensive research at Newmont Mining’s Denver headquarters and its operations in Indonesia, Welker examines the many implications and interpretations of this corporation – as employer, ore producer, promoter of sustainability, environmental threat. A very thoughtful exploration of the evolving Corporate Social Responsibility movement, with a view to how “host communities” experience the corporation.

Writers Project of Montana (Compiled by Workers of the Writers’ Program of the Works Project Administration in the State of Montana (1943, first publication; 1970; 2002 by Riverbend Publishing). Copper Camp: The Lusty Story of Butte, Montana: The Richest Hill on Earth. (Helena MT: Riverbend Publishing)

This collection is focused on stories, offering an ode to the people who worked the mines, not the Copper Kings who owned them. There are selections focusing on labor struggles, especially those that brought mineworkers against mine owners and state power. There are unvarnished depictions of the unparalleled dangers of mining. Also offered – a chronology of political events in one of the most significant and explosive metal-resource-centers in world.

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