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Some facts I recently dug up about gold mining...

Enormous amounts of earth must be mined to produce a vanishingly small quantity of gold. Here's the data from one viable mine belonging to GFI - Gold Fields International, South African company - at the Tarkwa mine in Ghana.

See http://www.goldfields.co.za/ops_int_tarkwa.php

The data GFI presents on the table at that page shows that in 2011, 117,156 kt of earth (i.e., kilotonnes, meaning 117,165,000 tonnes a.k.a. 117.2 million tonnes) were extracted from the "open pit surface operation" at Tarkwa to gain 21,876 kt of ore (meaning 21,876,000 million tonnes a.k.a. 21.9 million tonnes).

The table helpfully notes that this makes for a "Waste:Ore" ratio of 4.4 metric tonnes of waste for each single metric tonne of ore mined. However, this figure, given in the top section of the table, is not fully relevant to the environmental impact, because the 21.9 million tonnes of "ore" is itself almost entirely waste. The final product in pure gold for the market, as far as I know the only marketable thing produced by this operation, is 22.3 tons of pure gold. That means it takes about a million tonnes of ore to produce one tonne of product.

In giving the figure for the final gold product, however, the table switches to kg and presents it as 22,312 kg (so kt for "Total mined" at the top of the table but kg for "Total Gold Produced" towards the bottom). This convention means both the original "Total mined" and the "Total Gold produced" figures are rendered in the table as five digits, although if compared directly in the same unit of measurement they differ by six digits (a factor of X times 10^6).

Bottom line, the Ghanaian mine produced 22.4 tons of pure gold (also given as 717,000 oz) after digging out 117,000,000 tons of earth, which means 5.4 million tonnes of earth extracted per tonne of gold.

And this doesn't even begin to cover the water and chemicals and energy involved in the separation of the ore from the "waste" earth and the processing of the ore to produce the pure gold. All this to get a shiny, beautifully malleable metal that is already in abundance for its industrial uses; but that remains in far higher demand because some people will always believe it is God's Money and an even larger number persist in the belief that it is the True Symbol of Love.

To sum up, the real waste-to-product ratio in gold mining appears to be 5.4 million:1. This will differ at various locations, but it will still be millions to one. I didn't even believe it, so I invite anyone to check the above arithmetic. For example, am I mistaken in my understanding of the relative meanings of kt and kg as used in the GFI table?

Gold Fields International in the above linked web page wrote:

West Africa is host to world-class gold deposits and is a premier mining destination. The Gold Fields brand is strong in the region and Tarkwa is ideally positioned to fulfil the Gold Fields vision “To be the global leader in sustainable gold mining”.

PRODUCTION: 22,312 kg (717,000 ozs) TOTAL CASH COSTS: US$552/oz

Gold Fields Ghana Limited (GFGL) was incorporated in Ghana in 1993 as the legal entity holding the Tarkwa concession mining rights. Gold Fields Ghana Holdings Limited now holds 90% of the issued shares of GFGL after acquiring the indirect 18.9% of the issued shares belonging to IAMGold and its affiliates. The government of Ghana holds a 10% free carried interest, as required under the mining law of Ghana. The Tarkwa Gold Mine operates under seven mining leases covering a total area of approximately 20,825 hectares.

The Tarkwa Gold Mine is located in southwestern Ghana near the southern end of what is commonly referred to as the Tarkwa Basin, 300 kilometres by road west of Accra, the capital of Ghana, and is easily accessible with an established infrastructure.

The open pit surface operation exploits narrow, tabular auriferous conglomerates similar to those mined in the Witwatersrand Basin of South Africa. Mining is currently taking place from six pits, Pepe, Atuabo, Mantraim, Teberebie, Akontansi and Kottraverchy and the mine utilises a conventional CIL plant as well as a heap leach facility. In the twelve months ending December 2011, Tarkwa produced 717 koz of gold from the milling and heap leach operations at a cash cost of US$552/oz.

Hmm, Tarkwa Basin... isn't "basin" a geographical feature somehow related to water?

A friend added:

Jack, Frontline partnered with the NY Times some time ago and produced a very good series disclosing environmental and political corruption that goes hand-in-hand with this extractive technology.

The six Times articles related to this series had great photos and ran from October 24 to December 30, 2005.

Here's The Frontline home page for this series, Peru, The Curse of Inca Gold, October 2005

From, The Toxic Shimmer of Gold,

"Today most mining operations use a process called heap-leaching, where gold is chemically sifted from huge piles of low-grade ore using a water-based sodium cyanide solution. To get a sense of the scale of the process, at the Yanacocha mine in Peru for example, Newmont Mining must extract and leach approximately 30 tons of dirt and rock to recover just one ounce of gold."

The videos are powerful,

Montesinos's Web, details corruption in print and videos.

What a pleasure to read your thoughts...

Even if they're in the middle of an unrelated monster thread.

Thank you. This is what makes Internet and sometimes DU special.

It's OP worthy and I may repost it elsewhere, with your permission. Why don't we have more genuinely philosophical and thought-provoking threads? You should do that.

I think the general thought is true and I like your phrasing, that the appreciation for aesthetic beauty acts as a form of super-cognition, or intuition. What we feel as beautiful points us to what's actually good, although given all our forms of camouflage, meaning both in nature and even more so among the humans, it would be dangerous as an ironclad rule. Because of this natural tendency for aesthetic beauty to point us to the good, which I think you have correctly identified, beauty is also useful for deception, as seems to have always been understood by actors, artists, church-builders and the more charismatically gifted politicians, as well as assorted sophists and exploiters in all professions and trades. (And let's not even get into sex.)

"Truth is beauty and beauty is truth, that is all ye know, and all ye need to know."

Original article from LA Times:


In major policy shift, scores of FDIC settlements go unannounced

Since the mortgage meltdown, the FDIC has opted to settle cases while helping banks avoid bad press, rather than trumpeting punitive actions as a deterrent to others.

By E. Scott Reckard, Los Angeles Times

4:05 AM PDT, March 11, 2013

Three years ago, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. collected $54 million from Deutsche Bank in a settlement over unsound loans that contributed to a spectacular California bank failure.

The deal might have made big headlines, given that the bad loans contributed to the largest payout in FDIC history, $13 billion. But the government cut a deal with the bank's lawyers to keep it quiet: a "no press release" clause that required the FDIC never to mention the deal "except in response to a specific inquiry."

The FDIC has handled scores of settlements the same way since the mortgage meltdown, a major policy shift from previous crises, when the FDIC trumpeted punitive actions against banks as a deterrent to others.

Since 2007, 471 U.S. banks have failed, nearly depleting the FDIC deposit-insurance fund with $92.5 billion in losses. Rather than sue, the agency has typically preferred to settle for a fraction of the losses while helping the banks avoid bad press.

Read more at link!

For fuck's sake!

Do they pretend the cash from the settlements landed magically in their accounts? Maybe they should launder it through other agencies, or better yet HSBC.

Un-fucking-believable! Non-disclose settlements with criminals!

Hey, market's up for jillionth day in a row. What could ever go wrong again?

I see!

I figure you're right. The image of a crazy person thinking they're Napoleon.

I always thought it was a reference to Napoleon III, who was hoisted into power partly on the strength of popular support among people that Marx (rather contemptuously) called the lumpenproletariat - literally, "proletariat in rags." A general term for street people, non-workers, informal workers and peddlers, hustlers and hookers. Today they'd be called an underclass. Thus, by "You used to be amused / at Napoleon in rags and the language that he used," like the rest of the song, would be about how "you" used to think you were so superior to the people on the street and their uneducated lingo.

It's worse than that! "Meet David S. Cohen of Treasury and Stuart Levey of HSBC"

Meet David S. Cohen of Treasury and Stuart Levey of HSBC - Or Is It the Other Way Around?

Here is a glimpse into the incestuous world of what C. Wright Mills termed the "power elite," where the really key people are the ones who move seamlessly between the "private" and "public" sectors:

1) Since June 2011, the Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence at Treasury has been one David S. Cohen (Yale Law School, 1989). "As Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Cohen leads the Treasury Department’s policy, enforcement, regulatory, and intelligence functions aimed at identifying and disrupting the lines of financial support to international terrorist organizations, proliferators, narcotics traffickers, and other illicit actors posing a threat to our national security. He is also responsible for directing the Department’s efforts to combat money laundering and financial crimes." Since 2009, Cohen had already been Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing.

2) Based on these portfolios, we would rightly expect Mr. Cohen's responsibilities to have included gathering intelligence on the notorious money laundering entity, HSBC, which recently admitted to laundering billions of dollars for the Mexican and Colombian drug cartels and to violating rules on dealings with "terrorist" organizations in a settlement with the Justice Department that absolved all HSBC executives from a criminal investigation (December 2012). http://www.treasury.gov/about/organizational-structure/Pages/cohen-e.aspx

3) David S. Cohen (it's important to distinguish him from other David Cohens of note) also worked for the Treasury in 1999 to 2001, when he "was involved in crafting legislation that formed the basis of Title III of the USA PATRIOT Act, the 2001 update to the Bank Secrecy Act that provided Treasury new tools to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism." Once again, sounds just like HSBC. In between his first stint at Treasury and his current stint at Treasury, Cohen worked seven years for the big DC legal firm Wilmer Hale Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, focusing on "civil and criminal litigation, the defense of regulatory investigations into accounting and financial fraud, and anti-money laundering and sanctions compliance advice for a broad range of financial institutions including banks, broker-dealers, insurance companies, mutual funds and hedge funds." In other words, at Treasury he is supposed to investigate the very same kind of entities that he had spent seven years defending while at Wilmer Hale.

4) The door's been revolving a lot longer than that. In the 1990s, Cohen practiced nine years at DC firm Miller, Cassidy, Larroca & Lewin LLP, specializing in "white collar criminal defense and civil litigation," again working for the kinds of firms he is now supposed to be investigating. Miller Cassidy later merged into an even more ginormous DC lawyer-lobbyist entity, Baker Botts LLP (in which the Baker is none other than former Secretary of State James Baker). While at Miller Cassidy, Cohen would have surely made the acquaintance of another high-powered lawyer working there named Stuart Levey.

So who is Stuart Levey and why do we care?

5) Stuart Levey (Harvard Law School, 1989), worked at Miller Cassidy (later Baker Botts) as a litigation practitioner for 11 years before joining the Justice Department in 2001. In 2004 the Bush government appointed him the first Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence in the US Department of the Treasury, a position in which he served until February 2011 under Presidents Bush and Obama. In other words, Stuart Levey was the almost-direct predecessor to David S. Cohen as the "top cop" at Treasury for money laundering investigations. And this after both had been working at Miller Cassidy for nearly a decade in the 1990s.

5) More about Stuart Levey's intimate connections to both the US Treasury and the Justice Department: "After leaving the Treasury Department, Mr Levey was a Senior Fellow for National Security and Financial Integrity at the Council on Foreign Relations. Prior to his Treasury appointment, Mr Levey served as the Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General at the US Department of Justice, having previously served as an Associate Deputy Attorney General and as the Chief of Staff of the Deputy Attorney General."

6) Where is Stuart Levey today? Why, he's on the HSBC Board of Directors as the Chief Legal Officer of HSBC Holdings plc, the parent company of HSBC operations worldwide. We got the above information about Mr. Levey from his HSBC bio page. http://www.hsbc.com/globals/hsbc-people/senior-managers/stuart-levey There we learned he has been the firm's Chief Legal Officer since January 2012, and thus would have been intimately involved in the crafting of HSBC's December 2012 "Get Out of Jail Free" settlement with the Justice Department, in which intelligence from David S. Cohen's group at Treasury must have played a role (based on Cohen's portfolio, anyway; we are not yet privy to exactly what inside dealings went on in advance of the settlement).

And remember, HSBC's Levey was Cohen's predecessor at his present job as the top money laundering "investigator" at Treasury.

Small world!

I'll be posting the above later today at alternativebanking.nycga.net.


Although... I'm certain...

Like all post-Nixon presidents, he kept his well-advised distance until well after it popped. (Shh! Let me find out what I did from the papers after I did it, okay?) Not that he doesn't have a micromanaging streak - *cough* kill list *cough* - but he combines with a strict adherence to the rule of law as defined in a timely fashion on the fly by his lawyers (and always for progressive reasons, natch). With Nixon it was all so personal!


This is such a good article!

(Take that, Monsanto vultures.)

It will be a shame to watch it be buried under less significant ones. Ah well.

A Tribute to Hugo

May he rest in peace. Viva Venezuela.

Let's look back. And forward.

He is a heroic, world-historical figure. For many reasons, but most memorably because with the reversal of the anti-Chavez coup of 2002, the Venezuelan people and his government broke the pattern of nearly 180 years of bloody US interventions and nearly 60 years of CIA coup-making in Latin America. Along with the Argentinean debt default in the same period, this was a giant step in liberating a continent from the grip of foreign imperialism and from its homegrown oligarchs.

That's big history for you: Do the right thing.

A moment of silence.

Now watch this:
The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (2002) - Chavez: Inside the Coup

One of the most important documentaries of the last 15 years. And probably the most thrilling.

Weekend Edition December 14-16, 2012
An Update on the Social Determinants of Health in Venezuela
The Achievements of Hugo Chavez


While Venezuela’s president Hugo Chávez is fighting for his life in Cuba, the liberal press of both sides of the Atlantic (e.g., El Pais”) has not stopped trashing his government. The significance of his victory (12 points ahead of his contender) has yet to be analysed properly, with evidence. It is remarkable that Chávez would win, sick with cancer, outgunned by the local and international media (think of Syriza’s Greece election) and, rarely acknowledged, an electoral map extremely biased towards the middle and upper classes, with geographical barriers and difficult access to Ids for members of the working classes.

One of the main factors for the popularity of the Chávez Government and its landslide victory in this re-election results of October 2012, is the reduction of poverty, made possible because the government took back control of the national petroleum company PDVSA, and has used the abundant oil revenues, not for benefit of a small class of renters as previous governments had done, but to build needed infrastructure and invest in the social services that Venezuelans so sorely needed. During the last ten years, the government has increased social spending by 60.6%, a total of $772 billion (1).


With regard to these social determinants of health indicators, Venezuela is now the country in the region with the lowest inequality level (measured by the Gini Coefficient) having reduced inequality by 54%, poverty by 44%. Poverty has been reduced from 70.8% (1996) to 21% (2010). And extreme poverty reduced from 40% (1996) to a very low level of 7.3% (2010). About 20 million people have benefited from anti-poverty programs, called “Misiones” (Up to now, 2.1 million elderly people have received old-age pensions – that is 66% of the population while only 387,000 received pensions before the current government.


The changes in Venezuela are not abstract. The government of President Chávez has significantly improved the living conditions of Venezuelans and engaged them in dynamic political participation to achieve it [xiv]. This new model of socialist development has had a phenomenal impact all over Latin America, including Colombia of late, and the progressive left of centre governments that are now the majority in the region see in Venezuela the catalyst that that has brought more democracy, national sovereignty and economic and social progress to the region.[xv] . No amount of neoliberal rhetoric can dispute these facts. Dozens of opinionated experts can go on forever on whether the Bolivarian Revolution is or is not socialist, whether it is revolutionary or reformist (it is likely to be both ), yet at the end of the day these substantial achievements remain. This is what infuriates its opponents the most both inside Venezuela and most notable, from neocolonialist countries. The “objective” and “empiricist” The Economist will not publicize this data, preferring to predict once again the imminent collapse of the Venezuelan economy and El Pais, in Spain, would rather have one of the architects of the Caracazo (the slaughter of 3000 people in Caracas protesting the austerity measures of 1989), the minister of finance of the former government Moises Naim, go on with his anti-Chávez obsession. But none of them can dispute that the UN Human Development Index situates Venezuela in place #61 out of 176 countries having increased 7 places in 10 years.

And that is one more reason why Chavez’s Bolivarian Revolution will survive Venezuela’s Socialist leader.


I'm not idolizing him, trust me. This is truly one case where we might say without hesitation: "The perfect is the enemy of the good."

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