Mines, Factories and the Cost of Asian Growth

Investors breathed a sigh of relief when Indonesia dismissed charges against Newmont Mining, a U.S. firm accused of dumping mercury and arsenic into Buyat Bay that locals say causes skin rashes and tumors. But numerous tests found pollution within “normal” levels there, the BBC reports. In Vietnam, rivers are “choking” on industrial waste, Edie News Center reports. Pollution from rapid growth is creating “dead” areas with no plants or animals, where water supplies are “not at all suitable” for domestic use or agriculture. China admitted that pollution is a “severe threat” to its food supply as well.

Mining in South Africa: Apartheid’s Legacy

Two Italian companies are suing South Africa over a law that requires firms to sell to black investors to redress abuses of black laborers under the apartheid system. The companies say that their purchase of granite operations there occurred in 1994, after the fall of apartheid. The legacy of institutionalized racism has also taken a particularly bitter turn in the struggle over South Africa’s diamond mines, where the ethnically mixed residents of the diamond-rich Richtersvelders province are enraged by a government deal to sell mine holdings there to de Beers. The land, which was appropriated by the state in the 1920s, is claimed by residents in lieu of a $26 million settlement. But South Africa’s public enterprises minister says his primary concern is the well-being of the government-owned Alexkor mining company.