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Under Left and Right-Wing Leaders, the Amazon Has Burned. Can Latin America Reject Oil, Ranching, and Mining?

By: 
Alexander Zaitchik

The chapter in Latin American history that opened in 1998 with celebrations in Venezuela has ended with a coup and violence in Bolivia. As with all tidal waves, the “pink tide” recedes to reveal a terrain transformed. The left movement landscape that produced variously striped socialist governments in a dozen countries is fractured and disillusioned. Central and South America face a resurgent right and the return of austerity, often through a scrim of tear gas. This state of disarray also marks the continent’s literal terrain: the forests and mountains cleared and ripped open, their minerals and hydrocarbons sent to port and shipped abroad in the name of a socialist project whose achievements have proven fragile, temporary, and superficial.  Trying to maintain a “green” version of global consumer society could lead to a scramble for rare metals to make previous waves of extractivism look gentle by comparison.

The Coup in Bolivia Has Everything to Do With the Screen You’re Using to Read This

By: 
Vijay Prashad

When you look at your computer screen, or the screen on your smartphone or the screen of your television set, it is a liquid crystal display (LCD). An important component of the LCD screen is indium, a rare metallic element that is processed out of zinc concentrate.

The two largest sources of indium can be found in eastern Canada (Mount Pleasant) and in Bolivia (Malku Khota). Canada’s deposits have the potential to produce 38.5 tons of indium per year, while Bolivia’s considerable mines would be able to produce 80 tons per year.

Between the Devil and the Green New Deal

By: 
JASPER BERNES

We cannot legislate and spend our way out of catastrophic global warming.

...nearly every renewable energy source depends upon non-renewable and frequently hard-to-access minerals: solar panels use indium, turbines use neodymium, batteries use lithium, and all require kilotons of steel, tin, silver, and copper. The renewable-energy supply chain is a complicated hopscotch around the periodic table and around the world. To make a high-capacity solar panel, one might need copper (atomic number 29) from Chile, indium (49) from Australia, gallium (31) from China, and selenium (34) from Germany. Many of the most efficient, direct-drive wind turbines require a couple pounds of the rare-earth metal neodymium, and there’s 140 pounds of lithium in each Tesla.  Energy is never “clean,”

...the Green New Deal has to generate growth and reduce emissions. The problem is that growth and emissions are, by almost every measure, profoundly correlated.

Given current technology, there is no possibility to continue using more energy per person, more land per person, more more per person.

Sooner or later, we have to stop economic growth — and we’ll be better for it

By: 
Richard Heinberg

We’ve gotten so accustomed to growth that governments, corporations and banks now depend on it. It’s no exaggeration to say that we’re collectively addicted to growth.  The end of growth will come one day, perhaps very soon, whether we’re ready or not. If we plan for and manage it, we could well wind up with greater well-being.

Digging Free of Poverty

By: 
Thea Riofrancos

On March 8, 2012, a few hundred marchers set out from Pangui, Ecuador, a town in the southeastern Amazon, near the construction site of the massive, open-pit Mirador Mine. Just days earlier, a consortium of Chinese state-owned companies had signed a contract to exploit the mine’s copper reserves, the first agreement of its kind in the country’s history.

The demonstrators zigzagged through the southern Andes, where more mines are planned throughout the highland wetlands, which supply water to rural farmers and urban consumers. Reinforcements from the northern Amazon joined the march along the way, intentionally traversing the route of crude oil that has for decades flowed through notoriously faulty pipelines. After a seven-hundred-kilometer trek, on foot and in unwieldy caravans, the two-week long March for Water, Life, and the Dignity of Peoples reached its end in Quito, where the state coffers, voters, and armed forces form the complex of economic incentives, democratic legitimacy, and military repression that activists contend keeps the country’s extractive model in motion.

Canada in Zambia

By: 
Yves Engler

While few Canadians could find Zambia on a map, the Great White North has significant influence over the southern African nation.

A big beneficiary of internationally sponsored neoliberal reforms, a Vancouver firm is the largest foreign investor in the landlocked country of 16 million.

First Quantum Minerals (FQM) has been embroiled in various ecological, labour and tax controversies in the copper rich nation over the past decade. At the end of last year First Quantum was sued for US$1.4 billion by Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines Investment Holdings (ZCCM-IH), a state entity with minority stakes in most of the country’s mining firms. The statement of claim against First Quantum listed improper borrowing and a massive tax liability.

By Blood and Fire Mining and Militarization in the Ecuadorian Amazon

By: 
Jake Ling

Before dawn on the Dec. 21, 2016, dozens of police raided the headquarters of the Shuar Federation (FISCH) in the Ecuadorian Amazon and arbitrarily detained its president, Agustin Wachapá. The indigenous leader was thrown to the ground and repeatedly stamped on and ridiculed beneath the boots of police in front of his wife. The police then razed the Shuar Federation’s office—turning over furniture and carrying away computers. According to the indigenous leader's wife, her husband was taken away without any kind of explanation. An arrest warrant for Wachapá was never presented.  

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