The Chairman of a famous mining company sent me a useful drawing of an urban landscape with houses, roads, vehicles and people all labelled with metals and minerals in daily use. Copper water piping, platinum fuel cells, aluminium wheels, silver in LEDs, steel in bridges, chrome drinks cans, gold jewellery and so on.
Extracting these precious components from the earth is a risky and destructive business. Standards of health and safety underground and awareness of the environment on the surface are improving.
As we saw from Brazil in January there is still a very long way to go not least in the management of waste or ‘tailings’. Once again a dam intended to hold back iron ore sludge failed, killing an estimated 300 people.
Now, led by the Church of England, investors are aiming to insist that companies be accountable for the proper maintenance, design and building of Tailing Storage Facilities. This is a collaborative effort by shareholders, local communities including churches, managers, Boards, and governments.
There will be an opportunity to reflect on this at the Clergy study morning later this month.
‘The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein’ Psalm 24:1 I hope there will be a growing awareness of the hidden costs of our consumption and a greater appreciation of the financial investment, engineering ingenuity and sacrificial labour that provides for our daily needs and wants.