Mining and globalization


Over the last century, the world’s population has multiplied by four. Together, we put the ecosystem Earth under enormous pressure. This becomes clear not only from the increasing temperatures on our planet, but also from the growing scarcity in natural resources and energy. The geopolitical powers are calculating along, as they want to ensure themselves as quickly as possible of access to the remaining natural resources which are necessary to satisfy their hunger for energy and materials. The increasing scarcity and costs of resources and energy, such as minerals, metals, petroleum and gas, cause geopolitical commotion and a new boom in the extractive industry sector.

Between 1999 and 2006, the average raw material price of metals has multiplied by three. Since 2005, the uranium price has multiplied by six and the copper price has doubled. Never before, the future looked so bright in the eyes of the big mining companies. The net gains of the mining industry have increased exponentially from 5 billion dollars in 2002 to 45 billion dollars in 2006.

In the course of the last ten years, almost all necessary conditions have been realized for a fast territorial and economical (re)colonization of the South (or ‘second goldrush’). In their role of colonisers, the western nation-states have been substituted by economic entities, especially multinational enterprises.

The term ‘globalisation’ is used to refer to the increasing worldwide integration through economical interactions, technological innovations, cultural influences and political structures. The neo-liberal economical model also seduces national states in the South to welcome direct investments of western enterprises. This often happens in the name of ‘a fair competition thanks to free trade’, or through the discourse that only foreign capital, technology and an export-oriented economy can ensure these states to recover their economies.

Politically, free trade has been made possible by free trade agreements, with the support of e.g. the World Trade Organisation, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Also economically, important changes have taken place: the international trade of goods has been facilitated and capital to finance large-scale investments has become easier to find. Regarding infrastructure and reliability, states in the South have realized significant improvements, while the wages, however, remain extremely low. The increase in prices of natural resources, and the struggle for concessions which accompanies it, cause for a struggle in which -sadly enough- also human lives are taken.

Access to agricultural lands still is the only sustainable source of income and food to millions of farmers today. Therefore, CATAPA wants to take part in the (pacifistic) struggle to make the charge against this alarming evolution an international issue.