Image for Snapshot: A few weeks in the world of mining


At least five people have died and more than 30 were injured in clashes between police and anti-mining demonstrators in southern Peru, hospital officials say.

Violence in the Puno region started when about 1,000 people were prevented from breaching a security fence around the international airport in Juliaca.

The protest was part of a two-day strike over a silver-mining contract given to a Canadian corporation.

The government cancelled the project as the protests were going on.

Demonstrators feared that it would increase pollution, while bringing few benefits to the local population.

Locals v multinationals

Flights were cancelled during the protest, stranding hundreds of tourists who had been visiting the town on the shores of the world’s highest navigable lake, Lake Titicaca.

The protesters attempted to storm Juliaca airport twice.

They later attacked a police station in the nearby town of Azangaro, Interior Minister Miguel Hidalgo said, adding that police there were in a “difficult situation”.

The BBC’s Dan Collyns in Lima says the Puno region on the border with Bolivia has been in the grip of a generalised protest against all mining activity for more than a month.

In May, indigenous Aymara protesters blocked roads between the two countries for three weeks.

The disputes over natural resources pit poor locals against multinational companies, our correspondent says.

The social conflicts have come to characterise the outgoing government of President Alan Garcia, with critics saying he often took the side of the large companies, he adds.

Incoming President Ollanta Humala also has promised to bring an end to such disputes.

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Concerns about the protection of sacred Aboriginal sites could sink plans to develop a massive iron ore deposit on the Northern Territory side of the Gulf of Carpentaria.Two mining companies want to build a pipeline to take iron ore to Maria Island, about 30 kilometres off the mainland coast.

But traditional owners of the Limmen Bight area say a pipeline could damage sacred areas and hunting grounds.

They say they are not against mining but traditional owner Samuel Evans says the companies should transport the iron ore to Darwin instead.

“The mine can go ahead as long as they transport their stuff back to Darwin,” he said. “Either rail it or truck it.”

“We are not anti-mining.

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A coalition-dominated Senate inquiry has slammed the Federal Government’s proposed mining tax, describing it as unfair and fiscally irresponsible.

WA Liberal Senator and the committee’s chairman, Mathias Cormann, has outlined its findings on the minerals resource rent tax at a mining forum in Perth.

The inquiry found the tax had been developed through an improper process and would reduce Australia’s international competitiveness.

It also found it would create a $19 billion black hole in the federal budget.

Senator Cormann says the tax is highly flawed.

“It should be scrapped and of course the Government should start from scratch with a genuine process, one that is open, inclusive and transparent and one which includes all stake-holders, including State and Territory Governments as part of the process,” he said.

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Three years ago mining giant Rio Tinto was saddled with a $40 billion debt after its ill-fated purchase of aluminium giant Alcan, just before the global financial crisis hit and floored commodity prices.

Now as the global recovery gains steam, copper and iron ore prices are booming and Rio Tinto’s annual net profit has almost tripled from nearly $5 billion in 2009 to $14.2 billion last year.

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West Africa

The world’s insatiable thirst for gold is driving more and more of West Africa’s poorest workers underground to seek their fortunes.

The abandoned Komabangou mine in Niger is the sight of a growing illegal gold rush, but as the BBC’s Bilkisu Labaran reports, the work is always dangerous and - more often than not - fruitless.

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Second death sentence after Inner Mongolia unrest
A court in China has sentenced a coalmine worker to death for killing a protester, in an incident that fuelled Inner Mongolia’s worst unrest in years.

Sun Shuning was found guilty of deliberately hitting a man with his forklift truck during a protest last month over pollution from a coal mine.

Earlier this month, another truck driver was sentenced to death for killing an ethnic Mongolian herder.

The herder’s death sparked protests across the northern Chinese region.

The herder, named Mergen, was with about 20 other protesters at the time of his death as he tried to stop the coal truck driving across pastureland.

Mergen was run over and dragged nearly 150m (490ft) before he died, officials said.

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Mining venture threatens ancient Afghan Buddhist site

Ten years ago the Taliban blew up Afghanistan’s ancient Buddhas of Bamiyan, provoking international outrage.

Now the country’s rich heritage is facing a new threat.

A Chinese mining venture has set its sights on Mes Aynak, in Logar province, a short helicopter ride from Kabul.

The site was was once an al-Qaeda training camp, but is also home to an astonishing discovery; a Buddhist monastery more than 1,400 years old.

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