Who’s sure all that glitters is gold?

Riding the bus from the “before” site in Akeym toward the working mine in Ahafo. After meeting, hugging, and looking in the eyes of the people in the surrounding villages, there’s a lot of reflection. There are human beings here. Students are sharing experiences and stories about them.

We have new relationships, and that changes things. Discussions have shifted from theories about relocation operations to relocating people. People we now know.

palmoilwomanTheir lives will be turned upside down if the mine opens. For good (residents have high hopes for jobs and some have even higher hopes for big returns on their land), for bad (students reported hearing from mothers that a mine will bring people from totally different cultures to their tight-knit towns), and indifferent (a cook in the Newmont encampment told me that she’d be OK with a mine opening because they’ll finally put a bus route through her town).

A student in a rare moment of doubt tells me “Hard to believe all this is for gold. I mean, its not like it’s a critical resource for human survival.” I immediately thought of gaudy jewelry. Glitter.

Before you posit that gold is a luxury not worthy of the impact it takes to produce it, consider gold’s many uses. And gold (and its value) lasts. It might very well be…well…sustainable.

As one expert puts it: “gold is also nearly indestructible; it does not disappear through corrosion as iron does, does not vanish into smoke in a fire, and is not dissolved or ruined by water, including salt water.”

ghanavilliage_1And as a Newmont exec put it: “Gold is the only thing of value that, for the most part, is still around. Very little gold disappears.” It’s reused and recycled.

I also considered that my knee jerk reaction to gold was ethnocentric. Certainly for many peoples around the world, it’s as central to their culture as food. Marriage ceremonies. Religion.

ghanavilliage_2Plenty of controversy surrounding gold. But one thing’s not controversial: it sure ain’t going anywhere.

Seems to me the real question is, how will we decide to go about getting it?