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Customer Review

on April 4, 2012
Dirty Money: The True Cost of Australia's Mineral Boom
Greed, Pollution and Murder
by Matthew Benns

"Dirty Money" is a litany of Australian mining sins from 1960 to 2012. From Lithgow to The Congo, local revolution to bribery and a train derailment, it is more than "Australia's Mineral Boom" as it covers Australian companies operating in 17 countries and includes foreign companies within Australia. Despite the "Greed, Pollution and Murder" headline, the book does not stretch to include murder, but a rough count gives 28 alleged sins over 46 events including dumping, pollution, finance, illegal phosphate import, inadequate compensation, hostile takeover, lobbying methods, political donations, and wheat for oil in Iraq.

Other than the Eureka Stockade in 1854 and the Kalgoorlie race riots of 1934, there was an alleged dumping of drums of PCB's from Lithgow in 1960, and a train derailment spilling sodium cyanide at Condoblin NSW in 1992. The "murders" presumably refer to the local revolutions entangling Anvil Mining at Kilwa in The Congo in 2004 re military use of company trucks and the OK Tedi mine at Boganville New Guinea from 1980. However, the Trafigura event in Lagos, Nigeria is actually a foreign company in a foreign country. For that matter, Anvil Mining is headquartered in Montreal Canada and listed on both the Toronto Stock Exchange and the ASX. The 2010 court case was in Montreal as a Canadian company. And the "Exploitation licenses" issued in Mongolia since 2006 are presumably Exploration licenses.

By recording these events, "Dirty Money" raises the issues of "limits to growth", development v's environment, operating standards and laws - local or Australian - in overseas operations, and responsibility including that of minority joint partners. As the majority of events are post-2000 these are current issues. New Hunter Valley coal mines, increased LNG exports through The Great Barrier Reef from Gladstone and fracking methods for coal seam gas are examples. Surprisingly, the Santos 18% minority interest in the Sidoarjo mud flow in East Java, Indonesia since May 2006 does not get a mention.

Clearly mining and industry standards are a vital concern to be highlighted to all Australians but hopefully we have come some distance from Mark Twain's quote: "A mine is a hole in the ground with a liar on top".

Malcolm Cameron
5 April 2012
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