World Wide Waste with Gerry McGovern

After The Goldrush

John Carter
July 21, 2023
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After The Goldrush

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Episode shownotes

Ireland is the 13th worst country in the world for biodiversity. We are internationally recognized as an ecological desert. “Ireland is one of the worst places on the entire planet for nature,” according to author Eoghan Daltun. And the vast majority of the damage has been done in the last 50 years. Ireland has a legally binding target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 by 51%. It’s on course to get a 29% reduction. That’s 43% below target. Not to worry, we’re No 1 in the world for data center and mining-friendliness, which will increase pollution even more, with our “practical” environmental regulations and can-do, go-getter attitude.

In this episode, you’ll hear an overview of the mining situation in Ireland from Environmental Justice Network Ireland and the Yes to Life No to Mining representative, Lynda Sullivan. You’ll also hear from Jacintha van Roij, a founder member of Keep Tulla Untouched, a grassroots action group set up in response to the application and granting of a gold prospecting mining license for 52 townlands around Tulla, County Clare.

Episode Transcript

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[00:00:00] Lynda Sullivan: 25% in the north and 28% in the south is already concessioned to mining companies. Rural

[00:00:07] Jacintha van Roij: Ireland is on the chopping block.

[00:00:17] Gerry McGovern: After the Gold Rush, a podcast series with Gerry McGovern about how rural Ireland has been selected as a green sacrifice zone by the global mining industry under the guise of the phony green transition. You'll hear from environmental protectors about what their local communities are doing to protect the environment for future generations to enjoy.

[00:00:42] Gerry McGovern: You'll learn about what we must do now so that we can have a chance of a sustainable Earth for all. Episode 1. Green Sacrifice Zones. Ireland is the 13th worst country in the world for biodiversity. [00:01:00] We are internationally recognised as an ecological desert. Ireland is one of the worst places on the entire planet for nature, according to author Eoin

[00:01:15] Gerry McGovern: Dalton. And the last 50 years. Ireland has a legally binding target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 by 51%. It's on course to get a 29% reduction. That's 43% below target. Not to worry, we're number one in the world for data center and mining industry friendliness, which will increase pollution even more.

[00:01:43] Gerry McGovern: With our practical environmental regulations and can do, go getter attitude. Our deeply cynical, utterly propagandist, North Korean style state policy on mining promises to devastate [00:02:00] nature even more. Leaving mountains of toxic waste that will continue to poison the water, land and air for a thousand years, killing even more birds, bees, butterflies and fish, leaving the worst possible legacy for future generations to try and clean up.

[00:02:20] Gerry McGovern: Quite astonishing, 25% of the total land area of Northern Ireland and 28% of the Republic of Ireland has been given over to mining prospecting, Linda Sullivan will explain. Those areas compare with an estimated 7. 7% coverage of Scotland, 6. 4% of Wales and 0. 2 of 1% of England, according to the Guardian newspaper.

[00:02:50] Gerry McGovern: Wales, a country that has recently had to allocate almost 300 million pounds to deal with old mines polluting rivers, has seemingly [00:03:00] learned some hard lessons. The Republic of Ireland instead has allocated 140 times more of its land to mining prospecting than England. How did we get to this sorry state?

[00:03:15] Gerry McGovern: Irish culture used to deeply respect nature. Thank The Grote Dettkult. That's what it was. We sold our environmental soul to the Grote Dettkult. Can we get it back? Linda Sullivan is first up in this After the Gold Rush series. Linda's a social and environmental justice activist, writer and researcher. She previously worked for human rights organizations in Ireland before spending five years in Latin America, mainly Peru, accompanying Andean communities in their resistance against mega extractive industries.

[00:03:56] Gerry McGovern: Linda's life experience reflects a crucial lesson. [00:04:00] Mining is a global crisis and the only sustainable solution must be global. The communities of the world must unite against the mining oligarchs, otherwise they will divide and conquer as they always seek to do, because as Linda will point out, the ancestors of the mining oligarchs were the slave traders, colonists and imperialists.

[00:04:24] Gerry McGovern: After returning home and working on the issues of climate justice and extractivism with Friends of the Earth Northern Ireland for four years, Linda is now a freelance consultant for the Environmental Justice Network Ireland and the Yes to Life, No to Mining Global Network. Linda will give us some brutal facts about how Ireland is now designated as a green sacrifice zone for the mining industry and about the giant environmental con that is the so called green energy transition.

[00:04:58] Gerry McGovern: The island

[00:04:58] Lynda Sullivan: of Ireland is [00:05:00] actually currently among like both North and South, um, in the top three of countries most attractive to mining companies, um, in terms of their policies. So the South's number one and the North's number three. So in the whole world, that's pretty shocking. I suppose that means like the policies are very laissez faire in terms of regulation.

[00:05:22] Lynda Sullivan: There are very little checks done on companies before they're given licenses. The state really is hugely facilitative in terms of putting like a lot of resources in the mining, which means that the mining industry has this wealth of knowledge and resources sitting there to exploit, you know, so we have like the Geological Survey Ireland and the Geological Survey Northern Ireland are government funded, but like quasi independent bodies.

[00:05:53] Lynda Sullivan: And what, what they've been doing. It's mapping the geology of the island to [00:06:00] make that available for mining companies and to try to attract companies to Ireland. So GS& I have finished the mapping in the north and the border regions have finished and then GS& I are currently finishing in the south. That makes, according to them, Ireland the most detailed map country in the world, in terms of geology.

[00:06:20] Lynda Sullivan: And, you know, they're doing that to draw the mining companies in and, and it's worked, you know, like they, they take this information and they go to these, like, mining conferences, like there's a main one is called PDAC and happens once a year in Canada. And basically the global mining industry gather there and.

[00:06:42] Lynda Sullivan: JSNI, GSI, and the Irish governments, both North and South, basically sell Ireland off to these companies, you know, like their, their, their presentation and their, they had a whole day, like, um, Ireland is open for business. Along with that, they then sell off [00:07:00] these prospecting licenses. So it's like 25% in the north and 28% in the south is already concessioned to mining companies.

[00:07:08] Lynda Sullivan: And because of this detailed map that I mentioned, like in the north, the Department of Economy have said that could rise to 70%, 70% of the land. In the north of Ireland, you'd be concession and mining companies and suppose we'll know how much after the map in the south is finished, how much of that. So both governments see the future of Ireland deeply invested in mining, which, which means that they're willing to sacrifice mostly rural communities to this very devastating, very, very contaminating, very dangerous industry.

[00:07:39] Lynda Sullivan: It has been like up to now done in a very like kind of coat and dagger sort of way, you know, and especially like, like, there's very little opportunity for communities to say no prospecting licenses, for example, like, so whenever they're for sale. Communities don't have any right to object at that stage that they're actually, you know, [00:08:00] foresee where they live.

[00:08:01] Lynda Sullivan: Um, and then it's only whenever there's a company who applies, then the government has to do this consultation process, which is very minimal and you're only allowed. The respond in terms of prospecting, you can't say anything about mining, even though mining will surely like mining comes after. And once a company is in the door, it's very, very hard to get them out.

[00:08:25] Lynda Sullivan: We have a right to talk about mining. At the start of the process, we should talk about it before these companies are even in the room, there should be a proper, like, fully participative land planning before these multinationals are allowed, because when they're in the room, then the power imbalance happens.

[00:08:44] Lynda Sullivan: This is huge, you know, the amount of resources they can throw at it. It's done in a way to keep communities in the dark for as long as possible. There's no, there's no, um, official way that they could like, object to the [00:09:00] project and for that to be heard really, it's like they're working on the assumption that these projects are going ahead and it's just how can we get these communities to agree to it or to go along with it.

[00:09:11] Lynda Sullivan: Or to cause as little trouble as possible. Once a company is in the door, they could sue governments, um, who then don't allow them to carry through in the mining for loss of potential earnings. Green growth is an oxymoron, it's greenwashing. They say that mining can be one of the main, like a solution to the climate crisis.

[00:09:33] Lynda Sullivan: We can mine our way out of the climate crisis because for renewables, we need these transition minerals or so called critical minerals and metals. There's policies popping up all over the place at EU level, Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, you know, international level for like, how can we source these transition or critical minerals, but really like, um, this is.

[00:09:57] Lynda Sullivan: continuing to force mining on [00:10:00] the communities and ecosystems in a system that is hugely wasteful, hugely exploitative. You know, the amount of minerals and metals that go to waste in the UK, 2 million lithium batteries are disposed of every week. Indisposable vapes. No, so, so lithium is a supposed critical mineral, but it's being like thrown into these disposable batteries.

[00:10:25] Lynda Sullivan: Like that isn't need, um, need is very different. And need can be satisfied with the so called urban mining, which is like recycling of minerals and metals already extracted. Mining in Ireland has a long history. Britain, as a coloniser, exploited Irish mines for centuries. Colonialism really was the mass exploitation of people and of the natural world, mostly by states, but also by the church and the crown.

[00:10:57] Lynda Sullivan: So really that exploitation and [00:11:00] this extractive model continues to this day, but it's just like the new States are the multinational companies. And so it's still mass exploitation from the global South mass extraction to satisfy the system of overconsumption that we have in rich nations in the global North.

[00:11:19] Lynda Sullivan: So I suppose mining is a form of neocolonialism and it also stops like countries in the global south from recovering from centuries and centuries of exploitation. Cause it continues to destroy the foundations of those societies. You know, like a, a healthy environment and a healthy political system. You know, the amount of corruption that happens in the mining industry.

[00:11:43] Lynda Sullivan: There are like loads of abandoned mines that continue to contaminate the mining waste that's there and it turns to dust and then, you know, it blows across the land, it, um, or there's floods in the mines and it's allowed to enter the water [00:12:00] table and, you know, certain area that continues to be devastated for decades and the companies are long gone.

[00:12:05] Lynda Sullivan: And it's up to the state then to pick up the bill for trying to clean the place up. So it just shows that companies aren't responsible after the exploitation is finished. You know, they, they up and leave or they like, you know, they go bankrupt or they pass it on to another company who says, well, it wasn't us who made that agreement.

[00:12:26] Lynda Sullivan: The best defense is to stop them getting in in the first place. I think organizing early also gives you a head start on like community cohesion because like part of the strategy of the mining companies like a global riddle book is to get in and divide the community as early as possible. Pay off some people to do some jobs for them or you know just be like not.

[00:12:55] Lynda Sullivan: They have others and that causes the division and also the like fund [00:13:00] like social programs and there's a whole array of propaganda that they throw in there. So I think organizing early creates that foundation that can resist that. And it can also be a way of like raising awareness of what the reality is of what mining brings.

[00:13:18] Lynda Sullivan: Now with global communications and internet, we can have very real examples of how mining has devastated communities across the globe. You know, I'm part of a global network, it's the Life Note of Mining. And, you know, we have these emblematic cases that showcase how mining destroys, but then how people can resist.

[00:13:37] Lynda Sullivan: So I think learning this early as well. You know, it just kind of tootles you up for the fight ahead since we have our sparrings and the Greencastle People's Office and Cameo and Park and, and on all these, um, groups that have formed like local people that are getting so much of their spare time. to organize, uh, to protect, um, their [00:14:00] community, to protect their land and their water and their air and protect all this for future generations.

[00:14:05] Lynda Sullivan: So that's a major success story. Another success I would see would be the formation of the All Island Network, communities against the injustice of mining, so CAIM, and CAIM also means in Irish like a circle of protection, and like that's what we feel it is, like a circle of protection for communities. On the front lines of, of this mining threat and it brings together communities from Wicklow, from Tipperary, from Clare, um, Leitrim, Cavan and Monaghan, and the Sparren Mountains in Eisean.

[00:14:36] Lynda Sullivan: All these communities are supporting each other, sharing knowledge, sharing tactics, sharing support, and it's, it's been a real enriching experience. for everybody and hopefully it can go from strength to strength. Obviously the mining laws, both North and South, are usually facilitative to the mining companies.

[00:14:54] Lynda Sullivan: So, you know, so they need to be reformed. The granting of licenses should [00:15:00] include strong environmental assessments, you know, so strategic environmental assessments which aren't currently carried out, um, and it hasn't been carried out on the mining policies either, but also human rights assessments. The actual process of communities being able to say no, you know, that, that needs to be reformed as well.

[00:15:18] Lynda Sullivan: Like, so at the minute, these consultations, the way communities are consulted, it's hugely superficial and just tick box exercises. So one of those transformative solutions that I would see would be like the rights of nature and the rights of communities. So that's basically given the natural environment.

[00:15:34] Lynda Sullivan: Um, given the living world, well, the same rights as corporations, because corporations are already considered as persons extending human rights to include the natural world. Just bringing it back to what the economy actually means, which is like, you know, supporting us rather than exploiting us. Well, I think the state in its current form can't make the necessary changes because it's so tied in the industry and it's putting the interests of industry above [00:16:00] that of its people, you know?

[00:16:01] Lynda Sullivan: So, I think, like, Uh, real change comes from the grassroots and movements are built from the grassroots. And then those movements hopefully can, you know, change, like change upward. But the most important change comes from communities, comes from the bottom. You know, so I suppose that's why, like, I would have a much stronger faith in local politics, you know, at like council level, like.

[00:16:26] Lynda Sullivan: Especially like we've been working in the north with councils with rights of nature motions and know some activists from like anti mining campaigns and anti fracking campaigns have got elected as independents in local councils and have been making great changes. I think like the states are just so captured that we can't wait on this kind of, we can't wait on them, you know, like hopefully they will follow.

[00:16:51] Lynda Sullivan: One great thing that, uh, one great thing. Economic initiative that I love is like community wealth building, and that's like building this, this [00:17:00] base of cooperatives that feed in the, uh, like they, like, so the state institutions, such as like the health service or the education board or whatever, become the anchor institutions.

[00:17:11] Lynda Sullivan: And then, but they then buy what they need or their services from the co ops.

[00:17:18] Gerry McGovern: Do Irish people know all this that Linda has just told us? Personally, even though I consider myself fairly well read in environmental issues, I had no idea until I talked to Linda and others for this podcast series that Ireland was so aggressively courting mining companies.

[00:17:39] Gerry McGovern: Going off to mining conferences and bragging about our pragmatic environmental regulations, are we now? Aggressively selling ourselves to mining companies that have the most odious reputations internationally for corruption, pollution and worse. Selling Ireland off to some of the worst [00:18:00] characters imaginable.

[00:18:01] Gerry McGovern: Are Irish people aware of this? Privatising our minerals and socialising the resulting toxic waste dumps? The mining oligarchs that the Irish state are so super eager to lure to this once ecologically beautiful Ireland are a dodgy crew if there ever was one. The vast majority of the 250 assessed mine sites across 53 countries cannot demonstrate that they are informing and engaging with host communities and workers on basic risk factors such as environmental impacts, safety issues or grievances.

[00:18:43] Gerry McGovern: The 2022 Responsible Mining Foundation Report states As you'll hear from environmental protector after protector in this series, the Irish state is doing everything in its power to keep the true intent [00:19:00] of its mining strategy secret, to ride where possible under the banner of the so called green transition, and to make mining seem innocent, sustainable and wonderful for the environment.

[00:19:15] Gerry McGovern: You can do something to help. Tell your mother, father, brothers, sisters, uncles, cousins, friends, workmates. Spread the news about the green sacrifice zone that the Irish state intends to turn rural Ireland into under the guise of jobs and progress. Linda also covered the horrendous pollution from mining, and you'll hear in a later episode of After the Cold Rush from mining expert Pietro Jarre, who explains why, for every tonne of mined material, there is often 99 tonnes more of toxic waste, how this waste lasts 1, [00:20:00] 000 years, and how the mining companies are never going ever responsible for the long term management of this waste.

[00:20:09] Gerry McGovern: There's no such thing as sustainable mining. That's some joke. Greed for growth. That's what's driving the decision making process in Ireland. Linda hints at larger issues at play too, driven by the Ukraine war, such as mineral security for Europe, and to achieve this mineral security there must be green sacrifice zones.

[00:20:35] Gerry McGovern: Have decisions been made outside Ireland to designate rural Ireland as a green sacrifice zone? The solution? First off, communities must get organised as early as possible, Linda advises. Only community and local action can stop mining, and that must happen before the mining [00:21:00] company gets established.

[00:21:01] Gerry McGovern: Giant came, Ireland's Communities Against the Injustice of Mining. Check out the organisation Yes to Life, No to Mining. The overall solution? We must reduce consumption by at least 40% from today's levels. As you'll hear from ecological economist Caroline White in a later episode. This is totally doable, although it requires a huge cultural shift.

[00:21:34] Gerry McGovern: Where the dominant drivers become repair, reuse, and reduction, we must reduce mining. In 1970, we mined 25 billion tons of material from the earth. In 2020, just 50 years later, we mined 100 billion ton. By 2050 to achieve the [00:22:00] greenwashing green transition, we will need to mine 170 billion tons. That's the mass of amount Everest every single year, and growing life on Earth simply cannot survive the great devouring of the greed transition up next.

[00:22:25] Gerry McGovern: is Jacinta Van Roche, who exposes how secretive and underhanded the Irish state is about its gung ho mining policy. And how so much prospecting is for gold, which isn't even a critical mineral for the so called renewable energy transition. She also brilliantly dissects the whole green, clean, renewable energy sham.

[00:22:52] Gerry McGovern: We don't have an energy production crisis. We have an energy consumption crisis. We cannot [00:23:00] have a sustainable world with unsustainable consumption. Every year. We consume, on average, 1. 7 Earths of resources. With rich countries, like Ireland, consuming 4 Earths of resources a year, those 3 extra Earths are withdrawn from the reserves of the Bank of Nature.

[00:23:26] Gerry McGovern: We are exhausting those reserves and bankrupting nature. We can have an environment without an economy. We can't have an economy without an environment. The environment is the only true thing that's too big to fail. We must slow down. Jacinta is a founder member of Keep Tulla Untouched, a grassroots action group set up in response to the [00:24:00] application and granting of a gold prospecting mining license for 52 townlands around Tulla, County Clare.

[00:24:09] Gerry McGovern: With her partner, Thomas, she runs Awen na Ulffeya, an off grid homestead and centre for community resilience and self sustained living. A company called Minko

[00:24:22] Jacintha van Roij: was granted prospecting licences for an area of 52 townlands in and around Tulloch, County Clare, for gold, silver, barides and base metals. There's many areas already held by another company called Hannan Metals, and they've been prospecting around the majority of the surface of East Clare and Limerick for a while now.

[00:24:47] Jacintha van Roij: They're setting up what they refer to on their website as the global frontier of zinc mining, and the supposed flagship is just outside Ennis. in Kilbricken. So we'd be about [00:25:00] 20 kilometers from that up towards Scariff. There was um, one advertisement put in an online newspaper declaring this application for this prospecting license.

[00:25:12] Jacintha van Roij: No one actually noticed until 3rd of January 2022. It felt like very underhand. When we got in touch with the County Council, they felt quite offended that nobody in the Council knew that it wasn't widely advertised, that it surely wasn't in the Pear Champion. The deadline for submissions was already nearly coming up, there was only days left in it, and so the County Council got an emergency motion together and requested an extension of that deadline.

[00:25:40] Jacintha van Roij: Uh, I think the Clare County Council discussed the idea of a moratorium on prospecting license for the, for the county until they knew more about it. Nevertheless, the year went by and then in February we were told that the license wasn't in fact granted. In the meantime then, we created our grassroots action group called Keep Tala Untouched.

[00:25:58] Jacintha van Roij: Contacting the [00:26:00] department, the only message really that came through was, you know, a prospecting license means nothing. Um, it's just a desktop study. It's just soil samples. Prospecting is sometimes damaging to the environment as well. And that's completely overlooked. When you hear the information from the department about that, they're like, it's totally innocent, it's a desktop study.

[00:26:21] Jacintha van Roij: When you hear about the communities in Ireland dealing with holes being dug down into the ground and chemicals being put in them and then the holes are not closed up and it's seeping out, we're just trying to be vigilant and looking to see if we can see any prospecting happening, you know? Sending out walking groups to keep an eye out for unusual activity on the land that isn't, that doesn't look like farming.

[00:26:43] Jacintha van Roij: We're hearing from our friends in Litram, we're hearing from our friends in Tyrone, and in Alma, and other places that there is actually, uh, quite an interest in gold mining in Ireland at the moment. And gold mining is so completely unnecessary. I mean, lots of other mining that is planned [00:27:00] for Ireland appears to have some kind of role in the green transition.

[00:27:03] Jacintha van Roij: And that was difficult. It was actually really difficult on a personal level, um, caused a lot of grief to consider that when we stop burning fossil fuels and rely on green energy, we're actually just shifting to extractivism. So our area, particularly, we're a Hen, Harrier and Merlin SBA. They are protected where we live, um, which covers about, uh, maybe a fifth or more of the prospecting licensed area.

[00:27:29] Jacintha van Roij: There is also a national heritage site, and there's a protected bog in the area, so it's very shocking to hear that anyone would even remotely consider such industry where we live. People are also not aware that if you have a mine in one place, the air and water pollution could be, you know, 60 kilometers down the road.

[00:27:51] Jacintha van Roij: We just find that people don't know about it. They just don't know about it. Our own household, we're dependent on surface water. [00:28:00] We are an off grid homestead and we try to live a sustainable lifestyle. So we drink from the well and our house is gravity fed from a stream. As you may know, gold mining is one of the most polluting mining types because it uses cyanide as a processing agent.

[00:28:15] Jacintha van Roij: And that cyanide then is left in pools on top of land. You can't clean that ever, so it's just left there to seep into the groundwater. We contacted the National Parks and Wildlife Services and they were not informed about any such development being even remotely considered in the county. When Leitrim created submissions for their county development plans and managed to include within the Leitrim plan the restriction of cyanide, mercury and sulfuric acid as processing agents within the county, then we were inspired to kind of create that in Clare as well.

[00:28:51] Jacintha van Roij: Mercury and cyanide and sulfuric acid are prohibited as for use as a processing agent within the county of Clare now as well. [00:29:00] The county councils are very keen to protect the groundwater and the air and the biodiversity and the health of its people living here. The council is very willing to, um, the help there, you know, the, the, I guess there's a sense of shock that the government would, um, would be willing to, to sacrifice the natural beauty and the health of these, um, outer regions of, of Ireland and Europe, in fact, that are known for their scenery and it seems like one of the last unspoiled or.

[00:29:29] Jacintha van Roij: While vestiges of not just Ireland, but even Europe are being targeted for profits because that's what gold mining is. It has no room in the green transition. It doesn't, it's not for batteries or the creation of wind turbines or any of that. It's simply for the markets. and for decadent objects like gold rings or teeth.

[00:29:51] Jacintha van Roij: Why now, when the climate is struggling, we all want to do our bit. We need to change to improve our relationship with Mother Earth and [00:30:00] stop ripping out her resources to, to create a more decadent life. And then we start creating gold mines in places of beauty and where wildlife is protected. It makes no sense at all.

[00:30:10] Jacintha van Roij: When we first contacted the department and we were on to Senator Roisin Garvey, who has done a lot for our county, I suppose, um, we just kept being repeated, you know, like, uh, it's just, uh, it's, it's policy. Uh, the minister can't even prevent it. Uh, and we were like, if Minister Ryan can't stop these licenses from being issued when he has to sign for them, like, who can?

[00:30:32] Jacintha van Roij: Who is then in charge of the government, like, because can we ever ask that person to reason with us, you know? When we first made a public Zoom meeting, I contacted Minko, and when you type in their name in Google, you get an address for Dalradian Gold Mine. But then I sent them a message, asking them to speak and clarify their position for the purposes of our public Zoom meeting.

[00:30:54] Jacintha van Roij: And they were more outraged because they were like, Minko Limited has nothing to do with Dalradian. [00:31:00] So to me that felt so clear that, you know, they are, they are a subsidiary of them. It's quite clear when you Google it, they're all connected. We already know from communities in Oma and other places that the community does not benefit, that there's very little jobs for local people.

[00:31:16] Jacintha van Roij: The only thing you stand to gain as a community is that your water is destroyed for all eternity. There is no transparency about the risks that are being put to a community. There is no input. I can't talk to the company. I can't talk to the government. The council can't talk to the government. There's no one here explaining anything.

[00:31:33] Jacintha van Roij: We hear nothing. Everything we've learned we had to uncover ourselves. And also, there seems to be an onus on me as a resident of Ireland to start proving things, you know? I'm just a concerned person living in an area of beauty and protection. So I do know the County Council is very happy that the public has been informing them, because they don't get information from anywhere.

[00:31:54] Jacintha van Roij: And it just seems that rural Ireland is on the chopping block. We're worried constantly the government is [00:32:00] putting out this idea that our mines are safe and clean and wonderful. When a disaster happens, no one cleans it up. I literally heard the minister say that in my presence, you know, there will be a mine.

[00:32:11] Jacintha van Roij: And when the minister stood in Ennis talking about wind energy and wave energy and he, and he literally saying there will be a mine and all the industry, um, that will follow that. And he was like, people of the Green Party members sitting there applauding him. And you're wondering, what happened to the Green Party?

[00:32:29] Jacintha van Roij: Kept saying it, we need to stop burning things. And it's like, okay, so we stop burning things, but we put cyanide in our water instead. Like, seriously, what is the story here? But he was definitely selling the message that we better prepare for industry in this part of the world. So now that we do not get our energy from Russia anymore, it's been clear Europe wants to create its own energy system within its own borders.

[00:32:53] Jacintha van Roij: Where do you hear it on the television? Where do people say it open and wide? Green transition is reliant [00:33:00] on extractivism. Massive holes in the ground with poison in your water. In the next 30 years or so, we're going to do as much mining as we've done in the last 10, 000 years. And that's just frightening.

[00:33:12] Jacintha van Roij: And why, when the minister stood up talking about the way forward, did he never, did he never use the word reuse or recycle or reduce? You know, not once did he say reduce. Any of the civil servants I've dealt with myself over this, they were completely not clued in about this at all. The policy of the government of Ireland currently is that three men go into a room and make a decision.

[00:33:34] Jacintha van Roij: I'm really daunted for the Irish environment, the future of Ireland, because people seem to find it difficult to hear or believe. that the government is not feeding them the exact story of what's planned and probably has been planned for a very long time so that we can be on the big boy table on an economic level.

[00:33:54] Jacintha van Roij: It's not about creating energy for the people who live in Ireland. It's for these data [00:34:00] centers. We had amber alerts. from the grid this last year. And then you hear on the radio that the main priority is to keep the data centers going and that they take from the domestic grid to feed the companies.

[00:34:11] Jacintha van Roij: Because can you imagine the embarrassment on a global level if multinationals were out of electricity. Sure, if we don't do it in Ireland, then they'll do it in other countries. It's such a nonsense, and we're not going to stop mining over in other countries. They're just expanding the industry. It's not like we'll take a hit for the environment and somewhere else we'll be fine.

[00:34:30] Jacintha van Roij: That's another form of greenwashing, you know? So it's just steeped in little lives. and propaganda every step of the way. And once it's done, it's done, and you can't go back. And our children just won't have a healthy environment. And that's why the heart rate does be up. And you know, the children are scared for the future.

[00:34:49] Jacintha van Roij: Literally, we have, we have children at home who find it hard to sleep sometimes when they hear their parents talking about mining. And they're struggling, you know, to think that the beauty they're growing up in, it [00:35:00] may be under threat. And it's hard to explain to the youngsters. Uh, when you, when they love the environment, but you think that an EPA would put their foot down and say, you know, we don't recommend that kind of industry in the West of Ireland.

[00:35:11] Jacintha van Roij: It, it doesn't make sense. So the fact that they're not doing that, not in our area or anywhere else is indicatant, of course, that, that they're facilitating. Um, I'd love to see the opposite proven, but I'm not going to hold my breath. We're, we're stretched, you know, we're not, we're not resourced to be dealing with this, but you're finding that if you just let it happen, no one's coming to tell us about it, at no level.

[00:35:34] Jacintha van Roij: Is there any, um, sharing in the decision making process? And, and even then when I, when we talk to our friends in Tyrone, there's actually, you know, the element of where, where we've heard from them that they're being threatened and criminalized. Trying to stand up for their community is, um, criminalized.

[00:35:53] Jacintha van Roij: And it's really, yeah, it's not, not a very bright outlook for us as a community.

[00:35:59] Gerry McGovern: Mining [00:36:00] propaganda, misinformation, no information. The greenwashing of Irish mining policy involves telling us that we're going to do all this mining for the good of the Earth and for the health and happiness of future generations.

[00:36:19] Gerry McGovern: Sustainable and sustainability are mentioned more than 100 times in the Irish mining policy document. The words environmental and environment are used over 150 times, which accounts for almost 1% of the total words used in a 22, 000 word document. Circularity is mentioned 40 times in a mining document.

[00:36:50] Gerry McGovern: Circularity. The very total, absolute, total, absolute opposite of circularity. is [00:37:00] mining. Mining is spelled L I N E A R. Even if we were to accept for a moment the renewable energy propaganda for mining, it still doesn't justify gold mining because gold is most Definitely not one of the identified critical minerals needed for renewable energies like solar, wind turbines or electric cars.

[00:37:30] Gerry McGovern: Don't forget the names Minkow and Dalradian, both gold speculators. We'll hear more about them in our next episode from Emma Caron and Fidelma O'Kane. As Jacinta mentioned, she got in touch with Dalradian and was told that there was no connection with Dalradian and Minko. We'll see about that. Another thing that struck me while listening to Jacinta and others was that the local councils are not being [00:38:00] informed either.

[00:38:01] Gerry McGovern: They are being kept out of the loop, and so too are many other relevant state organizations with responsibility for the environment, as well as many civil servants and even politicians. It seems like there is a tight, secretive group driving mining policy. Who pulls their strings. Mining is, after all, notorious for regulatory capture.

[00:38:29] Gerry McGovern: Where Big Mining writes the policy for governments. I really do advise you to have a read of Big Mining's Irish Mining Policy document. Sorry, the Irish State's Mining Policy. It is so bad, so propagandist, so absurd. So bizarrely, 40 shades of greenwashing. It takes the Irish public for being so dumb, so dim, so disinterested.

[00:38:58] Gerry McGovern: Are we? Are we [00:39:00] really this disinterested? And when people do wake up a bit and finally find some official to ask, they're cynically told. Sure, it's just prospecting. Nothing to worry your little head about. Oh, they've started mining and polluting your groundwater for a thousand years. Now, who would have ever guessed that the next step after prospecting is mining?

[00:39:26] Gerry McGovern: In 2001, in an Irish Supreme Court case concerning mining in Crowpatrick in County Mayo, a senior officer from the Department of Energy was quoted as saying, The holder of a prospecting license does not have a guarantee of obtaining a mining license in respect to the prospective mine. Nevertheless, if it is proven that there are reserves there, there is a high likelihood of the mine being granted to the holder of the [00:40:00] license.

[00:40:00] Gerry McGovern: As the saying goes, they're not prospecting for the good of their health and for sure not for the good of the environment. Another important point from Jacinta, that we will keep returning to, is that renewable energy is no solution if we keep on consuming and wasting like we currently do. We must reduce consumption.

[00:40:24] Gerry McGovern: Renewable energy is only partly renewable. It's infrastructure and equipment require iron. Aluminium, copper, lithium, rare earths and multiple other non renewable metals. To get these materials we must mine and we must cause mountains of toxic waste every year. No environment can survive that relentless extractivism.

[00:40:54] Gerry McGovern: This is why we don't just have a climate crisis. We have a water crisis, [00:41:00] a soil crisis, a biodiversity crisis, a chemical crisis, a plastic crisis. Because we are using vastly too much of the Earth's materials and turning them into toxic waste. We have moved from consumers to devourers. This is the age of the great devouring.

[00:41:25] Gerry McGovern: 60% of Irish birds have been devoured by our progress since 1970. 60% in just 50 years. We have crossed at least six of the nine boundaries within which human life on earth will still be possible for future generations. These boundaries are number one climate heating. Global temperatures are poised to cross the critical 1.

[00:41:57] Gerry McGovern: 5 Celsius mark. The [00:42:00] scientific consensus is that beyond that point, catastrophic and potentially irreversible impacts are likely. Number two. Biodiversity. There has been a 60% decline globally in biodiversity in just 50 years. Number three. Land use. Soil degradation and desertification are rampant. Number four.

[00:42:30] Gerry McGovern: Novel entities such as nanoplastics are proliferating. Number five. Bio geochemical flows such as nitrogen and phosphorus are in deluge. Number six. Fresh water change. We are running out of fresh water. We have a global water crisis and mining creates massive quantities of polluted water. We've pumped [00:43:00] so much groundwater that we've nudged the earth's spin.

[00:43:05] Gerry McGovern: The global urban population facing water scarcity is projected to potentially double from 930 million in 2016 to between 1. 7 and 2. 4 Billion people in 2050, according to the UN Ireland, despite the fact that we get so much rain is not immune to this crisis due to years of mismanagement. By 2019, there were just 20 Irish rivers in pristine condition down from 575 in the 1980s.

[00:43:49] Gerry McGovern: That's a 97% decline. Like so many other environmental issues, the European Union has had to take Ireland to court [00:44:00] to try and stop us polluting our water. In a future episode, you will hear from Pietro Driar, an environmental engineer with 30 years experience dealing with mining waste. He will explain how mining destroys the water table.

[00:44:17] Gerry McGovern: Fidelmo Cain from The Sperms, Eddie Mitchell from Leitrim, Anthony McNulty from Wicklow will all talk of their well founded fears for local water. And they are absolutely right to be afraid. Wherever mining goes, water suffers through use and pollution. It is not possible to mine without damaging groundwater.

[00:44:44] Gerry McGovern: And usually that damage will last 1, 000 years or more. Big mining is the worst possible ancestor. It leaves a terrible legacy for future generations to clean up. And it knows [00:45:00] this, and it doesn't care. It will push every limit possible in pursuit of a fast buck. How surreal has life become when the leader of the Irish Green Party, the minister responsible for mining, gets up on a podium in Clare and tells the audience that there will be a mine.

[00:45:22] Gerry McGovern: There will be heavy industry in Clare. In some of the last unspoiled areas of nature. And he is cheered and clapped by his Green Party members. Why? Well, one reason is that the Irish Green Party is terrified of telling the Irish people the hard truth, that we must reduce consumption to have any hope of survival.

[00:45:50] Gerry McGovern: Not without reason, they feel the Irish people would punish them politically if they told them the cold, brutal truth. [00:46:00] They don't believe we Irish are willing to make any meaningful sacrifices. Are they right? Consider that in 2023, 7 of the top 10 selling cars in Ireland will be planet destroying SUVs or crossovers.

[00:46:20] Gerry McGovern: In Ireland, we've become very greedy for materials and for the vanity, arrogance and wastefulness of modern living. No sane, self interested politician will tell us this, of course. It's our planet. Is rapidly approaching an environmental apocalypse. We are the last generation who can do something meaningful about it.

[00:46:47] Gerry McGovern: It's never been more important to bear witness, to speak truth to power. To speak up and speak out and get organized. Of course, this will be hard [00:47:00] in this twisted world. Few groups are more maligned and hated than environmentalists. One of the most dangerous professions in the world. In Northern Ireland, as we'll hear from Fidelma O'Kane in the next episode, the police and courts are criminalising dissent.

[00:47:22] Gerry McGovern: It's all part of big mining's cruel, Machiavellian, long used, highly successful playbook. They use the exact same tactics all over the world. First, they try and bribe and buy the social license. And if that doesn't work, they use state agents to intimidate, physically attack, and criminalize environmental protectors.

[00:47:51] Gerry McGovern: Those who want clean water. We'll get a water cannon, a rubber bullet, or worse. And with the [00:48:00] greed transition, expect all of this violence to increase tenfold. We must organize at a local level. Local councils are key. Jacinta mentions how councils in Leitrim, Clare, and elsewhere are banning the use of cyanide and mercury, which are needed for the processing of gold.

[00:48:24] Gerry McGovern: Communities must get organised, and in the next episode we'll hear from Emma Karen, also based in Clare, and Fidelmo Kane from the Save Our Sperms group in Tyrone and Derry. These brave and determined women are being good ancestors. They need support. Lots of it. Get active. Organise locally. The scientists are telling us every day, we are the last generation who can truly do something to stop this livable environment tipping over [00:49:00] and collapsing.

[00:49:01] Gerry McGovern: We must act now.

[00:49:11] Gerry McGovern: Thanks for listening to After the Gold Rush, a podcast series about how rural Ireland has been selected as a green sacrifice zone by the global mining industry. And what local communities can do about it. Please get active and spread the word.

John Carter
Tech Vlogger & YouTuber

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