I don’t like being suspicious or mistrustful, but there’s a level of credulity which seems more appropriate to children than to adults. All that glitters is not gold – or manganese – we’re told; and it is so. When the nice, friendly man in the pretty blue car offers your seven-year-old candy, and invites her to sit on his pretty blue lap or to go for a ride, how can you blame the open-hearted child who says yes? It’s natural to like and trust those who are kind to us. Who give us things. If anyone’s to blame it’s not the kid. It’s his parents and teachers who should (hopefully, with a modicum of delicacy) have taught the child to be careful of strangers, instructing him to be aware that there are predators out there; seducers who know how to make themselves liked. In several months they find the garbage bag and shallow grave.

My friends will hate me for admitting so, but there are good things happening to help improve our lives, all paid for by the mines – South32. For example: Serious road and sidewalk work, a new, all-weather helipad, as well as parking spots with stripes, donations to the senior center lunch program, scholarships, and other worthwhile stuff. We are talking Big Bucks. About three million dollars, maybe more, up to this point, all given freely to a small and very charming town which isn’t rich, to say the least. A hundred thousand dollars here, a hundred thousand there is very generous, of course, although those numbers do not mean what they might mean to you or me. South32’s initial cost to buy their current property was 1.3 billion dollars, we’re told. And why? To harvest many billions worth of minerals, of course. A billion is a thousand million, in case you forgot.

My friends will hate me for admitting so, but what I’ve seen of South32’s operation is very respectable. If you go up to the mine site on a tour, you’ll be impressed by how well-run it is. There’s nothing messy; nothing out of place. And, except for the somewhat trampled intersection of their driveway with Mowry Road, and twice-daily parade of white trucks, you’d really never know that they were there – a large-scale industrial operation discreetly tucked away and out of sight, at least for now. Even their big parking lot in town, on Harshaw Road, with its large fleet of trucks, is muy neat – which makes it seem quite out of place in this small quirky town.

Whether you trust the mines or not, one thing is sure. Their P.R. staff are geniuses: Large ads in all the local rags, very human photos of working moms in hardhats, and reassuring messages to help us outgrow our mistrust. 

I genuinely hope that South32 sincerely means, as it proclaims, to breach the horrid history of mining everywhere – i.e., just taking what they want – Big Bucks – and then declaring bankruptcy or simply walking off the job, leaving an awful, toxic mess for you and me, the taxpayer, to fix.

Some clever predatory bugs inject their eggs quite painlessly into a living host, where they will incubate for weeks or months. Then, later, when the larvae hatch, they eat their unsuspecting host alive from the inside. How impolite!

A note to you, South32:

Please play it straight and do what’s right, instead of emulating your greedy brethren of the oil industry, who rape the land and walk away, mumbling pious platitudes all the while.