Tuesday, 23 August 2011

"Will the gold mines kill us before they save us?" Parts 2 and 3 of the cyanide story.

On Thursday I gave you a link to Part 1 of Steve Davies' account of the cyanide spill at Djibo dam in northern Burkina Faso by a truck on its way to a nearby gold mine.

He has now posted Part 2 and Part 3. In Part 2, Steve says:
"I will go all Erin Brockovich and tackle the question of corporate responsibility – in a word, blame... There is no use crying over spilled milk, but spilled cyanide is worth crying, tweeting, blogging and if necessary shouting from the rooftops about – if it means it doesn’t happen again."
Steve picks up on the claims of the mining company Avocet/SMB/Inata that they are "in no way contractually responsible for the delivery of cyanide" and that this was the responsability of Samsung, the delivery company. Steve acknowledges the contractual limitations but rightly claims that "Avocet Mining do have wider moral obligations to the people who live in the Djibo region", and that this includes taking responsibility for the Samsung trucks that are serving their mining business.

In a time when Avocet has reported it has tripled its pre-tax profits to $33.4 million in 2010, and now that gold has hit a record high of $1,900/oz, it is indeed worth calling Avocet to take responsibility for the impact of its highly profitable business on one of the poorest communities in the world:
  • Avocet are not signatories to the "Cyanide Code", which would make them responsible for how they acquire the cyanide. Joining the code, or even considering alternatives to cyanide would be a necessary step.
  • Samsung inexplicably blame "unexpected road conditions" for the spill. As Steve points out, these conditions are not unexpected - they have been like that for years! In addition, Inata acknowledge there have been "two earlier incidents where cyanide trucks turned over due to driver error with SAMSUNG". Given this appalling history, the investment in tarmacking the road to Djibo, and in improving Inata's supply transport would seem to be a priority.
In Part 3, Steve has taken a selection of comments from news forums in Burkina Faso where locals have been commenting on the cyanide scandal, and translated them into English. These are well worth reading, to gain an idea of the strength of local feeling about the mining company. Go and have a look.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Mining company cyanide accident in Burkina Faso

On 29 July, Steve Davies reports, a truck carrying 40 tons of cyanide to a gold mine in the north of Burkina Faso, overturned and fell into the dam at Djibo. Some of the cyanide spilled out into the water, that is used by local people and animals.

We're not dead yet.
"We haven’t been told anything – but we’re still here, we’re not dead yet." This was the commentary of one local on the incident.

Fortunately, it seems indeed that no-one has died yet. Steve reports the official mine director's report as saying:
"...there is some probability that small amounts of cyanide were released to the environment. However, in that strong sunlight contributes towards the rapid breakdown of cyanide, and that the rain storm of 1st August will have had a beneficial diluting effect, the danger now posed by this event continues to diminish."
Nevertheless, tough questions need to be asked of AVOCET mining company, SAMSUNG (Korea) and VEHRAD TRANSPORT (Ghana), and Steve will be asking them. You can read part 1 of the story at his blog here.

Mining companies have a poor reputation when it comes to their relationship with communities in less developed companies, and it is right that they should be held to account. Please help us raise awareness of this story by posting a link on your blog or on Facebook or Twitter. Thank you.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Well, that wasn't so bad...

So, I did finish the Hermitage Harriers 10k at Whitwick, Leics. It was a hard run - the course was quite a hilly one:
But I took it gently, because of my knee, which was still feeling weak after hurting it on the London race last month, and I completed the course in about 59 mins, 30 secs, without doing further damage.

So far I have raised about £1,955 from the Whitwick race, and about £7,500 so far. Half of all money raised will go towards the Gorom-Gorom school building project, and the rest will go towards our other work of poverty relief, church planting, and community development with the Acacia Partnership Trust in Burkina Faso.

Just one race left - the Cardiff one - to sponsor me for that one, and help us bring God's blessing to Burkina Faso, please follow this link to the "FasoFive-O" page:

Thank you!

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Why I am dreading this Sunday

This Sunday is the fourth of my five "Faso Five-O" 10k races to raise funds to help us bring God's blessing to Burkina. I will be running in the Hermitage Harriers 10k, and you can sponsor me here. As you know, there is a "50" theme to my runs, with both me and Burkina celbrating 50 years. So I was pleased that my number for the Whitwick race is the number 50!

Having never run a road race before this series of runs, I am finding it hard going, but it has been encouraging at the same time. So why am I dreading this one? For three reasons:

Firstly, during the last race down in London, I hurt my knee, so am wary in case I do the same this time.

Secondly, due to my trip to Burkina Faso last month, I have also lost two weeks training, and am feeling terribly unfit.

And thirdly: my previous 10ks have been very large and fun public races, with thousands of people running, including giraffes, cavemen, and Darth Vader. This one is a serious-looking running club, with maybe 200 people. Most of them are a "runner's build" and look as though they are aiming at under 45 mins, whereas I am more of a "sitter's build" and will be thrilled if I finish in under an hour. I am certainly not aiming to beat my last time of 54-and-a-half minutes - I'll be happy just to finish in one piece.

All this means I could be finishing last, a good 10 minutes after everyone else. Still, as Lynne says, even if it happens, it will only be my pride that is bruised, and that's no bad thing. The main thing is that I am raising money to help build the school in Gorom-Gorom, and to enable the church in Burkina to bring God's love in meaningful ways to the communities there, through our charity, the Acacia Partnership Trust.

So if you would like to encourage me in this race, please feel free to sponsor me by going to http://www.justgiving.com/fasofiveo-Midlands and by coming along to cheer on number 50.

Thank you.

I have just found out that, during the course, we run past Mount St Bernard Abbey, where, as a young Christian, I went for a spiritual retreat for a week, and began to feel God calling me to serve him in Burkina Faso.
Just discovering that brings back many memories and makes me think about the other race we are running in life, and the need for perseverence in serving God, in order to faithfully finish the course.

I might need to write more on this later...

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Wakkil Alla School - Two Challenges for the Coming Year

It has been great to see progress at the Wakkil Alla school in Gorom-Gorom, but we face two particular challenges before the new school year starts in October:
Challenge 1. Building the Classroom.
In October, we will take in a fourth class, and as yet we have no classroom for them are in the process of trying to raise funds to build the second block of classrooms as well as other buildings for Phase 2 of the building project, If you would like to contribute towards this, please click on the banner at the bottom. We hope to have a solution at least for the new class before the new school year begins! Please pray for this.
Click here to find out more about the School Building Project.

Challenge 2. Sponsorship of the Children.
The other challenge we face is to find a church, house group, business or other group who would be willing to sponsor the new class of children starting this year. We are looking for sponsors for each class of children. We are asking for a commitment of £2,000/year for 6 years. This money covers school fees, food, and administrative costs for the whole class of up to 40 children. Could you or your church help? Could a group of maybe 10 of you commit to £17/month each for six years to bring quality education to the poorest of the poor? If so, please write to us at admin@acaciapartnershiptrust.org.uk
Click here to read more about the Class Sponsorship scheme.

Thank you for your support and prayers.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Building Progress at the Gorom-Gorom School

My recent trip to Burkina was a flying visit of just 2 weeks. It was packed full, but was a very productive time. It was encouraging to see all that is going on, and especially to see the progress at the school.

It was the school holiday, so the school was quiet, but I had a good meeting with the headmaster, Nicodeme, I met a few of the children, and got to see how the building work is progressing. Above you can see Nicodeme in front of the classroom block, with the new kitchen in the background, and the "breakout space" to the right. Below you can see him in the breakout space - this is a sheltered area where children will be able to gather in the shade to rest, eat, or study, and is a lovely cool area.

All that remains to do on these works is the floor tiles, the external rendering, and the painting.
You can see these in more detail at the APT website here.

We are now fundraising for Phase 2 of the construction project, which will include more classrooms, more toilets, offices, water supply, and other building work (click here to read more). If you wish to help us build this school, you can give online by clicking on the banner below.

Thank you for your support and prayers.