Africans were the first to engage in mining 43,000 years ago. In 1964 a hematite mine was found in Swaziland at Bomvu Ridge in the Ngwenya mountain range. Ultimately 300,000 artifacts were recovered including thousands of stone-made mining tools. We cannot know, but it is possible the hematite was used for face painting to scare enemies and impress the gods and worshipers.

Not that you would ever have know it from the Anglican clergy who taught me about the superiority of the white races and in particular the glory of British culture and religion as expressed in the Anglican Church. Tutu became bishop of Cape Town and put an end to that silliness. Now I see the Anglican Church is attacking Canada and mining. Can you read the following and not sympathize with the poor lady offended by graffiti?

Bishop Moxley, who visited Cerro De San Pedro in Mexico in 2005 as part of a church leaders delegation, said she was shocked by the environmental impact on the people. “It was caused by Metallica Resources, a Canadian company headquartered in Toronto,” she said. “Canada’s reputation as a country with respect to human rights is being damaged because of companies like Metallica.” She added, “When I saw graffiti on walls that said, ‘foreigners go home’ – and I knew it was directed at me – at Canadians, my heart sank.”

More of similar ilk at the Anglican website with a search for the word mining.

The Hopi of Arizona are running to the courts over a mining proposal that called for comments during their holy months. I quote from this link:

The class action lawsuit alleges that [United States Office of Surface Mining (OSM)] violated traditional Hopis' religious freedom when the office scheduled the comment period on the draft environmental impact statement for the Black Mesa Project during January and February, a period during which Hopi religion requires that people attend primarily to their religious obligations to the exclusion of public matters. "I had to find someone to take over my responsibilities so I could go to the hearing," said Jerry Honawa, a Hopi religious practitioner and a named plaintiff in the lawsuit. And he is upset not only by OSM's refusal to respond to his concerns at the hearings, but to the size and complexity of the document on which he was trying to comment. "It is 758 pages," he said. "I don't think anyone on the Hopi Tribal Council has read the entire document." The lawsuit alleges that OSM violated both the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the provisions of the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act by knowingly and deliberately scheduling the comment period in the middle of the Hopi religious calendar. "There is no exceptionally compelling state interest in requiring traditional Hopis…to choose between honoring their religious beliefs and practice and grappling with reading, analyzing, understanding, and being forced to comment on a massive, complex, 758-page draft environmental impact statement on the Black Mesa Project during the religious portion of the Hopi calendar," reads the papers filed with the U.S. District Court, District of Arizona on April 16.

In the desert of southeast California, the Quechan Tribe is fighting to stop another Canadian company, Glamis Imperial from mining a “sacred site.” From this site, here is the history and the religious practices that would be disturbed:

The traditional homeland of the Quechan, in the deserts of southeastern California, covered 880 square miles. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the California desert became a prominent site for gold mining and most of the Quechan lands were taken from them. Archaeological evidence indicates that native people have used the area around Indian Pass, known as the “Indian Pass-Running Man Area of Traditional Cultural Concern,” for at least 10,000 years. The Quechan continue to use the network of trails in the area for spiritual practices such as Dreaming, a meditative state that requires a pristine visual and aural environment, the Keruk Death Ceremony, in which relatives cremate the deceased and assist in their journey to the other world, and spirit runs with tribal youth.

From Tibet, here is a report on a clash between religion and mining.

Authorities in the southwestern province of Sichuan have ordered an end to mining operations which 'do not help the local population' after hundreds of Tibetans blocked a road and staged a hunger strike over Chinese mining of a mountain that Tibetan Buddhists consider sacred. The protest, in the Garthar area of Karze (Ganzi) prefecture, led to the detention of 22 Tibetans after the main Darktsedo (Kanding) to Karze road was blocked by protesters day and night, a source in Beijing told RFA's Tibetan service. Tibetans who appealed to the provincial and central governments for an end to the mining, had been detained in Chengdu and Dawu, sources said. "About a month back, on June 5, the Chinese miners found a huge piece of turquoise and the Chinese mining company organized a special event to celebrate," said another source. "They invited many high-ranking officials of the district and the region. Taking this opportunity, the local Tibetans...launched a huge protest. They clashed with county and security officials and with members of the mining company, and it lasted several hours." "Several vehicles belonging to the local government and the mining company were destroyed, and some 300 police from Dawu and Karze were sent in," the second source said. Local Tibetans worship Shak Drak Lha Tse mountain, which they believe is home to a god that protects local lands, local sources say. "We always knew it was rich in minerals, but we never touched it because it was sacred," one local source said. The Karze government sold the mountain to the Sichuan Nongge Shan Mining Co. Ltd, a joint venture between Huaye Resources Co. and Sichuan Yadi Dekuang Mountain Construction Co. Ltd for 100 million yuan, of which 200,000 yuan went to local residents.

And so the report continues for page after page of denial and counter-denial and outright lies and obfustication. But then that is Tibet and China. We could hardly expect a straight path to the truth.

In Canada we have the Dene using religion to oppose mining:

Irreparable harm may be caused [if we allow uranium exploration drilling]…we may loose land that is important from a cultural and spiritual perspective. No award of damages could possible compensate for this loss. It is critical to consider the nature of the potential loss from an Aboriginal perspective: the relationship that the Aboriginal people have with the land cannot be understated: the land is the very essence of their being. It is their heart and soul. No amount of money can compensate for its loss. Aboriginal identity, spirituality, laws, traditions, culture, and right are connected to and often arise from this relationship to the land.

Now I no longer belong to the Anglican Church so I am not bound to espouse their views. But then I am not a Tibetan nor a Canadian nor an American Indian: I do not have to espouse any of either religious views either. So how do we proceed with the invocation of religion in a mining debate. Maybe this quote will help:

Instead, the wide majority, 72 percent, of the respondents chose option B. These eminent evolutionists view religion as a sociobiological feature of human culture, a part of human evolution, not as a contradiction to evolution. Viewing religion as an evolved sociobiological feature removes all competition between evolution and religion for most respondents.

Thus religious views become merely another sociobiological factor to take into account in dealing with stakeholders. Seems simple enough.