By Jack Caldwell

I am sure the irony is unintended, but it is glaring nonetheless. In an otherwise sober piece in International Mining on an orebody in Katanga, Tenke takes off, there is a beautiful picture of a railyard chock full of rolling stock. The caption is my favorite:

“Katanga province has an extensive rail network that will be of value to the project in the future. However today there are reportedly, just three working locos.”

Could be the New Yorker as its best!

This article does not explore the hazards and complexities of mining in southern Africa, but these hazards and complexities burst through the sober text. The story, told seriously by the writer, cannot hide life in African mining. Not only is the mine expected to fix the locos, it will have to buy new ones, and probably establish an AIDs clinic, and face expropriation. One must admire the bold, but continue to invest in Wal-Mart and Coca-Cola.

I instinctively distrust politicians of any ilk. How can one be reassured by this?

“Projects like Tenke Funguruma are essential if the DRC is going to improve the quality of life of its people and to further enhance the stability of the country. The DRC government recognizes this. It was only through the co-operation of the various elements of the transitional government that the project could proceed.”

All too true. Let’s hope a mine results and the next article can be graced by a picture of new equipment, instead of the picture that accompanies the current article and which is captioned:

“Historical photographs of work at Tenke Fungurume show interesting old mining and exploration machinery.”