Australian mining billionaire salutes Africans for 'wanting' to work for US$2 per day

Sometimes despair is the only response. Despair and fury - that mining executives can be so blinded by profits and greed that they cannot see the horror of their ways. Usually, their real views about the workers their companies exploit are kept well hidden by a wealth of PR gurus and communications experts. But just occassionally they speak candidly and then the truth comes out - the truth that they do not care an iota for the men and women who toil in often hazardous conditions to keep them mega-rich.

Richard Lee's picture

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Strategic communications for WWF

September 7th, 2012

Sometimes despair is the only response. Despair and fury - that mining executives can be so blinded by profits and greed that they cannot see the horror of their ways. Usually, their real views about the workers their companies exploit are kept well hidden by a wealth of PR gurus and communications experts. But just occassionally they speak candidly and then the truth comes out - the truth that they do not care an iota for the men and women who toil in often hazardous conditions to keep them mega-rich.

Just like mining magnate, Gina Rinehart, the richest women in Australia - indeed in Asia as well. At a recent event, she saluted African workers who help to keep her coffers overflowing. Why? Because - and I quote - “Africans want to work, and its workers are willing to work for less than US$2 per day."

Just take a second to think about that. Does she honestly believe that anyone wants to work for US$2 per day? Does she really think that is, in any possible way, a fair wage for the work they do? Does she genuinely believe that they have a choice - that exploitative mining companies give them a choice? Does she know how miserable life is on U$2 per day? Does she care at all?

The answer to the last question, at least, is yes. Not about people. Not about giving workers a decent wage and giving families and communities the chance to pull themsevles out of poverty. But definitely and intensely about her companies' profits - and about adding to her estimated wealth of...wait for it...US$18 billion. 

Mining could be the driving force behind real sustainable development in Africa. But it will never be with people like Rinehart in charge - people who cannot see that their companies can make profits and make people's lives better at the same time. Sadly too many extractive industry leaders are still in the Rinehart camp.

Just one last aside, Rinehart wrote previously, “There is no monopoly on becoming a millionaire. If you’re jealous of those with more money don’t just sit there and complain, do something to make more money yourself. Spend less time drinking, smoking and socialising and more time working." The Africans she talks about would need to work for 1369 years to become a millionaire - and that's without a day off and without spending a cent.

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