Category: News Blog
Published on Tuesday, 05 April 2016 13:43
The Namibian Chamber of Environment was launched this morning at an event attended by many from the wildlife and environment fields. At the event the MD of B2Gold, Mark Dawe, made a speech that I felt I had to share with you - not because he is saying anything new necessarily but because it is perhaps good to be reminded from time to time just how much of an impact humans have on the planet, especially when the person doing the reminding is not a scientist off in an ivory tower or academia but someone who lives and breathes in our very own country.
NCE LAUNCH 5 TH APRIL 2016
I’d like to kick off by giving some perspective.
I’m an earth scientist. In the earth sciences we like to speak in eons and era, on a geological time scale. An era is a subdivision of geological time that divides an eon into smaller units of time. These era are separated by catastrophic extinction boundaries. The P-T boundary between the Palaeozoic and Mesozoic, the K-T boundary between the Mesozoic and Cenozoic. The common school of thought is that catastrophic meteorite impacts played a major role in demarcating the differences between the eras.
The Hadean, Archean and Proterozoic eons were as a whole, formerly…(for us oldies), called the Precambrian. This covered 4
billion years of the earth’s history prior to the appearance of hardshelled animals. After this, as the fossil record shows, organisms
became more and more complex and wonderful….and then came man.
While our ancestors have been around for about six million years, the modern form of humans only evolved about 200,000 years ago. Civilization as we know it is only about 6,000 years old, and industrialization started in earnest only in the 1800s, a mere 200 years ago. So we’ve been around for 200 000 years but for 6000 years we’ve been working hard at dominating and subduing our planet.
Whether or not you believe the bible, and if you do, I hope you believe it to allegorical and not literal. How anyone in this day and age could be a bible literalist stumps me. The world was not created in 7 days. Genesis 1:28; “As for you, be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground”. So for 6000 years we’ve been trying to do that. We apparently started with 1 and then when Eve came along there were 2, thanks to Adam for generously giving up a rib. And now there are 7.5 billion of us. And our population has doubled over the past 35 years !!
If current rates of human population growth were to continue unchecked, there will be about 27 billion of us by 2100. This is clearly unthinkable and unsustainable for our planet.
So for the past 200 years we’ve learnt how to multiply and subdue the earth really well….with machanised, oiled efficiency.
To put it all into geological perspective, if we measure the period the earth has been around in cm, and the earth has been here for a 100cm (a metre) of time, modern humans have been here for 1.3mm of time.
And what have we done in the 1.3mm since we’ve been around?
EXTINCTION AT THE HAND OF MAN
Google tells me our species caused 322 animal extinctions over the past 500 years, with two-thirds of those occurring in the last two centuries, according to a paper published in a special issue of the journal of Science. And many animals are threatened with humancaused extinction right now.
Ecologists, zoologists and other scientists believe that, without urgent steps to stem the losses, we are facing a global scale tipping point from which we may never look back or recover. Humans are killing off species thousands of times faster than nature
creates them, new research finds. The modern rate of extinction across species is 1,000 times that of the background rate before humans began altering the globe and thousands of times faster than the creation of new species.
Humans are on the verge of causing a sixth mass extinction on Earth.
We have to ask ourselves some pretty serious questions. Are humans evil ? Do we kill indiscriminately?
Yes and No. Animals and nature do matter to people, but on balance, they matter less than food, jobs, energy, money, and development. But there are a lot of people out there that care, more than they care for all of the trappings of our modern lives. All of you care, that’s why you’re here.
In mining and geological circles, we say that Namibia is rich in poor deposits. We will be the second largest Uranium producer in the world (after Kazakhstan) when Swakop Uranium starts up this year, but we produce Uranium from the lowest grade deposits in the world.
Our mine at B2Gold produces 400kg of gold each month from ore that contains 1.5 grams of gold in every tonne of ore, and to get a tonne of ore you need to mine 5 tonnes of waste, so in 6 tonnes we get 1.5g. That means that in each 100 tonne truck we have 25 grams of gold or 985 USD per truck. What we do with the 1000 USD in each truck load of rock is what counts.
I have been lucky enough to be associated with companies that genuinely want to make a difference on our planet. To take from
the earth, but to give back to the earth. This is not window-dressing. It’s far bigger than that. Altruism exists in the world. They cynic would say….we can’t make a lasting difference, because in the greater scheme of things mankind will be wiped out anyway, so why even try.
I say, we CAN make a difference and we can turn around a trend.
B2Gold is truly an exceptional example of giving back to the earth. And giving back to the earth also means giving back to people. If we are going to have any chance of turning around our 6th extinction event, we need to focus on our biodiversity and protect it with everything we have. We cannot do that without big business. We must not shun the miners and industrialists among us, accusing them of the environmental destruction in the first place. We must embrace them in a partnership, as members of the same species, seeking to make the world a better place for man and for beast. We need each other, desperately.
Houston, we have a problem!
And just as we need minerals for everything we do, so people need nature, but the nature of man dictates that “nature must pay”. All of you here know better than I do that unless the communities benefit from the preservation of our spectacular wilderness vistas and the wonderful creatures that inhabit them… with which we’re so uniquely blessed, it will all disappear. And it won’t take geological time to disappear. It is happening before our eyes.
The stats show that 73 percent of visitors to Namibia are nature-based tourists, with their money accounting for 14.2 percent of that nation's economic growth. This money needs to be spread more equitably. There is no reason for anyone to be poor or hungry in this country.
As I mentioned, Namibia is rich in poor mineral deposits. But we are RICH in monumental individuals…story-book characters. We punch well above our weight with epic Conservationists and Environmentalists who have selflessly dedicated their lives to the unique wilderness of this country. There are too many to mention by name. We can be proud to say that many of them are here today.
And these are the men and the women that will sit on Council of this new Chamber. It is our dream that these specialists in their various fields of conservation, environment and social investment will take this Chamber forward with passion and dedication and they will decide which projects are more worthy and which less worthy of support. It is our dream that this Chamber becomes the conduit for big industry to put its money and its heart where its mouth is.
CSI is fashionable, but good, sustainable and meaningful CSI is rare.
I have no doubt that any support generated by this Chamber will be well deserved and it will make a lasting difference for all future generations to appreciate.
As B2Gold, we have taken a decision that the lion’s share of our Conservation and Environmental pillar of our CSI programmes, and a significant portion of our Livelihoods and Communities pillar, will be channelled through the NCE.
As initial seeding capital, I hereby announce on behalf of my company that we have donated N$1 000 000 to the NCE. This is just a start, and I know other companies are grappling with each other to follow suit.
This Chamber was borne of B2Gold, but it distances itself from any corporate identity. It is fully independent and democratic, and fully aligned with the objectives of our MET.
I am grateful for the unflinching support of one of our doyens of conservation, Dr. Chris Brown. I’m also grateful to the MET and
especially the PS Dr. Malan Lindeque, for believing in this Chamber and for partnering with us on this venture. A big thanks to Frauke Kreitz of New Media Consult and the Namibian Environment and Wildlife Society (NEWS) for handling all of the PR and documentation surrounding NCE, including our new website. Most of her work was pro-bono.
At this stage of our lives we all know that for any project to become successful, it must be driven by the passion and imagination of one individual. Charles is that individual. I am grateful to you Charles, for this proud moment. Your baby is in good hands.
Thank you !