April Cibula:

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Today was the second day that the group separated into mini-groups of three to four people. The mini-groups focused on gender, labor, environment, and public health, all of which are topics of concern in a developing area. As for my group, environment, along with Teige and Nate we went an area where people were mining clay illegally. My first thought was that this mine would be far into a forest or rural area to prevent detection. Instead it was located on a side road, off a busy street, in a busy area. Immediately, it seemed suspicious. As we walked near the mines, it was a barren area. The area bordering the mine was surrounded by trees and a few factories. The whole are was white, with mounds covering the surface. In the middle of the area was a large crevice, the result of thirty years of mining. The bottom of the mine was pooling with dark, bluish water. The factory next to the area owned the mine, and the factory processed the clay. They produced pure kaolin clay, which can sell for 1000 Rupees a kilogram. From my experience, I know that this clay is often used in clay face-masks and other cosmetics, masking this clay highly desirable. The problem with this mine is the pollution it produces, along with water and air pollution generated by the factory itself and its heavy machinery. The dust alone has been detrimental to the public health of the people in the area, causing considerable respiratory problems. The ground around the mine is unstable, leaving the fate of the mine open to question after the clay deposits are played out. Housing cannot be put up because of the instability of the land. The land is also barren and so has no agricultural value. It will remain empty and barren after it is used up. On the upside the mine employs about 2000 people.

When we approached the factory to see if we could enter, we were denied entry. Altough I expected this, I still wanted to know what else they might be hiding. It was also hard for use to figure out why the mining was still happening since it was illegal. Also, the people who operated the mine made no attempt to keep it secret. People answered my question by referring to the notion that the mine staying open was a political issue. My guess is that the factory is paying off politicians, or politicians don’t care about the illegality of the mine, so long as it is providing jobs.

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