The Republic of Nauru, which hosted the Pacific Islands Forum earlier this month, is the third smallest state in the world by area (about 21 km2) and second smallest by population (about 11,000). It celebrated the 50th anniversary of its independence this year. Under Australian administration from 1920 to 1968, the British Phosphate Commission mined Nauruan phosphate in brutal disregard for the island’s environmental and economic sustainability, delivering cut price phosphate to Australian farmers and paying grossly undervalued royalties to Nauruan landowners. The Australian government’s position was that on the exhaustion of the island’s phosphate reserves, the Nauruan people should up and leave and resettle on Curtis Island in Queensland.
Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, has said he expects to see the first delivery of cargo to Mars using his new Interplanetary Transport System as early as 2022, with the first manned mission following two years later. A manned mission to Mars may sound implausible, but so did just about everything else that Musk’s company has achieved in the last fifteen years.
What price a mobile phone? Pursuant to the Dodd-Frank Act, passed after the 2008 crash, the US Securities and Exchange Commission set 2 June 2014 as the deadline for mining companies to report the provenance of minerals they put on commodities markets, the aim being to flag ‘conflict minerals’ as such. Minerals dug in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s North and South Kivu provinces, including coltan (columbium tantalum) cassiterite and gold, are used in capacitors and other components for tablets, phones and computers. Various armed rebel groups in and around the Kivus vie for control of the mostly hand-worked mines.
Last June the G8 agreed a new plan called the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, which is supposed to ensure poor countries receive the full benefit of their natural resources. Canada is one of EITI's stakeholder countries; 60 per cent of the world’s mining companies are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange.