[OPE-L:7596] gold mining

From: gerald_a_levy (gerald_a_levy@msn.com)
Date: Wed Sep 04 2002 - 22:50:16 EDT

Fred:  I haven't had a chance to read all of the exchanges on this
thread,  but I have a comment about the alleged governing role played by 
the composition of capital of the least productive gold-producers for the 
gold exchange rate.  My comment is that a significant percentage of
gold production in the world today is in, what the ILO classifies in the 
following link as,  small-scale mining.  


Many of these gold-producers are self-employed in the 'petty-commodity'
producing sector of the economy, often referred to as the 'informal sector'.
These gold-miners are typically landless, very poor, and suffer from occupational
diseases (such as, especially in Latin America, mercury poisoning.)  

Clearly, if one were to identify the gold-mining operations that are the least
efficient and have the lowest productivity of labor, then these small scale 
mining activities would be a good candidate. Indeed, the sum total of means
of production that these miners might work with is a metal pan and sifter. 

So -- as an empirical matter -- your contention seems to me to be problematic.
Of course, one could *assume* that all gold is produced capitalistically,
but what happens then when we drop that assumption?   What determines 
the exchange rate for gold then?  

It is also worth noting that small scale gold mining has increased dramatically
since the so-called "gold rush" that began in the l980s in Latin America.  In 
Mexico, for instance, there have been dramatic increases in gold production
(in l987, l0,l94 metric tons of gold was produced; in l997, the amount was
24,488; and the projected figure for 200l was 4l, 375.)  This increase in gold
production, it seems, though has more to do with the size of the industrial
reserve army  and mass poverty in  rural areas in Mexico and elsewhere in the 
region than in any new  discoveries of gold or new more efficient methods of gold 

How would you explain the relationship between the capitalist gold-producing
branch of production and the 'informal sector'  gold producers?

In solidarity, Jerry

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