Too much to blog about!

I can find so many things to blog about at the moment but can't get my sh*t together long enough to concentrate on one thing at a time.

I want to have a look at what's happening with that Gustav tropical storm off Cuba

– I tracked Katrina on all the various reporting services a few years ago and watched the webcams on the beaches as it came in- terrible. Now I must check the wave heights on the ocean buoy monitors and see what's going on- it's interesting to see the information the "experts" are using to advise the citizens in the storm's path and see what their opinions and advice are regarding evacuations etc. Morbid old me? Anyway, I just saw on Plurk  (thx @stevebob) that a lot of people from Louisiana with medical conditions (plus their pets) have been taken to Dallas-Fort Worth already so they are safe meantime. They are even putting identity chips on the animals as they arrive so there won't be the same problems as after Katrina (unmentionable).

I'm also intrigued by the amazing money being made in Western Australia from the mines at the moment- and of course the jobs people can get. A fellow Plurker (female) is driving one of the big frontend loaders down a mine right at the blasting face. She has 2 weeks on and one off I think. She is supporting herself as an artist by doing this. I was seriously thinking about learning how to drive one of the monster trucks up at Roxby Downs Mine and having a commute every few weeks back and forth. Then I could have a decent income to do MY art (glass work).

Another aspect of the worldwide mining scene is the mystery of tantalum and its extraction. Australia is actually the world's biggest producer of tantalum concentrates. I thought some African country was- but no, they just have huge "goldrush" type phenomena where the poor people tear off to the jungle and try to mine tantalum from all sorts of dangerous spots, then either die in the attempt or sell it at unfair prices to unscrupulous middle-persons on the international market. There is terrible erosion of the landscape and of people's health in several African countries because of this. You can have a look on Google Earth. I'll stick links in later.

In Australia 92% of tantalum production comes from the Sons of Gwalia group in Western Australia. They are massively well remunerated for this stuff and I'm always hearing their name (which seems quite a nutty moniker!) on the news and Stock Exchange reports. This tantalum stuff was unknown (well, to me and nearly 100% of the rest of the universe) until recently- but is actually the guts of mobile phones. Therefore all those phone-chip making companies need to buy it- so they need to charge a lot for their components; then the assembly companies need to pay for the chips, pay their workers and also make a monster profit in Asia, so we pay through the nose for the phones. However, we don't pay up front- otherwise hardly anybody could aford an iPhone- we pay through the mobile carriers who subsidise the phones to get our custom. The world is so bl**dy complex!
And just to make you feel better- some guys are making artistic statements about ti too!

Oh- and by the way- while I was looking up my leads on tantalum I discovered that Nick Farr-Jones (the famous Sydney lawyer, Rugby player and Order of Australia Award recipient) is a director of this company:

Central Rand Gold which is the holding company for a group of companies engaged in gold mining and exploration, plus tantalum and rare metals. It's incorporated in Guernsey of course so F**K knows what they're really worth…

So he is one rich cookie, with South African connections right up to his eyeballs. And sooo… with continued browsing I discovered that this Central Rand Gold also has an interest in this new batch of mining licenses that are drilling beneath the city of Johannisberg to extract the rest of the quartz pebble gold (plus any tantalum and uranium they come across) left behind by previous inefficient mining. They expect 120 million ounces of gold over the next 50 years. There is a small exclusion zone right under the centre of the Jo'berg CBD, but all areas under the suburbs and villages is fair game. It fairly freaks me out! Where's my share of all this, eh?!

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