Monday, 3 October 2011

Spain's Gold Rush

 

Magdalena Gómez knows the solution to her hometown's suffering. Like roughly 20% of the adult population in Tapia de Casariego, the 27-year-old mother of two is unemployed. She has seen many of her neighbors, desperate for work, move away from this corner of northwestern Spain in search of opportunities in bigger cities. Which is why, even though she knows that a sizeable portion of Tapia is opposed to it, Gómez supports the construction of a new mine. "We don't have anything else here," she says. "We need that gold." There's a gold rush under way in northwestern Spain, and Tapia is just one of the places trying to figure out what to do about it. With gold prices skyrocketing, deposits that have lain untouched for decades, if not centuries, are suddenly looking awfully appealing to international mining companies. And with the Spanish economy in profound crisis, the jobs that those companies promise — even if they're not permanent — are looking just as irresistible. But as the controversy dividing the town of Tapia suggests, not everyone is convinced that the benefits are worth the risks.

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