On June 17, 2022, Creamer Media’s Weekly mining published the article “Nature’s Vault offers investors a “green” option on goldwith little fanfare. Like so much that passes for news from institutionalized sources reporting breathlessly on opportunities for wealth accumulation, this is a story ostensibly about a “win-win” scenario for capital investment and environmentalists. The coin dangles the tempting prospect of making money from so-called “natural resources” while leaving them unharvested or unextracted, ensuring that the integrity of the ecosystems in which they are found remains intact. . But what is really going on here?
The article describes Nature’s Vault Ltd. as an “environmental, social and governance finance company” that “aims to keep gold in the ground, avoiding the carbon emissions and environmental impact of mining, while providing investors with stable tokens and tradables representing what they dubbed “nature’s gold” or eco-friendly gold. It looks like a dream come true. What could go wrong?
Nature’s Vault CEO Phil Rickard Says Company is Buying Mining Assets and “Tokenizing” some of them, selling the tokens in private sales. The company, he claims, “commits in a verifiable way not to mine” the monetized assets, assigning a quantifiable value based on “international mining and geological standards”, according to Weekly mining. Additionally, “the company assures investors that they will hold their assets in perpetuity, based on ownership of mineral rights for the deposit” [emphasis added].
Nature’s Vault’s polite rhetoric suggests a commitment to addressing the climate crisis while expanding opportunities for profit through investment in a fully monetized world of untouched wealth. It doesn’t take a lot of training in logic to sense something incoherent and irrational in their message.
The intended implication is that tokenizing gold and other commodities while they are still in the ground is a “win-win” for environmentalists and natural resource investors, as the investment can always take place, while respecting the continued integrity of nature. But once the investments are made, land interests are created. It cannot be overemphasized that investors “will hold onto their assets in perpetuity, based on the ownership of the mineral rights for the deposit.“The right to mine is a legal right to actually extract, not a virtual right. The law is nothing if not respectful of the rights attached to property.
Wherever there are natural resources “in reserve”, entire ecosystems have been privatized – turned into legal property – and the rights to that property are held exclusively by investors. And while the hype amplified by Nature’s Vault is that the resources will remain intact since they would only be held in reserve and not mined; the right to extract can, like gold itself, be held in reserve, yet remain as demonstrably real as the assets in the ground. A “don’t touch!” The sign on the cookie jar is thin to reassure the chocolate chips won’t disappear.
Lawyer Terry Lodge, my colleague at Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, underlined certain prosaic advantages to be derived for the investors from such a plan of keeping natural resources in reserve. He wondered if tokenization was not a cynical ploy to devalue mining lands in order to acquire them cheaply. “If tokenization has become somewhat popular, pushing real mining possibilities further into the future, isn’t that going to cause gold futures to adjust downward? So maybe that’s not be just a fake deal,” he told me.
He also questioned whether by delaying the opening of a mine, Nature’s Vault was creating what he called a scheme targeting state and local government tax agencies that could also have capital gains implications. federal. “In other words, does the gold industry merely create golden fiscal opportunities, even as it considers gold mining (which is by far the most dirtier) as a future option?” he said.
More and more of the Earth is being turned into property, with a minority of ultra-rich owners having monopoly control of the world we inhabit. Under the thinnest pretext of conservation, conservationists could be persuaded to join this scam. If this happens, the opposite of the emancipation of nature will have happened. Private “management” of nature will be the rule of law, held in the hands of an elite. Who will prevent owners from doing what they want with their property? In this scenario, the majority of humanity will be dispossessed and alienated from the natural world – this having been transferred entirely into private hands as property – and the owners will be legally able to start extracting whenever it is. appropriate for their agenda.
We neglect to exercise our vaunted capacity for reasoned thinking if we do not ask ourselves what value the monetization and symbolization of nature actually brings to the planet and to humanity. Even if we could believe that gold, timber, water, copper, lithium and other resources of symbolic value would remain untapped and the ecosystems in which they reside would continue unmolested, why do it?
What is the point of monetizing these so-called natural assets, based on ownership of mining rights, if the right to extract (mine) is never exercised? Is it really innocent, this virtual “mining” – and I mean here making resources of the Earth”Minewhile not undermining them? Never mind the ironic namesakes here. Even without mining, the creation of property in the abstract form of monetized wealth is the all and only point of minting and selling the “legacy tokens” by which Nature’s Vault will know its market. But let’s be very clear: There is no value for humanity and the Earth in an exponential increase in concentrated wealth property-based of a planet privatized by an aristocracy of investors.
Even if Nature’s Vault isn’t some cynical Ponzi scheme to concentrate full ownership of the planet in a small number of bank accounts, or a tax avoidance scheme for the mob – and even if we can take the CEO’s word Rickard that the company really cares about climate catastrophe and environmental decimation – the best we can conclude is that it’s the most naive solution, acknowledging as it should the childish instincts of capital investors to “undermine” (make mine) the world, even if they do not seize it in their hands and consume it on the spot.
It is a pattern that suggests that we base human participation in the natural world on the possession of rights attached to the status of ownership of nature, and that the advantages over other humans that this arrangement gives to owners of the natural world are in the best interests of nature, including the human species. It is patently absurd.