“One cannot change this all in a moment, but one can at least change one’s own habits.” ~ George Orwell
A couple weeks ago I took some time to clean up my desk. It was cathartic – throwing away the unnecessary papers and reclaiming the essential ones. The
most helpful discovery was an essay that had been circulating around the publications department earlier this year.
George Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language” is a challenge to restore clear thinking by using clear expression and avoiding vague and meaningless
language. “If you simplify your English,” he argues, “you are freed from the worst follies of orthodoxy. You cannot speak any of the necessary dialects,
and when you make a stupid remark its stupidity will be obvious, even to yourself.”
Orwell was concerned with political orthodoxies, but his call for clear expression and critical thinking is applicable in any profession. His ideas ring
true at the magazine, where we sometimes let jargon and buzzwords crowd out original thought. And for mining companies that have acted on dubious
intelligence, it seems a dose of Orwell’s logic is also due. Many have pushed ahead with investment and operational decisions without careful review, urged
on by the orthodoxy that growth and strong prices would endure. “We haven’t deployed our capital smartly,” said Sabina Gold & Silver CEO Robert Pease,
speaking on behalf of the mining industry at the Maintenance Engineering/Mine Operators Conference this past fall. “Everyone is being disciplined for
The cost of careless reporting is indifferent readers, but the accounting for miners is a much more public spectacle – billions of dollars in writedowns
and angry shareholders.
The fallout from the last year has included layoffs for many talented and experienced people, which, while satisfying immediate financial needs, has the
potential to multiply the long-term problems the industry has to confront. The follies of orthodoxy were not the only forces that carried the industry to
this point, but they are ones that, with discipline and clear thinking, can be avoided. I hope the talent that has been cut loose can be restored in the
coming year to help sort the useful ideas from the obvious stupidities. At CIM Magazine, we will rely on each other, our many contributors, and you readers
to help us to do the same, sweeping away the nonsense that clutters the workspace, dulls the mind and leaves us poorer.