Monday, March 28, 2005

Good. Australian. Mining Company.


If you thought the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was the only private entity doing something about malaria, there's yesterday's New York Times Op-Ed page, which congratulated an Australian mining company, of all things, for participating in a large-scale malaria eradication program in southern Africa.

Basically, BHP Billiton has been helping Mozambique, South Africa and Swaziland kill mosquitoes over a 40,000-plus square mile area, dropping the incidence of malaria by up to 96 percent in one district.

Selfish? You bet: BHP Billiton needs a healthy workforce to get the aluminum it sells, and its own less-intense malaria program wasn't doing the trick.

But the mineral-extraction biz isn't exactly notorious for its public-mindedness, so it's exceptional that BHP has found an intersection between profits (US$5.2 billion last year) and helping with a big job that's normally reserved for national governments.

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