Rejecting injustice, building a better future

Sep 6, 2022 | Monthly bulletinNews

Dear friends, 

Over the past month we have recalled three grave injustices related to the mining industry: the 9 August 2001 eviction of the village of Tabaco to make way for the expansion of the Cerrejon coal mine in Colombia, then part-owned by Anglo American, BHP and Glencore and operated by Exxon, now owned wholly by Glencore; the 16 August 2012 massacre of striking mineworkers at Lonmin’s platinum operations at Marikana, South Africa; and the 26 August 2006 massacre of protesters against GCM Resources’ Phulbari coal project in Bangladesh. In each case, British capital and British-linked mining companies have assisted in actions which have cost lives and livelihoods in the pursuit of profit.

In recent days, some of our friends in communities around the Cerrejon mine have blockaded parts of the mine and a road in an attempt to force Glencore, rather than local mine management, to talk to them and address the multiple injustices which the mine continues to inflict on them.

The new government in Colombia is taking some welcome steps to reform the country’s mining regulations. Meanwhile, the mining industry is clearly pleased at the rejection on Sunday by voters in Chile of a proposed new constitution which might have reined in their profits somewhat. We will be consulting with friends in Chile about the way forward for solidarity with mining-affected communities in that country in the light of this development. Conflict continues between Brazilian regulatory authorities and the companies involved in the 2015 Samarco tailings dam disaster, BHP and Vale. BHP can surely afford to do more to address the legacy of the disaster.

The war between Russia and Ukraine has had an enormous impact on the coal mining industry. Profits have rocketed (though apparently not enough for Glencore to pay for the minimal demands of the communities affected by its Cerrejon mine) and expansion of coal mining is being aggressively pursued. This is a catastrophe for the climate. The London Science Museum’s relationship with Indian company Adani is a scandal against which we at LMN have been protesting along with many other organisations.

Proposed solutions to climate change are often themselves catastrophic: the destruction of ecosystems and disruption of communities by vast expansion of mining for the low-carbon energy transition or the complete insanity of the nuclear energy, creating wastes that will be deadly for hundreds of thousands of years and which nobody has yet found a satisfactory way of making safe for this amount of time. The current standoff at Zaporizhzhia is one reason why relying on nuclear energy is foolhardy in the extreme, whatever its empty promises.

What we need instead is to develop ways of life which use less energy and fewer raw materials and which ensure that everyone has enough to live on and nobody hoards what they do not need.

Given this challenging set of circumstances, we need to organise and act to change them. Please take the online actions suggested below. Please also participate in our coming events, both online and in person, listed below. And do inform yourselves about the behaviour of the London-linked mining companies in which so many of our financial institutions invest. There are plenty of articles below about the biggest mining companies on the London Stock Exchange – Anglo American, Antofagasta, BHP, Glencore and Rio Tinto – and others about smaller companies of great concern. We need to tear the mask of respectability off an industry which is consuming the planet and sacrificing so many of the communities which have been tending and caring for the Earth.

All the best,

Richard Solly,

Co-ordinator, London Mining Network.

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