Protest mining industry greenwash at 'Responsible Extractives Summit'Published by MAC on 2016-06-23
Source: Statements, Morning Star (2016-06-23)
Members of the London Mining Network and other activists recently re-branded the entrance of a London hotel hosting a so-called 'Responsible Extractives Summit,' which featured speakers from companies including Rio Tinto, Anglo American, Barrick Gold and OceanaGold.
The protestors posed as members of the 'Oxymoron Appreciation Society’ at the event, drawing attention to the increased branding within the industry of itself as 'responsible' and/or 'sustainable'.
After the banner-drop, activists read quotes and testimonials from communities resisting mining around the globe, who are dealing with the realities that these companies are producing. Leaflets were also distributed to explain the protest, with the text of the leaflet below (original pdfs can be seen here, front and back)
The World Rainforest Movement and Re:Common chose the timing of the demonstration to release a new article about a biodiversity offset project used by Rio Tinto to greenwash destruction of a rare forest at the company's ilmenite mine in south-eastern Madagascar.
Watch a video of the protest here
A background website has been set up at http://responsibleextractives.tumblr.com/
‘Responsible Extractives Summit’: Sick Joke or Serious Indictment of Industry?
By Liam Barrington-Bush
23 June 2016
Is the Responsible Extractives Summit, headlined by Rio Tinto, Anglo American, Barrick Gold and others, a cynical PR move or an indication of ‘the ethical best’ an inherently-destructive industry has to offer?
‘It must be a joke,’ I thought. I was already sceptical of the words ‘responsible’ and ‘extractives’ being used so closely together, but it was the keynote speakers that pushed the ‘Responsible Extractives Summit’ from the realm of eyebrow-raising implausibility, to that of the utterly surreal. ‘Who are these white knights of corporate social responsibility?’, I found myself asking, scanning through the microsite for the Ethical Corporation-run mining biz shindig. But what I found left me unsure whether to laugh or cry.
These are the fabled “responsible extractivists”? The ones that conference delegates are paying up to £2,000-a-head to hear impart pearls of wisdom on how to blast giant craters in the Earth, without getting your moral compass bent out of shape? The same companies that have allied themselves with military dictatorships, displaced community-after-community, used every legal channel available to avoid paying compensation to sick former-mine workers, and even managed to make their own Corporate Social Responsibility programmes destructive to those most-affected by them?
Yes, it turned out. The very same ones.
Samuel Arregoces is a villager from the community of Tabaco, in the La Guajira region of Colombia. Tabaco was bulldozed by the Cerrejón coal mine (co-owned by Anglo American) in 2001, to dig up more dirty coal, much of it exported to fuel UK power stations. Fifteen years on, Tabaco’s residents have yet to be adequately resettled and several neighbouring villages have since been forcibly evicted for further mine expansion.
I met Samuel when he was speaking at a series of events in the UK in October 2015. For fifteen years, he has been without a village to call home. But the Cerrejón mine isn’t just in the business of displacing communities – it also displaces rivers in La Guajira, where water access has become an increasingly deadly concern for Indigenous Wayuu and Afro-Colombian residents, in no small part due to three decades of mining.
When we told Samuel that Anglo American was being billed as a ‘responsible extractive’ company, he had this to say:
“While Anglo American makes its profits, La Guajira is being polluted and dying of thirst. Capital at the expense of our blood and our displacement. La Guajira: 30 years of sadness, suffering, displacement and impunity. And the companies call themselves responsible? Anglo American’s actions do not contribute to peace in our Guajiran lands – they are the cause of forced displacement.”
An ocean and a continent away, Rio Tinto are seen in a similar light in Madagascar. Malagasy activist Mamy Rakotondrainibe has come to London on multiple occasions to challenge London-based extractive bullies before.
What Rio Tinto calls a corporate social responsibility initiative in Mamy’s home country, she describes as a “double land grab.”
“To claim green credentials the company not only occupies community land at the mine but is also prohibiting local land use at the forest site claimed as ‘biodiversity offset’. The biodiversity offset is increasing risk of hunger and deprivation of these subsistence farming communities as far as 50 kilometres away from the mine.”
Meanwhile, the world’s biggest gold mining company, Canadian-based BarrickGold, has long-been awash in criticism, ranked the 12th least-ethical company in the world by Swiss research firm, Covalence, in 2010. A series of interviews with those affected by its mines, following the company’s 2016 Annual General Meeting in Toronto, suggested little had changed since then:
“Since the mine started, a lot of bad things have happened. Killing of harmless Indigenous people, raping of young girls and women and dumping of mine waste near my village has turned our lives upside down. ….the mine has made our life miserable in the span of 20 years.” – Lucy Yuki, Porgera mine, Papua New Guinea
“I have lived in this community since I was born, and the last four years that Barrick has been here have been the worst of my life.” – Juliana Guzman, Pueblo Viejo mine, Dominican Republic
A group calling themselves ‘The Oxymoron Appreciation Society’ re-branded the front of the hotel where the Responsible Extractives Summit was taking place, hanging a banner satirically-declaring themselves the conference’s true presenting sponsors on its opening day. With the names on the bill and a glimpse into the stories above, it’s hard to see the Responsible Extractives Summit in any other light.
Terms like ‘ethical,’ ‘sustainable,’ and ‘responsible’ once carried the moral weight to hold an unscrupulous mining industry to account in the public eye. Today, through events like the ‘Responsible Extractives Summit,’ mining companies have taken this language, strip-mined it of any practical meaning and used it to legitimise their own profits.
What is clear is that these companies would struggle to find any dictionary definition of ‘responsibility’ that matched their real-world activities. What is less-clear is why events like the Responsible Extractives Summit exist at all. Are they a cynical PR manoeuvre to legitimise inherently illegitimate – but profitable – business practices? Or are these companies truly the best in a failing field, unable to maintain even the most basic of ethical standards in pursuit of their corporate aims?
Neither possibility can distract us from a difficult conclusion: that we need to move away from an extractive economy. Immediately. Anything less is complicity in perpetuating the crimes faced by Samuel, Mamy and so many others. The transition won’t be an easy one, but perhaps we can start by banishing this notion of responsible extractivism to the dustbins of history.
Activists hit out at ‘green’ claims by mining firms
22 June 2016
SATIRICAL campaigners targeted a conference of global mining companies yesterday in protest at firms “greenwashing” their crooked practices, such as land grabbing.
The Oxymoron Appreciation Society gave the so-called Responsible Extractives Summit a tongue-in-cheek makeover by hanging a banner over the entrance.
The banner declared that the protesters were “proudly” sponsoring the event at Crowne Plaza Hotel in central London, tickets for which were priced at up to £2,000.
Delegates heard speakers from firms accused of aiding corruption, environmental devastation, displacement of communities and abuse of human rights.
People arriving for the conference were handed leaflets outlining the scandals that some of the speakers’ companies were involved in.
The firms included Rio Tinto, Barrick Gold, Anglo American, OceanaGold and Beowulf.Villagers in the Tabaco area of La Guajira, Colombia, have yet to be resettled after being displaced in 2001 by a coalmine co-owned by Anglo American, resident Samuel Arregoces said.
He added: “While Anglo American makes its profits, La Guajira is being polluted and dying of thirst. (This is) capital at the expense of our blood and our displacement.”
London Mining Network campaign co-chair Andy Whitmore criticised corrupt companies for using green terminology such as “ethical,” “sustainable” and “responsible.”
He said: “Through events like the so-called Responsible Extractives Summit, companies have taken this language and strip-mined it of any meaning.
“The idea that serial offenders like Anglo American could be given a platform at an event calling itself ‘responsible’ must be a dark form of satire on the part of the organisers.”
Text of leaflet distributed:-
The Oxymoron Appreciation Society proudly presents: The Responsible Extractives Summit 2016
Welcome to two-days of mining companies conveniently omitting that their business model is built on ripping up the only planet we’ve got and displacing anything or anyone that gets in the way of doing so, often while producing vast quantities of climate-changing gas emissions, instilling violence in local communities and poisoning the air, land and water of those living near by!
While once words like ‘responsible’, ‘ethical’ and ‘sustainable’ were used to critique the mining industry, today they are embraced by miners, who have adapted their meanings to fit an essentially unchanged business model.
Join us to celebrate this creative use of the English language!
- Mamy Rakotondrainibe, from Madagascar, argues that QMM, Rio Tinto's Malagasy subsidiary, is involved in a “double land grab" in the name of environmental conservation. "To claim green credentials the company not only occupies community land at the mine but is also prohibiting local land use at the forest site claimed as 'biodiversity offset'. The biodiversity offset is increasing risk of hunger and deprivation of these subsistence farming communities as far as 50 kilometres away from the mine."
- London-based Anglo American, who tell us that ‘Taking care of our people is at the core of what we do,’ and yet are currently part of a consortium of mining firms in South Africa which are trying to avoid paying any compensation to half a million South African miners that developed incurable silicosis while working in their mines.
- London-listed Beowulf Mining is in an ongoing conflict with indigenous Saami over a proposed mine on their land in Sweden. Local Saami leaders have said “Beowulf Mining has consistently demonstrated a lack of respect for our rights through careless behavior and lack of control over its own exploration activities.”.
- OceanaGold is currently suing the government of El Salvador for $301 million, for not granting it a mining permit. In the Philippines local indigenous Igorot people barricading one of its mines. Ereneo Bobola, a local Igorot leader of SAPAKKMMI, in Didipio, asks “Is this responsible mining? OceanaGold has brought us nothing but suffering.”
- "In countries around the world, Barrick Gold takes advantage of inadequate and poorly enforced regulatory controls to rob indigenous peoples of their lands, destroy sensitive ecosystems and agricultural land, support brutal police and security operations, and sue anyone who tries to report on it ... Swiss research firm Covalace compiled both quantative and qualitative data - spanning seven years and 581 companies - they listed Barrick as the 12[th] least ethical company in the world."
"While Anglo American makes its profits, La Guajira is being polluted and dying of thirst. Capital at the expense of our blood and our displacement.
La Guajira : 30 years of sadness, suffering, displacement and impunity. And the companies call themselves responsible?
Anglo Americans actions do not contribute to peace in our Guajiran lands - they are the cause of forced displacement."
- Samuel Arregoces, FECONADEMIGUA, Colombia
For more on ‘Responsible Extractives,’ visit the fiction section of your local library, or visit http://responsibleextractives.tumblr.com/ to hear the true story of London-based companies
They've taken our resources, now they've come to appropriate our language!
Stay tuned for our upcoming events on ‘Military Intelligence’ and ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’!
Brought to you by the people in the business of celebrating combinations of words that have no business being used together.
Rio Tinto in Madagascar: A mine destroying the unique biodiversity of the littoral zone of Fort Dauphin
New Article from WRM & RE:Common
21 June 2016
Representatives from the world's most notorious mining companies are meeting at the 'Responsible Extractives Summit' in London, England, on 21 and 22 June. The World Rainforest Movement and Re:Common are joining London Mining Network in exposing the environmental destruction and human rights violations this industry is responsible for with the release of a new article about a biodiversity offset project used by Rio Tinto to greenwash destruction of a rare forest at the company's ilmenite mine in south-eastern Madagascar. The article shows how villagers at one of three biodiversity offset locations are left with only the sand dunes to cultivate their staple food, manioc and looks at the role that conservation NGOs and botanical institutions such as Kew and Missouri Botanical Gardens play in greenwashing a mining operation that is destroying a unique coastal forest and local peasant livelihoods to extract 40 years worth of raw material for the production of industrial white paint.
For the article in English, see: http://wrm.org.uy/other-relevant-information/rio-tinto-in-madagascar-a-mine-destroying-the-unique-biodiversity-of-the-littoral-zone-of-fort-dauphin/
A French version of the article is available at: http://wrm.org.uy/fr/autres-informations-pertinentes/rio-tinto-a-madagascar-une-mine-detruit-la-biodiversite-unique-de-la-zone-littorale-de-fort-dauphin/