MAC: Mines and Communities

UK protestors get very attached to global mining giant

Published by MAC on 2008-08-19

Coal protest team glued to doors

BBC News (London)

11th August 2008

Nine people, seven from Oxford, took part in the 90-minute protest at BHP Billiton's headquarters in Victoria from 1510 BST.

They protested against the further use of coal as an energy source. The firm confirmed that the protest took place.

About 1,500 people protested on the same issue near Kingsnorth power station in Kent last weekend.

On Monday, protesters glued themselves to doors and windows in the building's lobby and scattered coal over its foyer.

There was no violence and there were no raised voices

Protester Inez Carpentier said: "Expansion of the coal industry is unacceptable in the face of impending climate chaos.

"Mining giants such as BHP are undermining collective action on climate change."

One of the protesters, who did not want to be named, said he climbed onto a beam in the lobby.

"BHP is the biggest coal company in the world. (see note *) Since everyone is aware of climate change we decided to take action against them."

Protesters glued their hands to the glass doors. He added: "We chose this method as we thought it was the most appropriate. There was no violence and there were no raised voices."

After talking to police officers the protesters released themselves from the doors and windows. No-one was arrested.

BHP Billiton confirmed that the protest took place at their headquarters but would make no further comment.

The activists, from Oxford and Thames Valley Climate Action, were part of the weekend's Climate Camp protest in Kent.

They had protested against energy firm E.On's plans to build new coal-fired units.

On Saturday they held a day of action which saw 50 activists arrested and 123 taken out of the River Medway.

Climate campers target mining corporation


12th August 2008

An affinity group from Thames Valley Climate Action, inspired by this year's climate camp, occupied the lobby of BHP Billiton today, supergluing themselves to the doors and windows and climbing onto part of the architecture. After several hours, they managed to negotiate leaving without any arrests.

BHP are the world's biggest mining corporation. Based in Australia, they are responsible for mining hundreds of tonnes of coal, as well as for human rights abuses worldwide. One example is their involvement in Cerrejón, the world's biggest opencast mine (**) in Colombia, which has displaced 14, 000 people.

With all this in mind we decided to disrupt business as usual at BHP's head offices in London. We scattered coal in the lobby, glued to the revolving doors and nearby windows, while a second door nearby was D-locked. Meanwhile a team of mischievous ferrets slipped upstairs in suits to see what else could be done, while others held a banner outside saying 'BHP: Undermining the future' (a play on their vacuous corporate slogan) and leafleted the intrigued passers-by.

When the 'ferrets' were dragged back down to the lobby, they joined the rest of us. One of them also glued to the revolving door, while the other held a 'Coal Hearted Killers' banner and eventually managed to scramble up onto a bit of the structure.

A couple of cops eventually showed up, but there was a tangible reluctance on the part of BHP to escalate the situation; they seemed to want to do anything necessary to get us to quietly go away! It was mainly because of this (and because they didn't have any easy way of getting the climber down) that we were able to negotiate getting everyone away without arrest, after the glued on folk had been unglued by the police using a special chemical solution.

We adjourned to a nearby pub where we sat in mild shock at having done what we planned to do without the expected hassle of arrests..

We can heartily recommend paying them a visit! The massive plate glass windows provide a good view for passers-by, media etc.

BHP Billiton Plc, Neathouse Place Victoria, London, SW1V 1BH

* Editorial note: BHP Billiton is not the world's biggest coal producing company, though it claims to be the largest suppier of seaborne traded hard coking coal.

The company's combined thermal and coking (metallurgical grade) output in 2007 was some 130 million tonnes (81 million tonnes thermal; around 50 million tones metallurgical).

Peabody Energy in the US is the biggest private coal company of all and last year produced 238 million tonnes, mainly of thermal coal.

Rio Tinto's output of thermal coal was 155 million tonnes in 2007 - almost double that of BHP Billiton .

Xstrata (UK-Switzerland) claims to be the world's biggest exporter of coal, while Indonesia is widely judged to be the most important source of exported coal.

Thus, three publicly traded companies with their primary, (Rio Tinto, Xstrata) or secondary (BHP Billiton), corporate headquarters in London - along with one US giant - dominate the global coal market.

** Editorial note. The El Cerrejon operations in Colombia are far outweighed by Peabody Energy's Powder River mines in Wyoming which, in 2007, produced more than 160 millions tonnes of coal.


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