Tuesday, 24 March 2009
Pebble Mine, a risk to the villages? (updated)
Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, chairman of Anglo American, the mining giant providing most of the financial backing for the Pebble copper and gold prospect, is visiting Alaska this weekend.
Moody-Stuart will visit Iliamna, Newhalen, Dillingham, Naknek and Anchorage to meet with Bristol Bay stakeholders and community leaders.
His track record is not all that wonderful. Subsidiaries of Anglo American and Shell, of which he was a director, are responsible for human rights violations.
IPS News, February 2008:
It's an interesting sign of the times when the chairman of a mining company notorious for illegally evicting subsistence farmers to increase international coal exports is invited to lecture on "sustainability".
He says he doesn't believe profit should be the driving force for corporations. "The ultimate goal of a company is to produce quality goods and services," he told the audience. "There is not much trust in big business these days."
Activists, however, weren't buying what Sir Moody was selling. One audience member, a master's student at Saint Mary's University, accused him of "corporate green washing" while others held colour photos of Colombian families displaced by Anglo American's operations.
The Cerrejon mine, owned by Anglo American and two other multinationals, is the largest open pit coal mine in the world.
Bronwen White and other students showed video footage of Tabaco's destruction prior to Sir Moody's presentation. In it, a small girl with pigtails and pink overalls cries and pushes against the shields of Colombian riot police as bulldozers ram her family's home while other community members scream and wail.
Prior to its destruction, Tabaco boasted a school, health clinic, good farmland and a telephone exchange. Today, most former residents have joined three million internally displaced Colombians eking out a living however they can.
Mines and Communities, February 2008:
This is a farming community populated primarily by Afro-Colombians, destroyed by Cerrejon's coal mine bulldozers in 2001-2002 to expand coal exports.
Now Cerrejon might invest on a major expansion, the company president has announced. As a result, villagers from four more settlements - Roche, Pantilla, Chancleta and Tamaquito - are threatened with displacement.
The Independent, UK:
On Anglo Gold, June 2007
Back in 2005, a Human Rights Watch report highlighted the alleged involvement of AngloGold Ashanti, a subsidiary of Anglo American, in developing links with the Nationalist and Integrationist Front in Congo. The report claimed that the FNI, blamed for a number of atrocities, gained help from AngloGold Ashanti in accessing a gold- mining site near the town of Mongbwalu. Human Rights Watch also said local warlords and international companies "are among those benefiting from access to gold-rich areas while local people suffer from ethnic slaughter, torture and rape."
On Shell, May 2001
Shell has refused to publish the independent report it commissioned on its multimillion-pound community development programme in Nigeria, despite denying that the document is secret.
Pressure on the oil giant was increased yesterday when Glenys Kinnock, the MEP and patron of the Ogoni Foundation, a human rights group, wrote to Shell demanding that it publish the independent report.
Shell was driven from oil-rich Ogoniland in 1993 by local people led by the human rights activist Ken Saro-Wiva. He accused the company of destroying the environment. He was executed by Nigeria's government two years later.
In view of these reports, it seems appropriate to ask what will happen to the Alaskan villages near Pebble Mine.
UPDATE: I have just read an article about Kensington Mine near Juneau and the implications of a Supreme Court ruling on other mining projects, including Pebble Mine. It's frightening. Link to previous post about Kensington Mine: Dirty gold but no Sarah Palin... yet
Report about Sir Mark's visit: ADN
Colombian coal mine: IPS News, Mines and Communities
Anglo Gold, 2007: Independent UK
Shell, 2001: Independent UK
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