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Mining Monitor - June 2014

Hard to believe it's June already. Here at MPI we are not that into financial years (apart from accounting, audits, budgets etc....) preferring to keep an eye on mining instead. And while it is hard for any small civil society organisation to measure progress against the mining industry,  2013/14  has been an impressive year for MPI.

While not claiming to have reformed the entire industry, we have done some great work across a number of projects, countries and foci. I'm particularly pleased with our Hidden Valley documentary, directed by MPI's Jessie Boylan, which our members can now see for the first time (follow link, password: mpi). Pleased because MPI was the conduit for the message from affected communities, as reflects our approach. The message from the Morobe communities in the 22 minute documentary was about self-determination and responsible development, decided by the people, not mining companies or remote governments.  Lets us know what you think.

2013/14 has also been a good year for MPI research. In some ways, returning to the late 1990's and early 2000's when MPI was larger and we could do more original research, aimed at changing the way mining is practiced.  In late May a new book on the extractive industry in Western Australia was launched, entitled Resource Curse or Cure? It examines the impact of the mining industry from a variety of perspectives including women, Indigenous, environment, regulatory (more below). MPI's Executive Director and our Chair, Dr Gavin Mudd co-authored a chapter on Mining and the Environment in WA. This added to the papers MPI contributed to the  Secretariat of the Pacific Community's, Deep Sea Mining Series in late 2013.  The two chapters, Drivers for the Development of Deep Sea Minerals in the Pacific (co-authored with John Feenan) and Anticipating Social and Community Impacts of Deep Sea Mining (co-authored with Sara Bice) sought to identify potential impacts and apply a bit of honesty and scrutiny to what is really driving the increasing interest in deep sea mining. (publications link).

In Australia, our Mining Legacies project grew considerably. The project has a long-term aim - to get Australia to recognise and accept responsibility for the many thousands of legacy sites across Australia. In coming weeks we will be further improving the website and presenting a paper to the AusIMM Life-of-Mine Conference in July.  The paper sets us the challenge of mining legacies, the need for reform and federal multilateral states/territory action (lookout for paper in July MM).

Much also happens behind the scenes with little fanfare. I would like to thank all of MPI volunteers and supporters for their volunteer and financial contributions that enables our work.  So that together we can help mining affected communities and work on longer term reform. Special thanks to Josette, Gavin, Mia, Richard, Adam, Jessie and Andrea who make it all possible. To our monthly donors, thank you for making this year possible.

MPI is fiercely protective of our independence. While much of our work is voluntary, we do need funds to keep the door open (figuratively - we have a virtual office), to be in a position to take on the important (but un-funded) work as well as to continue seek funding for our projects. So I ask you to please consider becoming a monthly donor. A small monthly donation from you, can make an enormous difference to the work we do as a small, industry specialist CSO.

Thank you, Charles Roche, Executive Director (Honorary) MPI.
 

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Porgera Burns 
 
MORE than 200 houses were burnt to the ground in Porgera [PNG] by security personnel in the call-out operation during an early morning raid on Friday 6th June. There have been claims that the houses, belonging to landowners of the special mining lease area, have accommodated illegal [unauthorised] miners. Angry locals from Wingima village, where the raid was conducted, in retaliation attacked and injured an Australian man trying to take pictures of the burning houses.

Though police sources said only 20 houses built from bush materials were burnt after they were reported to be harbouring illegal [unauthorised] miners who entered the open pit and underground mines, local MP Nixon Mangape and several local leaders said more than 200 houses, some of them permanent, were razed to the ground.

Read the rest of the article by Johnny Poiya, Post Courier, June 10th, 2014
Resource Curse or Cure?
 
In May, past Premier of Western Australia, Dr Carmen Lawrence (read her preface here) officially launched a new edited book (Brueckner, M, Durey, A, Mayes, R & Pforr, R) examining the extractive industry in WA from a multi-facceted perspective. The book, entitled Resource Curse or Cure? On the Sustainability and Development of Western Australia offers a comprehensive critique of the development path in WA. The chapters build on earlier work by Harman and Head (1982) that demonstrated the growing strength of a developmentalist ideology in Western Australia and its role in mineral development in the state.

MPI Executive Director, Charles Roche and Chair Dr. Gavin Mudd contributed a chapter, 'An Overview of Mining and the Environment in Western Australia'. which identifies and explores the common environmental effects of mining in Western Australia (WA). Utilising unique state-specific data, it examines site-specific factors with reference to metals, mine life cycle, cumulative impacts and temporal disturbance. Emerging trends are discussed with specific reference to WA including in relation to production, ore grades, waste, scale, socio-environmental issues and mine legacy impacts. Finally it explores the constraints on effective environmental management imposed by the WA approach to mining development and discuss challenges for the effective environmental management of mining.  Book available via publishers website. 
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MPI related news: 

"Better Things to Do", the renewable revolution on display: MPI Chair Dr Gavin Mudd spoke at a renewable energy forum in Perth on the 10th June (this week), coinciding with the International Uranium Conference. The renewable energy forum outlined the dire need to do things differently to move out of old energy and embrace the renewable energy revolution, citing the environmental cost of mining coal, uranium and gas fracking. The forum titled Better Things To Do was a showcase of the exciting transitions in energy and the need for community action through divestment and community based energy dissent projects. With over 100 people in attendance and over a dozen organisation represented highlighted the momentum in developing renewable energy in Australia and beyond. 
ExxonMobil's New Guinea Nightmare
[Photo: Tumbi Quarry, PNG July 2013, Olivier Pollet]
Secrets Beneath The Rubble: ExxonMobil In Papua New Guinea
Published by the Huffington Post, May 01, 2014, by Ian T. Shearn

There are some disturbing facts buried in the debris of ExxonMobil’s $19 billion liquefied natural gas project in Papua New Guinea, which was funded in part by a U.S. government loan. In 2012, a landslide from an ExxonMobil quarry there killed 27 people -- a disaster ExxonMobil and the government of Papua New Guinea declared to be an act of God. Other evidence, however, paints a very different picture -- and also reveals the entire project is fuelling civil unrest that may be approaching a boiling point.

A short documentary, When We Were Hela: ExxonMobil in Papua New Guinea, which accompanies an in-depth piece published April 30 in The Nation, looks at what actually happened in landslide in Papua New Guinea. This documentary was made by Olivier Pollet and Ian T. Shearn and can be seen here. 
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MPI's 22 minute documentary Hidden Valley, about mining in the Morobe Province, PNG, was screened alongside Colour Change about the Ok Tedi mine in PNG, at a film night and fundraiser for the West Papua campaign on May the 1st. The night brought around 50 people into Kindness House in Fitzroy, Victoria, and promoted discussion about the issues as well as ways forward for the West Papua campaign as well as mining issues in Papua New Guinea. We welcome any individual, organisation or collective to screen our film at any event, film night, fundraiser, community meeting, etc. Contact us to get a copy and see if anyone from MPI can come along to talk about the film and the issues in PNG. 

Earthworker, Dignified Work on a Healthy Planet

The Earthworker Cooperative is off to a good start this year, as it begins to distribute its renewable energy products. The Earthworker project is a creative response to the challenges of climate change and the need for local job creation. The project is addressing both these questions by facilitating the establishment of worker-owned cooperatives throughout Australia in sustainability-focused industries.

The current move to distribution has been the result of a 16-year development between trade unions and green movements across the country, also involving small-scale businesses that have been financially damaged by the neoliberal policies of the state and federal governments for the past two decades. While groups in this alliance have traditionally been divided over many issues, they have rallied behind the Earthworker project. Few projects have received endorsements from both the CFMEU Mining Division and the direct action environmental group Quit Coal.

At its heart, Earthworker holds recognition of the urgent need to move beyond coal as an energy source. This recognition considers both the reality of climate change, and also the negative health impacts of mining and burning coal, in particular for communities where coal mining occurs and coal power plants operate (for example in the Latrobe Valley). This recognition informs Earthworker’s ultimate goal of setting up a worker-owned factory, named Eureka’s Future, in Morewell in the Latrobe Valley to make and distribute renewable energy products. These include solar-powered water heating systems, heating pumps and solar ventilators. Read the rest of the article here.  Join the crowd-funding campaign that begins on June 16th. 

Australian uranium mining in Greenland is tearing the country in half
By Antony Loewenstein,
The Guardian, May 15, 2014

This is a story about an Australian company you’ve never heard of, operating in a nation that rarely enters the global media: Greenland. It's a story about the intense search for energy sources in a world that’s moving away from the dirtiest fossil fuels.

Aleqa Hammond, the prime minister of Greenland, is the first woman to lead this autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark. She also welcomes the financial opportunities from climate change and a melting Arctic Circle.

“I simply refuse to be the victimised people of climate change”, she told Business Week this month. “This time we have other options than just hunting. We have the right now to our own underground.”. Read the rest of the article here. 
Mining's Multi-Billion Dollar Black Hole
[Photo: Mount Morgan Mine Discharge, QLD, 2012, by Jessie Boylan / MPI]
Article by Mike Seccombe in The Saturday Paper, May 24th, 2014
 
As the boom ends, poor oversight and lax bonds leave governments stuck with an enormous bill for mining’s clean-up. 

Back in the good old days, there was no green tape for miners to worry about. Dig it up, ship it out, leave the mess behind. Consider Mount Morgan, near Rockhampton in Queensland, at one time the largest goldmine in the world. In the 100 years to 1981 it produced about 262 tonnes of gold, 37 tonnes of silver and 387,000 tonnes of copper, as well as 134 million tonnes of waste rock and overburden.

Then the price of gold fell and the price of the cyanide used to extract the gold rose, and the mine’s then-operators walked away, leaving behind the old pit, flooded with billions of litres of acidic water and elevated levels of 18 elements, including lead, cobalt, cadmium, copper, manganese. Read the rest of the article here. 

more about Mount Morgan Mining Legacy issues via Mining Legacies Project
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We are currently looking for a volunteer coordinator as well as the usual call for anyone who wants to help mining affected communities
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© Mineral Policy Institute 2014

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PO Box 6043, Girrawheen WA 6064 AUSTRALIA

 
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