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IPS News
By Badylon K. Bakiman

KIKWIT, DR Congo, Feb 24, 2011 (IPS) – While discussion of hydroelectric power on the Congo River is dominated by the massive Grand Inga project and the dream of power for the entire continent, construction of a series of smaller dams to benefit local communities may produce tangible results much more quickly. Read the rest of this entry »

UK firm’s partner ‘wanted Peru to curb priests in mine conflict areas’

Tim Webb
31 January 2011

A mining company in Peru part-owned by a British FTSE 100 company agitated for the removal of teachers and Catholic bishops to new posts away from “conflictive mining communities”, according to a leaked US cable obtained via WikiLeaks.

An executive of the company, in which BHP Billiton has a one-third stake, urged diplomats to persuade the Peruvian government and church to “rotate” such professionals out of sensitive areas, the secret document said. Read the rest of this entry »

In Janary 2010 farmers in Caroona, from the Liverpool Plains northwest of the Hunter Valley in New South Wales, Australia, lost the battle to block BHP Billiton from exploring for coal in fertile agricultural land. Chief Justice Brian Preston found that their were no grounds to rule the licence invalid.

Preston stressed that the court was not judging whether the licences should have been granted in the first place. Stating that the government had failed to follow due process when it issued BHP Billiton’s exploration licence farmers had blockaded against BHP Billitons exploration, fearing that the development of coalfields would damage their livelihoods and the water that they rely on. Read the rest of this entry »

Other Sides to the Story: Threatening Lives, the Environment and People’s Future
An Alternative Annual Report on BHP Billiton with case studies from across the world Case studies questioning BHP Billiton’s record on human rights, transparency and ecological justice.


BHP Billiton operates the Mozal aluminium smelter located 17 kilometres from Maputo, in a densely populated area in the outskirts of Matola city. Officially opened on 29 September 2000, the joint venture includes BHP Billiton (47.1 per cent), Mitsubishi Corporation (25 per cent), International Finance Corporation (IFC) (24 per cent), and the Government of Mozambique (3.9 per cent). Read the rest of this entry »

The Ok Tedi River, a tributary of the Fly River, is located in the Western Province of Papua New Guinea (PNG). Sourced in the rugged central mountain range of PNG, its water eventually flows – via the Fly River Delta – into the Gulf of Papua to the north of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The Ok Tedi Copper and Gold Mine is situated on Mount Fubilan at the source of this river, and its practice of dumping mine waste directly into the river system has made it the centre of international controversy since the 90s, when it was the subject of four lawsuits. Meanwhile, the people living along the Ok Tedi and Fly Rivers still find it difficult to feed their families due to the effects of this mine waste on food security.

Read the rest of this entry »

Threatening Lives, the Environment and the People’s Future

Lodged between two protected areas – the Pujada Bay Protected Seascape and Mt. Hamiguitan Range, a proclaimed wildlife sanctuary – Macambol is not the most logical site for a large-scale nickel laterite mining project. However, with the Philippine government aggressively promoting mining this area is under threat, along with the protected areas themselves. Read the rest of this entry »

The Ekati Diamond Mine, owned and operated by BHP Billiton, is located 350 kilometres north of the city of Yellowknife in Canada’s Northwest Territories. Read the rest of this entry »

The Escondida Mine (57.5% owned by BHP Billiton) is one of the largest copper mines in Chile and has the highest production levels in the country. Since its construction in the early 1990s there have been periodic spills from the pipeline taking copper concentrate across the Antofagasta region from the mine in the mountains to a pier in Coloso Bay to the south of the city of Antofagasta. Additionally, competition for scarce water sources near the mine site has led to conflicts with local farmers.

Local critics of the mine allege that the gravest environmental impacts have occurred in the bay itself, where contaminated waste water has drained into the sea and polluted the coast south of Antofagasta. The lack of baseline environmental studies in the area from before the mining activity began has meant that it is impossible to determine the exact impact on local ecosystems. According to divers and fisherfolk, severe damage has already been done. Monitoring of the waters in the port of Antofagasta has indicated a high level of contamination by heavy metals, although it is not possible to determine the extent to which this is due to the Escondida operations in Coloso Bay.

Conflicts between the residents of Coloso Bay and the company have come and gone. The company has contributed to the resolution of some of the problems. The most recent conflicts were caused by spills of copper concentrate near to the bay in early September 2009. Local fisherfolk and restaurant owners say that they have suffered serious economic loss as a result of the repeated spills because customers fear that fish from the bay will be contaminated – even when a spill has not in fact reached the sea. One restaurateur, Violeta Vargas, told local newspaper El Mercurio de Antofagasta that she lost more than half her customers after the most recent spill. Around 85 families live around the bay and all of them rely on the extraction and sale of marine products. They are calling for compensation from the company and action to ensure that spills do not occur again.

The mine has also been a source of tension with farming communities, because the area is extremely dry and the large quantity of water needed by mining operations conflicts with agricultural and residential use. In October 2007, the Regional Environmental Commission of Antofagasta (COREMA) rejected BHP Billiton’s Pampa Colorada project, which entailed the drilling of 35 new freshwater wells in northern Chile, to meet the water requirements of the Escondida Mine. The campesino communities of San Pedro de Atacama, Toconao, Socaire and Peine finally breathed a sigh of relief, after a year-long battle with the company. The Chilean Government is investigating plans to import water from the province of Salta in Argentina to provide for mining companies. There is opposition in Salta to the export of water to Chile.64

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