SOUTH AUSTRALIA: Olympic Dam Uranium Mine
BHP Billiton aims to dig a new open pit mine within its Olympic Dam Mine in Roxby Down, South Australia, despite opposition from Kokatha and Arabunna Traditional Owners and environmentalists. BHPB proposed an increase in water consumption from 35 million litres daily from the Great Artesian Basin (GAB), to 42 million litres from the GAB and an additional 218 million litres from local aquifers and a proposed desalination plant at Point Lowley.
WESTERN AUSTRALIA: Yandi and Area C
In Western Australia, conflict has developed between Aboriginal people and BHPB regarding land use. Rio Tinto constructed the Hope Downs mine on a site sacred to the Martidja Banyjima people, which has also impacted the region environmentally. Now BHPB plans to lease 200 square kilometres of their traditional land. In response, the Martidja Banyjima launched a legal campaign to protect remaining land.
Despite being upheld as a working model of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), First Nations communities near BHPB’s Ekati diamond mine are concerned about the lack of good jobs, barriers to full participation in planning phases of the mine, decreases in populations of wildlife and pollution due to spills and mine waste. Now, given the evidence that global warming trends appear to be already impacting northern expanses of tundra, local Indigenous communities have raised the issue that there is no mitigation plan in place to deal with the impacts of the thawing of the ground.
COLOMBIA: Cerrejon Coal Mine
BHPB is a 33% owner of Colombia’s Cerrejon Coal Mine, the largest opencast coal mine in the world. Alongside a history of forced relocations of Indigenous and Afrocolombian communities, conflicts continue with communities currently facing displacement and those already-displaced. Meanwhile, Cerrejon mine workers and local communities complain of coal dust which causes skin and respiratory problems.
CHILE: Minera Escondida
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 south of the city of Antofagasta. Additionally, competition for scare water sources near the mine site has led to conflicts with local farmers.
Democratic Republic of Congo: Inga 3 Hydro-Power Project
BHP Billiton is planning to develop a 2,000 MW aluminium smelter in the Democratic Republic of Congo, contingent upon the construction of the Inga 3 mega-hydropower site and a deep sea port. The DRC Government has neglected to fulfil its compensatory agreements with communities displaced by two existing dams at the same site for more than 40 years. Today, 9,000 people who have resided in the former construction workers’ camp for decades have been threatened with eviction due to pressures for development of the Inga hydropower site.
PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Ok Tedi Copper
The Ok Tedi Copper and Gold Mine which BHP Billiton formerly controlled is located near the Ok Tedi River in western Papua New Guinea. Mining wastes dumped into the river have ravaged the environment and reduced access to food and drinking water for nearby communities. Several lawsuits were filed against the Ok Tedi Mining Limited Company which resulted in compensation to the affected population, though little of the money makes it there. The mine continues to operate and discharge more than 80,000 tonnes of refuse into local rivers daily.
PERU: Antamina Mine
An Ancash Health Administration report found that mining sediment spills had led to levels of lead, copper and zinc in the Juprog River which were over the limits established by law, implying a risk for livestock and other agricultural use, as well as human health. Meanwhile, local newspapers reported that clashes with mine security seriously wounded 7 people who were protesting the company’s failure to fulfill agreements concerning relocation of farming communities.
Sibuyan, dubbed the Galapagos of Asia, is a small island in the central Philippines of just 44,500 hectares threatened with mining. After Armin Marin, an environmental activist, won a seat in a local council, he lobbied for the cancellation of mining permits in Sibuyan. Shortly after, he was shot dead during a protest against mining on the island. At the time of Marin’s death, BHP Billiton had an agreement for a loan of US$250,000 for exploration activities in Sibuyan, in exchange for 500,000 tonnes of nickel of the companies heading the exploration.
Pujada (Hallmark) Nickel:
The residents of Macambol are facing serious environmental threats, specifically the destruction of adjacent protected areas and their source of sustenance and livelihoods, due to mining exploration initiated in part by a BHPB subsidiary.
BHP Billiton’s subsidiary, Samancor Manganese, owns and operates a manganese alloy plant in the Vaal Triangle in the Gauteng province. In 1999, medical tests were carried out on hundreds of Samancor workers. Most were found to be suffering from manganese poisoning, including neurological disorders, chronic dizziness, paralysis of limbs, kidney failure and cancer. Instead of publishing the results of these tests, Samancor fired 509 workers. According to the Samancor Retrenched Workers Crisis Committee, a community group organizing in response to this scandal, more than 700 smelter workers have died over the last 10 years from causes connected to the toxic manganese residues in the air, soil and water.
USA: Resolution Copper mine
The San Carlos Apache Tribe of Arizona publicly opposes the Resolution Copper Project on their traditional lands proposed by BHPB and Rio Tinto. They assert that the proposed Resolution Copper mine at Chich’il Bildagoteel would destroy many particular ecosystems and would be a violation of their civil and religious rights. Tribe chairman Wendsler Nosie Sr. has requested the the Federal Government proceed with a full admininstrative review through an Environmental Impact Statement, so that they can fully analyze and discuss these impacts with the tribe.
WEST PAPUA: Raja Ampat
Raja Ampat’s biology has earned it a place at the top of the global short list of UNESCO World Heritage marine sites, but Gag Island, the site where BHPB had hoped to develop a nickel mine and a site previously listed as within this area, was excluded –under BHPB’s watch – from this nomination. Additionally, destructive small-scale mining on Manuran Island within the Raja Ampat archipelago has been rewarded by BHP through import sales.