Philippines Mining Activist Wins 2012 Goldman Prize

April 16, 2012 • Payal Sampat

Today is a red-letter day for grassroots mining activists around the world: Fr. Edwin Gariguez is awarded the 2012 Goldman Environmental Prize for his work to stop irresponsible mining development on Mindoro Island in the Philippines. I’m looking forward to seeing Fr. Edwin receive his award at the San Francisco Opera House this evening, along with 5 other amazing Prize recipients from around the world. (By the way, if you can’t be there, make sure you watch this video clip about Fr. Edwin, narrated by Robert Redford.)

Fr. Edu, as he is affectionately known, is being recognized by the Goldman Prize for working to defend the Indigenous communities and biological diversity of Mindoro from a giant nickel mine proposed by Intex, a Norwegian mining company. The mine would be built in two key biodiversity areas, and within one of Mindoro’s major watersheds, which provides drinking and irrigation water to many lowland communities. If developed, the nickel mine would destroy vast swaths of tropical forests, and would produce several million tons of toxic waste. Mindoro’s Mangyan Indigenous communities would also be hurt by the mine, as the proposed mining area is within their ancestral land. As Fr. Edu has said, “For the indigenous Mangyan people living on Mindoro Island, the struggle to protect our threatened ecology is a matter of survival.”

 

Troubled Waters – and no bridge to cross them

February 28, 2012 • Payal Sampat

The 313 million people who live in the United States send about 120 million tonnes of trash to landfills every year. That’s a lot of trash  - just think of all the photos you’ve seen of landfills overflowing with mountains of discarded refuse.

But that number pales in comparison with the amount of waste that mining corporations dump into oceans, rivers, and lakes around the world each year, which tops 180 million tonnes. These wastes can contain arsenic, lead, mercury, cyanide and over thirty other dangerous chemicals.

The staff at Earthworks and MiningWatch Canada have spent the past year investigating this egregious - and outdated – practice; we report our findings in a new study, Troubled Waters: How Mine Waste Dumping is Poisoning Our Ocean, Rivers and Lakes.

Report from the field: Tailings dam fails at silver mine in Turkey

May 11, 2011 • Payal Sampat


Google Earth image of the Kutahya area BEFORE the tailings dam breach. The tailings impoundment with three interior walls is at left.


Closeup of the Kutahya tailings impoundment after the breaches. Credit: Hasan G kvardar.

KUTAHYA, Turkey, May 10 Experts are urging residents near a silver mine in Western Turkey to evacuate after the failure of a dam holding back 15 million cubic meters of cyanide-laced mining waste. Heavy rain expected for the next three days could cause the dam to collapse, sending a river of deadly waste toward drinking water supplies and the Black Sea.

The dam, part of the mine operated by Eti Silver Corporation, failed Saturday, once again underscoring the inherent danger in dumping toxic mining waste in pools held back by dams. Hasan G kvardar, a mining engineer who is working with non-government organizations in the region to assess the situation, provided this firsthand report and accompanying photos:

Newmont at a crossroads: which path will it take?

April 21, 2011 • Payal Sampat

Yesterday was Newmont Mining Corporation s annual general meeting, held in Delaware.

Mass protest in 2004, the last time Newmont proposed expanding its Yanacocha mine into Cerro Quilish. Credit: GRUFIDES

Mass protest in 2004, the last time Newmont proposed expanding its Yanacocha mine into Cerro Quilish. Credit: GRUFIDES

In the weeks leading up to the AGM, reports started to trickle in about the world s second largest gold mining company s activities around Cerro Quilish, a mountain in northern Peru that is of spiritual significance and a water source for thousands of residents in and around Cajamarca.

This news was a turnaround from Newmont s decision to back off from its proposal to mine Cerro Quilish, following weeks of protest by the region s residents in Fall 2004, which temporarily shut down Newmont s operations at the Yanacocha mine near Cajamarca.

In the years since then, Newmont has taken steps that suggest it is trying to improve on this checkered track record with communities:

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Change.org teams up with the No Dirty Gold campaign!

March 24, 2011 • Payal Sampat

In recent months, tens of thousands of activists from Change.org, the world's fastest growing platform for social change, have lent their voices to the No Dirty Gold campaign's efforts to clean up irresponsible mining and are calling on jewelry retailers to provide alternatives to dirty gold.

Here s what Ben Rattray, Founder and CEO of Change.org had to say about US mega retailer Target s decision to sign on to the Golden Rules:

It's been incredible working with Earthworks, Target, and the over 20,000 Change.org members who have supported this commitment to responsible gold. This victory speaks to the power of collective consumer demand for ethically-produced goods. We expect this grassroots momentum to continue to other jewelry retailers who will pledge to follow the 'Golden Rules'.

All of us at the No Dirty Gold campaign extend our thanks to Change.org members for supporting our efforts and we re looking forward to continuing to collaborate in the months to come.

For more information: