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One might think that while reviewing some of its environmental and social safeguard policies, the World Bank might hesitate to approve support for controversial mining projects that civil society groups express tremendous concern about. Well, guess again. Just yesterday, the Bank approved a guarantee for a new destructive mining project in Indonesia.

That’s correct. The World Bank’s Executive Directors yesterday signed off on a guarantee by the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) for the Weda Bay Nickel mining project on Halmahera, North Moluku, Indonesia. The US Director was the only one of the 23 to abstain from support of the project.

The Bank made this decision after we worked with an international coalition of groups to convey the concerns about the mine to the Bank, including by sending independent reviews of the mine assessments and impacts related to water and biodiversity.

The mining project, owned by mining companies Eramet, Mitsubishi, and PT Antam, would threaten the livelihoods and lands of Indigenous Peoples. It would also log and bulldoze thousands of hectares of intact tropical forest to make way for roads and nickel mine pits. That same forest is part of a proposed buffer zone for the Aketajawe-Lolobata National Park and is habitat for protected and endangered species. The clearing would lead to massive erosion and sedimentation of the rivers and the ocean. The mine would also dump its processing waste water into the ocean at only 15 m of depth not far from coral reefs. The independent reviews demonstrated that these impacts are likely to be severe and that the project assessment documents did not meet the supposed policies of the World Bank.

Perhaps MIGA will still come to its senses. Either way, the opposition to the project will only grow from here.

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