Facing the Facts: Mining's Sustained Impact

May 7, 2002

Key national environment groups have called on the Australian mining industry to match rhetoric with action and commit to fundamental change at the launch of the Mining, Minerals and Sustainable Development (MMSD) project today in Melbourne.

The MMSD project is part of the Global Mining Initiative (GMI), an industry funded and driven process aimed at improving the community perception of a sector that has been increasingly troubled by protests over the impacts of mining operations from labour, environment and indigenous groups.

"Many groups around the world remain sceptical about the intent and practical outcomes of MMSD and the wider GMI," said Mineral Policy Institute Director Geoff Evans. "The mining industry's worst affected communities, including Fly and Ok Tedi River landowners, were not consulted during this process. The industry is failing to learn from its past mistakes, for example the MMSD would not prevent a future Ok Tedi style disaster."

The MMSD report lacks a credible commitment to improve practices as:

  • it fails to rule out ocean and river disposal of mine wastes
  • the industry push for mining in protected areas continues

Environment groups have called on the mining industry to match green rhetoric with action by adopting a framework that supports:

  • mandatory codes of conduct and effective national and international regulation
  • recognition and respect for indigenous, labour and community rights
  • prohibition of uranium mining and the use of cyanide in gold processing

"The mining industry is currently failing to meet community expectations of responsible corporate behaviour," said Friends of the Earth mining spokesperson Bruce Thompson. "Voluntary regulation is not working and there are growing social and environmental impacts from mining operations."

The GMI will be launched at an industry conference in Canada next week and will be heavily promoted by global miners at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Rio + 10) forum later this year in Johannesburg.

"From Jabiluka to the Danube the operations of Australian mining companies are under the spotlight," said ACF campaigner Dave Sweeney. " This old industry must change the way it works, not just the way it talks."

For further information contact:

Bruce Thompson
Friends of the Earth, Australia
Mob: 0417 318 368

Geoff Evans
Mineral Policy Institute
Mob: 0418 261 404

Dave Sweeney
Australian Conservation Foundation
Mob: 0408 317 812