The rising anti-mining lobby worldwide

In his presentation to the World Mining Investment Congress in London last week, Steve Kay of International Minerals Corp spoke in detail about the rise of anti-mining factions. This is a subject that John Chadwick addressed in the Leader in International Mining’s May issue – focussing on Gabriel’s problems in Romania and those of Ascendant Copper in Ecuador. In the June issue, Chadwick tackles the subject further, looking back at the NGO bullying and terrorism that Newmont Minahasa Raya, and particularly its President Richard Ness, suffered in Indonesia, and a more recent Paladin Resources uranium project in Malawi where NGOs sought to speak for local stakeholders against the express wishes of those stakeholders.

Steve Kay last week noted the following points:

  • Smallscale, domestic mining activities worldwide typically show the ‘ugly’ face of mining in terms of environmental damage and poor mining practices
  • Historically the international mining companies have done a poor job of advertising that they operate a well-regulated industry with significant socio-economic benefits
  • Growth of anti-mining NGOs is fuelled by the nationalistic tendencies of certain governments, particularly in South America
  • Anti-mining NGOs strong focus on South America primarily because it is the number one recipient of worldwide exploration dollars (2006 – 25% of $7.1 billion)
  • Typically anti-mining NGOs have no other agenda other than to stop mining activities worldwide, often irrespective of the wishes of local communities
  • Extremely well-funded and apolitical, anti-mining NGO’s may pose more risk to the mining industry worldwide than all other project-related risks (technical, environmental, political, metal prices, etc).