Originally published on Bulatlat.com by Clemente Bautista, director of Kalikasan PNE.
Unified in addressing various people’s concerns on destructive mining across the globe, various environmental advocates, campaigners, and grassroots leaders worldwide will be launching the International People’s Conference on Mining 2015 (IPCM) in Quezon City, Philippines from July 30 to August 1, with the theme “Highlighting people’s lives and struggles in defense of rights, the environment and a common future: An international conference of mining communities and peoples.”
The IPCM aims to stimulate international inquiry, individual and collective action, and multi-sectoral discourse on the worsening impacts of global mining liberalization. A series of thought-provoking discussions and empowering workshops, the IPCM is an opportunity to assess the global mining situation, share experiences and lessons from people’s struggles, and strengthen the call for a global mining that is shaped by the people’s demands and aspirations.
The host country, Philippines, will conduct Learning and Solidarity Missions in the mine-affected communities in the provinces of Benguet and Nueva Vizcaya to concretely demonstrate the experiences of people’s struggles against large-scale mining in the Philippines.
Around 100 participants from 28 different countries are expected to join the conference, composed of residents of mining-affected communities, indigenous peoples, church workers, lawyers, legislators, artists, alternative media practitioners, environmental activists, and scientists, among others.
This historic gathering is a point of confluence for heightening resistance to destructive, foreign mining in the Philippines that are of global significance. Various people’s movements are rising to oppose mining threats across the coastal provinces of the Verde Island Passage, the global ‘center of the center’ of marine biodiversity, alongside different campaigns against destructive mining across the entire Pacific Coral Triangle.
The IPCM also comes on the heels of the recent pull-out of Anglo-Swiss mining firm Glencore—the biggest mining corporation in the world with various projects and offices across North America, South America, Asia, Africa, Europe, and —from the Tampakan mining project in Mindanao.
The IPCM will be a stage for the celebration of such victories and advancements in the people’s struggles against the destructive impacts of large-scale mining. We aim to gather inspiration and lessons from such successes as the opposition of the Diaguita indigenous community of the Chilean Atacama against the Barrick Gold open-pit mine in their ancestral lands in 2013, or the Dongria Kondh tribe rejection of the London-based Vedanta Resources’ bauxite mine in India.
Various other leaders, experts, and campaigners will grace the plenary and workshops of the IPCM. Among them is Atty. Selcuk Kocagacli, the chairperson of ÇHD-Turkey and counsel for the victims of the 2014 Soma Coal Mine fire disaster in Turkey, who will deliver the keynote address highlighting the importance of the defense of people’s rights and the environment.
Environmental geochemist Prof. Ron Watkins, director of the Environmental Inorganic Geochemistry Group (EIGG) of Curtin University, is a leading expert on the nature and management of mining pollution, and will be discussing the risks that communities face in amidst mining operations.
Catherine Coumans, the Asia-Pacific Program Coordinator of MiningWatch Canada, is a long-time campaigner who witnessed firsthand the negative impacts of the Marcopper mining project now currently owned by Canada’s Barrick Gold. Coumans will present an outlook of global corporate mining and its challenges to mining campaigners.
The IPCM is jointly organized by various environmental and social movements in the Philippines and the world, namely the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, Center for Environmental Concerns – Philippines, Jaringan Advokasi Tambang Mining Advocacy Network (Indonesia), Kairos Canada, Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, EcuVoice Philippines, International Association of Democratic Lawyers, Pacific Asia Resource Centre, London Mining Network, Geneeskunde Derde Wereld (Belgium), War on Want (United Kingdom), Australia Action for Peace and Development in the Philippines, Solidagro (Belgium), Asia Indigenous People’s Pact, and the International League of Peoples’ Struggle – Commission 13.