Good news from the world of mining isn’t just coming in the form of improvised telephones for trapped miners in Chile.
Today we learned that the Indian Ministry of Environment and Forests has rejected a mining project proposed by UK-based Vedanta Resources, after finding that the project already violates forest and environmental laws and would abuse the rights of the Dongria Kondh tribal people.
It’s been a long battle for the Dongria Kondh, who faced having a huge open-cast bauxite mine situated on top of Niyamgiri, a mountain that they consider sacred. As they live on the mountain it would also have impacted on their livelihoods and rights to clean air and water.
The government also suspended the clearance process for the six-fold expansion of the Lanjigarh alumina refinery at the foothills of Niyamgiri, operated by Vedanta subsidiary Vedanta Aluminium, after a government’s expert committee found it to be illegal.
When Amnesty visited the refinery last year and spoke to the people who live all around it, people complained of air, water and noise pollution affecting their health.
Of course, it’s not the end of the campaign. Vedanta can appeal against the decision. And they will certainly want to mine their bauxite somewhere else, so we will need to ensure that the same abuses don’t happen all over again to a different set of people.
But it’s a landmark decision and I imagine there are celebrations tonight among the people who live on and around Niyamgiri.
“After years of struggle and visits by committees our voice has finally reached Delhi,” a Dongria Kondh leader told our researcher today.
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