Australian Mining Exports: Voices from the Ground
The global push to replace fossil fuel energy sources with ‘cleaner’ alternatives for the ‘green’ economy is generating a significant increase in demand for the raw materials including lithium, rare earths, copper, nickel, cobalt, manganese, among others. Aid/Watch poses the question: What are the economic, social, and environmental costs of digging up these raw materials?
At Aid/Watch we are calling for the urgent need to protect natural ecosystems and local community rights against the rapid increase in extraction of minerals and metals for the ‘green’ transition in the name of climate action and to expose greenwashing of all forms of dirty mining. Under the project Australian Mining Exports: Against Australia’s Toxic Legacy in the Global South kindly funded by the Tucker Foundation, Aid/Watch has engaged in research, communications and advocacy in 2020 and 2021 to expose the radioactive toxic legacy that is being imposed on the environment and local communities in Malaysia by Australian-owned and ASX-listed Lynas Rare Earths.
Despite the pandemic and not being able to undertake research on the ground with local communities living near the LAMP in Kuantan, we believe we have utilised the Tucker Foundation grant for successful outcomes. These have included:
- Residents of Greater Kuantan have been spared risks to their drinking water from being contaminated with Lynas’ toxic hazards because of the eight expert reports and over 650+ public submissions rejecting Lynas’ Environmental Impact Assessment resulting with the Malaysia’s Department of Environment listing Lynas’ EIA for the facility as rejected. the longer term, the awareness efforts will benefit specific local contacts and families living in the immediate surrounding villages near the LAMP;
- Building connections with Kalgoorlie residents in Western Australia who are opposed to the proposed Lynas’ Kalgoorlie rare earths cracking and separation plant, this included Aid/Watch providing key information;
- Further highlighting concerns by through our ongoing research to show the impacts of the LAMP rare earth processing facility in Malaysia on the environment and local community in order to demand corporate accountability and to launch (revive) a solidarity campaign against Australia’s toxic legacy in the Global South;
- Utilising Lynas its radioactive legacy as a case study for other research that is being undertaken by partners including the future release from Mineral Policy Institute, Yes to Life No to Mining emblematic cases and a case study for the Pandemic Mining research being conducted globally that will be launched in November 2021
- Building new networks including the Mining Energy Justice Transformation network in Australia and the Yes to Life No to Mining working group on Rare Earths. The latter has included sharing information and research with Swedish partners who are concerned about new plans to mine and process rare earths near a significant lake and water source to surrounding populations in Sweden; and
- Supporting Malaysian lawyers who are representing three local residents in Kuantan with our research to present evidence in what they consider to be a landmark legal case later this year against the licencing of Lynas Rare Earths processing plant, the LAMP, and their radioactive waste.
We are very grateful to the Tucker Foundation for the opportunity to undertake this work over 2020 and 2021. Not only does this benefit the local communities who have opposed Lynas Rare Earths processing plant in Kuantan, Malaysia it has enabled us to strengthen networks and alliances and build new ones, as wells a build our research as evidence towards the OECD complaint against Lynas Rare Earths through the Australian National Contact Point (AusNCP).