Colombians evicted for BHP Billiton coal mine challenged firm at London AGM: comments

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A Colombian delegation grilled BHP Billiton execs at their AGM over the mining giant’s environmental and human rights violations in Colombia. The AGM came just weeks after the latest eviction of the village of Roche, near the Cerrejon coal mine.

BHP Billiton is an Anglo-Australian multinational mining, metals and petroleum company headquartered in Perth, Australia. It is the world’s largest mining company measured by 2013 revenues. in 2014 it had made a profit of $15.2bn.

In 2013, BHP Billiton was listed as one of the 90 companies that extract and market fossil fuels responsible for two-thirds of global greenhouse gas emissions since the beginning of the industrial age.

Here are quotes from the protest

Samuel Arregoces, FECONADEMIGUA (Afro-Colombian from the village of Tabaco, forcibly evicted in 2001 to expand BHP’s Cerrejon coal mine): “The company has privatised our water. The little water we have is under their territorial control. We cannot grow on our land … the little land we have left is contaminated. We cannot live a healthy life; the water, rivers and streams and waters are polluted. We are uprooted.”

“The story of the coal mining has been 30 years of destruction, 30 years of sadness, 30 years of pain”.

Danilo Urrea, CENSAT Agua Vida (Friends of the Earth Colombia): “One person in La Guajira can use less than 1 litre of water per day. The Cerrejon coal mine uses more than 30 million litres per day.

“At the moment there are peace accords being formulated in Colombia. Yet the extractive industries which are at the heart of the conflict are not featured. There cannot be peace solutions without taking into account the extractive industries. We do want to see disarmament, but there cannot be peace without justice, and you can’t have justice under current situation with regard to extractives.

“The investments from the likes of pension funds leave us with a big problem, which is the financialisation of nature. There is a problem of investors effectively controlling lands, just so they can make money out of the coal being in the ground as a future investment”

Liam Barrington-Bush, London Mining Network: “What the recent Roche evictions make clear, is that BHP Billiton and their fellow-London-based co-owners, still require the use of violence against local people in order to be profitable at the Cerrejon coal mine. The company is driving people off their lands, in order to dig up a dirty fuel that the climate can’t afford for us to burn.

“At a time when more and more institutions are divesting from fossil fuels, we hope BHP’s shareholders will see that not only is the company’s deep investment in coal morally questionable for the communities on the ground, it is economically suspect, setting the company up for a portfolio full of stranded assets, as the global market continues to turn its back on high-carbon energy.”