Corporate Watch : October 30, 2008 : BHP Billiton attacked for 'half-truths and evasions'

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BHP Billiton attacked for 'half-truths and evasions'

The world's largest mining company, BHP Billiton, was attacked at it Annual General Meeting for its forced relocations of farming communities in Colombia, its obliviousness to local opposition to mining in the Philippines, and its plan to begin mining nickel in Indonesian-controlled Papua, which will devastate one of the most pristine marine ecosystems in the world.

The BHP Billiton AGM, which was held in London on 23rd October, was targeted by the London Mining Network, as London is the centre of international mining finance and mining is one of the most polluting industries in the world. BHP Billiton has an appalling human rights and climate change record in the Philippines, Indonesia, Guatemala and Colombia. It is also involved in controversial projects in Australia and Chile and has been in Peru in the past. The company has failed to endorse the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and has contributed significantly in worsening climate change and producing a radioactive legacy for future generations.

BHP Billiton's activities are part-funded by high street banks and pension funds investing the money of millions of working people in the UK. The company operates in Guatemala, where nickel development threatens to pollute the country's largest lake and wreck the livelihoods of thousands dependent on fishing and ecotourism. BHP's recent joint-venture partner AMCOR has been accused by the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD) of "bribing Philippine villagers into a mining project." They claim that an indigenous community leader was offered one million Philippine pesos (?12,600) in return for supporting the mine and helping to silence any opposition.

The London Mining Network (LMN) is an alliance of human rights, development and environmental groups that aims to expose the role of companies, funders and governments in supporting unethical mining projects. Its members include Action for Southern Africa, Comite Academico Tecnico de Asesoramiento a Problemas Ambientales, Colombia Solidarity Campaign, The Corner House, Down to Earth (the ecological campaign for Indonesia), Forest Peoples Programme, Latin American Mine Monitoring Programme, People Against Rio Tinto and its Subsidiaries (Partizans), Philippine Indigenous Peoples Links (PIPLinks), Indonesian human rights campaign TAPOL and the Society of St Columban..