February 25, 2010 : NEWS IN BRIEF ? WATCHING

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- Police fire on anti-mining protesters in Argentina

- Alternative Fuels Symposium & CO2 Emissions Efficiency Forum

- Land grab for ethanol project set to increase hunger in Sierra Leone

Police fire on anti-mining protesters in Argentina

A protest blockading a controversial open pit gold mine site in the Province of Catamarca was violently dispersed after police fired tear gas and rubber bullets whilst escorting excavating equipment onto the site on the evening of 15th February. More than sixty people were injured and twelve arrested, with one prominent activist, 50 year old Aldo Flores, who has been the target of death threats and police harassment, still reported missing. Situated in the town of Andalgalá, the site is owned by Canadian-based gold company Agua Rica, a subsidiary of Yamana Gold Inc., who plan to begin mining in 2012. Activists from the Citizen's Assembly of Andalgalá have been protesting against these plans for two months.

Link: www.fsrn.org/audio/audio-tag-title-raw/6222

Alternative Fuels Symposium and CO2 Emissions Efficiency Forum

The World Refining Association (WRA) boast of its “worldwide recognition” in organising “high level, strategic conferences” for the downstream oil, gas and petrochemical sectors. Part of Clarion Events, “the largest independent events organiser in the UK”, which is closely tied to the arms sector and responsible for organising arms fairs such as DSEi, the WRA is putting on two such events in Paris in March: the Alternative Fuels Symposium (9 March ) and the CO2 and Energy Efficiency Forum (12 March), both part of the 11th annual European Fuels Conference. These conferences will be focused upon the “strategic development” of the 'alternative' fuels sector, including how to maintain profitability in the face of regulation, how to “identify and secure opportunities” for agrofuels refineries, and how to “commercialise biorefinery concepts”. With the sound advice of dismantling the fossil fuel sector conspicuously absent, the events are jam packed with a hankering after agrofuels, as a key 'opportunity' arising out of climate change.

WRA's website promises that their “strong and long standing relationships with governments and major oil and gas producers worldwide, result in audiences of key decision makers from industry and government.” Sponsored by Total the event is indeed graced with attendance from such prestigious figures as Duncan Macleod (Vice President, Shell) and Mr Olly Mace (Technology Strategy and Regulatory Affairs Manager, BP Biofuels), but also with a healthy dose of governmental representation to give the 'lobbying' factor a real kick: Pierre Dechamps, (Adviser Energy and Climate Change, European Commission) and Raffaele Liberali, (Director of Energy DG Research, European Commission).

Link: www.wraconferences.com/europeanfuels?cmd=EventPage&page=eventWorkshop&site=wra


Land grab for ethanol project set to increase hunger in Sierra Leone

Addax Bioenergy, a subsidiary of Swiss oil, gas and mining corporation Addax & Onyx Group, is bidding for up to 20,000 ha of farmland in north-western Sierra Leone, with the intention of transforming it into a sugar cane plantation and ethanol refinery. The ethanol produced would feed the growing European demand for agrofuels. Six European investment and development funds, including the African Development Bank, are considering investment deals totalling £210 million. Half the population of Sierra Leone suffer from malnutrition and hunger, a situation which is being dramatically worsened by the transformation of fertile farmland into ethanol plantations.

Link: www.rainforest-rescue.org/