Statement | 24-05-2014
Mining Global Governance Natural Resources

Coal mining poses severe environmental and human rights concerns

European CSOs express collectively their concerns about the impacts of coal mining and encourage a series of recommendations

Coal mine in Colombia. El Haltillo, 2011.

A vast number of European civil society organizations working on mitigating the impacts of coal on local, national and global levels welcome the fact that European energy companies acknowledge the impacts of coal mining and their willingness to take steps to tackle the negative impacts and human rights violations through self regulation. Nevertheless, in a joint statement they argue the initiative Bettercoal, established by a group of major European utilities in 2012, in its current form offers insufficient prospects for effective solutions to the problems surrounding the mines.

Focusing particularly on coal mining in Colombia, South Africa and the USA and on how this coal is used in the production of energy in Europe, CSOs argue that some of these impacts include severe environmental damage, violations of civil, political, economic, social and cultural human rights - including internationally recognized labour standards-, as well as the worsening impacts of climate change due to burning fossil fuels including coal.

To address these concerns, the signatory European organizations, among them some of the FIAN European sections, demand in a joint statement the following recommendations to tackle the negative impacts and human rights violations caused by the current Bettercoal initiative:

  1. Assessments should be transparent, be conducted by independent parties, focus on compliance with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) guidelines and address the negative impacts in the sphere of influence in the mining region.
  2. Multi-stakeholder solutions are essential. Affected communities, civil society organizations and independent labour unions, for instance, should be extensively involved in the audit process.
  3. The audit findings should be public and binding, as they are only meaningful if they have serious and predictable consequences.
  4. Mining companies should be held accountable for human rights violations and provide redress to the affected people.
Read joint statement below:
140519 Joint statement on Better Coal final26 K