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OPENCAST MINES IN NORTHUMBERLAND, SOUTH WALES AND, TO A LIMITED EXTENT, SCOTLAND, PLUS ONE REMAINING DEEP MINE IN ENGLAND NOW CLOSED

OPENCAST MINES IN KUZBASS REGION, SIBERIAN RUSSIA

USA 4.2 MT COLOMBIA 7.3 MT

TOTAL COAL IMPORTS SEPT 2014 AUG 2015

RUSSIA 9.7 MT

UK 9.9 MT

TOTAL COAL MINED OCT 2014 SEPT 2015

SOURCES: HMRC TRADE STATISTICS, COAL AUTHORITY QUARTERLY REPORTS

‘Company killers’ in Colombia

‘The companies talk about voluntary displacement, but it is forced displacement,’ says Nubia Maria

Florian Ditta. ‘We are worried. We are fighting to get land titles for our collective land. This will help us protect our ecosystem as they push to expand the mine.’

Ditta is a member of Las Cruces Community Council, and their village is threatened by the expansion of a coal mine worked by the US company Drummond, which supplies the UK.

In addition to forced relocation, companies exporting coal from Colombia to the UK have been allegedly implicated in paramilitary mass murders, executions, and disappearances.

Hernando Figueroa Pallares has evidence of Drummond dumping 500 tonnes of coal at sea after problems with a barge transferring coal to an international ship. He planned to go to the authorities about the incident, but before he did an assassin came after him.

As Hernando describes it, ‘He was in the entrance of my house with a gun in his hand . . . He had the gun ready. I thought if I leg it he is going to kill my wife, so I decide to see what God’s will is. Without my shirt on, I shout and run at him. The first bullet enters me in the lung.’ Hernando was lucky to survive, though he still lives in hiding. Many others have been killed in similar incidents.

Ditch coal

Imported coal is not the only problem. Around 31 per cent of coal burned in the UK is still produced here. In Britain the main coal mining issues include a planning system biased towards companies in preference to community needs, noise, dust and traffic, as well as sites being abandoned without restoration (in Scotland there are around 20 such sites).

Wherever there are coal proposals in the UK there are communities fighting applications. Since the announcement of an intended coal phase out, County Durham residents have had the shocking news that a mine application by Hargreaves has been successful after an appeal, at Field House. Another five applications for new open-cast coal mines are still pending.

Wherever coal is mined the conditions are unacceptable. We need the government to announce a complete and legally binding phase out of coal, whether imported or UK-mined, as soon as possible. But we can’t just wait for the government: the Coal Action Network also calls on those of us who consume electricity supplied from unsustainable fuels to stand in solidarity with those most affected and take action against mining, coal infrastructure, and power station operators. Now is the time to ditch coal. n

These examples are taken from the Ditch Coal report. Anne Harris is a campaigner with the Coal Action Network, coalaction.org.uk red pepper apr | may 2016

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