Protesters at international mining conference acting as human smoke alarms

6 November 2019

The aftermath of a week of blockades against the International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC) continues to reverberate, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison now threatening to outlaw future boycotts against mining businesses.

IMARC Protesters. Image Credit: Rainforest Action Group

Given mining extraction and refinement generates 20% of global emissions, the basis of the IMARC Blockade last week was a desire to get a conversation on the table about the pressure on the environment we are all facing. Prime Minister Scott Morrison argues that boycotts of resources companies are a threat to the economy. We would argue the impending threat of climate change is a greater threat to the economy,” says Rebekah Hayden, a spokesperson for the Rainforest Action Group.

When numerous groups have exhausted all traditional legal options in the last few years in calling for greater action on the part of the government in recognising and acting on climate change, then protesting becomes our legitimate – and constitutional right. We are acting as Australia’s smoke alarm,” says Rebekah Hayden.

We do acknowledge the incredible amount of physical and emotional resources expended by both the police and protesters. We would much rather see both sides working together against what may well be one of the most significant challenges humanity has faced, rather than risk entering a pattern of ongoing violence and disruption such as is currently occurring in Hong Kong and Chile.”

With 70% of Australians believing Scott Morrison should have been present at the UN Summit on Climate Change it is clear that the majority of the country is concerned about potential impacts of climate change and our government’s complete lack of action,” Ms Hayden says.

“Given Australia is increasingly seeing record temperatures with several towns already running out of water, giving mines in the Galilee Basin the go-ahead to take an unlimited amount of water for the next 60 years seems like madness. What will happen if a city the size of Adelaide runs out of water? What will happen if the Great Artesian Basin is contaminated with mining waste?” Ms Hayden says.

Regarding claims that protestors restricted the ability of organisations offering alternatives to mining to attend IMARC, the Rainforest Action Group says:

We are certainly not closed to dialogue with businesses that offer genuine alternatives to mining or promote technologies which reduce reliance on extracting minerals, and we apologise to those groups if their opportunity to operate at IMARC was restricted. We invite any such groups to make contact with us and we’ll gladly share information about their technologies with stakeholder groups both here and in other countries negatively affected by mega-mines,” Ms Hayden says.

“However, we need to affirm that we completely reject the actions of mining companies who continue to mine in Latin America, Papua, Africa and Australia against the wishes of the majority of landholders, often with coercive military support and repression, taking huge environmental risks and trampling on human, cultural and civil rights. Too many mining companies continue to act with impunity regarding the disastrous ongoing environmental and social impacts of their mines.

The Rainforest Action Group was one of about 23 affinity groups who joined Blockade IMARC to draw attention to the mass destruction caused by extractive industries across the globe and the harm they cause to communities and ecosystems.