July 28, 2012

MIA research into the Impact of Natural Resource Extraction and Extractive Industries on Communities

MIA is undertaking research into the human and environmental impact of natural resource extraction and extractive industries. The research aims to better understand the Mercy involvement and concern with these industries at both a national and international level.

Having established the work being done at grassroots and national level, we would aim to agree common lobbying points for international lobbying based on the experiences documented in the case studies developed in the research. It is also intended as an education piece and will inform congregations across the world how Mercy sisters are identifying with difficult issues on the ground and working with local communities to help them in their struggles.

The research will focus on the following issues:
1. Introduction - Natural resource extraction and extractive industries
2. Geographical, political, social, economic and environmental factors.
3. Mercy at the Grassroots of the extractive industry abuse impact
4. Mercy at the UN
5. Mercy Investment Services
6. Conclusion and future focus.

1. Introduction - Natural resource extraction and the extractive industries

The project on natural resource extraction and the extractive industries is a work in progress and this article is a brief update on its development. The research begins with an introduction which gives a basic definition of the extractive industries and how changes in our consumer patterns and throwaway culture have accelerated the expansion of the industry in the last ten years. The introduction then focuses on human rights abuses and assaults on the environment that have occurred as a result of this largely unregulated growth, with particular emphasis on countries where Mercy sisters work.

Different types of mining are explained including surface mining and sub surface with emphasis on the following mining techniques:
• Hydrofracking
• Coal Seam Gas Mining
• Tar Sands
• Mountain Top Removal
• Sub-surface mining consists of digging tunnels or shafts into the earth to reach buried ore deposits – used for mining of gold, copper and precious metals.

2. Geographical, Political, Economic,Social and Environmental Factors

This provides a factual overview of countries where the mining industry has expanded and where opposition to the industry is most concentrated. It also explores government policy in relation to the development of the extractive industries and concerns about the environment, indigenous people, communities and the use of their natural resources.

3.Mercy at the Grassroots

Having conducted the initial factual research the focus will shift to Mercy and its work in relation to the issues specified above, placing particular emphasis on case studies in areas suffering the most conflict. Where appropriate, these case studies will then be used for lobbying and advocacy purposes at national and international level.

Mercy International Association take its grassroots perspective to policymaking recognizing citizens’ human rights, implementation of laws of consultation and the need to prevent human and environmental impact of extractive industry abuses for present and future generations and for the future sustainability of the planet. Other concerns include the regulation and reporting of human and environmental impacts; protection of ecosystems; enacting favorable labour laws that respect international human rights and end the criminalization of social protestors; and the development and support of sustainable development alternatives to mining.

Initial contact has been made with sisters working at grassroots level and their responses will be encompassed into the research. This will give a clear vision of the sisters’ work in different parts of the world and will be useful in getting a global picture of the work involved. Sisters of Mercy are working in difficult situations in the area of abuses in the extractive industries and detailed research and case studies will be carried out in the following countries.
• Peru
• Australia
• Canada/Newfoundland
• The Philippines
• South Africa
• Ireland
• United Kingdom
Research is ongoing in the following countries
• Panama
• Honduras
• Argentina
• Papua, New Guinea
and this will be included in the final report.

4. Mercy at the United Nations

The Sisters of Mercy are fighting for the realization of basic human rights through a regulated and accountable extractive industry, urging governments to consider the long term impact on the community and to respect the limits of the natural environment as they endeavour to promote sustainable development and generate jobs and enterprise.

Mercy International Association at the United Nations works to highlight mining abuses with special emphasis on Honduras, Peru, Argentina and Panama. Issues include :
• The failure of governments and mining corporations to consult communities on natural resource use
• Failure of governments to invest in long term sustainable development solutions for its people
• The negative environmental impact of mining on water sources; and
• The abuse of human rights including the human right to water and sanitation.
• Failure to fully protect human rights defenders
• The contribution of extractive industry abuse to climate change
• Failure of governments to invest in long term sustainable development solutions for its people

5.Mercy Investment Services

Mercy Investment Services brings stories of human rights abuses from sisters working at grassroots level to the corporate table. Mercy Investment Servicescontinues to engage in dialogue with a variety of companies in the extractive industries and this engagement strengthens the argument for more corporate responsibility in extractive practices.

This work is done in collaboration with colleagues from the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility and these engagements focus on areas that impact sisters in communities with a growth in mining projects. Mercy Investment Services have been engaging with companies such as Freeport McMoRan and Newmont Mining involved in both the Conga project in Peru and the Hell Pit Project on the Chilean Argentine border. Mercy Investment Services continues to monitor the situation in the Philippines and the involvement of Bezant Resources and Atlas Mining

6.Conclusion and future focus


The research will conclude by looking to the future and how best practices can be used to lobby for the promotion of regulated mining and sustainable development around issues of
• Water and sanitation
• Free, prior and informed consent
• Food production and farming
• Environmental
• Health
• Human rights issues.
It can also be used to develop alliances with other congregations and civil society organizations. Moreover it will build public awareness on mining issues, while developing future strategies and campaign tactics.

I would like to thank all those who have helped me thus far and would appreciate any information or comments that would help me continue in this endeavour. It is intended as an information piece so I would be most grateful for any “on the ground” information that you would like to share with me.

Messages to:  Betty Lacey  - MGA Intern

Back to All News