Extractive industries are advancing greenwashing tactics as solutions to climate action.
Mining corporations are collaborating with institutions and governments to aggressively market their destructive and socially unjust activities as solutions to the climate emergency under such terms as “climate mining” and “green” extractivism.
Governments, International Financial Institutions, and even some mainstream social movements are still clinging to economic growth and material expansion as primary societal and developmental goals.
This is creating the space for mining companies to reinvent themselves as green and sustainable friendly change agents despite their dirty, unjust, and unfair supply chains.
Green extractivism and the Australian energy transition
Scouring the globe, Australian corporations and investors are expanding into new territories for new sources of “critical and strategic” minerals, like lithium, copper, nickel, rare earth, and cobalt.
Like Australia’s foreign policy and aid programs, the “critical and strategic” minerals narrative is focused on Australian national interests, private finance, and Australian diplomatic, strategic, and military priorities
However, like coal, the mining of metals and minerals for low-carbon technologies, renewables, and green tech are equally problematic resulting in threats to biodiversity, livelihoods, and life itself.
Shifting the narrative and centering justice
Through research, campaigning, and advocacy, Aid/Watch aim to expose and hold account Australian miners to their greenwashing tactics and to halt their capture of the energy and digital transition narrative.
We aim to shift the narrative in collaboration with our networks, partners, and frontline communities through sharing and amplification of alternatives beyond mining and extractivism.
We advocate for degrowth to help redistribute global demand for energy and resources, a reduction of our energy and material consumption in the Global North.
We demand that all supply chains of metals and critical minerals are clean, just, and fair.
We collaborate and act in solidarity with our partners, networks and Indigenous peoples, and frontline communities to defend and protect lands, waters, and livelihoods.
Aid/Watch has been a member of the Yes to Life No to Mining (YLNM) global network for the past five years. As part of this network, our work has moved beyond the ‘aid lens’ toward a ‘justice lens’ to address the pressing problems of inequality, land grabbing, and climate change. Part of this is addressing extractivism.
Green extractivism and the Australian energy transition
Post Extractivism – What could life look like beyond the extractive economy?
CAMPAIGNS & PROJECTS
WHAT IS EXTRACTIVISM
This is an excerpt from the New Economy Network Australia (NENA) webinar series on Extractivism co-hosted by Blockade IMARC and Aid/Watch.
Nat Lowrey, Coordinator, Aid/Watch give a 101 on ‘What is Extractivism?’. Nat unpacks what extractivism is, what industries are involved in extractivism, and how this short-sighted model of development is exploiting people, nature and natural resources on a massive scale. View the full webinar here
GREEN EXTRACTIVISM COMMUNIQUÉ
From the ‘Devil’s Metal’ to the ‘Holy Grail’ of Clean Transport
In the Race to Net Zero ‘Copper is the New Oil’ – But at What Cost?
Is Australian Lithium the Answer to Zero Emission
Close up of hazardous and radioactive waste piles at Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) in Kuantan, Malaysia. Source: Save Malaysia! Stop Lynas!
The Stop Lynas campaign started in March 2011 in response to the thousands of Malaysians uniting together to say no to Australian rare earth miner, Lynas Rare Earths (formally Lynas Corporation).
The Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) – a rare earth processing plant that is now operating in Kuantan, Malaysia, will dump more than one million metric tonnes of toxic and radioactive waste by 2023, affecting the lives, livelihoods, environment and the health of future generations.
AID/WATCH has supported the Australian-Malaysian Stop Lynas campaign since 2014 and is currently collaborating with Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) / Friends’ of the Earth Malaysia, Save Malaysia Stop Lynas campaign and Conservation Council of Western Australia.
The Stop Lynas campaign is calling on the Malaysian government and its relevant agencies to ensure that there is complete transparency, public feedback and consultations – noting that the Western Australian Government has required Lynas to transport ALL of its wastes from its proposed Kalgoorlie processing plant back to Mt Weld for disposal in accordance with its low-level radioactive waste management plan – we demand Lynas removes all its radioactive waste from Malaysia under their original licence conditions and legal undertakings.
SAVE THE SEPIK
Men traveling down the mighty Sepik River, Papua New Guinea. Source: Project Sepik
AID/WATCH has been collaborating with Papua New Guinea partner, Project Sepik, Jubilee Australia, and other partners, calling a ban on Chinese-owned and Australia registered PanAust and their proposed large-scale copper-gold Frieda River Mine in the headwaters of the might Sepik River, East Sepik province, Papua New Guinea
In March 2020 the SAVE THE SEPIK campaign was formed.
The Sepik River runs at 1126 km in length and covers an area of 7.7 million hectares. As one of the world’s greatest river systems, the Sepik River is the largest unpolluted freshwater system in Papua New Guinea and among the largest and most intact freshwater basins in the Asia Pacific – it is often referred to as the Amazon of the region.
Special thanks to Claire Burgess, University of Tasmania, PhD Candidate in Geography (Aid/Watch Committee Member) and Liz Downes, Rainforest Information Centre for their ongoing research with Aid/Watch on Alternatives to Green Extractivism and to members of Yes to Life No to Mining global network for the following cases studies.
VIEW CASE STUDIES
NICKEL COMMUNIQUÉ: From the ‘Devil’s Metal’ to the ‘Holy Grail’ of Clean Transport
Nickel is rapidly emerging as a ‘critical’ metal for the shift toward electric vehicles (EVs) and battery energy storage.
COPPER COMMUNIQUÉ: In the race to net zero, ‘Copper is the new oil’ – but at what cost?
Copper, according to Goldman Sachs, ‘is the new oil’ deemed most important for decarbonisation. Demand for the metal, used in large quantities in wind, solar, electric vehicles and energy infrastructure, is set to increase by 600% by 2030. Wealthy nations and companies associated with copper related products are by proportion the highest consumers of the metal, and so are generating most of the demand.
LITHIUM COMMUNIQUÉ: Is Australian Lithium the answer to Zero Emissions?
Australia is the world’s largest producer and exporter of lithium, supplying 54.4 percent of the total market in 2019. 95% of Australia’s ore based raw material is exported to China – already contributing to the ‘clean tech’ battery transition.