Some of the biggest global mining companies have joined forces and are calling upon the oil and gas and mining industries to stop excavating sites that the United Nations has listed as World Heritage Sites.
The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) comprises 23 of the largest mining companies in the world, including Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton, Glencore and Anglo American. This group agreed in 2003 not to mine at World Heritage Sites, with the aim to make mining a more sustainable activity.
However, ICMM CEO Tom Butler stated during the Congress of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which recently took place in Hawaii, that 13 years down the line, mining companies and mining contractors are still extracting oil, gas, metals and other commodities from these protected sites.
Butler stressed that the environment is crucial to the world’s wellbeing and economies. However, due to continuous exploitation, the environment is under great danger of collapsing. That is why it is important that miners take collaborative action right away.
In 2003, Royal Dutch Shell was the sole oil and gas company to join the ICMM. At the time of joining, the Dutch oil giant vowed not to extract oil and gas from protected sites, a pledge that it reaffirmed recently. Royal Dutch Shell was joined by Tullow Oil and Total in this endeavour.
However, other large oil and mining companies have not made the same commitment, and the ICMM has not been able to get the rest of the industry to join it in protecting heritage sites.
UNESCO has stated that out 209 World Heritage Sites, 59 are being exploited by mining and oil and gas companies. While government bans are in place in several nations, UNESCO feels that the private sector can also play a pivotal role in protecting these sites.