Pictured here: People who attended Comhlámh’s “Tearing Up The Earth – Film Showing of ‘Open Pit” event earlier this month.
Maria McCloskey, a member of the Comhlámh Belfast group, writes about the recent film showing and campaign meeting that took place in Belfast.
On Thursday 4th February 2016 a small group of concerned, or at least curious, individuals gathered in a room in Belfast City Centre to watch a film about gold mining in a region of Peru called Cajamarca. We were collectively disgusted at the sights of widespread damage to the environment and stories of deteriorating health of animals and people as a result of the water contamination from the mining process.
As the story unfolded there were audible clicks of the tongue and visible shakes of the head as we started to process the scale of destruction of this small indigenous community. Newmont Mining Corporation, backed by the World Bank and local politicians, has, and continues, to wreak havoc on the local population, having initially introduced itself to the community with promises of prosperity and development.
After the film the gathering of people became even more animated as they learned, from the ‘Save our Sperrins’ Group, how Dalriadan Gold Ltd have mirrored many of the action and advances made in by Newmont in Peru, as they commence mining for gold in our very own Greencastle, Co Tyrone. We learned how community groups and local residents have been charmed by the Canadian mining company, how local politicians have dodged valid questions being asked about this company’s actions, how the Department for Trade and Investment has courted the company and how the media have seemingly refused or neglected to report the story. In a recent development, which saw Dalriadan move their operation approximately 1 mile from the original investigatory dig site, to an area taking in many more residents, the right noises are starting to be made about this company, which will use cyanide in its extraction techniques, thus creating the potential threats to the community’s health and the environment similar to what we had just witnessed as happening in Peru.
Our night ended with a presentation from a representative of the ‘Stop the Drill’ campaign, which is seeking to prevent further fracking in light of the resulting contamination of water supplies in Belfast and the surrounding areas. The night was a small taster of a much larger movement in the respective campaigns. Importantly, it highlighted the need for information dissemination and of collaboration between the groups. The palpable buoyance of this group of relative strangers at the end of the evening left those present with a sense of responsibility to do more – to educate our colleagues and peers, to share the information available, to join campaigns and to refuse to let the ‘cloak and dagger’ approach, adopted in so many corporate and industrial initiatives, be the norm. If we continue to bring communities and groups together we will be on the right road to seeking justice on issues of such vital importance to our collective and future generations’ human rights.