All around our living planet communities are standing on the frontlines of pitched battles to protect sacred lands and waters from destruction by the mining industry- the most deadly* source of environmental conflict on Earth.
These same communities are also defending-old and innovating-new alternatives to the unviable extractive ‘development’ model that so often brings destruction and displacement to their lands.
These alternatives are not linear, monocultural dreams of GDP growth, ‘trickle down’ wealth and material gain. They are as plural and diverse as the places they arise. Emerging out of conflict, these alternatives present a fundamental critique of extractivism and the need to resist and go beyond it- to revive cultures of care and solidarity, repair damages done and establish regenerative ways of living for the future.
Our network is made up of and is for these communities- those who have chosen to say No to mining and to leave the door open to a future that is full of life.
Five Emblematic Cases
Over the past 12-months YLNM’s coordinators have worked alongside five communities in our network who have things to teach us- who hold a piece of the post-extractive puzzle.
As well as supporting each other with critical information, an up-link to a global solidarity network and the convening of critical community-to-community exchanges, we have developed a series of ‘emblematic’ case studies that attempt to share the learning and experience of these communities who are at the forefront of mining struggles.
Today we are launching these case studies- sharing them with our wider network, with movements who might wish to stand in solidarity and communities resisting mining everywhere.
In Myanmar, we learn how Indigenous communities are innovating creative ways of defending territories and traditions that have sustained land, waters and people for millennia, from the toxic combination of mining, mega-dams and militarisation. Because ‘solutions’ and ‘alternatives’ mean defending what is good and sustainable from destruction.
In Galicia, we experience the colliding ecologies of privatised, financialised mining and the commons-based land ownership practiced by local people and all the possibilities this opens up for effective, just custodianship of lands and waters. Because we must re-learn how to relate to land, water, our shared space and atmosphere as wealth shared, not property owned.
In Finland, we see the return of clean waters, fish and migratory birds to wetlands re-wilded after catastrophic damage caused by mining, and how local traditional knowledge holders have led the way to revival. Because so much damage has been done that we must look to restore, suring up our precarious ecologies and our shared climate.
In Colombia, we see everything from resistance to revival, from the application of popular democracy to revitalised agroecological practices. How one community’s bravery, tenacity and creativity can inspire a national movement questioning not just one project, but the whole extractive model.
In Papua New Guinea we learn how communities can organise successfully to stop huge, well-resourced mining companies despite the odds at new frontiers of extractivism in the deep sea. Because there are new projects arising everywhere to feed needs far beyond what Earth can sustain and what communities can be asked to endure, and they must be resisted. Coming soon…
A Just Transition is a Post-Extractive Transition
These case studies are launched by YLNM alongside a new report from London Mining Network and War on Want. Entitled A Just Transition is a Post-Extractive Transition, the report provides the context in which these case studies exist.
The report shows that the mining industry is a major, but largely hidden, contributor to climate breakdown, causing 20 percent of global carbon emissions (UNEP) and displacing communities already vulnerable to climate shocks in the process.
Yet this same industry is aggressively promoting prolonged, expanded extractivism as a solution to the climate emergency, saying it will deliver the minerals and metals needed for growing renewable energy demand.
This is a cynical attempt to capitalise on the massive forecasted growth in demand for minerals and metals by 2050. For some metals, like lithium, demand is projected to increase by a massive 900 percent, but for most minerals and metal only a fraction of the amount mined will be used in renewable energy technologies.
Meeting this demand through expanded mining entails the destruction of climate-critical ecosystems and disruption of communities already vulnerable to climate change on a massive scale.
The report debunks the mining industry’s greenwashing tactics, plainly stating that if we rely on dirty mining to deliver a ‘Just Transition’ away from fossil fuels, we will fail to stop climate breakdown or create more just, prosperous societies.
A Just Transition is a Post-Extractive Transition puts forward the case for move away from a growth-oriented, extractive economy towards de-growth and massive demand reduction for minerals and metals. It calls for a scaling-up of urban mining and recycling as part of our response to climate change, and measures to support frontline communities.
The emblematic cases we have assembled alongside frontline communities evidence the report’s assertion that communities, not mining companies, have the answers to the climate and ecological crises. They are living these solutions every day.
Find Out More
- Find out more about extractivism and post-extractivism.
- Catch up with YLNM’s Life After Mining webinar series.
These case studies have been developed by YLNM member communities and organisations with the support of YLNM’s Regional Coordinators. The network’s deepest thanks go to: Snowchange Cooperative and the village of Selkie (Finland), Froxán Commoning Community and ContraMINAccíon (Galicia), Karen Environmental and Social Action Network and Kalikasan PNE (Myanmar and Philippines), Comité Ambiental en Defensa de la Vida and COSAJUCA (Colombia), Alliance of Solwara Warriors (Papua New Guinea).
The Gaia Foundation is a YLNM member organisation and is supporting the launch of the Emblematic Cases by hosting them on our website, as the YLNM website undergoes maintenance.
*Read the latest Global Witness report ‘Enemies of the State’ to find out more.