Dates: Sat/Sun 27/28th April 2013
Location: MERCi, Manchester, UK
The Extreme Energy Gathering will bring together diverse campaigns and communities that are resisting extreme energy extraction methods for a weekend of networking, strategising and sharing of skills and knowledge. All welcome!
“In the absence of new investment and urgent stakeholder support there is a high probability that SRG will be unable to continue.”
That’s what Scottish Coal had to say to their workers this week, when they announced the biggest reduction in the UK coal industry for over a decade. This tactical retreat will reduce Scottish Coal’s operations to just two active open casts by the end of the year. Some sites will be worked to a close over the coming months, including Mainshill in South Lanarkshire and Dunstonhill and Dalfad in East Ayrshire. St Ninnians will also close, with Scottish Coal leaving Fife completely. Their HQ in Alloa will be closed and moved to Broken Cross near Douglas in South Lanarkshire, which is staying open along with one other mine in East Ayrshire. In their words the business will be “slimmed down into a survival mode.” Continue reading ‘Scottish Resources Group circles the wagons – the end is nigh’
Stop Cauldhall Opencast are calling for objections to be submitted to Midlothian Council against Scottish Coal’s plans for a massive 10 million tonne mine, which is the largest application in the UK for some time. Cauldhall will impact significantly on the lives of the people living around it (and in it – a family home will be demolished) and cause untold environmental damage. Click here to submit your objection.
Scottish Coal have just announced 450 redundancies in the company, taking the workforce down to 300, a closure of its headquarters and the mothballing or closure of all but two of its 9 mines in Scotland.
The company has said: “in the absence of new investment and urgent stakeholder support there is a high probability that SRG will be unable to continue” and that the business is to be “slimmed down into a survival mode”.
More to follow soon, see STV article for more info.
Since the 7th of February, work has been stopped at the Cerrejon mine, one of the largest open cast coal mines in the world, which is operated by Carbones del Cerrejon Ltd. Since last November, the union Sintracarbon has led the struggle of its members to get the mining company, which is owned by the multinationals Xstrata – Glencore, Anglo American and BHP Billiton to hear and respond to their complaints. The strike is costing the company millions of dollars a day as 100,000 tons of coal a day go unmined, yet still Carbonnes del Cerrejon refuses to budge.
The statement put out by Sintracarbon, translated here, details a number of concerns from the workers, showing the impacts that UK consumption of Colombian coal is having at the point of extraction. They are protesting about chronic health risks and bad working conditions, destruction of the local environment including the only river of the Guajira and the lives of thousands of people who depend on it, as well as the continued displacement of indigenous communities in the surrounding area who face loss of income and their customs at the hands of profit-seeking Carbonnes del Cerrejon.
This resistance and show of solidarity from the workers with their surrounding communities has had a big effect. It sparked protests where people came out in support of Sintracarbon’s position. The local communities are also protesting the lack of royalties going back into the community from the mine and pointing the finger to corrupt politicians. Merchants and local business people have also spoken out against the environmental and social destruction that comes along with the giant coal mine.
It is an all too familiar story, of the big company making huge profits whilst subjecting people to poor working and living conditions and destroying their land and environment. Colombia is one of the worlds largest coal exporters, it is also
Since speaking out against Carbonnes del Cerrejon negotiators for the striking workers have received death threats against them and their families.
An anonymous action has also been taken against mining machinery in the area, four trucks were seriously damaged by explosives. Both the mining company and spokespeople for Sintracarbon have publicly denounced the bombing.
Negotiators have recently returned to talks with outside mediators after previous failed attempts to solve the conflict.
It was not a good month for Colombia’s coal exports. Drummond Co., Colombia’s second largest coal producer had it’s port operating licence suspended after they dumped 300 tons of coal into the Caribbean sea. Exports were down to one fifth of the normal amount of ships. Also, a third producer, La Francia, is losing 15,000-20,000 tonnes a day of production because of a strike.
Last year 77.4 million tonnes of coal were exported from Colombia, some of which comes in through Scottish ports and is transported to power stations in the UK.
To see how you can support the striking mine workers at Cerrejon, see here.
Last week a coal truck travelling through the small village of Fairlie in North Ayrshire crashed into a block of flats, killing one women inside and injuring her husband. The driver was also injured and taken to hospital. Tragically, residents of the village have feared this accident for years, and have been ignored.
Residents of Fairlie have campaigned against the trucks travelling from Hunterston coal port through their village for decades. According to news reports the chair of local community council described it as “an accident waiting to happen.” One report says that those affected by the accident have yet to be contacted by either the haulage company or the coal company they were working for.
Small villages across Scotland unlucky enough to be near coal infrastructure are subject to intense coal haulage, with near constant heavy traffic and speeding trucks. In South Lanarkshire residents of Glespin and Douglas have warned of the dangers of coal haulage after numerous accidents involving coal lorries. With trucks weighing up to 44 tons passing through some villages every few minutes, accidents involving coal trucks are bound to happen, especially when drivers are pressured to drive faster to increase profit margins.
In Fairlie there are calls from the community council and local MP for a fatal accident inquiry, and for an end to coal trucks travelling through their village. Hopefully this tragic accident will be the last, but only if pressure is kept up, and these coal lorries are taken off the roads and out the villages. The response from the coal company seems to show a complete unwillingness to take responsibility for this accident themselves.
The Scottish Environmental Protection Association has helped Scottish Coal over its final hurdle to starting work on its 3.4 million tonne Loch Fitty extension of St Ninnians opencast coal site. This extension is truly shocking – it will involve draining a 170ha loch and subjecting a community that has lived next to the mine for 12 years to even closer excavations. The scale of destruction has even prompted WWF Scotland to speak out against the plans, with its new director saying: “This looks like a desperate attempt by Scottish Coal to generate extra profits by ripping out every last ounce of coal from beneath Fife that it can.” The local community is now demanding that Scottish Ministers call the application in and hold a public inquiry.
More about Kingseat communities fighting talk here.
More about the story here.
In a little publicised parliamentary debate earlier this month, SNP MSPs Adam Ingram and Fergus Ewing (Energy Minister) chose sides – and needless to say they chose the mining companies and not the communities who have to put up with them.
Adam Ingram, still stuck in the noughties, claimed that Scotland’s several centuries worth of coal reserves would be unlocked with clean coal technologies such as carbon capture. So last decade! Even the industry has given up on carbon capture. Instead all but one of the UK’s coal power stations are set to close in the next ten years, or convert to equally destructive biomass.
ATH Resources entered administration last week after its spiraling debt was called in by it’s financiers. The financial company responsible for this, Better Capital, have stated that they are ready to invest £15 million in the ATH and the subsidiary that actually does the mining, Aardvark TMC, but at a price. Their money would only flow in exchange for wide ranging removal or reduction in measures put in place to reduce the damage from the open cast mines to the local community and environment. According to the Yorkshire Post, Better Capital Chief Executive, Mark Aldridge (pictured), wants “local councils, landowners, the Coal Authority and environmental bodies to accept lower rewards and be “more flexible” on planning and restoration.”
Scotlands second largest open cast coal company bit the dust today. ATH Resources, based in Doncaster England but with all it’s mining operations in Scotland, suspended its shares this afternoon, then two hours later called in the administrators. Their financial backer, Jon Moulton’s Better Capital, called in its loans after watching the value of the company plummet in recent months. The company has a reported debt of £22 million and is thought to employ about 200 people.
What the announcement means for its opencast mines and the future of them – such as their restoration – is still unclear. More news when we have it.