Report on Regional Mining Workshop and WSSD Prep Com IV, Bali, Indonesia, May 24-June 3

MiningWatch Canada staff also attended a regional workshop for 74 members of mining-affected communities and NGOs from the Asia-pacific region. The workshop was held in Kuta, Bali, Indonesia on May 24-26. It preceded "Prep Com IV," the last preparatory conference for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) conference in Johannesburg (August-September 2002).

This mining workshop was organized by JATAM (an Indonesian mining activist network), with a steering committee made up of people from various parts of the world. The conference aimed to fulfill two major needs in a relatively short space of time:

1) To provide a regional forum for mining affected communities and NGOs from the Asia-pacific region (similar regional workshops have been held recently in Africa, Central and South America)

2) To bring together representatives from mining affected regions around the world (mainly developing areas) and international NGOs that support these communities to strategise on a more global level, share various positions and statements that have been developed in the past three years, and decide on how to best inject a global position into the World Summit on Sustainable Development process.

The presentations at the conference focussed on issues that are common to mining in the Asia-Pacific region — mining and small island ecosystems, impacts from riverine and submarine tailings disposal on reef systems, impacts of seismic activity on tailings impoundments, successful political struggles and geopolitical realities. There were also presentations of various collective statements and position papers from past national and international mining meetings. New position statements were developed. There was one from women, one from the Asia-Pacific region, one from Indonesia itself, and one from the workshop as a whole.

The biggest challenge faced by the workshop was keeping focused in the face of distractions associated with the activities surrounding Prep Com IV in neighbouring Nusa Dua. The Prep Com process ran from May 27-June 7, 2002. Many of the participants of the regional mining workshop also attended the Prep Com as a "mining caucus."

The focus of this massive gathering of international delegates from governments, the UN, the private sector, and civil society was the "Chairman's Text" that is to be ratified by governments at the WSSD.

In particular, Section 41 of the Chairman's Text deals with mining and was unacceptable to the mining caucus. The mining caucus re-wrote section 41 and tried to get the revised text into the hands of official delegates. But by the 29th, section 41 had been dealt with in the formal process and no significant changes were made. This experience was common not only for other civil society groups but also for government representatives engaged in the formal process who found their attempts to have the text lead to real change to protect the global environment thwarted by the main trading nations (US, Canada, Japan, Australia).

By the end of Prep Com IV there were numerous protests being staged in Nusa Dua.