People from Southeast Asia and the Pacific region came together in Manado, Indonesia from April 23-30, 2001, with others from the home countries of transnational mining companies, to discuss the issue of the ocean dumping of mine waste, known as Submarine Tailings Disposal.
We believe that Submarine Tailings Disposal is dangerous to the marine environment and to communities that live in the affected areas. At this conference we heard about the environmental and social impacts of Submarine Tailings Disposal in many locations at Marinduque in the Philippines, at Minahasa and Batu Hijau in Indonesia, and at other mines in the South Pacific region. These accounts from local communities, scientists, and government officials demonstrate that:
1. The application of Submarine Tailings Disposal destroys fragile coastal ecosystems because:
- it smothers living organisms with silt or drives them away
- it degrades marine and fresh water environments
- it decreases biological diversity and threatens ecological balance
- it allows heavy metals and other pollutants to enter the food chain
- the effects of Submarine Tailings Disposal are immediate, long term, and environmentally unsustainable
- restoration of areas affected by Submarine Tailings Disposal is impossible.
2. The application of Submarine Tailings Disposal also has disastrous social, economic, cultural and health effects on coastal communities because:
- it violates the basic human right to a safe and clean environment
- it adversely affects community health through contamination with heavy metals and other toxic substances — women and children are particularly vulnerable
- it degrades marine and freshwater environments affecting fisheries, recreational use and livelihoods
- it reduces productivity of farms and fishery resources, thus affecting the livelihood of coastal communities
- it creates social conflict in the community
- it is done without access to adequate information and without prior community consent.
3. Submarine Tailings Disposal is illegal in Canada and the USA, has never been proposed in Australia, and violates the spirit of international covenants that protect the marine environment.
4. The international mining industry and its consultants vigorously promote the use of STD. Their arguments contradict the experience of affected communities, are based on disputed science, and make false claims about safety and the acceptability of the practice in other countries. The impacts of Submarine Tailings Disposal are frequently much more devastating and widespread than predicted by the companies.
5. Governments in the region have either adopted the promotion of Submarine Tailings Disposal in their mining policy, or allow mining companies to establish Submarine Tailings Disposal systems with insufficient regard to impacts on community health and the environment.
For all these reasons:
We pledge to work with affected communities to prevent further development of Submarine Tailings Disposal.
We strongly urge governments and the international community to ban the practice of STD throughout the world.
We demand that mining companies and their consultants:
- acknowledge the environmental, social, cultural and health consequences of their past and current use of Submarine Tailings Disposal
- accept liability for the damage already caused by Submarine Tailings Disposal
- based in developed countries such as Canada, the USA, and Australia apply the same standards of environmental management at their mines in this region as they are required to practice in their home countries.
We believe that dumping mine waste in the ocean is contrary to the principles and hopes of sustainable development.
Manado, North Sulawesi, Indonesia. April 30, 2001.