The public appeal made today by five European power companies to coal mining company Drummond to engage into a process of remedy for victims of severe human rights violations is an important breakthrough, says the Dutch peace organization PAX. The power companies made this appeal during a visit to a Drummond mine together with Lilianne Ploumen, the Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation. PAX is pleased that the companies recognize their and Drummonds’ role towards a process of remedy and looks forward to the concrete fulfillment of this appeal.
The Dark Side of Coal
Minister Ploumen and the power companies visited the mine in response to a research report of PAX, ‘The Dark Side of Coal‘, in which perpetrators and victims declare that mining companies Drummond and Prodeco have supported paramilitary groups in the mining region financially and by providing strategic information.
During the visit to a Drummond mine the CEO’s of the power companies E.ON, Delta, Electrabel (subsidiary GDF Suez), Essent (subsidiary RWE) and Nuon (subsidiary Vattenfall), the most important purchasers of Colombian coal, emphasized the significance of a dialogue aimed towards remedy for the victims. Furthermore, they declared that the mining companies have a substantial role to play in this process.
In the run-up to the trip PAX, together with critical consumers, urgently called on the power companies to not forget about the victims during their visit to the mine. Jan Gruiters, general director of PAX: ‘The lack of remedy for the 3100 dead and 55.000 displaced victims of paramilitary violence is one of the biggest problems in the coal supply chain, a problem that requires the commitment of all parties involved, including the main purchasers of Colombian coal. For that reason PAX is pleased that the complete delegation – minister, energy utilities, labour union and ngo’s – has appealed in this matter to Drummond.’
As part of the delegation PAX would have also visited the Colombian mine of Drummond as a member of the delegation headed by Minister Ploumen, but the peace organization was barred to do so at the last moment. This as a result of the critical position PAX has taken towards the mining companies.
Subsequently the delegation decided that out of solidarity several representatives would not visit the mine either. Jan Gruiters: ‘The refusal of Drummond to receive PAX as the representative of the victims fits in a pattern of denial, intimidation and threatening with which the mining company reacts to victims who stand up for their rights. Because of that it is all the more important that not only the Minister, but also the energy utilities have now recognized and expressed to Drummond the importance of a remedy process.
Of course today’s appeal must be converted to deeds. In the end Drummond, as well as Prodeco, must engage in an actual dialogue with the victims, aimed at effective remedy. We expect that just like us, the Dutch government and the power companies will not be satisfied until this process has really started.’