UNESCO welcomes 'No-Go' pledge from leading mining companiesUNESCO has hailed as “a major step forward” the pledge made by the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) – comprising 15 of the world’s largest mining and metal producing companies – not to explore or mine in World Heritage sites.
The undertaking signed by ICMM, includes a commitment to take all possible steps to ensure that operations carried out by member companies are not incompatible with the protection of the outstanding universal value of World Heritage properties. It also includes agreement to work with relevant partners to develop best practice guidance to enhance the industry’s contribution to biodiversity conservation, including in and around protected areas.
The ICMM announcement follows several months of discussions with the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre. The IUCN is an international, non-governmental organization that serves as an advisor to the World Heritage Committee on the selection of natural heritage sites and reports back on the state of conservation of listed sites.
“The commitment by ICMM member companies recognizing World Heritage properties as ‘no-go’ areas is a major step forward in ensuring long-term conservation of these sites, wrote Francesco Bandarin, the Director of UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre, in a letter to ICMM after the announcement. “UNESCO and its World Heritage Centre welcome this statement by the major mining companies, which we hope will significantly reduce the direct or indirect threats by mining to cultural and natural heritage all over the world.”
Over recent years concerns over the impact of mining activities have been raised at a number of natural and mixed (combining natural and cultural) World Heritage sites, including Kakadu National Park (Australia), Lorentz National Park (Indonesia), Huascaràn National Park (Peru), Doñana National Park (Spain), and the Greater St. Lucia Wetlands Park (South Africa).
UNESCO’s World Heritage List comprises sites that are considered to be of “outstanding universal value”. There are now 754 sites on the List, including 582 cultural, 149 natural and 23 mixed sites. There are 35 properties on the List of World Heritage Danger.
ICMM’s 15 corporate members are:
Alcoa, Anglo American, AngloGold, BHP Billiton, Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold, Mitsubishi Materials, Newmont, Nippon Mining & Metals, Noranda, Pasminco, Placer Dome, Rio Tinto, Sumitomo Metal Mining, Umicore, WMC Resources.
For more information on World Heritage Sites: http://whc.unesco.org