This report was developed by the Europe Coordinating Committee of the Coalition Against the Mining Pandemic.
The report presents three case studies from Europe that reveal how mining companies and some European governments have sought to use the COVID-19 pandemic to shrink civic space and further their extractive activities. The report investigates gold mining projects both in the Mount Ida region of Turkey and the Sperrin Mountains in Northern Ireland, as well as a planned lithium extraction project in Galicia, Spain.
These case studies reveal that mining companies and supportive European governments are advancing a discourse that connects Europe’s economic recovery from COVID-19 with a vision for green growth and a green transition predicated on the large-scale expansion of mining for ‘critical’ minerals and metals within Europe’s borders.
This planned ‘on-shoring’ of mining into Europe is causing widespread civil dissent and unrest among communities, like those in Mount Ida, the Sperrins, and Galicia, whose lands and neighbourhoods are at risk of becoming extractive sacrifice zones.
In response, there have been clear moves by mining corporations and supportive European governments to repress and silence this growing opposition to mining under the guise of enforcing COVID-19 public health measures. The circumstances of the pandemic have also provided the extractive sector with opportunities to advance their interests by exploiting hardship that communities and individuals have faced during this time.
Despite these challenges, land and water defenders across Europe have demonstrated adaptability and considerable resilience to maintain their resistance to unwanted extractive projects during the pandemic. They continue to challenge the industry’s greenwashing and so-called ‘social licence to operate in their home territories, as well as the industry’s expansion across Europe as a whole.