London, Aug. 20 (Reuters): Fifteen of the world’s largest metal miners and producers have signed an agreement not to operate in world heritage sites like the Taj Mahal and the Great Barrier Reef, the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) said today.
Signatories to the agreement, which resulted from talks with the World Conservation Union, pledged not to explore or mine at existing sites that carry the UN World Heritage site status.
The World Heritage Convention is a UN initiative to protect natural and cultural heritage. There are 754 World Heritage sites, including the Taj Mahal, the Egyptian Pyramids, the Great Barrier Reef off Australia and the Yellowstone National Park in the US.
ICMM comprises Alcoa Inc, Anglo American PLC, AngloGold, BHP Billiton Ltd, Freeport-McMoRan, Mitsubishi Materials, Newmont, Nippon Mining & Metals, Noranda, Pasminco, Placer Dome, Rio Tinto, Sumitomo Metal Mining, Umicore and WMC Resources.
“The commitments made by ICMM establish important precedents, not only for the mining industry, but also other extractive industries,” Lisa Cullimore, spokesperson at Rio Tinto Ltd, said.
Friends of the Earth International mining coordinator Isaac Rojas said: “We welcome any move that takes mining pressure off such areas, however we still want to see a halt to all resource extraction, not only because of the effect on environment and biodiversity, but also the negative effect on local communities. Our call is, no more mining.”
Matt Taylor, manager for sustainable development at BHP Billiton, said: “The ICMM has a dialogue with the World Conservation Union to look at other protected area classifications. World Heritage sites are one high profile form of classification, but there are others and we fully support that dialogue.”