There continues to be large scale anti-mining protests around the world in many different countries. Anti-mining protests are so significant and widespread that it may be a significant issue of 2012. Details about anti-mining protests around the world on this blog for January-March of 2012 emphasized that this was a spreading global phenomena. However, for the April update, the month was dominated by ongoing protests in two countries: Ecuador and the Philippines.
In Ecuador, March saw one of the most significant national anti-mining protests continuing its efforts against a Chinese mining operation. This protest began in March with a long protest march (two weeks and 400 miles) by a small group of activists which grew and grew into a larger and more significant effort. This effort ended on March 22nd but the discussion it created continued into April. The President of the country responded, indigenous groups promised additional mobilizations, and it appears this could be a pivotal issue with elections next year.
The Philippines has had some steady anti-mining activism for years now, but the late April protests were significant in numbers and scope. First, Father Edwin Gariguez received the prestigious Goldman Prize for Environmental Activism for his efforts against mining in the Philippines. In addition, a number of protests flared up against different mining projects throughout the country. South Cotobato saw significant Earth Day planned anti-mining efforts disrupted by blocked passage. At the same time, Catholic Bishop Nereo Odchimar brought thousands together in Surigao del Sur to protest mining in that province. On Panay Island in the Philippines activists have begun caravans around the island spurring the beginning of protests. This level of activism is highly relevant and could very well continue and increase in coming months.
Anti-mining protests continued in Australia and New Zealand and mining activities took center stage in Earth Day activities around the world. The Philippines and Ecuador are simply two cases where activism seems to have reached a significant level. Both are important political contexts to capture the wider global movements. Fortunately, unlike earlier protests in Peru, Argentina and elsewhere none of the mobilizations above saw significant state or paramilitary repression. Summer 2012 may then be a unique opening for expansions of anti-mining activism around the world.