Background briefing

Vedanta Resources

Vedanta Resources, a British company, lost a battle to dig an open-pit bauxite mine on Niyamgiri mountain in India.

The mine would have destroyed the forests on which the tribal Dongria Kondh people depend and wreck the lives of thousands of other Kondh tribal people living in the area.

India’s Supreme Court gave the go ahead for the mine in 2008, but the Kondh peoples resisted and the Indian government eventually stepped in to prevent the destruction of their most sacred site.

Mining would make them ‘beggars’

India’s Supreme Court did approve Vedanta’s mine in principle, but the British government has pointed out that the Court has never been asked to look at the Dongria Kondh’s rights. The British government have also said that ‘a change in the company’s behaviour’ is ‘essential’.

The Dongria remained united in their determination to stop Vedanta from turning their sacred mountain into an industrial wasteland.

One of the Supreme Court’s conditions were that some of the mine’s profits were put towards ‘tribal development’.

But no ‘development’ or ‘compensation’ package could cure the problems that mining Niyamgiri would cause: the destruction of a unique environment and culture.

The Dongria have accused Vedanta of ‘trying to flood us out with money’ and have made it clear that:

‘Mining only makes profit for the rich. We will become beggars if the company destroys our mountain and our forest so that they can make money. We don’t want the mine or any help at all from the company.’

Vedanta was founded by Indian billionaire Anil Agarwal, who owns more than half the shares.