Victory: Vedanta to close Orissa refinery
Supporters of India’s Dongria Kondh tribe are celebrating after controversial British mining company Vedanta Resources declared it will close its bauxite refinery in the state of Orissa, this December.
The news is a major breakthrough for the tribe, who have fought a David and Goliath battle against Vedanta’s plans to extract bauxite from their land.
Dongria leader, Lodu Sikaka, said today, ‘We will be happy if the company leaves. If the refinery is there, they will keep trying to take our mountain, if not today, then tomorrow, or two years, 10 years from now.’
The Lanjigarh refinery sits at the base of the Dongria Kondh’s Niyamgiri Hills, which are home to the 8,000-strong tribe, and the seat of their god Niyam Raja. The company has spent more than one billion US dollars expanding the site without securing all the required clearances, as well as knowing it was unable to source enough bauxite to run the refinery at capacity.
Vedanta has now blamed the closure on a ‘depleting stock position of bauxite’. But, there are concerns the company’s announcement is intended to pressure the government into allowing it to mine the Niyamgiri Hills. The issue has returned to India’s Supreme Court, but the case is currently adjourned.
Opposition to Vedanta’s push to mine the mountains has embroiled the company in a near decade-long dispute, and forced the Lanjigarh refinery to be run with bauxite from different mines across India. A Vedanta spokesman claimed this has cost the company half a billion dollars.
Survival International’s Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘When we started our campaign for the Dongria Kondh, we were repeatedly told it was a hopeless case and the mine would be built. It hasn’t been. The infrastructure is rusting away and now Vedanta says it will shelve its refinery. This is a fantastic vindication of the tribal people’s determination to keep the lands which are rightfully theirs, and the pressure brought to bear by thousands of their and our supporters around the world. Public pressure is the only thing which can save tribal peoples in the long-term, and it works.’
Related news articles
- India: Mining company targets Dongria’s sacred hills – AGAIN 22 November 2016
- Dongria celebrate recent court victory over mining company 20 June 2016
- Victory for Dongria as Supreme Court quashes new mining attempt 19 May 2016
- Talks begin at last over fate of uncontacted tribe 22 March
- Exclusive: Oil company pulls out of uncontacted tribes’ land under pressure from Survival 15 March
- Organizations denounce Peru government’s failure to protect uncontacted tribes 9 March
- World Wildlife Day: Survival launches boycott of notorious ‘shoot on sight’ National Park 2 March