Vladimir Slivyak from Ecodefense spoke with knowledge and depth about the issues affecting communities living next to opencast coal mines in the Kuzbass region of Russia. This is the main part of Russia producing coal for export markets, the UK is the second biggest consumer of Russian coal, after China.
Vladimir and Anne Harris, from the Coal Action Network spoke at 14 public events. They visited all of the countries in the UK, in a busy three week tour. In addition both spoke with journalists, parliamentarians, HSBC (who have funded SUEK the largest Russian mining company) and civil servants.
The tour discussed the findings of the Coal Action Network’s Ditch Coal report and Ecodefense’s Cost of Coal report. They showed many groups Condemned, a documentary which looks at the coal industry’s impacts on indigenous people in the Kuzbass and how the coal industry is supported in Russia.
“This has been a very inspiring meeting for me,” said one participant in York.
From the events it was very clear that wherever coal is mined there are reoccurring problems near the mines. Globally these include issues with water pollution, negative health impacts on the local population; local people’s voices being ignored by mining companies; and a lack of any sort of restoration on a huge number of sites.
For these reasons the Coal Action Network is continuing its work against coal mining and coal power stations. The beginning steps against the UK’s remaining 8 coal fired power stations were considered in discussions following the presentations.
The tour visited Borras and Holt Community Protection camp, where people are fighting against fracking and Woodburn where the local community are battling against drilling for oil. At Woodburn the rig is on the site and local people are taking action. The similarities between these struggles are covered in a blog on our website.
At many of the local events Vladimir and Anne were joined by partner organisations including Hilltop Action Group, Sophie and Dan with the True Cost of Coal banner made by the Beehive collective; Biofuelwatch, Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre, Divest Lothian, Friends of the Earth Scotland and Edinburgh, Scottish Opencast Communities Alliance, and Colombian Solidarity Campaign.
Coal Action Network would like to give a special thank you to London Mining Network for the practical and financial support, to Lush for funding much of the tour as well as all of the local hosts who organised events in their area and supported the travelling activists.