International mining protests: ecologists versus workers?

On the morning of July 14, a group of 45 activists invaded Scottish Coal's Mainshill Open Cast Coal Site near Douglas, South Lanarkshire, Scotland, and shut it down for the day. Machines and equipment were occupied and all work at the site was halted completely. This is the first action at Take Back the Land!—a protest camp in the Douglas Valley that activists hope to maintain for the next week. Activists say the British government has approved expansion of the mine without the consent of local communities in South Lanarkshire. (Coal Action Scotland, July 14) UK Coal has meanwhile threatened to close Britain's largest coal mine Daw Mill in Arley, near Coventry, England, jeopardising 800 jobs, if it cannot reach a new agreement with unions on pay and working conditions. (The Independent, March 15; The Guardian, March 14)

Some 300 anti-nuclear activists also protested July 14 at Roxby Downs in South Australia against the proposed expansion to BHP Billiton's Olympic Dam uranium, copper and gold mine. Activists likewise planned several days of action at the site, and a second march was dispersed by police two days later. (Radio Australia, July 16; Mi9, July 114)

Days earlier in Spain, some 400 coal miners from Asturias arrived in Madrid following a cross-country march to oppose subsidy cuts to the industry that would throw them out of work. They were joined by thousands more Spaniards in the city's central square, the Puerta del Sol, where police attempts to clear the plaza on July 10 resulted in street battles, with officers firing rubber bullets into the crowd. (Digital Journal, July 11; AFP, July 10; Euronews, July 7)

See our last post on mining struggles, the nuclear threat and the crisis of capitalism.

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