Social and environmental impact of coal mining
Dutch power plants import their coals from Colombia, South Africa and Indonesia. In the Netherlands there is little discussion about the origin of these coals, and about the negative effects of mining on local people and environment.
In 2007, the Dutch government supplied permits for the construction of five new coal-fired power plants in the Netherlands. Fossil fuels like coal, according to the Dutch government, are indispensable in the energy mix of the Netherlands: they are economically reliable, and make for a stable energy supply.
The mining of coal occurs in various ways, but is almost always damaging to the environment. Soil and water are contaminated with chemicals used for mining, soil subsidence regularly occurs and the air is polluted with methane. After the mines are depleted, the environment should be restored by the mining companies, which often doesn't happen.
Besides having serious impact on the environment, coal mining also has many social side effects. Working conditions are poor, the work is dangerous and there are significant health risks for both miners and local residents. Local people are often forced to relocate and there are no or very poor union rights.
ROLE OF BOTH ENDS
In the Netherlands, apart from the already existing coal plants, new plants are currently being built. It is therefore very important that the entire coal production chain is made durable. Energy companies must take responsibility. They should reduce the negative impacts of mining and compensate if necessary.
Both ENDS, together with local organisations, has done three case studies on the impact of mining on people and the environment in the vicinity of mines. The studies were done in the most important countries for Dutch coal imports: Colombia, South Africa and Indonesia, The case studies can be downloaded on this page under 'Publications,
The goal of Both ENDS is to maintain the dialogue which has been initiated between energy companies, governments and CSO's. Together with our southern partners, we want these efforts to lead to real improvements in the mining areas referred to.
BOTH ENDS CONTACTPERSONS
- Wiert Wiertsema, overall coördinator
• On March 25 2010 Both ENDS organised an Expert Meeting for stakeholders and a 'Political Café' for people interested in this topic.
• On July 10, Dutch newspaper 'De Volkskrant' published an article on the subject.
• On June 29, 2010 several members of the Dutch Parliament asked questions about the responsibility of Dutch energy companies when it comes to the negative impact of mining. Moreover, several members of the government called for transparency of the coal chain.
• Both ENDS has been asked by the trade association of Dutch energy companies, EnergieNed, to participate in a dialogue about the import of coal. Read the report on the fase one of the dialogue and the final report of the project.
• On November 18, 2010 the committee on Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation organises a hearing. At this hearing different parties including Both ENDS, will share their vision on the import of coal.This hearing is open to the public.