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MEI Online: Environmental Issues: Latest News: August 26th 2003

:: Landmark No-Go Pledge Signed  

Fifteen of the world's largest mining and metal producing companies have signed an undertaking to recognise existing world heritage properties as "no-go" areas.

The announcement was made by the International Council on Mining and Metals whose members include major mining industry names like Alcoa, AngloGold, BHP Billiton, Newmont, Placer Dome, Rio Tinto.

International Council on Mining and Metals Chairman Sir Robert Wilson said: "We understand that the analysis of all options for land use will sometimes mean that mining projects cannot proceed because unique and sensitive biological or cultural values would be compromised if they did. We need and intend to earn the trust of other participants in the debate so we can contribute to sustainable development.

The announcement results from a dialogue process with IUCN "The World Conservation Union" started earlier this year.

IUCN Director General Achim Steiner said he welcomed the decision. "Today's announcement by the International Council on Mining and Metals sets an important precedent. By making this 'no-go' pledge, 15 leading mining and metal producing companies of the world have now created a threshold for corporate responsibility against which they and, indeed, others in the extractive industry will be assessed. While many issues and objectives remain to be addressed, this is an important milestone".

The agreement includes an undertaking not to explore or mine in world heritage properties and a commitment to take all possible steps ensuring company operations are not incompatible with the outstanding universal values of world heritage properties.

According to Francesco Bandarin, Director of UNESCO World Heritage Centre, the commitment by ICMM member companies not to explore or mine in world heritage properties is a major step forward.

"It represents considerable progress since our first meetings with the mining industry in 1998. We hope that such a clear statement by the major mining companies in the world will significantly reduce direct or indirect impacts by mining on World Heritage sites all over the world."



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