Draft declaration on coal mining - London Mining network

Kaltim Prima coal mine, East Kalimantan (Photo: JATAM)

London Mining Network, in consultation with JATAM (the Indonesian mining advocacy network) has developed the following Draft Declaration on Coal Mining. Many organisations have rightly drawn attention to coal’s contribution to destructive climate change. This declaration is intended to draw attention to other negative impacts of coal mining.

The declaration is a work in progress and LMN welcomes comments from communities affected by coal mining and organisations working with those communities. Comments may be sent to contact[at]londonminingnetwork.org. If you or your organisation wishes to support this declaration, please let us know. The declaration will be amended from time to time.

LMN Draft Declaration on Coal Mining

The industrialised world is dependent on coal. Thermal, or steam, coal accounts for around 70% of global output of the fossil fuel. It is burned to create steam that propels turbines. The majority of the world’s electrical power currently relies on the burning of thermal coal. The remainder of mined coal is used primarily for manufacturing steel and cement. Metallurgical or coking coal – used in steel production – is usually of a higher quality than that used to generate electricity; and its market price reflects the fact. (1)

The demand for coal continues to grow. Between 2000 and 2008 there was a 54% increase in all traded coal and a 60% increase in traded steam coal. There was also a significant increase in domestically sourced coal in certain countries – notably China and India, though domestic coal mining decreased in some other countries. (2)


  • the burning of coal is widely recognised as the single largest contributor to destructive climate change
  • mining coal causes pollution of air and water and undermines the health of those living close to mines
  • coal mining is destroying the livelihoods and food security of many communities; expansion of coal mining will destroy still more
  • the benefits of mining go disproportionately to mining companies, while neighbouring communities suffer the negative impacts

Water use and pollution

Coal mining disrupts both surface waters and underground aquifers. De-watering coal mines in order to access the mineral often deprives communities of access to vital water supplies for domestic and agricultural use. The washing of coal also uses enormous quantities of water.  Open cast mining in ‘green field’ sites involves removal of enormous quantities of soil, rock and vegetation, which can cause permanent rerouting or disappearance of water courses. Removal of vegetation can also cause flooding. Flooding of mines because of heavy rainfall or ground subsidence, and spillages from waste ponds when dams fail, can cause serious pollution of water sources. Depending on the content of the coal, exposure to air and water can create sulphuric acid, leading to ‘acid mine drainage’, which triggers the release of toxic metals into the environment.

Forest destruction

Mining in forested areas involves the removal of enormous amounts of vegetation and can lead to permanent destruction of ecosystems. Many planned coal mines are in forested areas in tropical zones, rich in threatened biodiversity.


Open cast coal mining produces large quantities of dust and particulate emissions. Exhaust emissions from motorised mine equipment add to the problem. These emissions can damage the health both of workers and of local residents.


Spontaneous combustion of coal deposits through exposure of coal to oxygen, as well as combustion in power stations, produces pollutants which can be damaging to human health.

Community struggles

In many places, Indigenous Peoples, farmers and other rural workers have struggled to prevent the development of coal mines, and the forced removals of people and destruction of rural livelihoods that accompany them.

Human rights abuse

Opponents of coal and other mining projects are often specifically targeted for attack, including extra-judicial killings, false accusations and arbitrary arrest.


Coal mining provides work for millions of people around the world. In some countries with a long tradition of coal mining, mine workers, their unions and their communities have struggled to protect jobs and existing coal mines. But coal mining is a highly dangerous and unhealthy occupation. Mechanisation is destroying many mining jobs. Short-term contracts and attacks on union rights are undermining working conditions.

We, the undersigned organisations and individuals, therefore demand the following of governments, mining and energy companies and investors:

  • An end to coal mining in areas where resident communities oppose it
  • An end to all investment in new coal mines, expansion of existing coal mines, and construction of coal fired power stations
  • A planned reduction in carbon dependency, which includes a reduction of coal consumption to 20% of its 2011 level by the end of 2020
  • An end to all public funding for coal mining
  • The diversion of such investment towards alternative energy generation, energy efficiency and the creation, by the end of 2020, of sustainable livelihoods for those currently dependent on employment in the coal industry
  • Mandatory higher human rights, trade union rights, environmental, and health and safety standards in all existing mines
  • Coal and other mining companies must clean up the terrible damage caused by their past and current mines, without drawing on public funds, and be held morally, legally and financially responsible for their misdeeds.


(1)  Source: Dark Materials, http://www.minesandcommunities.org/article.php?a=10299
(2) See data in Dark Materials, as above.

DTE is a member of the London Mining Network