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metal mining and ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME

High Court challenge over the London Metal Exchange allowing trade of 'dirty metals' 

Global Legal Action Network (GLAN), with co-claimant the London Mining Network, have filed a landmark legal action at the UK High Court against the London Metal Exchange (LME).

Our case details compelling evidence of metals traded on the LME that are the proceeds of environmental crime, in particular copper extracted from the Grasberg mine in West Papua. The LME’s policies do nothing to prevent these metals being traded on its Exchange and we are asking the Court to stop this violation of UK law. No one should profit from crimes like these.

If this case is successful, metal producers will have to change their harmful mining practices if they want to continue selling their products and access customers via the Exchange. It's part of our commitment to hold the powerful actors behind environmental crime to account.  


Dolly, a West Papuan indigenous community leader said, "This case is about our fight against those who profit from the destruction of our people's rivers, our forests and way of life. Our communities are experiencing the life-threatening effects of mining, we have no choice but to take up this fight because if we remain silent who will speak for us?"


This case is part of our commitment to work with indigenous communities and use the law strategically to hold perpetrators of environmental crimes accountable. Legal actions like this one which seek to change the systems that enable environmental crimes and human rights abuses, can have ripple effects for communities around the world.

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Cases like this can have profound impacts on communities around the world

In West Papua indigenous communities are suffering the effects of mining waste pollution from the Grasberg mine being dumped into the water sources that they rely on for basic needs like drinking, cooking and bathing. Over 200,000 tonnes of toxic mining waste, known as ‘tailings’ are thrown into local rivers every day. This practice is considered so harmful to the environment that it is subject to an almost universal ban across the globe. West Papua remains an exception, as one of the few places where it is still practiced, at the cost of both the environment and the indigenous people inhabiting the region of the mine. 

West Papuans have seen the rivers that are central to their way of life, for fishing and navigating, disappear; sedimentation resulting from toxic mining waste is causing widespread health problems for the community. Skin diseases and other health conditions from the heavy metal pollution in the water is causing suffering to the whole community but children and the elderly are more at risk. Indigenous communities have witnessed West Papua’s forests, which provides their food, gradually disappear under mounds of mining waste.

The environmental harms in West Papua highlighted in this case are symptomatic of a deeper systemic problem across the world. GLAN has identified similar problematic patterns with mining corporations operating in Brazil, Peru, Guinea and the Russian Federation to name only a few. If successful, GLAN and LMN’s legal action might force these companies to revisit too the way they produce metals in these countries.

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Pictured top: The Grasberg Open Pit Mine, Pictured bottom: Toxic tailings from the mine damage waterways and kill trees

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