On September 27-29, 2019, a three-day seminar on mining was held at the Casa La Salle in Rome. It was organized by several social justice advocacy organizations, including Franciscans International (F.I.); Roman VI, Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM); the International Cooperation for Development and Solidarity (CIDSE); and the Union of Superiors General for both male and female religious societies (USG/UISG).

Forty people from every continent except Australia participated in the seminar. The goal of the seminar was to try to understand mining and extractive industries through an integral ecological approach in the light of Laudato Si’.

On the first day of the seminar, the see-judge-act methodology was used to teach the participants about mining’s impact on the earth and on poor people in particular. Speakers from El Salvador, the Philippines and the Democratic Republic of Congo shared their experience in campaigning and advocating for the rights of nature, the rights of the people to say ‘no’, and women’s rights.
The second day of the seminar was the judging stage. A critical exposé was presented on mining practices in the Philippines and how these practices contradict the laws established to protect the ecology of that country. It became obvious that “responsible mining is fake news”. To demonstrate our indebtedness and our responsibility to future generations, and to the earth, the acceptable paradigm for mining should be rational mining. A representative from the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development discussed some of the talks the Dicastery has already conducted with mining companies and the willingness of both sides to continue the discussion. Another speaker judged mining and extractive activities as a form of new colonialism. These industries introduce monocultures, suppress local societies and impoverish them more than ever.
The third day of the seminar was about acting upon what had been seen and judged. The seminar concluded with the formation of an action plan. Mining has been part of the work of humankind since time immemorial. However, in the last century, the earth has been increasingly threatened by irresponsible and irrational mining. Dialogue must continue on this, with a view toward arriving at an objective and alternative paradigm for mining, one that is acceptable and sustainable. The participants finalized an action statement.

Friar Joseph BLAY