At COP25, Indigenous rights groups protest proposed tar sands mine

The Frontier Project, once operational, would be the largest tar sands mine on the planet and has already provoked widespread rejection

December 13, 2019 by Peoples Dispatch
COP25 Alberta mine
Protest against the proposed Alberta mine at the COP25 premises in Madrid.

Hundreds of protesters led by Indigenous leaders disrupted the events in the main hall of the 2019 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP25) in Madrid. Activists were protesting the massive tar sands mine being proposed in Northern Alberta, Canada and the lack of action by the assembled governments in addressing the climate emergency. 

The Frontier Project of the Vancouver-based mining and energy company Teck Resources has generated a lot of controversy among Indigenous communities and environmentalists in Canada. Once operational, the Frontier Project would be the largest tar sands mine on the planet. According to the proposal by Teck Resources, the mine would cover 292 square kilometers once completed.

A protest against the proposed mine had been organized outside the Canadian embassy in Madrid on Monday, December 9, as well, by a group called Indigenous Climate Action. 

In their press release about the protest, the group claimed that the mine was being proposed on Indigenous territory, and will have dire consequences for Indigenous lives and livelihood, along with an adverse impact on the ecosystem of the region. It will also be detrimental for food security, water and other treaty rights of the Indigenous inhabitants, in addition to adding 6.1 million megatons of carbon to the atmosphere annually. The group has thus demanded that the government of Canada must be forced to reject the proposal.

Alberta’s provincial government and the Canadian federal government are still considering approval for the Frontier Project. In June, the Canadian government led by Liberal Justin Trudeau, who publicly presents himself as a defender of the environment and Indigenous rights, approved a 980-km long expansion of the Transmountain Pipeline from Edmonton, Alberta to Vancouver in British Columbia. The move had similarly evoked widespread protests from Indigenous communities and environmental groups in Canada and elsewhere.

At the COP25, which began on December 2, Indigenous people from Brazil also organized protests demanding action to combat the recurring fires in the Amazon. On December 6, tens of thousands of climate activists protested in Madrid, calling for a more effective policy on climate change.