Daily Media Briefing 3rd January

Daily Media Briefing

 

Posted in: Daily Media Briefing, Employees, Environment, Waste

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January 03, 2013

Employees

Protests hit Sumatra gold mine

The Martabe gold mine in North Sumatra, owned by G-Resources, is under round-the-clock security from police and soldiers in the wake of ongoing attacks by local protestors. Protests started in October, when more than a thousand residents stormed the mine complex before launching an attack on local government offices. They were angry about the construction of a pipeline, which will drain waste water into the Batang Toru river.  The trouble at Martabe is indicative of the wider challenges facing foreign mining companies as they try to tap into Indonesia’s vast mineral potential. Efforts to win over local communities and the wider Indonesian public are not helped by the sight of hundreds of heavily-armed soldiers and other security officials guarding the mines operated by the likes of G-Resources and Freeport McMoRan, the US group that operates the world’s biggest gold mine in the troubled eastern province of Papua. (Financial Times*)

Call for Albert Heijn mushroom boycott

The vice-premier of the Netherlands, Lodewijk Asscher, has urged people to stop buying mushrooms from Albert Heijn, the leading Dutch supermarket, after revelations about oppression of foreign workers at local fungi farms. Mr Asscher called for the supermarket chain, owned by the Ahold retail group, to agree to use the industry’s ‘Fair Produce’ certificate on its mushroom packaging. This came after a television documentary revealed that migrant labourers employed to harvest the mushrooms were forced to sleep ten to a room and paid less than the Dutch minimum wage. He urged consumers to shop at rival supermarkets such as C1000, COOP, and Jan Linders, until Albert Heijn joined them in using the ‘Fair Produce’ certificate. So far ‘Fair Produce’ certifies only mushrooms, though it plans to develop certificates for other produce soon. (Financial Times*)

Environment

Shell faces crucial test in the Arctic

Royal Dutch Shell is gearing up for a crucial test of its Arctic equipment this month as its plans to drill off the north coast of Alaska suffer fresh setbacks. The company’s Kulluk drilling rig ran aground this week on an island off the south coast of Alaska, after the vessel towing it lost power during a storm. It has 139,000 gallons of diesel fuel on board, but the US Coast Guard said as yet there had been no signs of any spill from the rig.  Noble Corporation, the drilling contractor, has also revealed that the US Coast Guard previously raised concerns over “deficiencies and maintenance issues” on the Noble Discoverer, Shell’s other rig in the Arctic. Shell said it still hoped to begin its drilling programme in July, ice conditions permitting. The company is excited about the potential for large oil discoveries in the region, and has already spent more than $4.5bn on preparations. However it has come under widespread criticism from environmental groups such as Greenpeace, who succeeded in its campaign to push Waitrose to drop links with the oil company following claims of environmental negligence. (Financial Times*, Independent)

South Africa to test carbon capture and storage project

Two South African companies are pushing ahead with efforts to improve the capture and storage of carbon dioxide in the country. Eskom, South Africa’s largest electricity provider, is working with Ecometrix Africa, a carbon management company, and the European Union on a project to test new technology to capture the gas. South Africa is one of the world’s top 15 greenhouse gas emitters, and the largest in Africa. The country has conditionally pledged to reduce its emissions trajectory by 34 percent in 2020 and 42 percent by 2025 and is likely to be ready to test-inject CO² into underground storage cavities from 2017. (Business Day)

US solar power boosted by $2.5bn deal

MidAmerican Energy Holdings has agreed to spend up to $2.5bn on what is set to be the world’s biggest solar photovoltaic operation. The investment is further evidence of the steady expansion of the industry and is the third major solar PV deal for Warren Buffett’s energy company. The deal is the largest by capacity in the US and will add to the estimated 3.2GW of solar power installed in 2012. MidAmerican will buy two solar projects, with a combined generating capacity of 579 megawatts, in California’s Antelope Valley from San Jose-based SunPower. Construction is due to be finished by the end of 2015. (Financial Times*)

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