Breakthrough: Danish energy company suspends blood coal imports

Image: De energiecentrale Asnæsværket van Dong in Kalundborg, Denemarken. Foto Bob Collowan/Commons/CC-BY-SA-4.0

April 18, 2016

The largest energy company of Denmark, Dong, has chosen not to renew its coal imports from the Colombian mining company Prodeco/Glencore as part of a robust due diligence process. PAX welcomes this news and hopes that other power companies in Europe and municipalities in Denmark will follow Dong’s example.

Dong has written in a letter that it supports the efforts of PAX to help attain remedy and reconciliation for the victims of gross human rights violations in the Colombian mining region of Cesar. DONG has made clear it will not enter any new purchase contracts with Prodeco/Glencore until DONG’s standards for responsible sourcing are met. This includes mitigation and remedy for human rights violations.
Between 1996 and 2006 more that 3100 people were killed in Cesar and over 55.000 were displaced by paramilitary violence. Perpetrators and former contractors have declared under oath that mining companies Drummond and Prodeco/Glencore supported the paramilitaries financially, logistically and strategically. While both companies deny the allegations, the victims of violence and their descendents are still waiting for recognition and compensation. European energy companies are the most important clients of Drummond and Prodeco/Glencore.

According to PAX energy companies should stop sourcing blood coal until the mining companies have taken decisive steps towards remediation of the victims. Years of constructive engagement by PAX  has not led to any concrete results for the victims. Therefore, the time has come for energy companies to increase their leverage by making future sourcing from Cesar dependent on demonstrable measures by the mining companies towards reconciliation with and remediation for victims. That is why PAX welcomes DONG’s decision to temporarily cease imports from Prodeco. Campaign leader of PAX Wouter Kolk: ‘This is an important breakthrough in the struggle against blood coal. Dong shows it is a frontrunner in corporate social responsibility and that it takes  human rights and the victims in Cesar seriously. Furthermore it shows that energy companies can draw a line when it comes to importing coal. If the other European energy companies are also serious about their corporate responsibilities in the coal chain, they should follow Dong’s example.’

The good news is that Dong has gone blood coal free, by conditionally suspending its imports from Prodeco/Glencore, after it had already disengaged from Drummond in 2006. The disturbing news is that it is not clear  whether  Denmark is actually blood coal free. The municipalities that run the Amagerværket, Fynsværket and Nordjylland power plants most likely source blood coal from Drummond and Prodeco/Glencore, and thus indirectly profit from human rights violations. These plants were bought from Vattenfall, apparently under the condition that they continue to buy coal from the Swedish energy giant. Vattenfall sources from Prodeco/Glencore and Drummond and so far refuses to temporarily suspend trading. Wouter Kolk: ‘It’s worrisome that, despite the good news about DONG, other Danish power plants might still run on blood coal due to a deal with Vattenfall. We urge Danish politicians and consumers to ask for full transparency and to make sure that these municipalities will start acting as responsibly as DONG.’

Read also: Amsterdam wants blood coal banned from its port
In depth: Stop Blood Coal

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