Last December PAX visited Kopenhagen to raise attention over the Danish energy utility Dong’s blood coal imports. As a result parliamentarians have raised questions over the ethical standards of the majority-state-owned company.
Dong has been sourcing coal from the war-torn mining region Cesar for a long time. Like other energy companies it prefers not to talk about this, but thanks to large scale media coverage this is no longer possible.
The attention was kicked off with a long item on public radio program P1 on December 16, in which Marianne Moor, author of the PAX report The Dark Side of Coal, and members of the Danish group Colombia Solidarity spoke about Dong’s supply chain connection to the severe human rights violations in the mining region of Cesar. The next day Dong publicly confirmed for the first time their commercial ties to Prodeco, one of two mining companies which was allegedly involved in the paramilitary violence in the region, which has led to over 3000 people killed and 55.000 displaced. Parliamentary questions about Dong’s ties to and position on blood coal follow immediately.
After Christmas the newspaper Information publishes an in-depth researched article on blood coal from Cesar and in the following weeks mainstream media outlets like TV2, Berlingske, BT, Fyens Stiftstidende, MetroXpress, News.dk and Avisen.dk pay attention to the issue.
On January 15 the Minister of Finance answers the parliamentary questions, amongst which this interesting sentence: ‘If at any point it turns out that Prodeco today is involved in crimes committed by paramilitary groups, Dong will consider that a grave violation of the ethical rules of the company, and a reason to discontinue buying coal from the mine.’
This answer evades the central issue of Prodeco’s alleged past involvement with paramilitary groups, from which Dong has been and is still profiting by importing cheap blood coal. That is what Dong has to answer for and why NGO’s are calling on the company to disengage sourcing from Prodeco, pending the remediation of the human rights violations. Dong has already done so for the other mining company Drummond, and it would show principled leadership if it would be consistent and do the same for Prodeco.