On Environmental Conflict Day, London Mining Network launched the Martial Mining report. This piece of original research focuses on the relationship between extractivism and war, highlighting the necessity of metals and minerals for militarism, and the need for militarism in the mining process.

Researcher and author Daniel Selwyn argues that militarism both diverts funds from human and ecological health, and provides fuel for the world’s ongoing environmental crisis. Aside from military forces being among the world’s most prolific polluters, he highlights an often overlooked entanglement between militarism and climate catastrophe: the vast quantities of natural resources required to assemble weapons for war, and the even larger volume of toxic waste left in the wake of their extraction. Through a process Selwyn calls the ‘Martial Mining Cycle’, once extracted, smelted and processed by factories, these resources often return to the very places where they were taken from in the form of weapons systems. These are then used to secure and further militarised mining operations.

Martial Mining Cycle, showing stages of militarised mining

The report also highlights the role that London (and the UK more broadly) plays as a global capital for organised violence that irreducibly entangles mining with warfare around the world. The city is both a hub for arms and security companies, frequently hosting the world’s largest arms fair, and is a key marketplace for extractives. The London Stock Exchange and its secondary Alternative Investments Market list many of the largest mining companies in the world, many of which are linked to human rights and environmental abuses as well as at least 83 cases of armed conflict surrounding extractive operations.

Through charting the colonial histories of mining giants BHP, Rio Tinto, and Anglo American before highlighting recent case studies of militarised mining, the report illustrates just how dependent upon armed force the mining industry really is. From Glencore’s use of armed private security forces in the Democractic Republic of Congo, to Lonmin’s massacre of striking mine-workers at Marikana, South Africa, the evidence that mining is a militarised process is laid out, plain to see.

You can watch a recording of our online launch event here:

The full Martial Mining report is available to download here: