Land grabbing by the extractive industries has dramatically increased worldwide over the last decade. This has been exacerbated by high commodity prices and more investment in “real things” like mining, since the 2008 global economic crisis, and the development of more destructive and extreme energy extraction technologies, such as fracking.
An overall trend is that the world’s most concentrated and easily accessible deposits with the highest quality of materials have already been extracted. Attention has turned to the extraction of less concentrated deposits, which require the removal of more soil, sand and rock, and therefore the excavation and ‘toxification’ of larger areas of land, resulting in the destruction of entire ecosystems.
Despite these materials being harder to access, the rising prices of metals, minerals, oil and gas have incentivized further the exploitation and financial investment. New technologies have made it possible to extract materials from areas that that were previously inaccessible, uneconomic or of lower quality.
As a result, the extractive industries have been expanding rapidly into new landscapes, affecting ecosystems and communities previously unscathed. Across the world, community lands, rivers and ecosystems are being despoiled by mining activities at an alarming rate.
Farming and ranching communities are being increasingly displaced in the race to grab land and water, and to lay claim to the minerals, metals and fossil fuels beneath the soil. In some cases “compensation” packages are promised, which adds insult to injury, as agricultural lands and traditional livelihoods are irreplaceable. Research shows that cash compensations result in increased impoverishment for rural and indigenous communities.
The loss of agricultural land, water, and biodiverse ecosystems, and the fragmenting of cultural and social cohesion when a community is uprooted, cannot be quantified, replaced or compensated for financially.