YES TO LIFE NO TO MINING in Review - 2018/19

After years of network building, developing reactive solidarity initiatives and enhancing our global communications, in the past 18-months YLNM deepened its on-the-ground support for and leading role in:

  • Accompanying frontline communities to strengthen ‘emblematic’ cases of mining resistance and life-sustaining alternatives;
  • Supporting isolated communities and organisations to connect their efforts and increase their impacts regionally and nationally;
  • Gathering diverse global voices to advance a critical movement discussion about placing communities’ right to say no to mining and post-extractivism at the heart of our work and efforts to combat climate change.

This work has never been more important.

Driven by a global shift towards mineral-intensive energy, industrial and military technologies, according to the OECD’s Global Resources Outlook to 2060, compared to a 2011 baseline the extraction of metals is predicted to grow from 8 to 20 billion tonnes (a 150% increase), and extraction of minerals is predicted to grow from 37 to 87 billion tonnes (a 135% increase) in the next 40 years.

Social movements around the planet are rising against the destruction of precious ecosystems and communities by the increasingly voracious mining industry. Whilst mining companies seek to secure ‘social license to operate’, the industry remains the second most-deadly (behind agribusiness) for community leaders and activists who oppose these projects on their lands.

In other words, mining remains an industry predicated on ecological harm and the systematic violation of human and Nature’s rights.

Expanding the extraction of minerals, metals and fossil fuels in the name of technological progress, development and the renewable transition is a contradictory proposal. We require radical changes to our systems of production and consumption to meet the challenges posed by converging eco-social crises. Achieving this change requires us to listen to and increase our support to frontline communities, learn from their alternatives and to bring radical agendas for post-extractivism and de-growth into debates about climate justice and economic transformation.

This report shares highlights of the activities undertaken by YLNM members and coordinators in Colombia, Ecuador, Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Myanmar, Finland, Spain, South Africa and Portugal in the past 18-months.

At a glance

5 frontline communities directly supported to strengthen organising, communications and networks.

5 'emblematic' case studies sharing these communities' stories, strategies and successes.

community-to-community exchanges, bringing together more than 600 people to build regional and national movements.

webinars initiating a movement conversation about post-extractivism.

3,000+ copies of community materials translated into English, Spanish, French, Hindi and Tok Pisin, distributed to 50+ frontline communities in 9 nations.

1 new interactive website sharing tools for frontline communities.


"Undermining Agriculture shows the way the national priorities have to be re-evaluated. The governments and citizens have to protect the conditions needed in order to produce food today, as well as for future generations."- ADIDA, the Association of Teachers of Antioquia, Colombia
Top: A young man with the Undermining Agriculture infographic in Antioquia, Colombia. Bottom: (L) a Colombian farmer with the Water is Life Poster, (R) Undermining agriculture translated in Gallego.

This year the regional coordinators of the YLNM Network have developed new materials for frontline communities, translated these into more than 5 different languages and distributed them globally to communities resisting mining.

Water is Life Toolkit

“On World Water Day YLNM has launched an important toolkit dedicated to and designed for communities defending water systems from mining around the planet.” -WoMin Alliance

YLNM's coordinators and allies including France Libertés, New Media Advocacy Project, Carlos Zorilla and The Gaia Foundation completed a new range of online and offline materials gathered together in the new 'Water is Life Toolkit'.

Launched on 22nd March 2019, World Water Day, the toolkit brings together posters, infographics and videos to explore the impacts of mining on the water cycle, as well as written and video guides offering peer-to-peer advice about how to resist imposed mining.

The Toolkit was co-produced by the 10 regional coordinators of the YLNM Network. First printed in 2018, the infographic poster has since been distributed worldwide by the YLNM Network, reaching communities resisting mining in Colombia, Finland, Spain, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, the UK, Australia, India and Canada.

Water is Life poster- available in English, Spanish, French and Gallego.

Other materials

Other materials translated, printed and distributed to support frontline communities during the past year include:

  • The UnderMining Agriculture Report, now available in English, French, Spanish and Gallego, distributed in Colombia and Spain;
  • A guide to holding popular consultations on mining and a declaration in support of popular consultations from the National Environmental Movement, in Spanish, distributed in Colombia;
  • A guide to the restoration of mining-damaged water systems using science and traditional knowledge in Finland, in Finnish and English, distributed in Finland;
  • Copies of two investigative reports- Philippine Mining Situation: Resisting Plunder, Defending Patrimony (2018) and Mining in War-torn Myanmar (2018)- distributed in the Philippines and Myanmar.
  • A Justice Transition is a Post-Extractive Transition, a new report by War on Want, London Mining Network, supported by YLNM
Copies of the Water is Life Toolkit in the resource centre of the mines, minerals & PEOPLE Network, India.


“This exchange was instrumental for the different socio-environmental movements that fight for the defence of water, life and territory and which are threatened by extractivism. The exchange of different perspectives between academics and social and environmental activists has strengthened the processes in defense of territory, commons and collaborative research efforts. We hope these exchanges can continue to take place and that they continue to enable us to assert our fundamental rights”. -Renzo Alexander García Parra, President of the Comité Ambiental en Defensa de la Vida

On 11 August 2018, YLNM's Latin American Coordinator, Mariana Gomez and host of allies helped bring together 50 representatives of communities with experience/in the process of organising popular consultations- referendums with the authority to ban mining- and a dozen legal and scientific experts for an exchange in the Colombian capital, Bogotá.

The exchange acted as a platform to launch Colombia's new National Environmental Movement of grassroots organisations and to develop a national strategy for pursuing popular consultations across Colombia.

Working alongside Papua New Guinean partner organisations, community groups and church groups, YLNM's Pacific Coordinator, Natalie Lowrey, supported the New Ireland Alliance of Solwara Warriors team to organise a community-to-community exchange and public forum in Namatanai, New Ireland Province, in April 2019. This brought together over 200 community representatives opposing deep sea mining.

The exchange enabled different coastal communities to come together, strategise and formulate a new platform and statement of action.

YLNM's Coordinator for Southeast Asia, Enteng Bautista, worked alongside Myanmar Mining Watch, Burma Relief Centre and KESAN in Myanmar and Kalikasan people’s Network for the Environment and Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) in the Philippines to organise two community exchanges

The first of these exchanges took place in the Salween Peace Park in Karen Indigenous Territory, Myanmar, in January 2019. The second saw Burmese delegates make the return trip to the Philippines in April.

In February 2019, YLNM and Galician member network ContraMINAccíon brought together 14 People’s Platforms from across the Iberian Peninsula for an exchange in Galicia, northern Spain.

These groups used the exchange as an opportunity to form a new, common platform in opposition to the ‘mining boom’ unfolding in Spain and Portugal, and to compose a shared declaration of action.

This exchanged was followed by another in Boticas, Portugal, where over 70 people from community associations, local councils and NGOs came together to discuss the threat of new lithium mining.

YLNM members the Snowchange Cooperative brought together over 150 small-scale and indigenous fishermen and women- custodians of water systems from across the Arctic- in Tornio Finland to exchange knowledge and techniques, songs and stories, at the Festival of Northern Fishing Traditions.

The festival offered fishermen and women the chance to hear and learn from the Finnish community of Selkie, which is reviving water systems damaged by open-cast peat mining.

After a decade of restoration actions led by the community, Selkie residents have succeeded in returning their rivers and marshmires to health. Fish and birds are returning in their thousands, and water acidity and heavy-metal loading have been effectively restored to safe levels.


Community leaders working in collaboration with YLNM's Regional Coordinators have helped to enhance the global profile of 5 frontline communities with experience of successfully resisting mining and protecting or developing regenerative alternatives to extractive-led 'development'.

Arracacha farmers from Cajamarca, Colombia.

Through photography, film and the written word, these communities have produced interactive case studies that document and share the knowledge, strategies and processes that have enabled them to stop mining projects from Finland to Myanmar. They also explore how these communities are protecting or leading grassroots transitions towards what might meaningfully be called post-extractivism.

Launched by YLNM in September 2019, the case studies are intended as teaching stories, and as a conduit for others to learn about and get in contact with YLNM.

Selkie, Finland

In a lake-rich region of Eastern Finland, the community of Selkie successfully closed down an opencast peat mine that was polluting their rivers. Since then, with the support of YLNM members the Snowchange Cooperative, they have dedicated themselves to re-wilding this damaged waterscape using a blend of traditional knowledge and science. Their success can be seen in the return of fish to the rivers, restored marshes, wetlands and thousands of birds setting down on their winter migrations.

Cajamarca, Colombia

In March 2017, citizens of the Colombian municipality of Cajamarca voted to ban mining from their territory in a revolutionary popular consultation (local referendum). Their victory protected rivers, cloud forests and andean water-producing ecosystems from destruction by gold mining and triggered a national wave of popular consultations- a movement for democracy and peace, and against mining conflict. Cajamarca is now leading the way in developing local alternatives to mining.

Salween Peace Park, Myanmar

The Salween Peace Park is a 5,200 square kilometre forest park in Hpapun District, Karen State. Declared by the Indigenous Karen People in December 2018, for whom this is ancestral territory, The park's creation is a new strategy to sure-up Karen self-determination and protect ecosystems under pressure from mining and the construction of mega hydro dams.

Froxán, Galicia

Restoring lands degraded by 20th century mining, establishing their commons as one of the first recognised Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas in Europe and embarking on an ambitious re-forestation programme, the people of Froxán are resisting a new tungsten mining project by modelling alternatives to destructive, extractive development.

New Ireland, Papua New Guinea

Canadian miner Nautilus Minerals once hoped to open the world’s first commercial deep sea mine- the Solwara 1 Project- off the coast of Papua New Guinea. But thanks to a powerful grassroots campaign led by local coastal communities united as the Alliance of Solwara Warriors, the company has been bankrupted and its plans are in tatters. With international allies, the Alliance has popularised the call for a ban on deep sea mining, which has become a global issue.

Coming soon...


Since YLNM's official launch in late-2014, our network has sought to bring communities, organisations and experts together around a crucial question: If we are saying No to mining and extractivism, what are we saying Yes to?

Proposals and pioneering grassroots initiatives for a 'post-extractive' world are emerging around our planet as more and more people recognise that we cannot meet the great challenges of our time- from runaway climate change to rampant inequality- or create the worlds we wish to live in, without radical change in how we relate to nature and organise our societies and economies accordingly.

According to a UN Environment Global Resource Panel study from 2019, even at current rates of extraction the extractive industries are responsible for:

  • 80% of biodiversity loss.
  • 50% of the world’s carbon emissions.

Of these, 10% of climate change impacts comes from extracting metals, 10% comes from extracting non-metallic minerals and 16% comes from extracting fossil fuels.

Substituting mass-extraction of one set of resources with another, as mainstream proposals for the renewable energy transition and Industry 4.0 suggest, is not a socially just solution, nor is it ecologically or energetically viable according to the latest research.

Released this September, A Justice Transition is a Post-Extractive Transition, a new report by War on Want, London Mining Network and support by YLNM, explore why our proposals, policies and actions for a biodiverse, climate-stable, socially just world must embrace post-extractivism (in the South), de-growth (in the North) and a massive overall reduction in extraction.

This year YLNM's 'Life After Mining' webinar series has sought to explore these same issues and start a movement conversation that will help our networks to collectively think-through and better define post-extractivism.

This is an essential first step before engaging wider movements and allies with new proposals and alliances for climate and, more broadly, ecological and social justice.

Our 'Life After Mining Webinars' have explored three key questions:

  • What is ‘post-extractivism’?
  • What does a post-extractivist economy look like?
  • How are communities around the world protecting and/or building regenerative rather than extractive systems?

In 2019, the network held regional webinars in Latin America, Asia, Pacific and Europe, bringing bring together emblematic communities, activists and academics.

Over 300 people hailing from six continents engaged with the webinar series live.

All webinars have been recorded and will be promoted to wider audiences. In 2020, YLNM's regional coordinators will use these to conduct a discourse analysis and produce informational materials about post-extractivism for the network.

Watch the first recording from YLNM's Life After Mining webinar series, exploring 'Pathways to post-extractivism in Latin America'.


YLNM continues to function as an active community channeling solidarity, information and other kinds of support regionally and online.

In 2018/19, our global network has:

* Directed time, energy and solidarity support to communities around the planet, including Intag (Ecuador), Cajamarca (Peru), Xolobeni (South Africa), Greencastle (Northern Ireland) and Fusagasuga (Colombia).

* Organised further exchanges... for example in Ecuador, where 30 community leaders came together in Quito to meet Colombian grassroots organisers with experience holding popular consultations.

* Sent Regional Coordinators to represent YLNM and hold workshops at global gatherings... including the 2018 Thematic Social Forum on Extractivism (S.Africa); Asia-Europe People's Forum (Belgium); mines, minerals & PEOPLE gathering (India); Water is Life National Gathering (Australia).

* Co-organised a series of roundtables on extractivism, imperialism and alternatives in London, bringing funders, NGOs and activists together with frontline community representatives from Colombia, USA, Brazil, Peru and South Africa.

* Held space for and facilitated network conversations sharing knowledge and building shared materials around gold mining in Europe, renewables and mining, and more.

* Welcomed new members, including Hellenic Mining Watch (Greece); Ecologistas en Accíon (Spain and Melbourne Rainforest Action Group (Australia).

* Been shortlisted for the LUSH Spring Prize for outstanding regenerative projects in the 'Young Projects' category.

*Organised a boundary-pushing workshop at COP25 in Madrid, exploring the 'hidden face of the energy transition', and bringing together speakers from Chile, Nigeria, Spain, Portugal and the UK.

In the coming years, we hope to build on and expand this existing work, as well as to evolve YLNM’s role as a catalyst and facilitator of critical movement conversations about post-extractivism and climate change.

As a network, none of this work is possible without the knowledge, courage and engagement of our members and regional coordinators. As 2019 draws to a close and we enter a challenging new decade that will be marked by attempts to expand extractivism globally, our collective solidarity has never been more vital- onwards.


YLNM's funders 2018/19 - Guerrilla Foundation, Patagonia, Bertha Foundation.