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To: Mathias Corman, Julia Bishop, Michalia Cash, directors of BGC and Chief Executive of TL Cement James Rhee
Australia/Timor-Leste cement project
Dear Ministers and BGC/TL Cement company directors
All development on the Baucau cement project in Timor-Leste, including port infrastructure for shipping cement out of Timor-Leste must be halted until the environmental impact statement and socialisation schedule have been completed and their recommendations implemented and independently verified.
Why is this important?
Ensuring this project fully complies with environmental and social requirements is important for two reasons.
1. Limestone mining for the production of cement can have negative impacts on local water resources including degradation of marine and ground water as well air pollution, both of which threaten the delicate 'Karst ecology' in the area and the health of the local subsistence communities.
2. The Australian government has form when it comes to supporting its corporations in their determination to extract resources from weaker neighbours to the detriment of these 'partners'. The most recent example being the ongoing 'negotiation' over shares in Timor sea oil which the Australian government has been forced to reopen after the shabby treatment and spying Timor-Leste was subjected to the first time around was brought to light.
While Timor-leste, as a developing nation, requires cement, jobs and investment to aid its development, the long term environmental and health/social damage, including stunted growth in children and the poor financial return to Timor-Leste relative to TL cement and Australia, outweighs the short term benefits.
It is also grossly unfair and hypocritical for Australia to profit from the abnegation of its responsibilities as a modern, wealthy power in the Asia pacific region.
Australian corporations and their tame governments should not be able to act as though our neighbours where colonies ripe for plunder. If we are sincere in our desire to assist Timor-Leste's development, BGC/TL cement must be required to strictly abide by any health, environmental and social recommendations and split the profits of the operation fairly with their partners.