RCE Galicia - 2022

Iberian Mining Observatory (MINOB)
Basic Information
Title of project : 
Iberian Mining Observatory (MINOB)
Submitting RCE: 
RCE Galicia
Contributing organization(s) : 
RCE Galicia and Montescola Foundation with the support of the Spanish Ministry for Social Rights and the 2030 Agenda and the participation of over a dozen groups (see list here: http://www.minob.org/about-minob.es_ES.html).
Focal point(s) and affiliation(s)
Joám Evans Pim
Organizational Affiliation: 
Format of project: 
Website and printed materials
Language of project: 
Portuguese/Galician, Spanish, English, Basque, Catalan, Asturian
Date of submission:
Tuesday, August 30, 2022
Additional resources: 
A selection of educational books are included below in PDF.
Policies for transitioning towards a circular economy (at various levels)
At what level is the policy operating?: 
Geographical & Education Information
Spain, Portugal
Address of focal point institution for project: 
Montescola Foundation
Froxán 5
Lousame 15212
Target Audience:
Socioeconomic and environmental characteristics of the area : 
Since 2009 a surge of new mining projects has taken place in Spain and Portugal, leading to interest in marginal deposits through so-called "low cost" mining operations. While activists have focused mostly on legal battles and public information, the mining lobby has been attempting to build a "positive", "green" and "sustainable" image of this kind of speculative and low cost mining. To convey this message, mining lobbies have developed social engineering strategies targeting society at large and particularly conditioning youth to become uncritical and favourable to massive mining in the near future. MINOB exposes the dissonance between the realities of mining on the ground and the discourses on "green" and "sustainable" mining which are permeating society.
Description of sustainable development challenge(s) in the area the project addresses: 
UN Environment’s Global Resources Outlook 2019 warns that "extraction and processing of materials, fuels and food contribute half of total global greenhouse gas emissions and over 90 per cent of biodiversity loss and water stress", while resource extraction has more than tripled since 1970. The rise of metal prices has lead to renewed interest in speculation-driven projects that place little care in how communities and critical resources and services (including freshwater and biodiversity) are placed at risk, destrorying sustainable local livelihoods such as those based on agriculture, forestry and fisheries and sectors dependent on biolcultural heritage.

At the same time, there is scant information on the impacts of mining on the ground. A recent European Parliament report on the impacts of mining acknowledged that: "There is a clear lack of EU-wide assessments of mining conflicts and there is no systematic analysis at the EU level of the environmental and social impacts. The information about actual impacts is scattered and finding the existing research, if any can be found, is arduous and time-consuming."
January, 2022 to December, 2022
The Iberian Mining Observatory (MINOB) is an environmental citizenship initiative. MINOB is a tool available to social actors with an interest in extractive industries and the documentation and future prevention of its impacts. It establishes a monitoring and early warning system to detect, map and report infringements and bad practices. It aims to facilitate the exercise and defence of environmental rights, mitigating existing asymmetries and contributing to reversing biodiversity loss through the sustainable use of natural resources (SDGs 6, 9, 11 and 15). The Iberian scope of the initiative is based on the recognition of the potential transboundary impact of emerging projects. MINOB is also developing new educational tools to better understand and detect the impacts of mining, including illustrated storybooks (in Spanish, Portuguese, English, Asturian, Galician, Basque and Catalan), educational activities, resource guides, etc.
MINOB presents geo-referenced observations of infringements of social and environmental rights. Existing evidence on each case is compiled in a standardised and systematically searchable database that is permanently updated and with duly referenced information. The database can offer a relevant contribution to the inspection and control functions of public administrations and security forces as well as to a better understanding of mining by political institutions, the media, NGOs, social movements and affected local communities.

MINOB articulates its work through a participatory platform made up of different civil society actors and is permanently open to the participation of new entities. Participating entities contribute to MINOB by: Reporting new cases of infringements and updating existing cases; Monitoring existing cases within their geographical scope of action; Formalising claims before judicial bodies, public administrations and public security forces when there is evidence of infringements in their area of operation; Sharing experiences and knowledge with other participating entities; Disseminating the situation of existing cases and training its members and communities to research and collect new data and information and report infringements.
Activities and/or practices employed: 
MINOB collects infringements and cases of bad practices in the mining industry based on complaints made by citizens and social organisations. These are always treated confidentially and may include a wide range of impacts and situations, such as: Water, soil and air pollution; Impacts on protected areas and species, or cultural sites; Impacts on people’s health, agriculture or fishing; Cases of corruption or insufficient administrative oversight; Lack of authorisations or environmental impact assessments; Deficiencies in restoration and insufficient financial safeguards; Obstacles to public participation, access to information or access to justice; Attacks or threats to communities and activists and use of social engineering; Land invasion or occupation; Violations of workers’ rights, including unionisation and poor working and safety conditions; and Misappropriation of public funds.

Wherever possible, reported violations are referenced through sources such as information published in newspapers, scientific publications, administrative documents, etc. They also include photographs or videos. Each reported case is reviewed and verified by the entities participating in MINOB. In cases not yet reported to judicial or administrative authorities, an early warning system is activated to bring the facts to the attention of the relevant judicial, administrative or police authorities. With each report of potential infringements or after existing cases have been updated, MINOB generates an alert which is automatically sent to all participating entities with an interest or scope of action in a given geographical area. The aim of the alert system is that all reported infringements are immediately brought to the attention of the relevant administrations, public security forces or judicial bodies.
Size of academic audience: 
The MINOB web portal was launched in May 2022 with 12 documented cases. By August, 30 cases had been documented and the multilingual version of the web will be released in October with almost 100 cases. Since its launch, the project has received wide media attention and 15 presentations have been held, including at the universities of Helsinki and Coimbra. During the Human Rights Council Fiftieth session (13 June–8 July 2022), MINOB was referenced as a "recent example of good practice for reporting and documenting extractivist violence" in a written statement on "Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development" (A/HRC/50/NGO/127). The childrens' storybook "Mountain dreamer" was presented at the Covas do Barroso camp in Portugal on August 15.
Lessons learned: 
The project illustrates how multi-sector collaboration and crowdsourcing can generate powerful ESDG tools to engage society in active environmental citizenship and promote policy change. It also shows the need for evidence-based educational materials that expose the realities of the social and environmental impacts of mining and help rethink our modes of production and consumption.
Key messages: 
The Iberian Mining Observatory (www.minob.org) is an environmental citizenship initiative that is establishing a monitoring and early warning system to detect, map, report and educate about misconduct and bad practices of the mining sector in Portugal and Spain. MINOB presents geo-referenced observations of infringements of social and environmental rights. Existing evidence on each case is compiled in a standardised and systematically searchable database that is permanently updated and with duly referenced information. Evidence-based educational materials for different ages are also made available.
Relationship to other RCE activities: 
The project builds on previous educational projects of RCE on the impacts of mining, including "A mina contamina" and "The Droplet and Wagtail Puppet Show".
The project has received funding from the Spanish Ministry for Social Rights and the 2030 Agenda


File Name Caption for picture Photo Credit
Image icon minob-may.jpeg (162.98 KB) Launch of MINOB at Jaume I University, May 2022 RCE Galicia
Image icon minob-touro.jpeg (105.29 KB) MINOB community workshop at Touro, Galicia RCE Galicia
Image icon minob-asturies.jpeg (295.6 KB) MINOB community workshop at Asturias RCE Galicia
Image icon minob-barroso.jpeg (284.22 KB) MINOB community workshop at Covas do Barroso, Portugal RCE Galicia
Image icon cover_montana_sonada.jpg (883 KB) Cover of the Spanish edition of Mountain Dreamer children's storybook RCE Galicia
References and reference materials: 
UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
(https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs) and other themes of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)
SDG 3 - Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages 
SDG 6 - Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all 
SDG 9 - Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation, and foster innovation 
SDG 11 - Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable 
SDG 12 - Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns 
SDG 14 - Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development 
SDG 15 - Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification and halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss 
SDG 16 - Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels 
Disaster Risk Reduction 
ESD for 2030-Priority Action Areas
Priority Action Area 1 - Advancing policy 
Priority Action Area 3 - Developing capacities of educators and trainers 
Priority Action Area 4 - Mobilizing youth 
I acknowledge the above: