Mining giant to raze apes forest home

Original article: The Sunday Times

THE world’s biggest mining company, a supporter of the BBC’s Saving Planet Earth campaign to protect orang-utans, is planning to raze some of the great apes’ rainforest habitat.

Documents obtained by The Sunday Times reveal that the Anglo-Australian group BHP Billiton plans to exploit mining rights across swathes of Borneo’s tropical forests in southeast Asia. It has lobbied for the protected status of some of these areas to be lifted so it can clear the trees and dig for coal.

Details of the proposed open cast mines in the region, known as the Heart of Borneo, have outraged environmentalists and wildlife experts. The company promotes its green credentials and supported work to help save Borneo’s orang-utans, shown on Saving Planet Earth, presented by Sir Richard Attenborough.

Less than two miles from where the orang-utans were released BHP Billiton has plans for a vast open-cast coal mine that conservation experts warn will cause huge damage to the island’s wildlife and ecological systems. It is one of seven “forest mines” the company has secured rights to exploit.