The Gaia Foundation’s report – UnderMining Agriculture- How the Extractives Industries Threaten our Food Systems exposes the hidden costs of mining on food, water, land, air and climate, showing how each is increasingly affected by toxins as the global land and water grab intensifies. The report is a timely call to action for all food justice and anti mining organisations to come together with a harder line against the extractives sector. The world’s food production and millions of small farmers and communities are under threat.

Case studies from around the world illustrate how mining is destroying the conditions essential for healthy and productive agriculture as communities testify to experiencing livestock deaths, soil pollution, acidic water supplies, desertification of agricultural lands, and being forcibly displaced. Promises of job creation and economic growth have been shown to be exaggerated, short-lived and only benefiting the few, whilst the lasting impact on the communities and ecosystems they depend upon are yet to be fully analysed and exposed.

“In recent years The Gaia Foundation and our partners have been forced to turn our attention to mining because the extractives industries are encroaching on the land and livelihoods of most of the communities with whom we work. In our experience, rather than contributing to “national interests”, the rapid and chaotic increase in extraction is now literally under-mining the fundamental needs of life: Healthy ecosystems, water systems and food systems. Protecting the conditions for life is a priority.” Said Liz Hosken, Founding Director of The Gaia Foundation.

The UnderMining Agriculture report shows how at every stage of mining – from prospecting and operations right through to closure – impacts are being felt. Furthermore, the extraction of minerals, metals or fossil fuels, pollutes areas far wider than the actual mining site, continuing years after its closure.

Jamie Kneen from Mining Watch Canada commented: “UnderMining Agriculture is a clear call to action to bring the extractive industries under control, showing how they directly and indirectly threaten food security and food sovereignty, and even the survival of entire ecosystems. The conflict is not a mystery for communities from the Amazon to the Arctic struggling for their own futures, but this important report puts the pieces together for campaigners and the general public and makes it clear that better rules or practices are not enough; the entire extractivist economic model has to be turned around.”

Nnimmo Bassey, former Head of Friends of the Earth Africa, and now Director of HOMEF, commented: “This is a timely report and a critical message – What will people drink when their water is contaminated? How will people live when their air is polluted, their trees are gone, and their farmland is but a poisoned wasteland? As people around the world stand together to say Yes to Life, No to Mining, this report is an important wake up call for us all.”

Read the full report here.

A four-page summary reporting featuring infographic is available here: UnderMining Agriculture Summary

A standalone infographic depicting the impact of mining at every stage:

Informe disponsible, en español aquí.


The Gaia Foundation and our global allies have produced a number of reports and films about the impacts of the extractive industries. Find out more through the information and links below:

Opening Pandora’s Box– The New Wave of Landgrabbing & the Devastating Impact on Earth (2012) reveals the leading role the extractive industries are playing in global land grabbing, turning their attention to ever more pristine and fragile ecosystems and more extreme technologies.

Short Circuit – The Lifecycle of our Gadgets and the True Cost to Earth (2013) takes a ‘cradle-to-grave’ look at the lives of our gadgets, from extraction to e-waste.  These themes are picked-up by our fast-paced animation, Wake-Up Call.

Mining, When is Enough, Enough (2016) – Taking the example of two minerals- gold and copper- as well as non-mineral fossil fuels, this report argues that the continued extraction of these materials from virgin deposits is unnecessary and inadvisable. It shows that we can meet our real needs by using what we have already mined responsibly.

UnderMining the WaterCycle- The extractive industries and the planetary water crisis (2016) reveals the role mining is playing in exacerbating a fresh water crisis on an already thirsty planet. The report includes an infographic and is accompanied by Water is Life, an animation that explores healthy vs mine-impacted water-cycles.

In Defence of Life (2016) is our feature length film that follows the struggles and successes of four communities resisting mining in South Africa, Romania, Colombia and the Philippines. Exploring these David and Goliath struggles, the film shows that when injustice is globalised, so is resistance. It is available in French and Spanish and accompanied by a series of interviews.