Precious metals and fossil fuels power our society, but at a high price.
Extractive industries destabilize local communities, endanger human health, and irreversibly scar natural landscapes. From rare metals to oil to natural gas, the backstory behind these resources is significantly more complicated and destructive than the consumer price tag.
Goldman Prize Winners awarded for Drilling & Mining
Alessandra Korap Munduruku organized community efforts to cancel mining applications by British mining company Anglo American in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest. In May 2021, the company agreed to publicly announce that it had withdrawn 27 research applications to mine inside Indigenous territories, including the Sawré Muybu Indigenous Territory, which contains more than 400,000 acres of rainforest. The decision protects a critically threatened area of the Amazon—the world’s largest rainforest and a globally significant carbon sink—from further mining and deforestation.
Alex Lucitante and Alexandra Narvaez spearheaded an Indigenous movement to protect their people’s ancestral territory from gold mining. Their leadership resulted in a historic legal victory in October 2018, when Ecuador’s courts canceled 52 illegal gold mining concessions, which were illegally granted without the consent of their Cofán community. The community’s legal success protects 79,000 acres of pristine, biodiverse rainforest in the headwaters of Ecuador’s Aguarico River, which is sacred to the Cofán.
A formidable leader of the Afro-Colombian community, Francia Márquez organized the women of La Toma and stopped illegal gold mining on their ancestral land. She exerted steady pressure on the Colombian government and spearheaded a 10-day, 350-mile march of 80 women to the nation’s capital, resulting in the removal of all illegal miners and equipment from her community.
In the midst of an onslaught of coal development in Australia, octogenarian Wendy Bowman (d. 2023) stopped a powerful multinational mining company from taking her family farm and protected her community in Hunter Valley from further pollution and environmental destruction.
An iconic leader of social justice movements in India, Prafulla Samantara led a historic 12-year legal battle that affirmed the indigenous Dongria Kondh’s land rights and protected the Niyamgiri Hills from a massive, open-pit aluminum ore mine.
An indigenous leader in Guatemala’s Agua Caliente, Rodrigo Tot led his community to a landmark court decision that ordered the government to issue land titles to the Q’eqchi people and kept environmentally destructive nickel mining from expanding into his community.
Partners in Drilling & Mining
The Goldman Prize is honored to partner with a variety of environmental organizations around the world, each of them united in the goal of protecting our planet. From our nominating partners to global organizations to grassroots NGOs led by Prize winners, they are all essential parts of the environmental community.