The gestures have been labelled “pocket change” by anti-coal group Galilee Blockade.
The gestures have been labelled “pocket change” by anti-coal group Galilee Blockade.

‘Pocket change’: Mining giants’ bushfire donations slammed

BHP has become the latest mining giant to donate money towards Australia's bushfire ravaged communities after Rio Tinto topped up the $250,000 pledge it made in November.

But the gestures have been labelled "pocket change" by anti-coal group Galilee Blockade.

The BHP Foundation has pledged $2 million to the Australian Red Cross to support emergency relief efforts to bushfire impacted regions.

In a statement, the company said the donation would help the Australian Red Cross provide immediate support through evacuation centres, psychological first aid and emergency assistance, including cash grants, as well as longer-term recovery programs.

"Fires have burnt through 5.8 million hectares across Australia, destroyed more than 1700 homes, regional communities have evacuated and some people are missing," a BHP spokesman said.

"The continuing impact on people, communities and their land and livelihood is devastating and widespread across Australia."

Galilee Blockade spokesman Ben Pennings said more needed to be done to help affected communities.

Galilee Blockage spokesman Ben Pennings. Picture: Jamie Hanson
Galilee Blockage spokesman Ben Pennings. Picture: Jamie Hanson

"Pocket change from massive mining companies doesn't come close to cleaning up their mess," Mr Pennings said.

"A small $1 per tonne levy on all coal, gas and oil produced in Australia would contribute $1.5 billion a year to help taxpayers pay for climate disasters."

Last week, Rio Tinto gave a further $750,000 to the Red Cross' disaster relief and recovery efforts supporting people affected by the bushfire crisis.

This brought the mining giant's total donation to $1 million.

Rio Tinto chief executive Jean Sebastien Jacques said the company had also provided employees involved in current volunteer firefighting efforts with full leave entitlements.

"Beyond these steps announced today, we will continue to explore ways to help impacted communities in this time of need," he said.

Rio Tinto does not mine coal or produce oil and gas.

Frontline Action on Coal spokeswoman Minna Featherstone called for a "comprehensive plan" to address the causes of climate change.

"Scientists have said for years that coal mining will contribute to climate change and harsher fire conditions," she said.

"To do more than put a band aid on these disastrous fires we need strong climate action which includes leaving coal and fossil fuels in the ground."

The Daily Mercury has contacted both companies for a response.