MAC: Mines and Communities

Moroccan silver mine hit by local protests

Published by MAC on 2012-02-20
Source: Reuters

Protests hit Moroccan silver mine operations

By Souhail Karam


10 February 2012

Moroccan miner Imiter said on Friday ore processing at one of the world's ten richest silver mines was running at 60 percent of total capacity due to protests by local residents which have been underway since September.

A spokeswoman for the company could not immediately say how the protests by people living near the Imiter mine had affected production and deliveries.

"The earnings will not be impacted by these protests: We don't expect earnings growth performance in the second half (of 2011) to match that of the first half of 2011, but earnings for the full year (2011) will definitely be higher than 2010," she said.

Imiter is controlled by Morocco's biggest metals miner Managem. Managem is majority-owned by National Investment Company (SNI), a private investment holding firm controlled by the monarchy.

Traders in Casablanca say Imiter produced 200 tonnes of pure silver in 2010, a figure the spokeswoman could not immediately comment upon.

The protests were mainly linked to demands by local people for jobs, the spokeswoman said.

Activists say the protests have been motivated by grievances over depleted water resources in the arid Imider area, damage caused to crops from waste water ejected by the mining plant and complaints over the lack of basic amenities.

Imiter's spokeswoman denied the accusations.

Unlike other countries affected by the "Arab Spring," Morocco did not overthrow its rulers. The king, head of the Arab world's longest-serving dynasty, holds supreme executive authority.

The Arab revolts have however inspired tens of thousands of Moroccans to organise regular protests demanding a constitutional monarchy like those in Britain or Spain and criticising the power of the king, who remains the biggest private stakeholder in the $100-billion economy.

Set up by the government as a public firm in 1969, Imiter was privatised in the 1990s. The mines in the Imider region are known for producing some of the world's best silver grades. (Reporting By Souhail Karam; Editing by Anthony Barker)

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