MAC: Mines and Communities

Mozambique: Mining resettlements disrupt food, water

Published by MAC on 2013-05-28
Source: Statement, Reuters, Mining.com (2013-05-23)

Rio Tinto & Vale targeted by Human Rights Watch

Mozambique: Mining Resettlements Disrupt Food, Water

Government and Mining Companies Should Remedy Problems, Add Protections

Human Rights Watch statement

23 May 2013

Maputo - Many of the 1,429 households resettled to make way for Vale and Rio Tinto's international coal mining operations in Tete province, Mozambique have faced serious disruptions in their access to food, water, and work, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The Mozambican government's speed in approving mining licenses and inviting billions of dollars in investment has outstripped the creation of adequate safeguards to protect directly affected populations.

The 122-page report, "‘What is a House without Food?' Mozambique's Coal Mining Boom and Resettlements" examines how serious shortcomings in government policy and mining companies' implementation uprooted largely self-sufficient farming communities and resettled them to arid land far from rivers and markets. These communities have experienced periods of food insecurity or, when available, dependence on short-term food assistance financed by Vale and Rio Tinto.

"These multi-billion-dollar investments are supposed to drive development in one of the poorest countries in the world, yet they have actually made life harder for many people," said Nisha Varia, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch. "Mozambique's government should work with Vale and Rio Tinto to make sure the resettled farmers have productive land by the next farming season and appropriate and timely compensation for shortcomings in the resettlement process."

Tete province has an estimated 23 billion tons of mostly untapped coal reserves and is at the early stages of an enormous natural resource boom. According to 2012 government data, approved mining concessions and exploration licenses cover approximately 3.4 million hectares, or 34 percent of Tete province's area. Coal mining accounts for roughly one-third of these.


Rio Tinto, Vale condemned over resettlements in Mozambique

Cecilia Jamasmie

Mining.com

23 May 2013

Global mining giants Rio Tinto and Vale have been accused of seriously neglecting over 1,500 Mozambicans who were moved from mining areas and resettled without proper housing or income.

According to New York-based Human Rights Watch, "many of the 1,429 households resettled to make way for Vale and Rio Tinto's international coal mining operations ... have faced serious disruptions in their access to food, water, and work," since being moved between 2009 and 2011, the rights group claimed in a document published Thursday.

The report shows more than half the booming province of Tete has been zoned for mining, which has reduced the amount of farming land available for relocation.

Rio Tinto and Vale have invested as much as $10 billion in mines and projects in the northwest province, home to an estimated 23 billion tons of coal, some of the largest untapped reserves in the world.

Human Rights Watch called the Mozambican government to strengthen its regulation of mining investments, increase community participation and update current resettlement laws to bring them up to international standards.

"Mozambique's government ... should review, and if necessary, halt, the process of awarding prospecting licenses and mining concessions to ensure that appropriate sites for resettlement are available," the report said.

In response to the group's allegations, Vale told AFP it has managed resettlements "based on respect for human rights and aligned with international standards."

The Rio de Janeiro-based firm also said it had fixed water pumps and irrigation systems and repaired houses in resettlement areas, adding it would compensate the 83 families who still have not received all the farmland they were promised.

Rio Tinto, reports Reuters, it took "community engagement" very seriously and would study the report. In its Mozambique settlements, it said it had constructed brick houses and ensured they had all had water.

The report comes on the heels of several announcements by Mozambican authorities stating the country is about to start major gas explorations off its northeastern coast in Cabo Delgado province.


Mozambique says miners must give as well as take

Gareth Hutchens

Sydney Morning Herald

21 May 2013

Large mining companies must take responsibility for their activities in Mozambique, and that includes giving back to local communities.

Mozambique Mineral Resources Minister Esperanca Bias said her country needed to properly benefit from extractive industries.

This year, Rio Tinto, the world's second biggest mining company, was forced to write down the value of its coal reserves in Mozambique's Tete province by $3 billion after the government prevented it taking coal, by barge, from the company's mine down the Zambezi River. Instead, the government wants the miner to build a railway line to a new port at Macuse on the east coast.

"Mineral resources are not renewable," Dr Bias said in Sydney on Monday.

"How they are removed from the surface, [from] underground or [the] water may only be done once, but the impacts of that removal shall forever impact the natural and economic environment."

Her comments come as Rio Tinto is being considered as one of six potential candidates to win a $3 billion railway and port infrastructure project in Mozambique, and after news that the company was planning to reduce its workforce in the country because of the write-down.

The government was developing a policy on corporate social
responsibility and Mozambique was determined to play a leading role in the regulatory oversight of environmental protection, Dr Bias said, "[but] mining companies must take responsibility for their activities''.

"Oversight of environmental impacts, [and] emergency, preparedness, mine safety and resource management is essential and the relevant capacity must be built."

Mozambique became a member of the extractive industries transparency initiative in October last year, which supports greater transparency in the extractives' sectors of resource-rich countries.

Australia is a donor to the initiative.

AusAID will have contributed $17.45 million between 2007 and 2015.


Protesters block Mozambique's main coal export route

Marina Lopes

Reuters

14 May 2013

MAPUTO - Mozambique's main coal export route has been suspended since Sunday after protesters blocked the Sena railway line used by Brazil's Vale and Rio Tinto, Vale said on Monday.

The unrest highlights growing resentment in Mozambique where mining companies are struggling to contain expectations among a population where most people live on less than $400 a year.

The 200 protesters are brick makers whose businesses were resettled by the mine and who are now asking the company to compensate them for a loss of livelihood.

Vale says they have not lost their ability to make a living.

"Vale believes the production of bricks in Moatize has not been paralysed, and was not paralysed by the arrival of the coal mine project in Moatize," the company said in a statement.

"It was only transferred from the mining concession area to another area in the town of Moatize, where it continues to function fully."

Talks between the company and some 800 brick makers have been ongoing since last month, with government officials acting as mediators.

"We were forced to stop in 2009, so today Vale will also be forced to stop," Taibo Mahomed, one of the protesters who has been making bricks since 1994, told Reuters by phone.

The brick layers are asking Vale to compensate them for 50 years or two generations of production, but the company said the industry had already widely benefited from the coal investments.

This is the second time the Sena railway was suspended this year after heavy rains flooded parts of the line in February, affecting Vale's and Rio Tinto's exports for weeks. (Writing by Agnieszka Flak; Editing by Ed Stoddard)

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