Tanzanian Farmers Displaced By Mining Live Like RefugeesPublished by MAC on 2013-06-06
Source: All Africa (IRIN)
Tanzanian Farmers Displaced By Mining Live Like Refugees
All Africa (IRIN)
3 June 2013
Geita - On the outskirts of the northern Tanzanian town of Geita sits a cluster of makeshift tents constructed from plastic sheeting and bits of wood and metal.
The area, which resembles a refugee camp and is known by residents as Sophiatown - or colloquially, Darfur - is inhabited by farming families who were displaced in 2007 to make way for one of the country's largest gold mines.
"[One day in 2007] I was attacked by police at 5am," Mwajuma Hussein, a 75-year-old farmer from the village of Mine Mpya in Mtakuja Ward, told IRIN. "They arrested three people and beat them, and then they dumped us here." Hussein is one of an estimated 250 people displaced from the village. This camp has been her home for the past six years.
"Look at my house here made of paper," said John Majebele, an elderly man who lives in a small tent with his wife. "When it rains, the roof leaks, but I don't have the money to fix it."
Majebele used to be a farmer, growing maize, beans, bananas and other crops on land he says he inherited from his parents. Now he is no longer self-sufficient; he struggles to find work as a casual farm labourer in order to eat every day.
"I had two acres of my own land and could rely on myself. When I needed bananas, I would just cut, cook and eat them. Now I have to go to the market and pay 1,000 shillings [US$0.60] for five bananas, so I look for casual labour. If I don't find it, I don't eat," he told IRIN.
The residents of Mine Mypa were evicted by the Tanzanian government to make way for the Geita Gold Mine (GGM), operated by gold mining company Anglogold Ashanti, which is headquartered in South Africa. In a written letter to IRIN, the company said that the village lay within the mine's Special Mining License area.
The Sophiatown farmers are just a few of the thousands of Tanzanian families who have been forcefully relocated by mining activity in recent years.
Compensation claims and legal battles
According to Tanzania's land laws, displaced communities have the right to be properly compensated. The 1999 Land Act specifies that there should be "full, fair and prompt compensation to any person whose right of occupancy or recognized long-standing occupation or customary use of land is revoked or otherwise interfered with to their detriment by the state."
The country's 2001 Land or Compensation Claims Regulation provides further clarity on compensation, stating that it may take the form of monetary compensation or a combination of plots or buildings of "comparable quality," plants and seedlings, and/or "regular supplies of grain and other basic foodstuffs."
But a 2008 fact-finding mission by religious leaders in Tanzania found that the form and scope of compensation due to those displaced in some areas cleared to make way for Geita Gold Mine was unclear to those who received it. In one case, an evictee was paid only 400,000 Tanzanian shillings (US$239) "for his half-acre land with a house, banana trees and cassava plants."
The residents of Sophiatown say that they have not received any compensation for losing their farms. Anglogold Ashanti said, "Responsibility for carrying over compensation and resettling the affected parties rested with the Tanzanian state," but affirmed that "GGM has observed the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act (1967) and Land Act (1999) regarding compensation and resettlement activities within the GGM Special Mining License Area."
The resettlement issue sparked a legal battle between Mine Mpya's residents and Anglogold Ashanti. According to the company, no compensation was paid upon eviction because a High Court ruling found that "those on the land had no legal rights of occupancy."
The villagers, however, continued their battle in the Court of Appeal and are still awaiting the final outcome. The case was scheduled for hearing on August 2012, but has since been delayed.
Advocates for the displaced people were unable to disclose information about the legal proceedings, but in a 2008 report written in partnership with Norwegian Church Aid, villagers complained of corruption and suspicious meetings "behind closed doors" involving their attorney, the judge and lawyers representing the company.
Tanzania's commissioner of mines, Ally Samaje, did not answer repeated requests for an interview.
Anglogold Ashanti said that in April 2013, Geita Gold Mine "agreed with local authorities and the Tanzanian government to fund the construction of 18 houses for the displaced residents at a cost of US$450,000 or 999 million Tanzanian shillings." Such a decision, the company told IRIN, was made "regardless of the matter being in the court of law because the initiative was based on humanitarian grounds".
But Sophiatown's residents are already losing hope. "The government gave us a letter last July to say they will build houses for us," said Majebele. "We have waited and waited and now we are tired. I feel very bad because I am still suffering six years later."
Even if the construction of the houses goes ahead, it is questionable whether they will ever fully compensate for the lost lands and livelihoods of formerly self-sufficient farmers.
A 2011 report by the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) investigated the land factor in Tanzania's mining sector; it stated that people's "sense of belonging to their ancestral lands and burial grounds of their forefathers is an element that cannot be compensated for" and that "the issue is aggravated by the reality that the platform for negotiating compensation in Tanzania is not level".
The company said that future compensation exercises for displaced communities will include a "shift away from cash payments to a land-for-land basis, in addition to support for economic resettlement activities."
Alex Benkenstein, senior researcher at the SAIIA, told IRIN that the resettlement of displaced communities is a contentious issue all over the world, from Papua New Guinea to Peru and Australia, and that a "simplistic, formulaic" approach "inevitably leads to conflict".
"Companies may build houses that seem to be a vast improvement on traditional structures, but are suitable for small, nuclear families rather than the extended, communal living patterns often found in rural communities," he said.
"Companies should certainly not focus only on houses, land or financial compensation, but rather give consideration to the full spectrum of issues that sustain the livelihoods of communities ... Most importantly, the process must be built around the expressed needs and priorities of the communities themselves."
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations.]
Local miners left out by Tanzania gold rush
Competition between multinational mines and local gold prospectors has resulted in tension spilling into violence.
8 June 2013
"This investor, I would ask him to think about us here near the gold mine. This is our home, not his." - N'gombe Lukala Kadaso
Geita, Tanzania - In northwest Tanzania, less than a kilometre away from a sprawling open pit gold mine, hundreds of people are engaged in a complex and arduous task. While young men emerge from deep pits equipped with hammers, picks and torches, women pound large chunks of grey rock into smaller pieces for further processing into the mineral which brings in Tanzania's largest source of foreign investment: gold.
Magema, within the village of Nyamalembo, is one of the last remaining strongholds of artisanal and small-scale miners in the Geita area. But they are not officially allowed to be here. The land that stretches for more than 196 square kilometres around the Geita Gold Mine is occupied by AngloGold Ashanti, one of the world's largest gold mining companies. The miners say they were given an eviction notice to vacate the area in early May.
"When Geita Gold Mine arrived 13 years ago, we small-scale miners were carrying on our work as usual at another mining site," said Raban Masunga as he turns off the torch strapped around his head. "But now, the hills have been sold. The land has been sold. Everything has been sold to the company. This is the only place left for us and we can be evicted any day."
Before multinational mining companies arrived in Tanzania, the mining of minerals was largely conducted by small-scale miners. A report from February 2013 by the International Institute for Environment and Development states that globally, small-scale mining employs 10 times more people than large-scale mining.
In Tanzania, it is estimated that large-scale mining may have made upward of 400,000 people unemployed, contributing to further impoverishing the rural poor in a country that already ranks among the 10 poorest in the world.
Scavenging for gold
N'gombe Lukala Kadaso said after the mine was built, residents of Nyakabale realised that proceeds from mining were not going back to the community. Many like him took to scavenging waste rock.
"The way I work is I pound the rock, then I look back to see if the company's cruiser is coming," he said. "If it's there, I have to run. People have been beaten, had their legs broken, some were disabled. Others lost their lives near the mining site. There is no justice, but we must make a living somehow."
One year ago, 17-year old Mhoja Leonard was reportedly searching for waste material at AngloGold Ashanti's mine when he was shot and killed by a security guard. His father, Leonard Salala, said he has received nothing in compensation from the company for the "cold blood murder" of his son, save for 10 kilos of rice, a bag of meat, and some water.
"The company agreed to cover the burial costs, but said we would discuss further compensation. Since then I have heard nothing," he said. "They are not supposed to kill people. There is a court of law."
In a letter to Salala, AngloGold Ashanti said it was not liable for the death of his son. In a statement to reporters, the company said the company said its security, is "outsourced to a company named Group 4 Securicor ("G4S") and the security officials involved in the incident were working for G4S and not for Geita Gold Mine (GGM)." It added that Mhoja Leonard was nowhere near the waste dump area, but rather "had made an unauthorised entry intrusion" into the "GGM Heavy Mining Equipment workshop".
"AngloGold Ashanti expresses deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Mr Hoja Leonard. The death of anyone on our concession is something we take very seriously," the company said.
"GGM conducted two thorough internal investigations into the death of Mr Hoja Leonard and we understand a G4S employee remains in police custody pending a hearing about the matter..." the statement added. "We can confirm that engagement with G4S has taken place regarding Mr Leonard's death... GGM [Geita Gold Mine] has further enhanced its control mechanisms relating to a reduction in the use of firearms and the use of rubber bullets."
Some miners claim that numerous people were recently killed, and their bodies thrown into into Nyankanga dam, a dam located on the mine's lease area. According to AngloGold Ashanti, there were 24 third party fatalities in 2012, "many of which were the result of unsafe illegal mining methods, including void collapses ... further fatalities were the result of drowning in the Nyankanga Dam".
As for those in the mine dumps, the company said such people are "intruders and trespassers" that "enter the waste rock area and other areas, often with a criminal intent and despite knowing the dangers, and this poses a significant risk to their own safety".
As a result, the company said it would undertake a number of measures to develop an Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining Strategy. However, no land within the concession's 196 square km could be considered for small-scale miners, according to AngloGold Ashanti's executive vice president for the African region, Richard Duffy.
"We cannot afford to have artisanal and illegal mining in the existing areas, so we are looking for areas adjacent to or close by the lease area," Duffy said in a telephone interview.
While AngloGold Ashanti claims its inability to grant land within the concession to small-scale miners has to do with security risks, corporate finance consultant and co-chairman of African Eagle Resources, Euan Worthington, said profit gains are also a factor.
"A company is there to make money. If they gave a piece of land to the locals and it turned out to be a bonanza, they would look very stupid in the eyes of their shareholders," Worthington said. "And you don't want to be in the news for having an accident or pictures of people clambering all over your property."
Although small-scale miners are not allowed to remain within the concession area, Duffy said the company's presence in the area has benefited communities in other ways.
"We are committed to using local employees and local supplies. We are currently completing our portion of a $10m water project in partnership with the Tanzanian government," he said. "We run a school at Geita and support an orphanage ...We certainly try and make a positive contribution. We understand that our being there has had an impact, and we try to minimise the negative impacts of that."
The David and Goliath-like battle between large multinational mining companies and small-scale artisanal miners and scavengers is not unique to Geita. At least 14 people were killed in the past three years in Tanzania's North Mara mine, which is run by African Barrick Gold and 74 percent owned by Toronto-based Barrick Gold Corporation.
Increasing reports of human rights violations by mining companies the world over have elicited outrage among campaigners, particularly in the United Kingdom, where a number of mining companies are listed on the London Stock Exchange.
In response to queries about AngloGold Ashanti's human rights record, Duffy said the company acts accordingly.
"We investigate any and all allegations of human rights violations. We take those very seriously and operate in accordance with the UN voluntary principles of human rights. One of our core values is that the communities should benefit from our being there, and human rights is a core part of that."
The company suggested that "any member of the community with credible evidence or information relating to fatalities or security and human rights violations on site to formally contact the Tanzania Police Service for further investigation."
The Tanzanian Commissioner of Minerals did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
AngloGold Ashanti, like many companies, subscribes to the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPSHR), a set of voluntary principles established in the year 2000 that assist companies in providing security for their operations while also promoting human rights. The VPSHR have been criticised by organizations like Global Witness for being vague and hard to enforce.
Campaigners from the London Mining Network want the UK government to enforce stricter oversight upon companies listed on the London Stock Exchange, and to bring forward legislation that is internationally binding.
Until then, the struggle between companies such as AngloGold Ashanti and Tanzania's small-scale miners and waste-rock collectors continues. The people of Nyakabale remain outraged at what they perceive as ongoing injustices by both the company and the Tanzanian government, which they accuse of corruption and complicity.
Kadaso, the waste-rock collector from Nyakabale, said he believes the kinds of abuses he has witnessed would never occur in the West.
"This investor, I would ask him to think about us here near the gold mine," he said. "This is our home, not his. If I took my property and invested in his home, as a white man he would never tolerate the same kind of treatment he gives me as a citizen of Tanzania."