MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Launching LMN

Published by MAC on 2007-04-18


Launching LMN

18th April 2007

The London Mining Network was officially launched at a public meeting held at the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies on Wednesday 18 April 2007.

London Mining Network: Statement of Purpose

The London Mining Network recognises that

a.. Most of the world's biggest mining companies, and many smaller mining companies, are listed on the London Stock Exchange, and on its Alternative Investment Market (AIM). b.. London is the world's biggest centre for investment in the minerals industry: British high street and investment banks invest hundreds of millions of pounds a year in scores of mining projects across the globe. c.. The mining industry's key lobbying organisation, the International Council on Mining and metals (ICMM) is based in London. So are the world's most important metals price fixing mechanism, the London Metal exchange, and the leading precious metals trader, the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA). d.. Mining is one of the most polluting industries in the world; has a disproportionately negative impact on land-based communities, especially Indigenous Peoples, and is frequently associated with forced evictions, militarisation, conflict and human rights abuses. e.. Use of coal in energy generation is a major contributor to destructive climate change; use of uranium produces a radioactive legacy which threatens the wellbeing of thousands of generations to come.

The London Mining Network is a network of organisations concerned about human rights, social justice and the ecological integrity of the planet. It seeks to:

a.. Enable organisations concerned about the impacts of London-based mining companies to share information and learn from each others' experience. b.. Conduct and facilitate research into mining companies, mining processes, mine impacts and mine finance and make that research available to the public. c.. Draw public attention, especially in Britain, to the negative impacts of London-listed mining companies, through publications and events. d.. Support communities and workers directly affected by the activities of London-listed mining companies and London-based finance by publishing their experiences and views, providing them with relevant information, enabling them to send representatives to London company AGMs, supporting their demand for re-examination of mining contracts, and in other ways as appropriate. e.. Ensure that mining projects not be allowed to proceed without recognition of land title for mining-affected communities. f.. Ensure that mining projects not be allowed to proceed without demonstrable public acceptance by those directly affected by them and, in the case of Indigenous Peoples, without recognition of their legal right to Free Prior Informed Consent. g.. Invite public support for campaigns to ensure that mineral development practices are consistent with goals of sustainability, human rights and ecological justice.

London Mining Network recognizes that many mining companies are also involved in other extractive industries and aims to work co-operatively with groups and networks concerned about these industries.

Member groups of London Mining Network:

Colombia Solidarity Campaign, The Corner House, Partizans (People Against Rio Tinto and its Subsidiaries), Philippine Indigenous Peoples Links, Society of St Columban and TAPOL (the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign)

Contact person for the network: Richard Solly, +44 7929 023214

The meeting also dealt in detail with some of the abuses for which London-based Anglo American plc is responsible. The speakers were:

a.. Phillipus Dolo, Mohlohlo community leader, and Richard Spoor, a lawyer representing communities denied basic rights by Anglo American's Anglo Platinum subsidiary in South Africa. a.. Santos 'Santi' Mero, Deputy Secretary General of the Cordillera Peoples' Alliance (CPA), an independent federation of progressive peoples' organizations in the Cordillera Region of the Philippines, committed to the promotion and defence of Indigenous Peoples' rights. He is also a spokesperson of Defend National Patrimony Campaign (a national campaign opposed to translational mining company-led mining development). See http://www.cpaphils.org/. a.. Rupina Moyaen, Chairperson of the Save Apayao Peoples Organization (SAPO), which is spearheading local opposition to proposed large-scale mining activities in the Philippine Cordillera. She is also a candidate in forthcoming local government elections standing on a ticket of opposition to commercial large scale mining developments in her town, including those of Anglo American. a.. Richard Solly, Colombia Solidarity Campaign, on forced displacements of communities in Colombia.

These activists were present with other supporters at the Annual General Meeting of Anglo American plc in London on Tuesday 17 April. The London Mining Network produced the following brief information sheet for that event.

Anglo American plc AGM,

17 April 2007

Anglo American plc:

Creating value for shareholders

.. but not necessarily for its neighbours.

Anglo American plc is the fourth biggest mining company in the world by market capitalisation. Its five biggest shareholders are PLC Nominees (PTY) Ltd (24.85%), Old Mutual PLC (7.02%), Legal and General Group PLC (4.12%) and Anglo American directors Rene Medori (3.00%) and Nicholas Oppenheimer (2.836%).

Anglo American's roots are deep in apartheid South Africa but it has undertaken an ambitious reputational makeover since moving its headquarters to London and listing on the London Stock Exchange.

But around the world there are many communities that do not regard the company's presence as a blessing. This leaflet gives a few examples. One of the company's strategies is to divide those opposed to its activities and present those who welcome the company's operations - even when they are in a minority - as evidence of popular support. For more information, visit www.minesandcommunities.org.

South Africa

Anglo American's subsidiary Anglo Platinum has disregarded the rights of communities around its mines. People have been removed without consent from their ancestral territory and the promised benefits - roads, jobs and better housing - have not materialised. Instead, people have suffered police brutality and human rights violations.

On 4 January 2007, as people from the communities of Magobading, Selane, and Phasha were dispersing after a protest at the Twickenham Mine, police from Mecklenburg Police Station in Moroke began beating them. They arrested about fifteen people, including the Chairperson of the Magobading Crisis Committee, Jerry Tshehlakgolo. These beatings and arrests came after arrests in December of four community leaders in the Mapela area, north of Mokopane. These four leaders are key organizers in defending the communities' rights against Anglo Platinum's PPL mine. They were arrested while ploughing their fields, and their bail conditions were reminiscent of apartheid banning orders - they were not allowed to go back to their fields.

In June 2006, Anglo Platinum sent the police from Mecklenburg Police Station in Moroke who beat and shot at community members in Maandagshoek with both live and rubber bullets - at least fifteen people were injured, including a baby. These community members were simply protecting their land from further expansion by the Modikwa Mine - a joint venture of Anglo Platinum and African Rainbow Minerals. The police arrested two traditional leaders, Kgoshi Isaac Kgoete and Kgoshigadi Joyce Kgoete, and several other community leaders, including Emmanuel Makgoga, who co-ordinates the efforts of communities fighting for their rights in the Tubatse Municipality. Mr. Makgoga said in February this year: "We know our rights since 1994. They can't do to us what they did during apartheid. I'm not going to shut my mouth until we have everything we deserve from these mines. We own this land with platinum in it, but we are not benefiting at all. I'm not going to be intimidated to be quiet and we as a community are not afraid."

Philippines

A subsidiary of Anglo American, Cordillera Exploration Inc (CEXI), was granted an exploration permit by the Philippine government, covering 9,332 hectares in Conner town, Apayao, in April 2005. This permit covers the communities of Calafug, Puguin, Cupis, and Karikitan. As this is the ancestral land of the local (Igorot) indigenous peoples, Philippine laws specify that those affected must give their "free prior informed consent" before any mining can be allowed. The government says that it did conduct the required consultations with the potentially affected communities. A Certification of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) was granted in February 2006. But in fact the communities, in two consultations, had registered their strong opposition to the project. A third consultation was held with selected individuals in favour of mining and a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was signed with this group. Fourteen of the signatories were confirmed not even to be members of the concerned communities.

The people in the area have united in opposing the mining proposals and formed the Save Apayao Peoples Organization (SAPO) to further their cause. This is taking place against a background of increased militarisation and human rights abuses. Tribal leaders believe that their opposition to the project and criticism of the government's mining policies is putting their lives at risk.

At the 2006 AGM Anglo American's Chairman, Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, committed the company to meet with community representatives opposing their plans. However, an agreed dialogue with community elders arranged for mid-July 2006 was cancelled at extremely short notice (actually as the community leaders prepared for the dialogue). The company has so far failed to honour its commitment to a meeting and continues to advance its plans.

Ghana

Sanso is a suburb of Obuasi in the Ashanti region of Ghana. The community lies within the concession of AngloGold-Ashanti (AGA)'s Obuasi mining project, which has been in operation since its inception in around 1897. AGA, based in South Africa, is 41% owned by Anglo American plc. The Obuasi mine is the largest and longest operated underground gold mine in Ghana. It consists of an underground mine and a cluster of surface mines encircling Sanso. To the south-east lies the mine waste, to the north-east is the company's self-protection trench, and to the north-west is the company's teak plantation project.

Sanso was once a peaceful farming community. Mining expansion has created pressure on local people to move away. Most of the people have not moved, but the mining has destroyed most other possibilities for making a living. Nearly all farmlands have been taken over and streams destroyed, yet the mines have not been able to generate the required capacity to employ hundreds of the jobless youth. Residents who have been farmers all their lives have been left with no source of livelihood. Their farmlands are taken away from them and they get a very paltry sum of money as compensation. The mining has led to extreme poverty, unemployment and pollution. There have been military incursions into the area and residents report brutal assaults and murders.

Benjamin Annan, Sanso Assemblyman, reports:

"I have led the community to make several overtures to the mining company aimed at ensuring that there is harmony between it and the community. However, no reconciliation effort survives in an atmosphere where one party sees itself as superior and dominant. This is the attitude and posture of AngloGold-Ashanti officials in dealing with the intractable problems of Sanso. Some of the company's officials feel too big to even come to the village to hold discussions, let alone to resolve issues. . We have sent several petitions to both the past and the present government for redress since 2001 but, sadly, we have not received any concrete response. This is not surprising, though, as the company and government officials are always in league against the will and aspirations of community persons in the name of investment - as if community level economic activities are not investment."

Colombia

In 2000, Anglo American formed part of a three-company consortium which bought a 50% stake in the Cerrejon mine in the province of la Guajira. The mine was operated by a subsidiary of Exxon Mobil and had a history of intimidating local people into selling up for inadequate compensation. Communities were broken up and dispersed.

Some of the residents of one village - Tabaco - held out for a community relocation arrangement so that they could move as a community to new land and carry on farming. The company refused. In August 2001, unarmed residents were evicted from their homes by soldiers, police and private security guards, and their homes were demolished. Homes left standing that day were demolished in January 2002. In February of that year, the consortium in which Anglo American was involved bought out the other 50% of the mine. Anglo American now owns one-third of the mine and participates in operational decisions.

The people from Tabaco holding out for community relocation have still not received justice in spite of a Supreme Court decision in May 2002 which ordered the local authority to relocate them. The company has offered inadequate compensation and inappropriate pieces of land. The community has found a suitable piece of land and the owner is willing to sell - at a price well below the annual salary of some Anglo American Board members! Neither the government nor the company has proved willing to finance the move, and community members remain in grave difficulties. Now other communities are under pressure to move. The company says it is willing to engage in collective negotiations with each community but community members say that company employees are continually pressuring them to sell up individually for inadequate sums, and get out.

This leaflet was produced by

London Mining Network, London

 

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