MAC: Mines and Communities

Mining's "great and good" tout their African wares

Published by MAC on 2015-02-28
Source: GroundUp, Independent (South Africa)

But many others won't buy them

Africa's annual mining conference, the Mining Indaba, provides an opportunity for governments and mining companies to showpiece projects and tap gobbets of money, primarily from foreign investors.

This year's event was no exception: one of its two headline speakers was none other than Tony Bliar - despite his unashamed support for the murderous Rwandan regime, arguably one of the largest abusers of human rights on the continent.

The world's leading global publication on mining, Mineweb, made the following comments when summing-up the Indaba (in the article Final thoughts on the Cape Town Mining Indaba):

"Of course the organisers did pull in one even bigger name in Tony Blair who spoke to a full conference room and one assumes this was a reminder perhaps to those attending that the new conference owners, the U.K.’s Euromoney Group, were both British, and had the stature (and the money) to be able to attract someone of Blair’s international status to speak. Perhaps an unnecessary demonstration of strength and political clout which may, or may not, have impressed the audience. Blair did, in his presentation, call for of stabilising tax regimes to attract business and new investment and one hopes the plethora of African ministers and senior government officials present may take note. Many were also very keen to have their photographs taken with Blair according to John Meyer of SP Angel in his brief summary of the event on his daily email to clients – presumably one of the tasks required of the former U.K. Prime Minister to help justify what will likely have been a six figure sum for his attendance."

The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre also published a briefing to coincide with the Mining Indaba, entitled "Business Unusual": Mining in the aftermath of Marikana: The human rights impacts of southern Africa’s extractive sector.

As in previous years, critics and opponents of the official event gathered for their own Alternative Mining Indaba, throwing up a number of ideas and strategies, as reflected in the articles below. 

Why mining industry leaders should drive to Woodstock this week

Editorial by Melissa Fourie 


12 February 2015

The annual Investing in African Mining Indaba is once again under way at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. It is a rather depressed affair this year, with an unresolved regulatory regime, looming labour disputes and an energy crisis that makes investing in South Africa look a lot less interesting than in other countries in Africa.

The conversations at this year’s Indaba, between mining executives, service providers and government officials, will no doubt be dominated by talk of regulatory uncertainty, strategic minerals, and plummeting commodity prices.

In Woodstock, only a few kilometres away but separated by a world of anger about pollution, poverty and loss of livelihoods, the annual Alternative Mining Indaba (AMI) started with a protest march to the Convention Centre on Monday. At the AMI, community organisations, civil society organisations and activists call for economic, social and environmental justice, fairness, transparency and accountability.

The two Indabas speak such different languages that a common understanding seems impossible. On the other hand, more confrontation, at least some of which will be violent, seems likely and imminent.

The long-awaited report of the Farlam Commission into the Marikana massacre hangs over both events like a dark cloud . Business worries about the prospects of increased corporate liability and risk, and renewed labour unrest; activists worry that the report will not provide justice for the dead of Marikana and their bereaved families, and for all communities across South Africa burdened by the structural inequalities that caused the tragic events of August 2012.

At an Indaba side event on Monday, organised by the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA), a meeting of representatives from industry, academia, NGOs and government gathered to discuss “environmental governance of South Africa’s extractive industries”. Environmental governance is a major concern of activists at the AMI; not so much at the main Indaba, where “sustainable development” is traditionally side-lined at separate, poorly attended sessions towards the end of the event.

At the SAIIA meeting, no-one in the room bothered to dispute that capacity for environmental governance of mining was utterly inadequate. Discussions quickly moved on to how to get the mining industry to “do the right thing” in such a low-capacity environment, rather than to continue , as it has done for the past 20 years, to take advantage of the weak regulatory regime. Predictably but nevertheless stunningly absent from this event, was any representative from the authority actually responsible for that environmental governance of mining: the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR).

Panellist and environmental consultant Sean O’Beirne reminded us that the opportunity to ensure proper governance of the environmental impacts of mining was lost when the DMR – allegedly under industry pressure - reneged on its agreement that the environmental impacts of mining would be regulated by environmental authorities. Instead, the Minister of Mineral Resources insisted on retaining this function for the DMR in what is now somewhat ironically known as the “One Environmental System” under the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA).

What, O’Beirne asked rhetorically, was the mining industry so afraid of when it rejected oversight by environmental authorities? Is it perhaps that environmental authorities have a decade’s head start in development of a compliance and enforcement programme?

Fear, it turns out, is the motivation for many actions in the mining industry. After the SAIIA session, a senior executive from a large mining company admitted in conversation that mining companies resist releasing key documents governing their operations, like environmental management programmes and social and labour plans because they fear the consequences of transparency. What, indeed, would happen if everyone could see how non-compliant the mining industry really is with environmental and social obligations?

While the DMR has successfully held onto the function of oversight of environmental regulation of mining, it has a negligible track record of compliance monitoring and enforcement. In the last few months, the DMR has finally managed to provide three weeks of compliance and enforcement training to about 30 of its middle managers. This is a start , but a paltry one given the task at hand. The DMR’s history of negligible environmental compliance monitoring and enforcement under the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Amendment Act (MPRDA) is unlikely to get significantly better under NEMA, a framework of which the DMR has no experience, within the foreseeable future. And if there was a conflicted mandate within its own legislation, this conflict will surely only be more pronounced under environmental legislation.

And then there is still the issue of DMR’s lack of capacity for or interest in enforcing compliance with social and labour plans (SLPs) - generally ill-conceived, poorly consulted cut-and-paste documents with either impossible or impossibly pathetic promises of jobs and community upliftment. And while some activists have long abandoned SLPs as tools for change, these remain legally enforceable instruments, and non-compliance can, in theory, lead to prosecution and suspension of licences.

Back at the Alternative Mining Indaba, activists are emboldened by recent success stories of communities exercising their rights in court: a mining company director given a prison sentence for environmental violations, and the Supreme Court of Appeal’s decision compelling ArcelorMittal South Africa to hand over long-hidden environmental records. One of the ways communities can exercise their environmental rights is to lay criminal charges against companies and company directors who violate the law – a simple exercise of taking an affidavit with prima facie allegations of criminal offences to their local police station. Environmental legislation is packed with criminal offences, and the National Prosecuting Authority has repeatedly demonstrated its commitment to support communities in holding mining companies and directors to account (even where the DMR has resisted such action).

At the SAIIA event, WWF South Africa’s Saliem Fakir set the bar much higher, and argued that legal compliance cannot be enough: we need a far more holistic approach to the role of extractives in our country if there is any chance of mining bringing real prosperity for more than an elite few.

One step in the direction of a more holistic and inclusive approach would be to have an honest conversation about community involvement in mining in the reconsideration of the MPRDA Amendment Act – a conversation heard by ears not closed by political agenda. Even mining law guru Peter Leon has indicated that the requirement of free prior informed consent was preferable to the box-ticking consultation approach we have followed in South Africa until now. Free prior informed consent by affected communities has to be the start of mineral extraction that truly considers its impact on the landscape and people’s lives, and aims to achieve prosperity that goes beyond the pockets of shareholders.

Another step towards greater public support for mining would be far greater transparency, particularly free and easy access to the legal conditions of operations at every mine as contained in environmental management programmes and social and labour plans. Not only will disclosure of these documents inherently promote greater compliance, but without such disclosure – and evidence of compliance with the rules - there cannot really be any conversation about trust between mines and the communities on whom they impose.

Government and industry are short-sighted and foolish if --even in 2015, even after Marikana-- they think that our country’s mining industry can prosper without investment in our natural and social capital. The suited mining executives and government representatives at the CTICC should consider talking the short drive down to Woodstock and starting a real conversation with communities and activists about the role of the mining industry in preserving and developing South Africa’s long-term assets.

Melissa Fourie is the Executive Director of the Centre for Environmental Rights.

This feature was first published at The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. No inference should be made on whether these reflect the editorial position of GroundUp.

Alternative indaba empowers communities

By Banele Ginindza

Independent Online (South Africa)

10 February 2015

The thrust of this year’s Alternative Mining Indaba, or AMI2015, in Cape Town is that of helping mining communities take up the fight against transgressing mining companies.

Participants in the conference are helping mining communities on a number of fronts, including teaching them to test water quality and measure air pollution.

Other programmes include how to look out for environmental degradation, how to prospect for minerals and how to hold mining companies true to promises when it comes to employment.

Mining communities are also being provided legal training to understand how to engage with mining companies and the government to ensure that they can exercise their rights.

The people

“We want them to begin to own their struggles, to set the agenda,” David van Wyk, the Benchmarks Foundation lead researcher, said.

He added that the land rights should stay with the communities so they were able to force mining companies to negotiate with them instead of with other parties.

“Why must we look at someone else to come do prospecting when the communities should be doing it themselves? Land rights should reside with communities; if they have land management capabilities they will be better able to negotiate directly with companies.”

The AMI2015 held at the DoubleTree Hotel in Woodstock saw participating mining communities march on the 2015 Investing in African Mining Indaba held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.

Previous AMIs have questioned whether the government really controlled any mines; have appealed to mining companies to come clean on tax dodging; have considered minerals as a resource curse and asserted that Africa was resource-rich, while the people stay poor.

The first AMI had 40 delegates attending, but this has increased to over 300 delegates this year. The theme for this year is ‘Making Natural Resources Work for the People’.


Van Wyk said the foundation had at least 35 community-based monitors and had trained communities in various disciplines including journalism so that they could tell their own stories.

Christopher Rutledge, the ActionAid mining extractives co-ordinator, said: “Change can only come about with the input of the people affected; where people speak for themselves and claim their rights. We are moving away from having the NGOs in front and communities at the back; now it is the

 people in front.”

Mpumalanga activist Rain Sikhosana recounted how a community member had brought a bottle of drinking water containing thick coal sediment. She said: “I will tell you why the mining indaba is held in Cape Town and not in Johannesburg where communities affected by mining have access and can come and protest… they fear the people.”

Open Society Foundation advocacy and communications officer Jeggan Grey-Johnson said the most culpable organisation exploiting mining communities was the AU, which had not implemented the conventions and principles that it had ratified.

“There is lack of political will which leaves these principles merely on paper and it makes it easy for external forces such as companies to exploit and do as they please,” he said.

Van Wyk also spoke of the disparity between pay of local miners compared with their counterparts in Australia.

He added that mining companies had poor justification for this disparity.

Alternative Mining Indaba calls for inclusion of communities

8 February 2015

CHANGE IN mining is needed now or we risk environmental and economic devastation, Jo Seoka writes in the City Press:

It is time for civil society and communities to be meaningfully included in the Mining Indaba (which runs from 9 to 12 February) and to have at least a 50% representation at the meeting.

For five years we have tried to influence the mining indaba’s outcomes and we will continue to do so until we prevent mines from seeking easy entrance into communities and extrapolating our resources.

The exorbitant fees and exclusion from the programme means the mining indaba is purely investor driven. This is dangerous as those who would contribute vital information and insights are excluded and are not heard.

Oxfam’s latest report states that 85 people earn more than 3.5 billion people who are living in poverty. Short-term profit maximisation driven by financial institutions and private equity players, with a view to quick riches leaves communities and the environment devastated.

Those at the mining indaba brag about the standards they have adopted and how they report, meanwhile they wreak havoc everywhere they mine. We say enough is enough: change is needed now!

Mining has vastly changed the landscape of the world. We live on a planet barely recognisable to what it was just 100 years ago. We fail to heed the warnings of the true costs of mining and its long-term consequences.

We fail to recognise that we need a more equitable sharing of wealth. We talk about growth but ignore what is really needed: an economy built on redistribution.

Imagine a mining community where workers are paid a decent living wage and communities are compensated adequately for mining on their land – this should not be a dream, this should be reality and is the best way for us to begin to build the society we want tomorrow.

It is worth noting what the Alternative Mining Indaba in 2014 had to say and I quote: “We continue to note with concern, that the African Mining Indaba (being held at the International Convention Centre in Cape Town), has once again excluded the true owners of the land from their conference, and warn that severe hardship, social conflicts and unsustainability will result, when our land and heritage is sold at the altar of foreign governments and transnational corporations.

We stand in solidarity with workers, women and men, young and old, who have lost their lives and livelihoods as a result of unscrupulous mining companies, and demand the protection of the rights of communities and particularly the defenders of rights, who continuously suffer under oppressive regimes.

We note with dismay the continued rush for profits by rent-seeking Trans-national Corporations at the cost of both human and animal life and the complete destruction of the environment and other sources of life such as rivers and the air. Above all else, we are appalled by the inhumane attitude displayed by the leaders of the corporations towards other forms of life and fellow humans and the poor stewardship over the land and environment.”

Through our many years working on the ground, we have learnt that mineral extraction is used for perpetuating inequalities rather than bringing about a solidarity society.

We are concerned that communities continue to be marginalised in matters affecting their own lives.

In South Africa for example, communities are excluded from being participants in Social and Labour Plans. These plans speak about community infrastructure and economic well-being.

This is anti-democratic, and reinforces colonial and Apartheid practices. A truly democratic legislation ensures that people remain the centre of their own development.

Although we have raised these matters for some years, we continue to learn of the continued impoverishment of mining communities, and labour sending communities. These stand in stark contrast to the mass profits of the share-holders and chief executive officers.

Communities continue to cry out against the new rush for mining and extractives profits, which defy all norms of fair play, consultations and negotiations with communities. We have observed a blatant disregard for human rights and a continued externalisation of mining costs.

Whilst profits are privatised, the true costs to health, environment, ecology, economy and social well-being of workers and communities is ignored in law and practice by the elites in our communities and the corporations.

We find sham consultations and agreements with un-mandated elites circumventing full participation of the communities in determining whether mining should take place or not.

For us, Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), is not a once-off process, but continuous processes of negotiating and consulting with communities on matters of importance to them. FPIC should be compulsory and it should also give communities the right to say NO to mining.

We are tired of the rights of people being pushed aside and ignored and have therefore resolved to name and shame companies that are found to have violated Human Rights and Environmental Rights at every gathering we have. This will be followed by cases being laid against the company involved.

On customary law we reject the current practice which gives individual and unelected chiefs all the power over the resources to his or her community. We further call on government to mobilise the political will and recognise and use customary law which will assert the customary laws and entitlements of the community as equal to statutory regulation.

This will grant communities greater rights than corporations to own, and utilise their own natural resources. We trust our government and law makers to not be confused in believing that all investment is good, when evidence says contrary.

Whilst shareholders and CEOs have raked in millions, mining communities remain trapped in extreme poverty and inequality.

We call for extreme and urgent measures to relieve hardships in the short term, and to lay the basis for sustainable socio-economic development which does no harm to the ecology, local communities and their well-being.

We call for a critical review of the whole system of revenue collection and distribution of royalties. The review should evaluate if it works, where it works, and how it works on the continent.

Participants of the Alternative Mining Indaba acknowledge that the implementation of these systems are adhoc, non-transparent and generally yield no benefit to communities.

We also call on government to regulate the corporations without fear or favour, and ensure that mining and other extractive companies are held accountable for the true costs of mining as they impact on local communities and individuals.

Corruption and mismanagement of our natural resources undermines sustainable development and is a loophole for corrupt and unscrupulous individuals in government and in corporations. We call for community vigilance in exposing these acts and ask the law enforcement agencies to prosecute those found wanting.

Communities are debating setting up a Community Fund to galvanise their resources and strategies to effectively challenge corporate power.

One area of work that would be funded is litigation which we hope will systematise how we challenge corporate abuses of the environment and communities in our countries, on the continent and in international tribunals.

Another is the establishment of an independent fund that all mining companies contribute to.

The money will be used to level the playing field, and give communities access to expertise to negotiate more equitably when mines want to begin or expand activities.

In lieu of the three spheres of sustainable development, namely environment, social and economic impacts, the governments should embrace the concept of beneficiation that entails value addition and the transformation of a mineral to a higher value product, which can either be consumed locally or exported.

We call on all the national governments of different countries to beneficiate all the minerals with a large share of development being vested for hosting communities as prescribed by negotiations with the communities; the beneficiaries of all extractives must first of all benefit communities before other so called stakeholders, but it must cause no harm to the ecology.

The Alternative Mining Indaba expressed outrage last year, when it learnt that more than half (56%) of illicit flows of Finance (estimated at $50 billion per annum) from the African continent arose from oil, precious metals and minerals, iron and steel and copper.

These illicit flows in the extractive sector are by and large facilitated by corruption, illegal resource exploitation, tax evasion and avoidance. The only ones benefitting from this are corrupt government officials, TNCs and their subsidiaries.

We call on African governments to prioritise the scourge of illicit financial flows in the mining sector by strengthening the capacity of regulatory institutions in order for these institutions to effectively carry out their work in identifying and curbing illicit financial flows.

Government must redouble their commitment to strengthening and enforcing tough disclosure measures that are timeous, transparent, and accountable to parliament and communities.

We believe it is high time to enact legislation that promotes mandatory reporting of revenue payments on production figures, sales, profits and taxes paid by all transnational corporations in all jurisdictions where they operate in their audited annual reports and tax returns.

Governments must make this information public to the general citizenry.

For this to be effective, government should build the capacity of regulatory institutions to carry out their own independent audits to validate reports of the companies.

We also call upon all governments, in particular those in Africa, to enact legislation that prohibits public officials from engaging in business activities, owning shares or sitting on a board of a company or companies that will conflict with or compromise their public responsibilities in the sectors that they are supposed to be regulating.

Complete transparency of Beneficial ownership/registry of TNCs is essential. The control and accounts of companies, Trusts and Foundations in each jurisdiction that these entities operate must be made public.

We call on our government to embrace Automatic Exchange of Tax Information amongst governments.

This shall be done by collecting data from financial institutions on the financial assets within their domain and automatically provide it to governments where the non-resident individual or entity beneficially controlling the structure is located.

We call upon African governments to harmonise laws that deal with the offences for money laundering including tax evasion and fraud, as well as crimes committed both at home and abroad.

We note the new fad that is taking root in the world – fracking. We oppose fracking, because it pollutes the water supply and distorts the ecosystems supporting our livelihoods.

Communities consistently speak out against current iniquitous land laws in many countries where ownership only refers to surface land. In addition, the new scramble for Africa’s resources starts with land grabbing.

This undermines not only our food sovereignty, but also communities’ capacity to sustainable livelihoods.

We demand genuine land reform, and fair and equal compensation for those evicted to make way for mining. Even this decision must be subject to communities’ approval. It is women and children who are most affected by evictions and displacements caused by these land grabs.

The concept of energy sovereignty which provides for small-scale, community-owned, participatory, renewable energy solutions must be provided.

These alternatives including solar, wind, water, etc. can be sources of energy that put the needs and aspirations of people and their communities, and the environment above the race for profits.

More resources must therefore be made available to poor communities to reduce their reliance on charcoal burning.

All members of the Alternative Mining Indaba, made up of civil society and faith-based organisations from all over Africa, have committed to struggle for these ideals: for a more sustainable and human-friendly world as well as for a more just economic system.

We have vowed to remain vigilant and to continue monitoring the practices of all mining companies to ensure just and equitable outcomes. We will never give up fighting for the rights of those who are affected by mining.

2015’s African Mining Indaba is set to be filled with great debates, discussions, training, and calls to action. Through our discussions, research, marches, protests and meetings, we will push our agenda and ensure that our voices are heard, no matter what.

* Seoka is chairperson of the Bench Marks Foundation and is member of the Alternative Mining Indaba.


Declaration of the 6th alternative mining Indaba

By Moratuoa Thoke“making-natural-resources-work-people”

13th February 2015

We, the representatives of over 300 members of Civil Society Organisations; Faith Based Organisations, Pan-African Networks and Organisations, Labour Movements, media, international partners and Community Based Organisations, have met from 9th – 12th February, 2015, in Cape Town to share experiences and deliberate on the role and the impacts of extractives on communities, the environment, animal life and society at large.

This marks the 6th year of the Alternative Mining Indaba (AMI) which has grown from its modest 40 to over 300 international delegates, and in particular from Africa.

Cognisant of the failure to fulfil the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the subsequent efforts towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the post-2015 agenda, financing for development should remain a national obligation.

We are convinced that the capitalist system puts profits above people, and fails to sustain harmonious relations within society. The failure of African governments to fulfil regional instruments, including the Africa Mining Vision (AMV), is a demonstration of its weak governance.

We have further noted the flagrant violation of ethical and legal standards and believe that without principled, just and effective regulation of the extractive and related industries, people will remain impoverished.

We are cognisant of trade and investment policies that have had a negative impact on governments’ ability to fulfil its development agenda and lift communities out of poverty. Governments have an opportunity – and duty – to ensure that natural resources benefit more people more widely and that companies operating in their respective countries are acting according to ethical and legal standards.

We call upon all African governments to commit to rising to the challenge set forth in our priority recommendations and make citizen-centred decisions about the investment of natural resources.

Taxation and Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs)

Transparency and Accountability

Environmental rights and community monitoring

Access to Remedy: Litigation and Mining

Artisanal mining

Women and Extractives

Mining, Health and Labour

We hereby affirm our commitment to the above stated issues and pledge our on-going support on the same with unflinching resolve. We are also committed to working together with governments, corporations, communities and other progressive forces to ensure that these demands are met.
Declared at the 6th Alternative Mining Indaba held in Cape Town, South Africa in February 2015 with participants from: Angola ,Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Botswana, Cameron, Canada, Chad, Colombia, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, France, Ghana, India, Ivory Coast , Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria and Norway, Republic of South Africa, Senegal , South Sudan , Swaziland , Sweden , Switzerland , Tanzania , Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

The Alternative Mining Indaba is supported by Economic Justice Network of FOCCISA; Oxfam South Africa; Oxfam America; Bench Marks Foundation; Open Society Foundation of South Africa; OSISA; Diakonia; Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) and Kairos.

Home | About Us | Companies | Countries | Minerals | Contact Us
© Mines and Communities 2013. Web site by Zippy Info