MAC: Mines and Communities

Death of Roger Moody, one of the founders of Mines and Communities

Published by MAC on 2022-06-20
Source: Statement
Roger Moody
Roger Moody, former Managing Editor, Mines & Communities. Photo: Jamie Kneen

With deep sadness we announce the death of our friend and co-worker Roger Moody, journalist, mining researcher and activist, a leading figure in Partizans (People Against Rio TInto Zinc ANd Subsidiaries), the Minewatch Collective, Mines and Communities and London Mining Network. He was crucial to the process of building global alliances in the struggle to hold multinational mining companies accountable for the social and ecological consequences of their activities.

We learnt on Monday 6 June that Roger had died, apparently peacefully, and his body had been found in his flat. We await the results of a post mortem examination to determine the cause and date of his death.

Roger was born in Bristol at some time in the mid 1940s. One of Roger's endearing, if frustrating, characteristics, was his unwillingness to reveal his age, which is making the bureaucracy involved in dealing with his death all the more problematic.

Roger was active in the peace movement and at one stage was editor of Peace News. He had immense respect for animals and early in life became a vegetarian. He was vegan before it became fashionable.

For many years, Roger cared for his older brother Peter, who had Down's Syndrome. Peter, who died in 1998, made a useful contribution to the work of the Minewatch Collective, particularly by defusing tense conversations with humour. Roger and Peter wrote a book about their life together, called Half Left. (Peter would usually reply to the question, "Are you all right Pete?" with the quip, "No, I'm half left.") Roger actively promoted the rights and welfare of people with Down's Syndrome, and much of his passion for solidarity with those who are different from expected social norms sprang from his love and respect for his older brother.

Along with his friend Jan Roberts, Roger set up CIMRA (Colonialism and Indigenous Minorities Research and Action) to stimulate support for indigenous land rights struggles across the world.

Roger had a fine mind, with the ability to recall and cross-reference individual facts from his vast amount of knowledge.

At the suggestion of Indigenous activists in 1978, those involved in CIMRA set up Partizans to work against RTZ (Rio Tinto Zinc, now Rio Tinto) for its multiple violations of indigenous rights. Partizans pioneered the technique of attending company AGMs to raise issues of concern. One year, when the chairman abruptly cut short the AGM before indigenous representatives had had a chance to be heard, activists stormed the stage and took control to give them a platform.

Partizans became a worldwide network of activists and in 1990 gave birth to the London-based Minewatch Collective, which conducted research into the damage caused by many mining companies and shared information with indigenous and other land-based communities around the world.

The Minewatch Collective drifted apart in the late 1990s but gave birth to regional-focused projects, and Roger continued work on mining in the Asia-Pacific region in particular. The Minewatch Asia-Pacific Project called together mining justice activists from various parts of the world to a conference in London in 2001 and the Mines and Communities network was established, with the aim of continuing to share information on mining with land-based communities through a website. Roger was centrally involved in this initiative. In 2019, Mines and Communities was awarded the UK-based Gandhi Foundation's prestigious Peace Prize, largely because of Roger's work on mining in India.

Roger was involved in discussions leading to the foundation of London Mining Network (LMN) in late 2006 and early 2007. These discussions emerged from a conviction, shared by Roger, that a dedicated organisation was needed in the UK to put pressure on London-listed mining companies. Roger wrote much of LMN's 2012 report, UK-listed mining companies and the case for stricter oversight. In more recent years, he has not been active in London Mining Network, and declining health after what appeared at the time to be a stroke (though Roger, characteristically, refused medical assistance or diagnosis) left him unable to maintain his former level of activity or complete some of the projects that he had hoped to carry out.

Roger wrote many, many articles and books. Among his major books on mining are Plunder! (a history of RTZ to 1991), The Gulliver File (an encyclopedic history of world mining companies to 1992), Into the Unknown Regions (about submarine tailings disposal), The Risks We Run (about political risk insurance for mining), and Rocks and Hard Places: The Globalization of Mining.

Roger accumulated a number of aliases during his writing career, notably Digby Knight, Mogador and Elsie (from the initials of the Mines and Communities website's 'London Calling' column). Friends in India loved to call him Rajah Mudi. Over the last two decades, he usually wrote under the banner of Nostromo Research, named for the character in Joseph Conrad's novel of the same name.

Roger has had a formative influence on many people in many places and is credited with having brought people together into activist groups, taught people about mining, even being the catalyst for marriages.

Roger was also a great lover of music and a competent pianist. He regarded Beethoven as one of the greatest human beings who ever lived.

It is also true to say that Roger could be difficult to work with, and sometimes adopted contrarian positions almost as a way of testing people's commitment to their own views. Nonetheless, his massive influence in the creation of networks of activists against mining injustice across the world, and his personal influence on so many of us, is a tribute to his dedication to the cause. The vast affection in which he is held is clear from the comments below.

May all his efforts to hold mining companies to account for their abuses, and to defend the rights of indigenous and other land-based peoples, continue to bear fruit in our collective action for justice and the healing of the planet.

Tributes have been received from researchers and activists around the world.

A BIG BIG loss to Mining communities and the Indigenous people.

- Xavier Dias, Editor, Khan Kaneej Aur ADHIKAR (Mines minerals & RIGHTS), India

Roger's death is a huge loss for those who knew him and for the world. I'll be forever grateful for having known Roger, who I consider a legend, mentor, and friend.

- Tracy Glynn, Canada

It's such a huge loss - so many of us owe so much to Roger. The shadow of his activism is vast, inspiring so many of us to work on mining issues. He created the space that many of us later occupied. I think it is matched only by the generosity of his spirit, and I shall miss his wicked smile, awful puns and general sense of mischief.

- Andy Whitmore, Co-chair, London Mining Network, UK

Roger is a close friend who provides one of the reasons why we must unite globally against greedy mining. Even his life style is an expression of resistance to mining, to modernity, something that’s more difficult to find among us. We all together, at the National Jatam meeting in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, were shocked and saddened to hear of his passing. We pray together for him.

- Siti Maimunah, Jatam, Indonesia

I didn't know Roger well, but saw in him a remarkable and larger-than-life personality, uncompromising in his passionate beliefs, driven by anger at what mining companies were getting away with and by solidarity with affected communities. I depended very heavily on Roger in the early days of our work on Vedanta. His understanding of the company's modus operandi was second to none and of course events continuously proved him right.

- Peter Frankental, Amnesty International UK

I first encountered Roger when I began going to the Peace News building, in London's Kings Cross, at the end of the 1960s, as a volunteer helping to
pack the newspaper for posting out when it arrived from the printers each week. Roger was one of the PN "gang", and he often entertained the packers by playing the old piano in the basement where the packing job took place.

I quickly found him to be an original thinker, an inspirational campaigner, a fluent writer, and one of the key figures who made Peace News such a massive political and cultural influence on so many people in the 1960s and 1970s.

During the many years when I went on to work with the paper - and, for a long stretch, was a PN staffer myself - my admiration for Roger only grew. I
worked with him (in various ways) on many of his campaigns over third world and environmental issues (and their intersection in mining) - I especially
remember Operation Omega, the Biafra war, Operation Namibia, and (of course) Partizans.

The launch, by Partizans, of the habit of nominal shareholders intervening in company AGMs (an imaginative tactic subsequently taken up by other campaigns) was brilliantly conceived by Roger; in a strange way I have many really wonderful memories of taking part in RTZ AGMs with Roger and others.

In all the years I knew him, he was stubbornly principled - in the most endearing (and simultaneously frustrating) way - and always prepared to take
a stand over issues that he was committed to, however unpopular. His willingness to do so was one of the things I most admired about him.

My bitterest regret is that I've had only such intermittent contact with him over the last couple of years; his human warmth as a comrade and friend was second to none.

- Albert Beale, Peace News

We are in deep sadness as we try to comprehend the news of the death of a friend and exemplary human being. You know how much we loved him.

- Armando Perez Araujo, lawyer for mining-affected communities, Colombia

This is just terrible news. I am so very sorry. He will be so missed.

- Nick Hildyard, researcher, The Cornerhouse, UK

I'm so sorry to hear this terrible news about Roger. I never had a chance to meet him, but the importance of his work to mining justice circles speaks for itself. Oddly enough, I was just reading some of his work again over the weekend. My sincere condolences to all of you and others who knew him well.

- Jen Moore, Institute for Policy Studies, Mexico

Unfathomable that this force in our collective work is gone. Roger and his early research and writing on mining are at the start of so much organizing and global movement building. I always expected to see him again at some future Mines and Communities gathering. We all owe Roger so much.

- Catherine (Rineke) Coumans, MiningWatch Canada

Sad to hear. Roger is remembered for his commitment to the struggle for community rights and his spirited opposition to corporate impunity.

- Abdulai Darimani (PhD), Ghana

It is sad to hear of Roger Moody's passing. He was one of the very first to reach out to us in Mongolia when Rio Tinto came. Roger has always been ready to help local communities in any way he could.

- Sukhgerel Dugersuren, Director, Oyu Tolgoi Watch, Mongolia

Roger was a kind, smart, dedicated and very knowledgeable person who worked to help others and has left an indelible, deep and positive mark on our movement, which owes him a depth of gratitude.

- Zoe Lujic, Earth Thrive, UK/Serbia

Roger worked with the Columbans when we were trying to get Rio Tinto out of Midsalip on the Philippine island of Mindanao. Roger's up-to-date information on Rio Tinto was crucial to community meetings with the mining company in the Diocese of Pagadian in Zamboanga del Sur in Western Mindanao. That the community had updated information was a shock to Rio Tinto. My sympathy to all who loved this great man, researcher and activist. He has affected the lives of many peoples around the world, especially Indigenous Peoples.

- Frank Nally, Columban priest and mining justice campaigner, Ireland

I am gutted by this devastating news. From his early involvement in anti-mining and indigenous land campaigns in Australia, to his special connection to adivasi and forest peoples affected by mining in India, and to his understated guidance and unwavering support to so many mining campaigners from all over the world, a great many of whom he welcomed to his home in London, Roger was a key initiator and the glue of the global tidal wave of anti-extractivist action.

Eternally rumpled, usually attired in the tattered campaign t-shirt that was his daily uniform, and perpetually late to meetings he had organized and with reports he had been commissioned to write, he was improbably essential to so many of the initiatives and endeavors that opened new vistas on the problems caused by the mining industry and a legendary inspiration for what we ought to do about it.

Roger was a compelling speaker, a zippy and indefatigable writer (and author of numerous books), and an indispensable source of wisdom and motivation in our collective endeavor. Friend to so many, inspiration to many more, and stalwart partisan in the most noble sense of the word, Roger will be sorely and deeply missed. I know my life’s journey has been greatly enriched by the opportunity to know and work with Roger.

He will be remembered by all of us for a great many things, but let me add one more, about which Roger and I would joke from time to time: if you look up the word codswallop ('ideas, statements or beliefs that you think are silly or not true') in the Oxford English Dictionary the earliest entry is appropriately linked to Roger's name, as he was most definitely the sort of fellow to call out codswallop when he saw it.

- Stuart Kirsch, Professor of Anthropology, University of Michigan, USA

I am sure like me, Roger was an inspiration to all of us. It was his incredible book The Gulliver File: Mines, people and land, a global battleground that inspired my activism towards mining issues. I still have his book proudly on my bookshelf. I am so grateful that after many years I finally got to hang with Roger face to face at the mines, minerals & PEOPLE gathering in India.

- Nat Lowrey, Deep Sea Mining Campaign, Australia

Very sad to hear about Roger’s passing. He was so extremely helpful and generous when I started work on ‘mining, environmental degradation and violent conflict’ in the early 1990s. His ‘archives’ and ‘library’ were a treasure trove of material in pre-internet times, and so was his immense knowledge about everything mining. I visited his ‘archives' several times, and he also introduced me to some of the important Bougainville/Panguna people while the war in Bougainville was on and it was not possible to go there. It was wonderful that I had the opportunity to meet Roger again when I presented at a LMN event a few years ago. He was such a lovely and passionate person.

- Volker Boege, Director, Peace and Conflict Studies Institute Australia

It is a bit shocking to me as we have known each other way back in the 1970's.

I first heard of Roger Moody through Geoff Nettleton. Geoff worked with us in Baguio City and he was the one who recommended that someone from Baguio would go on an internship with Minewatch. Our struggle against destructive large scale mining in the Cordillera was then still developing and it was a good opportunity for us to have someone to work with the London based Minewatch. Our colleague, Eugene Yocogan from the Cordillera Peoples Alliance, was selected for the internship and stayed in the house of Roger for almost a year.

The next collaboration that we had with Roger was our participation in the International Mining Conference in Amsterdam, Netherlands. He helped us develop our paper to be submitted to the jury members of the mining conference. The positive verdict by the jury, which found Benguet Corporation guilty of grave environmental destruction due to its mining operation, put the mining company in a very defensive position.

We have been with Roger in various mining conferences. The major one was in 2001 which was organized by a London based coalition of anti-mining groups. This was held in London and culminated with the 2001 London Declaration. Roger was the main key speaker in the International Conference on Mining held in Manila, Philippines. Other conferences where we were together were in India, Ghana, Tanzania, Indonesia etc. These were organized either by us or by other advocacy groups. In these gatherings, Roger always mesmerized us on updates and trends on the global mining industry that he eloquently explained. They were valuable insights and information in our national and global campaign against destructive large scale mining.

Roger, we will miss you. Good bye my friend.

But we will never forget those inputs that you provided which served as bullets against the destruction of our environment, against the destruction of villages of indigenous peoples and against the non-recognition of human rights.

- Bong Corpuz and Vicky Tauli-Corpuz, Tebtebba Foundation.'

He was such a powerhouse it is very hard to comprehend that energy being stilled.

- Jo Woodman, Survival International, UK

Roger was a great supported of the Phulbari movement and will be very sadly missed.

- Paul Dudman, Phulbari Solidarity Group, UK

I’m so sorry to hear this news. I have many fond memories of Roger and times in his house and then flat. His knowledge, passion and determination were an inspiration and I learnt an incredible amount from him. I still picture him with [his dog] Sadie in tow, turning up late for meetings, often causing some sort of argument, but always being the most knowledgable and committed person in the room. I’ll never forget his incredible ability to locate just the right article or document from a seemingly impossible mountain of papers! He was very supportive and kind to me in my early days at Survival and was a driving force in the campaign against the Grasberg mine.

- Sophie Grig, Survival International, UK

I am so sad!! He was such an indomitable character – I loved his wacky ways. He could drive us mad too. But his dedication was/ is an inspiration.

- Liz Hosken, Gaia Foundation, UK

He truly was an indomitable fighter for the underdog, and a one-off. I have many fond memories of working with him years ago.

- Jony Mazower, Survival International, UK

He was such a zany character - he stands out in my memory from the very first AGM I attended for Rio Tinto when he and a bunch of Partizans rushed the stage with animal masks on (if my memory not playing tricks on me) - not easy to forget, or all subsequent encounters with him !! He really was something else - and will surely occupy a special place in the annals of mining activism history!

- Yvonne Orengo, Andrew Lees Trust, UK

Roger is one of the few people who raised voice for Phulbari resistance in the UK before our diaspora community and other international campaigners got involved in transnational campaign. He came to my London flat in 2008 to plan our transnational resistance strategy and joined in our first ever protest outside of GCM’s AGM in London. At that time the name GCM Resources was unknown to most people except two colleagues, Tim Jones and Effie Jordan, who worked at the Global Justice Now (formerly World Development Movement). Roger was also passionate about anti-mining resistance in India and attended many AGMs including Vedanta’s AGM, in London. He protested against many other London-listed mining companies.

- Rumana Hashem, Founder, Phulbari Solidarity Action, and Postdoctoral Fellow at the Centre for Migration, Refugees and Belonging, UK

We always consider Roger a benchmark in community struggles against mining, for the defence of life and territories, for his contributions in information and analysis on this dimension of global capitalism and its consequences.

- Lucio Cuenca, OLCA (Observatorio Latinoamericano de Conflictos Ambientales, Latin American Observatory of Environmental Conflicts), Chile

Roger is also fondly remembered here in Brazil. We had the opportunity of having his brilliant visit here to join us in our struggle against Porto Sul project in Ilhéus, state of Bahia. After he went back to UK, he started writing about the situation he found in Brazil and I translated everything and publicized here on local blogs. It was an enormous success. He was really a master on mining effects over communities. The best in the world for sure. In the name of all his friends from Brazil, I wish you and all his friends and relatives a fast recovery after this giant loss.

- Ismael Abede, Ilhéus, Brazil

I’m stunned. I cannot believe he’s no longer with us. I met Roger for lunch at the Indian vegetarian restaurant in Chapel market, London, a few days before he died, and though he had difficulty walking, his mind was as sharp as ever. He regaled me with stories of his reporter days, travelling between India, Bangladesh and Pakistan and his meeting with the great Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan in Utmanzai, northwest Pakistan. Over the past forty years he opened my eyes to the iniquities of the mining industries.

- Angela Paine, PARTIZANS

Roger worked with academics to strengthen the rights of those, like Peter, his brother, who have the misfortune to be born with learning difficulties. Many people in the East Riding of Yorkshire are still grateful for the contribution of Partizans in ridding the local environment of a dangerous polluter.

- Rilba Jones, former Hull City Councillor, UK.

It is with great sadness that we learned of the death of Roger Moody earlier this month. He was a good friend, of, and a valued partner of, CAFCINZ/CAFCA for decades. He was the London-based global expert on Rio Tinto (owner of Bluff smelter) and we worked with him on that subject and mining transnationals. He arranged for Bill Rosenberg to speak in UK in the early 80s; I stayed with him and his brother Pete in their highly idiosyncratic north London home in 1984; in 1990 CAFCA organised a two-week long NZ speaking tour for him, accompanied by me (in Christchurch he stayed at my home). The highlight was a ripsnorting public meeting in the mining town of Waihi. He is the only overseas speaker CAFCA has ever toured here. In 1991 we co-published (and put $1,000 into) his book "Plunder" on Rio Tinto. He wrote many books and most of them were reviewed in Watchdog. Although I hadn't heard from, or of, him for many years, we continued sending him the online Watchdog and other CAFCA material until just a few months ago when his e-mail address stopped working. He was one of a kind.

He personified internationalism, as evidenced by the tributes that have poured in from around the world.

Here's a tiny snippet from the March 1991 report on his tour. "In CAFCA's experience (and that of all who have met him) only Owen Wilkes has demonstrated a comparable encyclopaedic grasp of his subject. He could speak for hours, without notes, on any aspect of mining and related development issues. He never gave the same speech twice ...We worked him at an exhausting pace, but he never complained. Amidst the frenzy, he managed to go for regular swims, play the piano, smoke cigars and drink Guinness".

And Roger was a great fan of us. After his NZ tour, he wrote to say it had been one of the best fortnights of his life. When we invited members to send us their comments to mark Watchdog's 100th issue, in 2002, Roger wrote: "There are few journals I always read - let alone from cover to cover. Watchdog is at the top of the list. It's a model of clarity in politics, integrity in its analysis, absence of bullshit and - that indispensable additive - good humour. Roger Moody, London".

As mentioned below, Roger absolutely doted on his older brother Pete, who had Down's syndrome. When I toured NZ with Roger in 1990, he would regularly ring Pete and start the conversation: "Is it Guinness today?" Pete measured time by whether it was a Guinness day or not.

Roger was the complete Englishman. One story will suffice. He was so considerate of the feelings of their dog Sadie (whom I met) that he would go to extraordinary lengths not to alert her that he was about to go away on one of his very frequent overseas trips, because he knew that would upset her. He told me that he packed for one trip to the US in the dark, for that reason. The result was that when he got there he discovered that he didn't have a spare pair of trousers.

Rest in peace, old mate. Have a Guinness for us.

- Murray Horton, Secretary/Organiser, CAFCA - Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa

I, and all my friends and colleagues, are deeply saddened by the death of our wonderful friend and comrade Roger Moody.  I have very fond memories of Roger and it was fantastic to finally meet Roger in person in July 1996 when I visited London after attending a protest at the RTZ (Rio Tinto) headquarters, where I met other wonderful environmental activists who supported the people of Bougainville and opposed the mining company Rio Tinto.

Roger was very knowledgeable and a well versed scholar on mining companies, particularly Rio Tinto.  As an activist for Bougainville, his book 'Plunder' has been of vital importance and a wealth of information.

Roger has supported and encouraged many people all over the world who have been affected by mining companies.  Roger will be sadly missed.  My thoughts are with all his friends, activists, organisers and the London Mining Network mob.  May Roger rest in peace.

- Vikki John - Bougainville Freedom Movement, Australia

Such sad news. He was a generous, funny and simply brilliant person, a mentor and friend to so many of us. I last saw him in 2019, the two of us had spicy Indian dinner and wine in his overgrown garden, making my way through the maze of papers, books, newspapers and magazines about mining. As many of you know, Luis and I met through MAC, later we would visit Roger often when we lived in the UK and elsewhere, and our activism and family grew out of these adventures, we always held dear Roger close to our hearts and will miss him. May his activism continue in spirit

- Ximena Warnaars, mining activist, USA

Roger’s steadfast and uncompromising determination to confront the mining industry and ability to hold it to account over its many violations of indigenous peoples are legendary. I will always remember the moment when he stormed the stage at a Rio Tinto AGM to make a citizen’s arrest on the RTZ chair. It was an electric and symbolic moment and spurred us all on in the fight.

His encyclopedic knowledge of the mining industry, passion, courage and commitment will be hugely missed by many indigenous communities, friends and NGOs around the world.

His activism and ability to exist on virtually nothing will continue to inspire many, and we will not forget him. As I am sure he would be the first to say, "a luta continua".

- Fiona Watson, Survival International, UK

I have lost a beloved older brother, a kind friend and mentor, who also caused me immense frustration - not least in his refusal to visit a doctor. He was eternally broke, partly because of his propensity to give his money away to anyone who needed it more than him. When I was in depression in 2000 over the death of a great friend in a fire, Roger wanted to take my mind off it, and paid for me to travel with him to Colombia to investigate the damage being done by the Cerrejon coal mine - and that was the beginning of so much of my current work.

Roger was a great initiator. He was not the best organiser, and relied on others for that, but he would often inspire pieces of work which others would then take forward.

Towards the end of his life, he exuded a cheerfulness and goodwill which brightened the dark days of pandemic lockdowns. That is my last memory of him - a cheerful, kindly voice on the telephone, looking forward to my next visit.

Now London feels like there is a massive hole in it, the place where Roger was, and is not. Nobody and nothing can replace him.

May all his efforts to hold mining companies to account for their abuses, and to defend the rights of indigenous and other land-based peoples, continue to bear fruit in our collective action for justice and the healing of the planet.

- Richard Solly, Co-ordinator, London Mining Network


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