Statement Of The African Initiative On Mining, Environment And Society(aimes)Published by MAC on 2006-06-15
Statement of the African Initiative on Mining, Environment and Society(AIMES)
Held in Johannesburg
14th to 16th June 2006
We, members of Africa Initiative on Mining, Environment and Society(AIMES), (from Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Lesotho, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Zambia, Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe and UK) have gathered here in Johannesburg to share information on the impact of mining on communities and share strategies to deal with the problems.
During our deliberations we came to the following conclusions :
We acknowledge the continent’s mineral potential, which, if harnessed and managed properly could enrich the ordinary peoples’ lives in Africa.
Despite this potential of enriching the lives of ordinary people, we discovered that many communities remain in abject poverty and they are increasingly losing their livelihood, sources of clean water, air , access to land, hunting grounds, forests.
The problems of prolonged colonialism are being exacerbated by the emergence of the African elite corrupted by continuing theft of mineral resources.
The meeting observed that Africa is now the second most important target for mineral exploration in the world especially with the increasing interest from China, India, Brazil and US. Given the performance history of the sector in Africa this is a cause for concern.
At the root of this de-development process are these agents : African governments, trans-national corporations and their home governments as well as multilateral bodies including World Bank/IMF, WTO etc.
These agents are collectively responsible for the repression of communities; in some cases leading to mass deaths such as :
• logistical support for state paramilitary forces by Anglo Gold Ashanti in DRC, leading to deaths of over a hundred people
• Ghanaian government providing military support to secure Golden Star Resources mining facilities at Prestea, Ghana, leading to deaths of several innocent civilians
• Shooting of innocent unarmed protesters by Amplats mine in Maandagshoek community (South Africa) by state policy.
• The reckless collaboration of Nigerian government with Shell in the Niger Delta has fuelled an explosive civil strive.
The meeting further observed that current policy frameworks in most African countries are deficient in provisions that guarantee community access to justice.
The meeting made the following demands (among others) on African governments :
Meaningfully participatory Mineral Policy reviews that would :- reduce incentives to mining companies to enhance mining revenue from the mining sector, improve environmental management, increase community benefits from the mining sector.
Codification of communities’ cultural, environmental, land and human rights.
The meeting resolved to:
Mobilise and work with affected communities to intensify the struggles against corporate domination of nation states and ensure corporate accountability, while communities’ human rights (cultural, environmental & land) must be respected and protected.
Lobby and engage national governments to develop mineral policy frameworks that will ensure that mineral extraction benefits the poor and affected communities.
The meeting was unanimous that the absence of transparency is one of the major causes of lack of mineral benefits from mining to the community and nations at large. The meeting therefore resolved to support initiatives that promote transparency in the minerals sector including the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) although the meeting recognised the strong weaknesses of the initiative.
Johannesburg, June 16 2006