Angling for RichardPublished by MAC on 2006-09-18
Angling for Richard
18th September 2006
Mineweb reported last Monday (September 18) that Anglo American's Angloplat subsidiary would sue South Africa's Department of Minerals and Energy for failing to deliver "new order" prospecting licences. These are supposed to recognise indigenous peoples' land rights and guarantee increased "black economic empowerment".
Coincidentally (or was it?) the UK company then began soft-pedaling its prosecution of "bete noir" lawyer, Richard Spoor, who accused the company of a pattern of bullying and racism in an article published exclusively on our site in June this year. [http://www.minesandcommunities.org/Action/press1150.htm. According to Rob Rose, a leading columnist for South Africa's Business Day newspaper, the company may have concluded that it would "hang itself in the court of public opinion" were it to proceed with attempts to gag the former anti-apartheid lawyer. Mr Spoor has a distinguished history of forcing mining and minerals processing companies to cough up compensation for workers striken by asbestos. He has also been assembling evidence against Anglo American itself, on behalf of victims of silicosis caused by its gold mining.
Anglo American's chair (that well-known defender of mining's pretended contribution to "sustainable development", Sir Mark Moody-Stuart) is believed to have recently visited South Africa where he might have persuaded Angloplat to go easy on Mr Spoor.
Moody-Stuart may be reasonably confident that his company will shortly get some of the licences for which it's lobbying. But he knows this partly depends on ensuring as little publicity as possible for Anglo's historical role in disavantaging the country's black African majority, and recent accusations of its unacceptable behaviour in Ghana and Colombia (to name but two other countries).