Protesters call for people before profits in mining

About 300 delegates that attended the Alternative Mining Indaba (AMI) marched through the streets of Cape Town to hand over a memorandum to the Mining Indaba. The AMI is a conference of community activists, environmentalists and religious groups that runs parallel to the Mining Indaba, which is attended by mine owners and government officials.

CTICC (Cape Town International Convention Centre), Cape Town, South Africa

About 300 delegates that attended the Alternative Mining Indaba (AMI) marched through the streets of Cape Town to hand over a memorandum to the Mining Indaba. The AMI is a conference of community activists, environmentalists and religious groups that runs parallel to the Mining Indaba, which is attended by mine owners and government officials. Represented by members of different organisations and delegates from the continent and other parts of the world, the protesters from the AMI handed a list of demands that advocate for the prioritisation of people’s and environmental interests before profits.

Under the theme ‘Making natural resources work for the people’, the protesters demanded a fair and just development model to replace the “growth-greed model”.  The memorandum also noted the use of force by mining companies against local mining communities. “We note with concern the experiences of local mining communities in Africa and other parts of the developing world where mining regimes are exploitative through the use of the law, force and violence” reads the statement.

One of the communities that has been a victim but is actively organising against mining is Xolobeni village. Formed  in 2007 under the banner of Amadiba Crisis Committee, the villagers in Pondoland are fighting titanium mining in their area. The proposed Xolobeni mine is a project by Transworld, a wholly owned subsidiary of Australian corporation Mineral Commodities, that will result in the displacement of 200 households from the farmland on which their livelihoods depend.

One of the demands of the protesters is the prioritisation of women in the access to and control of resources for women living in mining communities.

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A protester holding a poster on the effects of mining on children. Photo by Mzi Velapi

Accepting the memorandum and speaking on behalf of the mine owners and governments, Paul Msoma said that they will include the views of the AMI and the protesters’  demands in the debate. “We value the views of all stakeholders in the mining industry and will continue to work with all parties to help facilitate dialogue between communities, mining companies, governments and investors,” said Msoma who is the governance officer for United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). Msoma was standing with Tom Butler from the International Council on Mining and Minerals, Elize Strydom from the Chamber of Mines, Setepane Mohale from the Ministry of Mineral Resources and Mining Indaba Managing Director, Alex Grose.

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