Anti-mining suporters marched down to the Mining Indaba at the International Convention Centre (CTICC) in Cape Town. Picture: Robin Clark.

Cape Town - The alternative Mining Indaba wants governments and mining companies to be accountable and transparent, not only about mining agreements, but also tax revenues mining activities generate.

“A lot of our resources are siphoned out of our continent and they are not actually benefiting the common person in Africa,” said the Rev Suzanne Matale, the general secretary of the Council of Churches in Zambia and one of the alternative mining indaba spokespeople yesterday.

“The mining companies should pay the tax that is due to our nations so it can be used to improve our lives as Africans.”

For example, Matale said that although the price of copper was at a record high, research had shown that mining companies did not declare their income properly and thus do not pay the correct taxes.

Held in Cape Town at the same time as the Mining Indaba, the alternative gathering this week brought together over 200 delegates from civil society, labour groups and religious organisations from across Africa, Europe, Brazil and Canada.

A short protest by about 100 delegates was restricted to a traffic circle on the periphery of the “main” event at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.

National Union of Mineworkers protesters were also nearby, after a march to support a call from the Geneva-based IndustiALL Global Union to end union-bashing and to improve working conditions at the transnational Rio Tinto miner.

The union wanted to hand over a memorandum to company representatives.

“We waited on the side. They refused to take the memorandum,” union general secretary Frans Baleni said. “It shows the arrogance of the global company. It is not only about union bashing; we were told they had no respect for the environment.”

Yesterday’s protest followed a workshop and planned protest at Rio Tinto’s next annual general meeting in London, Baleni said.

The protests came as government and political parties expressed their condolences after eight miners died at Harmony Gold’s Doornkop operations in an underground fire. - The Argus