File Picture: IOL
DURBAN - A new study has found that the mining industry only benefits a few while condemning mining-affected communities to poverty and violence.

The research, to be lofficially unveiled early next month, was conducted by ActionAid South Africa (Aasa) on the socio, political and economic conditions of mining-affected communities in South Africa.

“(The) research completely debunked claims by the Minister (of Mineral Resources Gwede Mantashe), that mining will bring jobs and development to communities such as Xolobeni (in Bizana, Eastern Cape),” the research found.

Transworld Energy and Minerals, a subsidiary of Australian mining company Mineral Commodities, wants to mine titanium in the Wild Coast area. The court ruled that the ministry may not, in terms of the interim Protection of Informal Land Rights Act, grant mining rights without the consent of the community and the people directly affected by that mining right.

The research has found that:

* 73% of respondents indicated that no individuals in their households were either currently employed or previously employed by the mine;

* Of the 27% who indicated that someone in their household was employed at a mine, 41% indicated that they were casual or manual jobs;

* 79% indicated that there was no benefit from the mines at all; and

* 40% of women indicated that jobs are only accessible through sexual favours.

The research, which was conducted in eight communities across South Africa, also found that mining-affected communities were faced with deteriorating health and well-being.

Aasa natural resource manager Christopher Rutledge said: “When examining the human-centred results of the baseline studies, the promise of progress and development driven by Social and Labour Plans and the Mining Charter are not evident, and the evidence points instead to a far more systemic process of excluding the voices of affected communities.

“This type of exclusion, which the baseline survey points to, produces a structure within which the social and economic outcomes are experienced as a violation against those affected.”

Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute executive director Francesca de Gasparis, said the rural community “live well off their land and the ocean and have a deep respect for their ecological and cultural heritage”.

“However, should government plans for mining not be stopped, their way of life - which goes back more than 300 years - will be severely compromised, along with the Pondoland centre of plant endemism,” De Gasparis said.

De Gasparis said it seemed as though “government and the mining company are pitting community members against each other, manipulating the situation, and ignoring the court ruling”.

- THE MERCURY