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Social audit report claims mining companies are cheating rural communities where they operate

Marikana mine. A report says mining communities are cheated of their benefits. Picture: Phill Magakoe/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Marikana mine. A report says mining communities are cheated of their benefits. Picture: Phill Magakoe/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Published Jun 28, 2022

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Durban - The 2022 social audit report of the Mining Affected Communities United in Action (Macua) has painted a grim picture of how communities in mining areas are being continuously cheated of their benefits as key stakeholders.

The 112-page report was delivered in Johannesburg on Tuesday, and it audited several social projects undertaken by mining companies in Gauteng, North West, Limpopo and Free State.

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Among the major mining companies that were put on the spot is Sibanye-Stillwater, which has been hogging the headlines over its refusal to give its workers salary increments while its board members and executives rake in millions in pay.

The NGO (non-governmental organisation) audited a Sibanye mining project in Carletonville and found that projects like eradicating alien weed and waste management did not benefit locals as even the companies and people hired were not from the area. The only few that made it were allegedly connected to senior managers of the mine, implying that there was nepotism.

The NGO also claimed that mining companies, in cohort with the media and government, have engaged in a campaign to paint a picture of mining communities benefiting from their activities while that was not the case.

Furthermore, it claimed according to an official report from the department of mineral resources and energy, market capitalisation for mining companies has increased from R840 billion to R1,2 trillion.

Yet, in all this, mining communities are seeing little or no benefits at all because the same department is failing to enforce laws which compel the companies to take their host communities on board while mining in their areas.

“The struggles of communities who are affected by mining are often drowned out by the wealth and power of corporations and the state, who use their financial muscle and political dominance to manipulate the media space in order to impose their narrative on public debates about mining.

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“Both the State, and corporations with interests in mining, have consistently put forward a narrative in which they claim that communities affected by mining have, and continue to, benefit extensively from mining operations and are often at pains to produce glossy reports in which community benefits are trumpeted.

“While extensive work has been undertaken to expose the environmental impacts of mining on people and the environment, the impacts of the dispossession and exploitation of communities by the mining system has remained obscured by the magical illusions of smoke and mirrors constructed by the State, to protect the interest of mining investors,” reads the report.

Macua, which was formed in response to the Marikana massacre in 2012, claimed that among the key findings and statistics of the social audit surveys is that none of the mining companies audited undertook a process of public participation in the communities in order to formulate a Social and Labour Plan.

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“92.4% of the respondents did not know what a Social and Labour Plan is, despite clear regulations that communities should be consulted on Social and Labour Plans. 70% of the affected communities had a keen interest in Human Resource Development programs such as learnerships, bursaries and ABET but were not able to access these projects. 69.6% of all the local economic projects audited were not completed by the mining companies.

“26.1% of all the local economic development projects audited were partially completed by the mining companies to varying degrees. Only 3% of the local economic projects audited were seen to completion by the mining companies at the time of the social Audits.

“Non-compliance on SLP obligations is not being monitored by the regulator, and mining companies do not fear repercussions should they not comply with their legal obligations.”

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