Mining companies rake in huge profits while communities live in poverty
A new study has found that the mining industry only benefits a few while condemning mining-affected communities to poverty and violence.
The research, conducted in eight communities across South Africa, also found that mining-affected communities were faced with deteriorating health and well-being.
The research, to be launched early next month, was conducted by ActionAid SA (AASA).
“(The) research completely de-bunked claims by the Minister (of Mineral Resources, Gwede Mantashe) that mining will bring jobs and development to communities such as Xolobeni (near Bizana, in the Eastern Cape),” the study found.
In November last year, the high court in Pretoria ruled in favour of the Xolobeni community in a historic mining court case. The community has been fighting the matter for nearly two decades.
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, in terms of the interim Protection of Informal Land Rights Act, may not grant mining rights without the consent of the community and the people who will be directly affected.
Mantashe has requested leave to appeal the ruling.
The research found:
A total of 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.
A total of 79% indicated there was no benefit from the mines at all.
Forty percent of women indicated that jobs are only accessible through sexual favours.
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 SLPs (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.”
Mantashe, during a visit to the area yesterday, announced the “imminent commencement of an independent survey” to be undertaken to establish if mining would proceed in that area.
“On the basis of the outcomes of the survey, we will then take a firm decision on the way forward,” Mantashe said.
Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute executive director Francesca de Gasparis said: “Should government plans for mining not be stopped, their (the local community’s) way of life - which goes back more than 300 years - will be severely compromised.”