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CEL home > Links + Internat > January 2008

Email posted to CEL Discussion Group:

You are invited to a public meeting about the massive cost to local communities of British mining investment around the world.

Hear speakers from Argentina, Colombia, South Africa, the USA and West Papua describe the human rights abuses, militarisation and environmental damage affecting their communities as a result of this investment, and the communities' struggles to assert their rights.

See below for more information about the issues and the speakers.

Date: Thursday 17 April 2008

Time: 7pm to 9pm

Place:

Amnesty International UK
The Human Rights Action Centre
17-25 New Inn Yard
London EC2A 3EA

(Old Street, Liverpool Street or Moorgate tube stations - for map, see http://www.amnesty.org.uk/content.asp?CategoryID=10151)

All are welcome. Please distribute this notice as widely as possible.

For further details, contact London Mining Network, 07929 023214


London is the centre of world mining finance. Four out of the world's biggest five mining companies are listed on the London Stock Exchange. Most British workers' pension funds invest in them.

Two of those companies - Anglo American and Rio Tinto - have their headquarters in London. In April, both of them have their Annual General Meetings here - Anglo American on Tuesday 15 April and Rio Tinto on Thursday 17 April. Representatives of communities affected by these companies' operations around the world will be in London to speak about the social and environmental costs of these hugely profitable companies' activities.

Ask your MP to sign Early Day Motion 210 on British-based mining companies (see http://edmi.parliament.uk:80/EDMi/EDMDetails.aspx?EDMID=34312&SESSION=891)


Argentina

Rio Tinto's Rio Colorado potash project in Mendoza, Argentina, is likely to receive all necessary permits in the near future despite enormous opposition from local people concerned about is effects on water quality and the profitable local wine industry.

The Mendoza Assembly will send geographer Marcelo Giraud to represent its concerns. He will be accompanied by Luis Claps, Argentinian mining activist and Spanish-language editor of the Mines and Communities website, www.minesandcommunities.org.

Colombia

Anglo American is a major shareholder in South African company Anglo Gold Ashanti. Until 2006 Anglo American owned over 50% of the company. It reduced its shareholding to 41.8% and in late 2007 to 17%. Anglo Gold Ashanti owns Kedahda SA, a gold exploration company in Colombia. Kedhada has exploration permits covering a huge part of Colombia and in each area where it has declared an active interest, paramilitary forces have, coincidentally, committed human rights abuses to persuade the local populace not to oppose the company's presence.

The smallscale miners' union from the South of Bolivar area of Colombia, FEDEAGROMISBOL, will send Teofilo Acuna to explain what happened to farmers and smallscale miners in the area when Kedahda began exploring.

South Africa

Anglo American's subsidiary Anglo Platinum has disregarded the rights of communities around its mines. People have been removed without consent from their ancestral territory and the promised benefits - roads, jobs and better housing - have not materialised. Instead, people have suffered police brutality and human rights violations.

On 4 January 2007, as people from the communities of Magobading, Selane, and Phasha were dispersing after a protest at the Twickenham Mine, police from Mecklenburg Police Station in Moroke began beating them. They arrested about fifteen people, including the Chairperson of the Magobading Crisis Committee, Jerry Tshehlakgolo. These beatings and arrests came after arrests in December of four community leaders in the Mapela area, north of Mokopane. These four leaders are key organizers in defending the communities' rights against Anglo Platinum's PPL mine. They were arrested while ploughing their fields, and their bail conditions were reminiscent of apartheid banning orders - they were not allowed to go back to their fields.

In June 2006, Anglo Platinum sent the police from Mecklenburg Police Station in Moroke who beat and shot at community members in Maandagshoek with both live and rubber bullets - at least fifteen people were injured, including a baby. These community members were simply protecting their land from further expansion by the Modikwa Mine - a joint venture of Anglo Platinum and African Rainbow Minerals. The police arrested two traditional leaders, Kgoshi Isaac Kgoete and Kgoshigadi Joyce Kgoete, and several other community leaders, including Emmanuel Makgoga, who co-ordinates the efforts of communities fighting for their rights in the Tubatse Municipality. Mr. Makgoga said in February 2007: "We know our rights since 1994. They can't do to us what they did during apartheid. I'm not going to shut my mouth until we have everything we deserve from these mines. We own this land with platinum in it, but we are not benefiting at all. I'm not going to be intimidated to be quiet and we as a community are not afraid."

Philippos Dolo and MP Giyose of Jubilee South Africa will speak about the communities' continuing concerns.

USA

Rio Tinto's subsidiary Kennecott hopes to develop the Eagle nickel sulphide deposit in the Yellow Dog Plains of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, USA, against strong local opposition including from the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community. The Eagle deposit threatens the pristine Yellow Dog and Salmon Trout Rivers with sulphuric acid mine drainage and heavy metal contamination. The proposed underground shaft would extend beneath the headwaters of the Salmon Trout River. There are more than half a dozen groups that are actively opposing the project, including Concerned Citizens of Big Bay, the Sierra Club, the Eagle Alliance, Save the Wild U.P.,Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve, Northwoods Wilderness Recovery, Students Against Sulfide Mining, the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community and a business organization called Wolfpack.

Opponents will be represented by Susan LaFernier, former chief of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community and current Vice President of their council, and Gabriel Caplett of activist group Yellow Dog Summer. Yellow Dog Summer exists to help assist citizen movements opposed to the Eagle Project. The group believes that this project would set a dangerous precedent for other destructive mining projects in the US Midwest and Ontario.
Gabriel Caplett is a writer/web journalist for Northwoods Wilderness Recovery, in Marquette, Michigan, USA. Articles can be found at http://www.northwoodswild.org . Caplett was born and raised in Michigan's Upper Peninsula (UP). Most of his writings concern the threat to the accessibility of public lands, Indian treaty rights, and water resources from metallic sulphide and uranium mining along the Great Lakes.

West Papua

Rio Tinto's finance was crucial to the expansion of the Grasberg copper-gold mine, operated by PT Freeport, a subsidiary of US-based Freeport McMoRan. Rio Tinto's project finance entitles the company to a significant percentage of the mine's profits. The mine is responsible for heavy pollution of the local river system and local Amungme indigenous people have opposed the mine's presence because of the destruction of their livelihoods and the militarisation of the area by the Indonesian armed forces, who are accused of numerous grave human rights abuses in their efforts to protect the mine and repress the movement for West Papuan independence from Indonesia.

Benny Wenda, an exiled West Papuan, who works with Oxford-based Free West Papua Campaign, will set out the concerns of West Papuans negatively affected by the mine.


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