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Sat Nov 22 10:50:14 SAST 2014

Mining bosses heartless: iLIVE

Isaac Mangena, Alexandra | 09 February, 2012 00:15
Mining in South Africa.

Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu's sworn pledge that nationalisation would happen over her dead body was amplified this week by Trevor Manuel, the minister responsible for planning in the presidency.

Manuel said: "Now you couldn't ask for a clearer statement than that."

What Manuel and Shabangu don't tell us is what are they doing to ensure mines benefit the people from whose land the minerals come. They don't say anything about lack of employment and skills transfers.

They don't address the issue of poverty in eastern Limpopo, where billions of rands worth of platinum is mined, or in Witbank, where many children whose parents mine coal there don't get quality education.

For the ministers, the priority is to assure investors in posh, air-conditioned conference centres.

It explains why they decided to lock out communities from the Mining Indaba. It was easy to do that. They just put in place an exorbitant entrance fee - $1600 for individuals and $1800 for a "sponsored delegate" - knowing no person from Rustenburg or Jane Furse would be able to raise that kind of cash.

The indaba brags on its website about how famous this gathering of the rich has become, saying they expect "more than 6500 individuals representing more than 1000 international companies and approximately 40 African and non-African government delegations."

Where are the custodians of these minerals? Communities negatively affected by the activities of large mining companies operating on the continent?

"Mining companies do not discuss seriously the impact of mining on communities and their exclusion from participating in the management of their resources," said John Capel, a member of the civil society that held a parallel meeting, an Alternative Mining Indaba, in Woodstock, a few metres from where the African Mining Indaba was held. He said they did this following the exclusion of communities affected by mining across Africa, and theirs was to "tell a different but true story of the impact of mining on African people".

This is the kind of mentality that reigns in big corporations. It is about time governments started forcing these mining companies to take the communities in which they mine seriously. They need to know the time to dictate terms over resources belonging to the people is over.

The Invest in African Mining Indaba missed a great opportunity to involve poor people whose lands are mined and to engage them on the problems they face and what can be done to help.

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