Thursday 25th June 2015: For immediate release
African Civil Society Challenges London Conference and Asks: “Is Mining Really ‘On Top’ in Africa?”
Today civil society groups from Africa and their allies in the UK submitted an open letter to the organisers and delegates of the Mining on Top Africa: London Summit in central London. The letter challenges the validity and motivations of the Summit, which civil society says lacks representation from African communities and civil society, and ignores the negative impacts of mining in Africa.
The letter will be complemented by a mock auction outside the summit, dramatising and drawing attention to the UK’s role in facilitating what campaigners see as an attempt by corporations to carve-up Africa’s mineral wealth behind closed doors.
Highlighting the displacement, poverty, illness, massive pollution, loss of fertile agricultural and ancestral land, destruction of livelihoods and culture that Africans are suffering due to large-scale mining, the letter states that communities are “seeing little-to-no benefit from Africa’s mining boom” despite the insistence of mining companies that they are agents of local and national development.
Juliana Thornton from the Mupo Foundation (South Africa) commented that “Mining on Top Africa claims to ‘drive economic and social development in Africa’ but fails to create spaces to hear the voices of African communities and civil society members who are affected on the frontline, and whose voices should matter the most. In their absence the Summit appears to be little more than a modern-day carve-up of Africa, with the imperial powers of old now replaced by massive multinationals engaging in forms of neo-colonial exploitation that are destroying Africa.”
A series of case studies including examples of mining’s negative impacts on communities in Africa, and community resistance to mining across the continent will be submitted alongside the letter. These detail:
- Communities resisting MRC Ltd.’s mineral sands mining on South Africa’s Wild Coast, where local residents have been subjected to physical attacks and intimidation by persons believed to be beneficiaries of the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility funds.
- Mass tax evasion in Zambia: Zambians, many of whom live on less than $1.25-a-day, are losing billions of dollars each year to mining multinationals and officials profiting from tax avoidance, evasion, corruption and a lax tax regime.
- A behind the scenes look at Corporate Social Investment (CSI) and Greenwashing in South Africa from a former CSI worker.
- The resettlement of whole villages in Sierra Leone and their dependency on food and water provided by African Minerals Ltd; a company that is now bankrupt leaving villagers facing further disaster if their supplies stop.
- Four decades of oil extraction in the Niger Delta in Nigeria. A country that has been transformed from major agricultural producer to oil dependency.
The letter further criticises the dubious role that London and the UK Government play in the Summit. London is a leading global centre for mining finance, with billions of pounds of investment money flowing through it into mining projects around the world. The signatories claim that the UK Government actively encourages destructive mining through its diplomatic support for companies listed on the London Stock Exchange, its failure to exercise adequate regulatory oversight and its involvement in events such as the Mining on Top Africa London Summit.
– Notes to Editors –
The Mining on Top Africa: London Summit is taking place at the Park Plaza Riverbank Hotel in Embankment between 24th and 26th July 2015. Full details of the conference can be found here: http://miningontopafrica.com
The Action will take place on Thursday 25th July outside the Park Plaza Riverbank Hotel, 18 Albert Embankment, London SE1 7TJ between 6pm-7pm.
The Action is being coordinated by the following organisations: The Gaia Foundation, War on Want, Divest London and London Mining Network plus allies from African civil society.
For press enquiries contact any of the following:
Hannibal Rhoades (The Gaia Foundation)
+44 (0) 7909953431
Richard Solly (London Mining Network)
+44 (0) 7903851695
Ross Hemingway (War on Want)
+44 (0) 7983 550 728
Organisations who have signed the letter include:
The Global Environmental Trust, Save Our iMfolozi Wilderness, South Africa
The Mupo Foundation, Yes to Life, No to Mining, South Africa
Friends of the Earth Uganda
National Association of Professional Environmentalists, Uganda
Network for Women´s Rights and Feminist Perspectives in Development
African Biodiversity Network, Kenya
EnAct International, South Africa
Agrarian Reform for Food Sovereignty Campaign
South African Food Sovereignty Campaign
Snowchange Cooperative, Scandinavia
The Coal Action Network, UK
The ICCA Consortium
Grabe Benin, Benin
World Neighbors, founder member of Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA)
Botswana Climate Change Network, Botswana
Groupe de Réflexion et d’Action sur les Industries Extractives au Niger
Global Justice Now, UK
The Gaia Foundation, UK
Global Justice Forum
London Mining Network, UK
War on Want, UK
Divest London, UK
Stop Mad Mining, EU
Mining Watch, Canada