When a mining operation arrives on your land, injustice and conflict arises. Natural resources that are immediately available to a community are land, clean water, trees, wildlife and clean air. However, communities are becoming increasingly aware of minerals that are in there areas such as gold, copper, coal, platinum, uranium, oil and diamonds.
Communities have used natural resources such as the land, water, trees, wildlife and air for centuries. In many cases, communities have even mined minerals such as copper and iron from pre-colonial times to make tools and jewellery. However, many communities in SADC are increasingly finding themselves in conflict with mining corporations who want to mine the minerals and natural resources commercially.
Commercial mining leads to community loss of land, the destruction of land, trees and wildlife and the pollution of water and air. This destruction of natural resources has led to landlessness, force removals, poverty, unemployment, diseases, homelessness and loss of cultural and identity in communities living in proximity to mining operations. It is therefore, understandable that communities have at times responded with hostility and sometimes even violence to mining operations.
Experience as taught us that issues that lead to injustice and conflict over mining are that;
1. Mining companies start prospecting on communities land without first talking to the community and obtaining prior informed consent from the community. This means, they begin looking for minerals without getting permission from the community first.
2. Mining Companies start constructing mines on community land without first talking to the community and obtaining prior informed consent from the community.
3. Where mining companies do consult with communities, they do not seek prior informed consent permission. Instead, they use such consultations as evidence of engagement so as to obtain prospecting or mining licenses from the Department of Minerals.
4. Where mining companies do consult, they do not make the information that communities require to make prior informed consent possible. Thus they deny communities’ access to Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA’s), Environmental Management Plans (EMPs), and Social Management Plans (SMPs), hydrological impact information, Information about the energy consumption, health and safety information and disaster management plans.
It is evident that, Communities lack access to information that will allow them to negotiate from a position of knowledge and power. Therefore, mines force communities off their land, homes and do not compensate them adequately for this forced removal which is 100% disrespect of culture and heritage of communities. You may question, why do i say so: 80% of mines prevent communities from participating fully in the benefits of mining such as joint ownership, employment, procurement, management and they do not make proper provisions for mine closure and completion, leaving communities with Massive Environmental and Social Costs Posts closure.