Category archives for: Mining

Namibia: Villages Scarred By Indiscriminate Sand Miners

By Placido Hilukilwa

AN INVESTIGATION by the environmental commissioner into alleged illegal sand mining activities in the Oshana region has unearthed a money-making scheme which has left deep scars in the natural landscape.

The investigation was conducted after land activist Job Shipululo Amupanda complained to environmental commissioner Theofilus Nghitila on 4 August.

Amupanda had said that the “dangerous open pits” dug in rural villages in the Oshana region, by what he branded “greedy foreign contractors”, have damaged the environment “in the name of profit”.

Nghitila reacted swiftly, dispatching a team of two experts – Simon Hangula and Ipeinge Mundjulu – to get the facts, enforce compliance and raise awareness.

Their four-day mission confirmed what Amupanda had alleged.

However, the officials said although their fact-finding mission took place immediately after Nghitila received that letter, that is only half the story.

“The mission was planned before that letter arrived,” said Mundjulu.

The Namibian accompanied the team as they visited old sites at the Omaalala-B village in the Ongwediva constituency, the Epukunoyana village in Ondangwa rural, as well as sites where contractors are currently mining sand in the Amutanga and Iikelo villages in the Okatana constituency.

The team found that some pits are too close to homesteads, and are life-threatening in that sand miners left without rehabilitating them as required by law.

Some pits are not fenced off, and in one instance, a deep open pit was found to be a mere five metres from a homestead.

The recent good rains transformed the open pits into water reservoirs which pose a danger to children who swim in them.

“These people are required by law to have an environmental clearance certificate, but that was not the case at all the sites we visited so far,” Mundjulu stressed.

“Sand extraction activities are being conducted in a way that not only puts the lives of residents and their livestock at risk, but also causes irreparable damage to the environment,” said Hangula.

The culprits include the Chinese companies contracted to build the railway line between Ondangwa and Oshakati, and the gravel road from Okatana to Ompumbu, respectively.

Hangula said they would submit their report to Nghitila, with recommendations to penalise the violators and to order them to rehabilitate the sites.

The environmentalists also distributed copies of relevant legal documents to raise awareness, and left their contact details with both the contractors and the affected villagers.

Meanwhile, sand mining has become a cash cow for impoverished villagers who have started offering their mahangu fields to the Chinese contractors to mine sand.

A villager can get between N$50 000 and N$100 000 for allowing Chinese contractors to mine sand in their mahangu field.

Although environmental officials say the villagers are being ripped off, villagers see it as a windfall, and are now lining up to offer their land to the contractors.

In the Epukunoyana village, the environmental officials were approached by a villager who, paying no attention to the vehicle’s GRN number plate and without being prompted, offered his mahangu field to them.

“You can start mining immediately,” he said even before the officials could introduce themselves.

“He perhaps thought we were representatives of Chinese contractors,” said Mundjulu as the team proceeded with its investigation.

However, the money paid by Chinese contractors is also driving a wedge between villagers and the traditional authorities, as well as between couples as they disagree on how to use the money.

One lady freely narrated her ordeal. She said her husband took the N$50 000 and just left.

He now stays elsewhere, and only visits occasionally.

“I have no clue how the money was spent. He only bought building materials for that shack over there,” she said, pointing at a recently erected shack.

“Even the portion of the money meant for the traditional office was not paid, and I was summoned by the village headman to explain,” she added.

Customarily, the money from sand mining activities is shared between the owner of the mahangu field, the headman and the traditional authority office.

Angola: Endiama Sets Up Diamond Exploitation Cooperatives Nationwide

Luanda — The Angolan Diamond Company (Endiama) is implanting countrywide semi- industrial diamond exploitation cooperatives, aiming at better organizing the activity in all production areas.

Contrary to the attribution process of the mining voucher implemented in 2010, whose goal was not achieved, due the fact that the equipment used in this sort of exploitation do not reach the necessary depth (gravel), as it was only utilized shovels, cutlass and pickaxes, provided that the new model to be implemented will integrate all small artisanal producers.

In this regard, 12 cooperatives operating in seven provinces have already been created, said to the press on Wednesday the ENDIAMA executive director, Luis Kitamba, when speaking about the strategy of boosting the extractive sector.

The created cooperatives only integrate Angolans that previously dedicated to artisanal exploitation of diamonds.

Fruit of the inclusion of citizens in exploitation cooperatives, more than 500 carats had been extracted in the country from 2013 to date by the 12 semi-industrial cooperatives already established in various provinces.

The industrial diamond production in the country is estimated at 9 million carats per year, but it can be increased to 13.3 million carats a year during 2017/2022.

Angola

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Uganda: Police Officers On the Spot Over Failing to Stop Illegal Sand Mining

Photo: Jessica Sabano/Daily Monitor

Miners load sand on a truck at a mining site in Wasinga village, Mpunge Sub-county in Mukono District.

By Jessica Sabano

Mukono — Top police officers in Mukono District risk facing disciplinary action over alleged failure to halt illegal sand mining in Wasinga village, Mpunge Sub-county.

The police officers are accused of allegedly defying a directive by the Mukono Resident District Commissioner, Rtd Maj David Matovu, to curb illegal sand mining in Wasinga village.

This has created suspicion as the police officers are alleged to be conniving with the illegal miners.

The uncontrolled sand mining in the area has since caused the diversion of Mukono-Nsanja-Mpunge-Kiziru road thus inconveniencing motorists.

The activity, according to the district council, threatens the existence of wetlands in the area.

Obligation

According to Kampala Metropolitan police spokesperson Emilian Kayima, the officers were supposed to implement the directive since it was in public interest and their failure to do so is a sign of indiscipline.

“The Police Professional Standards Unit will investigate this matter and punish those found culpable,” Mr Kayima said by telephone on Wednesday.

Mr Kayima added: “The road is a public good and individual interests should not supersede those of the public.”

In his letter dated May 20, addressed to the Mukono District police commander, Mr Rogers Sseguya, which Daily Monitor has seen, Maj Matovu asked the police to stop the illegal sand mining in the area.

“I did my part and if they [police] failed to execute their mandate for one reason or another, they should be held responsible,” Mr Matovu said during an interview recently.

But Mr Sseguya defended his officers in a June 21 letter, saying they carried out the necessary action and arrested illegal sand miners.

” … in an operation that police carried out with the district chairperson, Mr Andrew Ssenyonga, materials used in sand mining were confiscated and the culprits charged with unlawful removal and interference with the planned feeder road,” Mr Sseguya said.

However, he said the complainant in this matter, whom he did not name, failed to record a statement over unknown reasons.

Petition

Being dissatisfied with the way Mr Sseguya had handled the matter, Mr Matovu later petitioned the commander of Kampala Metropolitan Police, Mr Frank Mwesigwa, seeking his personal intervention.

He said the issue of illegal sand mining in the area had reached an alarming level and caused wrangles among district leaders.

“I wish to draw your attention to the above matter which has made the entire district a laughing stock. I request your personal intervention in a rather outstanding and complicated matter which is beyond my capacity to resolve,” Mr Matovu said in his July 27 letter.

According to the district speaker, Mr Emmanuel Mbonye, for a road to be diverted, council has to first pass a resolution pronouncing itself on the matter, but this was not the case.

Diversion of road

Mr Mbonye said by 2012, the Mukono-Nsanja-Mpunge-Kiziru road had no diversion, but when excavation of sand was extended to areas closer to the road, there was a diversion made without council’s approval.

Recently, the district councillors called for investigations into allegations that some top district officials are engaged in illegal sand mining in Wasinga village.

The councillors also recommended that Mengo Rainbow Primary School, which is located near the sand mining site, be relocated to prevent the pupils from falling into the deep holes created by sand miners.

Currently, sand mining has become a lucrative business especially in peri-urban areas due to the high demand in the construction sector where it is used to make concrete.

Dangers

Environmentalists have continuously raised concern over the increasing sand mining activities in major swamps across the country, warning that excessive excavation of sand in wetlands will spark off serious ecological disasters.

According to environmental experts, excessive sand mining is a threat to bridges, river banks and nearby structures.

It also affects the adjoining groundwater system resulting into the destruction of aquatic habitat.

Mr Collins Oloya, the commissioner for wetlands, said the environment and natural resources department, which is responsible for wetlands conservation in the country, is understaffed and poorly funded-something that has affected their operations.

South Africa: Marikana Five Years Later – Thousands Gather On the Koppie to Pay Tribute to the 34 Miners

By Ihsaan Haffejee

On the fifth anniversary of the Marikana massacre, thousands of mine workers made their way to the open field of the site where 34 striking miners were killed and hundreds injured within minutes by police.

Miners wearing AMCU outfits can be seen making their way to the scene of the fifth anniversary of the Marikana massacre passing the famous koppie. They were singing songs honouring those who were killed by police.

Miners waving their sticks make their way past the koppie. They were singing songs honouring those who were killed by police.

Wearing AMCU decorated clothing, miners made their way towards the commemoration. The union which led the strike five years ago is now been recognised as the dominant union at Lonmin.

A mine worker displays the skull and horns of a bull during the commemoration of the killed mine workers as workers sang songs honouring those who were killed by police.

Miners attending the fifth anniversary of the Marikana massacre make their way towards the main crowd. As yet no police officials or politicians have been charged or held to account for what happened on that day five years ago.

A miner attending the fifth anniversary…

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South Africa: Mine Workers Remember the Marikana Massacre

By Ihsaan Haffejee

Five years later conditions in nearby Nkaneng township remain largely unchanged

Mine workers from across the platinum belt gathered in Marikana on Wednesday to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the Marikana massacre. Thousands of workers wearing the green colours of their union AMCU flocked to the open field where 34 of their colleagues were shot by police on 16 August 2012 while on strike for higher wages at the nearby Lonmin mine. Workers climbed the famous koppie where the massacre took place and sang songs honouring their fallen friends. “We were massacred for radical economic emancipation by the state,” read some of the T-shirts worn by miners.

Five years after the killing of the miners conditions in the nearby Nkaneng township remain largely the same. There is a large electricity plant near the township but electricity is carried past the shacks straight to the mining operations, leaving mine workers and their families without lights.

Leaders of opposition parties from Parliament were present, including the EFF’s Julius Malema and the DA’s Mmusi Maimane. “16 August must be remembered like June 16,” said Malema in reference to the Soweto uprisings of June 1976. “There is no difference. Working class people were killed by the government. We must continue to remember this day so that government does not repeat a similar mistake,” he said.

As yet no police officials or politicians have been charged. However, 17 strike leaders are facing charges relating to public violence linked to the strike.

Addressing the crowd, a survivor of the shooting, Xolani Ndzuza, said that it was the police who attacked first and not the miners. “We are now facing charges. Charges that we know nothing about. … We are being accused of killing our own colleagues and we have been told that we must be prosecuted. But there hasn’t been a single officer prosecuted,” said Ndzuza. He urged mine workers and the community to remain united as they fight the state.

Families affected by the killing of their loved ones have yet to receive any compensation from the government. Most of those killed were the sole breadwinners for their families.

Advocate Dali Mpofu, who represented the mine workers and families during the Marikana Commission of Inquiry, said that government was delaying the process and further torturing the people of Marikana. “It’s a disgrace that we are talking about five years and as yet not a cent has been paid towards the people,” said Mpofu. [Mpofu’s firm, however, has been paid several million rands for representing the miners.

Goodman Jokanisi collected a flower wreath from the stage and made his way towards the spot near the Nkaneng township where his son Sami was killed. He laid the flowers down gently and said a silent prayer for his son who was 29 years old when he was gunned down. Jokanisi said that things had been difficult for the family since the death of Sami. “His [teenage] son hanged himself at school in January this year. The boy couldn’t cope without his father,” said Jokanisi. He is 61 and still works in the mines as he has to help support Sami’s remaining four children.

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Uganda: Mubende Gold Miners Given a Two Hours Ultimatum to Vacate the Mines

Over 50,000 artisanal miners operating in Mubende district were ordered to vacate the gold miners within a period of two hours on Friday 04/08/2017.

This operation to evict all the artisanal gold miners in Mubende district is was led by Col Balikuddembe Lutaaya commander 1st division in Uganda People’s Defence forces.

The miners were told to leave the mining sites in Kitumbi and Bukuya sub counties but were not given ample time to rescue their mining equipment.

A troop of Uganda peoples defence forces and Uganda police forces totaling 750 people, 4 tear gas vehicles and tanks were stationed in the gold mining sites in Kitumbi and Bukuya sub counties forcing the gold miners and other people operating business with this location to pack their belongings to leave the mines.

Mr Sempowo Robert the chairman Mubende artisanal miners explained that they has been woken up by the sound of lorries moving into the mines that were packed with Uganda peoples defence forces soldiers and Uganda police forces officers who ordered them to vacate the premises within two hours and by midday no single person was to be found in the mines.

Sempowo added, “Currently most of the miners in this area are packing up their belonging to leave the premises ,others have abandoned their property for lack of money especially the heavy machinery while other are selling the property at a giveaway price so that they can live this place before it’s too late.”

“Government is not fair, because there was no official communication to neither the leaders or to the gold miner to vacte the gold mines , we have been relying on rumours and hear say, its a shock to us all our efforts have been shattered one investor. “Sempowo expressed.

Ivan Male Kawuma, the Project Coordinator Singo Artisanal Small Scale Miners Association said that “we are being treated like non Ugandans, how can we become like refugees in our own country. There is no communication, no compensation for the money invested in our business running in the gold mines. This has been our main source of livelihood and we don’t know what we are going to do next.”

His Excellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni the president of Uganda in his letter addressed to the hon. members of parliament Mubende district dated 28/June/2017 made it clear that;” those artisanal miners who invaded where the investor had excavations must straight away get out.

The evictions folowed the presidential directive to evict all the artisanal miners in Mubende district on grounds that the people in the mines are not registered, government doesn’t know the amount of gold they are getting out from this area, the people operating in this area are not Ugandans and increased environmental degradation which is a threat to the nearby communities.

However the permanent secretary under ministry of energy and mineral development Dr.Stephen. R. Sabalija in the letter dated 02/08/2017 entitled Statement on illegal mining activities in Uganda explains that government is putting in place intervention measures whereby all the local artisans will be registered in all mining areas of Kitumbi and Bukuya sub counties so that they can be organized into groups that shall ultimately be regulated.

This intervention is anticipated to take 3 months and will subsequently help the ministry of Energy and Mineral development to re-organise mining activities supported by Uganda police force, Uganda people’s defence forces, Directorate of citizenship and immigration control under the Ministry of Internal Affairs and will be led by Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development.

Josephine Nabaale

Oil.Uganda@actionaid.org

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Sudan: Ministry of Mminerals Gives Companies in Blue Nile Choice to Continue Work or De-Licensing

Al-Rouserris — The State Minister at the Ministry of Minerals, Aoushaik Mohamed Tahir has given choice to the companies acquired squares for gold an chrom production in Blue Nile state to continue work and production or de-licensing.

During the Minerals Council expanded meeting held at the Hall of Heightening of al Rouserris Dam, in the presence of the state’s Wali (governor), Hussein Yassin Hamad, and mining companies operating in the state, the state minister promised to resolve all the problems that face the companies to enable it to continue work.

He noted that he was reassured him during the visit that the state is secure and stable and enjoys social coexistence that has contributed to the productions increase.

He stressed that no company would be allowed to own space of land without exploiting it, calling on the state to speed the exploitation of the squares by serious investors.

He called on the companies to commit to payments for sums allocated for the social responsibility, revealing intention to hold meeting for the mining companies in the state to review the state investment resources and work for its development.

The Wali (governor) of Blue Nile state on his part has asserted the stability of security situations, and that all the companies working sites are secure demanding the companies to exercise their activity.

Sudan

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South Africa: South Africa Remembers Marikana Miners Killed By Police

Photo: SAPA stringer

Police on the scene at Lonmin platinum mine in Marikana in the North West where 34 miners were killed in August 2012.

A memorial service has been held in South Africa on Wednesday to remember the victims of the Marikana massacre five years ago, in which 34 miners who were on strike were shot and killed by police.

No one has been charged with any offence related to the August 16, 2012 massacre, considered South Africa’s worst case of police violence since the end of apartheid in 1994.

An inquiry had found that the mine owners, at least 72 police officers and unions were responsible for the deadly incident.

OPINION: Marikana massacre anniversary and neoliberal plunder

Now miners are mourning their colleagues’ deaths, and they continue to denounce the lack of justice and the absence of compensation to families as promised by the government.

The protesters who were shot at Marikana were employed to work for relatively meagre pay in potentially dangerous and stiflingly hot conditions for the well-resourced – and politically well-connected – British mining company, Lonmin.

They were being paid roughly $400 a month while Lonmin announced annual profits of $273m for its shareholders in 2011, the year before the massacre.

Al Jazeera’s Haru Mutasa, reporting from Marikana on Wednesday, said miners and their families want the government to stop making “more empty promises”.

“These miners are hoping that after five years, something will change,” our correspondent said. “They want financial compensation. Some say they still need counselling. The wives, the widows of those who were killed are still struggling.”

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Tanzania: GGM Invests 12bn/ – to Solve Geita Water Woes

GEITA Gold Mine (GGM) has invested over 12bn/- in water project and managed to reach 36 per cent of the Geita township population in four years.

The water reach out percentage expected to increase as a 24kilometer-pipeline from Lake Victoria at a cost of 8.0bn/- was envisaged to be commissioned at end of this month.

However, before the potable water project started in 2012, water supply in the township was reaching 3.0 per cent of the population, then 80,000 people.

Today, according to a release issue yesterday, after four years water distribution reached 36 per cent of population, which also ballooned to 192,000.

“Now, after the limited distribution network was completed and the project launched in last January, the access percentage as per design is 36 per cent,” the release showed.

The GGM’s Potable Water Project was focused on distributing water to Geita Town residents by way of domestic connections and public access kiosks.

GGM Public Relations and Communications Manager Mr Tenga Tenga said the mining firm believed in finding sustainable solutions which would turn the sur rounding neighbors into a better community.

“The water project continues to improve the quality of life to the families and especially to mothers and girls who are always the most affected group,” Mr Tenga said. The project idea was born out of Community Relations Committee (CRC) discussions.

The CRC comprises government technocrats working in Geita and members of the GGM’s sustainability team and co-chaired by DC and Managing Director of GGM.

Due to drought hit almost the entire last year, the township main reservoir, Nyankanga Dam, was seriously affected. The effect forced authorities to introduce water rationing this June.

To reverse the situation GGM decided to install a second pipeline covering 24 kilometers from Lake Victoria to the water treatment plant in Geita at a cost of 8.0bn/-.

Mr Tenga said the work was in good progress and commissioning is expected at the end of this month. The pipeline has a capacity of pumping 250 cubic meters per hour.

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Tanzania: Police Disperse Anti-Acacia Protesters in Tarime District

By Waitara Meng’anyi

Tarime — Police have dispersed protesters in Tarime District who were marching to the Acacia’s North Mara mine to reportedly demand compensation for their land.

Tarime Special Police Zone Commander Henry Mwaibambe said security personnel dispersed the demo as they had no prior knowledge from the organisers.

The police chief said today’s demo was a continuation of a string of protests from residents demanding their names in a list of people who are due for compensation by the mine.

Protests against Acacia in Tarime appear to have increased since the dispute with the government which has banned the mining company from exporting its copper concentrates from March this year. Unlike Acacia owned Buzwagi and Bulyankulu gold mines, North Mara mine is unaffected by the ban.

Barrick Gold, the parent company of Acacia is currently in talks with the government to unlock the export ban and also settle other claims running into billions of shillings that have been raised against it. In Tarime, two area members of parliament from the opposition John Heche and Esther Matiko were briefly arrested last week and questioned over alleged incitement.

Mr Mwaibambe explained today’s protest was illegal and had to be stopped. “I had no word from the protesters today, so we had to disperse them,” he said, adding that all issues related to the welfare of the claimants was handled by the local District Commissioner Glorius Luoga who was not available for comment.

Two months ago protesters stormed North Mara mine in pursuit of gold but police managed to repulse the raiders and arrested 60 people who are still in remand prison.

Tanzania

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