By Hal Rhoades of LMN member group Gaia Foundation
Yesterday members of UK civil society held an action in central London to challenge the Mining On Top Africa: London Summit.
Two of us managed to get into the conference cocktail reception and hand a UK-African Civil Society letter to a senior member of SNL Metals and Mining- the conference’s main organiser (he wasn’t very happy about it!).
The letter challenged the validity and motivations of the conference- which claims to be concerned with ‘social and economic development- which lacked representation from African communities and civil society, and largely ignored the negative impacts of mining in Africa. It was accompanied by a set of ten case studies highlighting the ecological and social destruction caused by mining in Africa.
After the hand-in member of The Gaia Foundation, London Mining Network, War on Want, Divest London, Global Justice Now, Stop Mad Mining and other groups set up a protest outside the conference.
In the form of a mock auction, we satirised the Summit by staging our own ‘carve-up’ of Africa. With the help of a huge map of Africa, our auctioneer (a pretend UK government rep) co-ordinated a bidding war over Platinum in South Africa, Cobalt and Copper in the DRC, Gold in Egypt and Iron Ore in Guinea.
Each triumphant corporate bidder stepped forward in their turn – from AngloAmerican, Glencore, Centamin and Rio Tinto (all London-listed companies) – to graciously claim their spoils, slapping big corporate logos onto the map of Africa (Mining On Top…). Each gave a short speech detailing the virtues of their organisation and telling everyone not to worry, because development in Africa is in good hands with vast multinational corporations.
After some rousing songs (like, “Stop the Summit, Stop the Summit, Stop Miiiiining on Top, Time to start a revolution, All the miiiiining has to stop!” sung to the tune of Oh My Darling Clementine) and some “Shame, shame, shame on you” chants, Richard Solly from London Mining Network wrapped up proceedings with a charismatic speech on our moral obligation as human beings, and as Londoners, to contest spaces such as these constantly and work in solidarity with allies worldwide to make their voices heard.
Read the letter, for which we gathered 56 organisational signatures in just 1.5 days.
Read the case studies that ask ‘is mining really ‘on top’ in Africa?’
Read Yes to Life, No to Mining co-ordinator Juliana Thornton’s brilliant article about Corporate Social Investment and how mining companies take autonomy and sustainability from communities with one hand and ‘give’ dependency, broken promises and destruction with the other.
Also see Africa: A continent of wealth, a continent of poverty by War on Want’s Tom Lebert.