For Immediate Release: 04 May 2018
Campaigners bring demands of affected communities to Anglo-American AGM
Despite breaking news of its divestment from the Nautilus deep sea mining project, Anglo-American, one of the world’s largest mining companies, still faces a barrage of criticism over the devastating impacts of its operations worldwide.
Human rights campaigners will attend its AGM on Tuesday 8 May to present the demands of affected communities. The AGM takes place at 2.30pm at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in Westminster. Activists will attend from organisations working with different communities affected by the company’s operations in Colombia, Brazil and South Africa.
Anglo American owns a third of Latin America’s largest opencast coal mine, located in La Guajira, Colombia. The Cerrejon mine has a long history of evicting indigenous and African descent farming communities.
Maria Cristina Figueroa, indigenous Wayuu Community leader, says: “Every day we see more pain and poverty. We are subjected to a model based on handouts, which destroys our environment along with our autonomy. Despite the various court orders, there is no real protection for our people.”
In Brazil, the pipeline of Anglo’s Minas-Rio project burst twice in March 2018. The second burst occurred two days after the pipeline was inspected and put back in operation. Most of the Minas-Rio Project is now suspended for at least three months and employees face losing their jobs.
A local resident in Conceicao de Mato Dentro, anonymous due to threats they have received for criticising the mine, says: “A month after the first tube burst, we still have no explanation for why it happened. They even refused to name the company that manufactured the parts. Shareholders should demand answers about the incompetence that led to fines being paid, never mind the job losses, water pollution and suffering in local communities.”
In South Africa, settlement in a class action brought on behalf of 30,000 ex-goldminers over work-related silicosis is imminent. It was brought against a number of corporations, including Anglo American. Silicosis is a debilitating, incurable and yet preventable disease affecting tens of thousands of ex-miners in Southern Africa.
Tony Dykes, Director of the Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA) says: “For too long, mining companies like Anglo American have dodged their responsibilities. These workers will never be well again. They need and deserve sufficient compensation to access to decent healthcare and live their remaining years with dignity. And any settlement must also be accompanied by real change. Anglo-American owes its workers that at least.”
Deep Sea Mining Campaign will raise the issue of Anglo American’s support for Nautilus, a high-risk deep sea mining project in Papua New Guinea.
Andy Whitmore, of the Deep Sea Mining campaign, says: “Anglo American has just confirmed it is withdrawing from the project. Now, campaigners and local communities want recognition of just how dangerous this experimental practice really is.”
Colombia: Sebastian Ordoñez Muñoz: +447775 691 324 firstname.lastname@example.org
Senior International Programmes Officer (Latin America), War on Want
Brazil: Paul Robson: email@example.com
Researcher, London Mining Network
South Africa: Tony Dykes: 07809396129, firstname.lastname@example.org
Papua New Guinea: Andy Whitmore: email@example.com
London Mining Network
Notes to Editors
Brazil – Anglo American is required by the Brazilian authorities to carry out a detailed inspection of the entire 500 kilometre pipeline. Suspension of operation of the pipeline (and thus the whole Minas-Rio Project) will continue until a technical report is published attesting to the safety of the installations and a recovery plan for the polluted areas. The suspension of activities creates difficulties in meeting deadlines for supplies to international customers, and a fall of between 300 and 400 million US Dollars in income is expected. There has been no announcement as yet about the cause of the two breakages in the pipeline, which transports slurry of 70% iron ore and 30% water and which is supposed to eventually increase its throughput by more than 50% as the Minas-Rio Project expands.
Colombia – Communities which Anglo American has relocated to other sites complain about loss of rural livelihoods, inadequate house construction and poor water quality in the new settlements. One community – Tabaco – was violently evicted in 2001 and is still waiting for a relocation site despite a court decision in its favour in 2002 and an agreement with the company in 2008. A recent court case has halted the company’s attempts to divert an important local water source, the Arroyo Bruno, and demanded that it conduct consultations with all the communities potentially affected by interfering with the hydrology of this arid part of Colombia.
Luis Misael Socarras, La Gran Parada Community, says: “We are disillusioned with Anglo-American’s grossly inadequate proposals to address the impacts of diverting the Arroyo Stream. The court ordered plaintiffs and experts to sit alongside communities and all involved parties, yet today, things are being done behind closed doors and without us.”