On the eve of Anglo American’s 2018 AGM on 8 May, threats continue against critics of its Minas Rio iron ore mine in Brazil.
At last year’s AGM representatives of the Churches and Mining Network from Brazil revealed that threats had been made against the project’s critics. Affected communities are divided between those who rely on the mine for work and those whose agricultural livelihoods and water supply are threatened by pollution. Those who rely on the mine blame critics for holding up mine expansion by lengthening the process of environmental hearings. Critics have often complained about water pollution from the mine and the potential for greater problems to come. They point out that there are people living downstream from a huge tailings (fine wastes) dam and that dam safety cannot be guaranteed – Minas Gerais is the same state in which the disastrous Samarco tailings dam failure occurred in November 2015, killing twenty people and contaminating hundreds of kilometres of the Rio Doce river valley. Recent ruptures in the Minas Rio iron ore slurry pipeline have yet again confirmed their fears .
In late March, the Co-ordinator of the Programa de Proteção aos Defensores de Direitos Humanos (Program for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders) for Minas Gerais State wrote to the Secretaria de Estado de Direitos Humanos e Participação Social e Cidadania (Secretary of State for Human Rights and Social Participation and Citizenship), a Minas Gerais state government body, asking for protection for a number of named individuals. Requests included financial assistance to enable people to move out of the area temporarily and provision of security cameras around people’s houses, among other things. People are frightened about the safety of their families.
What is Anglo American doing to foster an atmosphere of tolerance and calm in the area and to discourage those who support its operations from making death threats against those who oppose them?