Statement from the AlterNATIVE Mining Indaba 2011


AlterNATIVE Mining Indaba, The Fountains Hotel (7th -9th February 2011)

Date of publication: 
10 February 2011


We, members of Civil Society, having gathered at the alternative Mining Indaba, in Cape Town on 7th -9th February 2011, comprising faith based organisations, NGOs and community based organisations from Zimbabwe, South Africa, Mozambique, Malawi, Guatemala, Tanzania, Kenya, Swaziland, Zambia, the Netherlands, Norway, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, hereby label the so-called ‘Official Mining Indaba’ 2011 as a gathering of exploitative profit mongers due to the glaring lack of attention paid to vital elements such as environmental degradation, deepening of poverty, slippages in the quality of life and concentrating instead on the reckless pursuit of profit at any cost. CSR-CSI hardly features in the official conference, which confirms our view that much of CSR is green-washing.

Having deliberated for three days on the negative impacts of mining on communities and the environment, we issue a clarion call on all Parliaments and governmental agencies to live up to their mandated roles by speaking out and acting on behalf of ultimate beneficiaries i.e. the people of the land.

We deplore the creation and perpetuation of impoverishment which continues to afflict our communities who have not received tangible benefits from mining in stark contrast to the fortunes garnered by elitist Corporations and their lackeys.

The delegates further resolved that:

  • Corporations and the Authorities do not merely conduct ‘helicopter’ consultations, but obtain the ungrudging consent of communities for the mining operations, including the right to prevent mining operations from commencing altogether. Thus all mining companies must comply with the principle of engagement, which is informed by the practice and philosophy of Free, Prior, and Informed Consent before, during and post mining operations.
  • o In line with the above, mining corporations and their agents must desist from fomenting divisions in communities by ‘divide and rule’ tactics;
  • We call on traditional leaders (chiefs) to revert to their historic leadership role as servants of the communities being accountable to their people and not above them, by refraining from entering into agreements that amass wealth and resources without genuine participation of their constituents and the equitable sharing of the proceedings emanating therefrom;
  • It is imperative that Environmental and Social Impact Assessments (EIA), prepared by reputable independent experts, who are independent of both government and private sector interests, must be held at regular intervals during the life of mining operations as well as post closure by competently resourced agencies that can be trusted to act, without fear or favour, in line with the spirit and values of Natural Justice;
  • Environmental degradation has a cost factor that will inevitably impact upon future generations, and may, indeed, place them in dire jeopardy. As such, all eventualities must be mitigated and avoided at all cost;
  • We renew our commitment towards a level playing field with which we could overcome the gross asymmetries of power that benefit elitist interests. We hereby propose that a suitable, independently managed mechanism must be created to provide resources for poor communities seeking to engage mining corporations on a levelled playing field;
  • We hereby reaffirm our support for the IANRA Lusaka Declaration on Mining Taxation, in particular on its emphasis towards the importance for transparency and accountability on the payment of taxes and levies by corporations. The much touted ‘race to the bottom’ has resulted in negligible tax rates that deny much needed taxation necessary for national development. In particular we endorse the call made for greater transparency among multinational corporations and call on the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) to adopt country by country (CbyC) reporting mechanisms of key financial information for all listed companies, all mining companies must declare their revenues and profits and publish what they pay as taxes, levies, royalties and other payments that may be applicable to governments.
  • Further to the above, we exhort our Governments to comply with principles of Resource and Social Justice in determining the application, usage and distribution of funds gleaned from such inflows;
  • We urge our governments to undertake necessary reforms, such as the EITI and other mechanisms to enhance accountable governance in the extractive industries. These processes must fully include civil society organisations by giving them due notice and providing adequate documentation for effective participation;
  • The legislative and institutional environments currently obtained are weak and urgently require strengthening to ensure greater returns from the extraction of natural resources. The oversight role of Parliament must be strengthened through legislative review, gathering more information, enhanced interaction between the relevant portfolio Committees and concerned stakeholders, tracking contributions of the extractive industries to the national budgets and audits thereof. This can be achieved through requisite training and capacity building exercises with development partners and Civil Society;
  • Local communities living adjacent to extraction areas, including those who have been moved from their traditional lands, are often neglected and there is a need to ensure that they become ultimate beneficiaries through participation and overall empowerment. Governments must therefore prevent the violation of fundamental human rights that ensue when communities are evicted to make way for mining operations. Such evictions transgress against profound cultural and traditional heritages of communities (places of worship, burial sites, ancestral grounds, etc.) thereby ignoring sacred tenets that prevail, whereby the “dead are deemed to be part of the living”. We call on Governments to take effective protective measures to safeguard environmental, economic, social and cultural rights of communities affected by mining
  • Mining corporations must provide, without conditionalities, all pertinent information in comprehensible language, e.g. environmental and social impact assessments etc, that may be essential for communities affected by mining to make informed decisions;
  • Politicians and Decision-makers in Government must not have personal business interests as it detracts from their public service obligations and constitutes a serious conflict of interest that undermines their credibility and public confidence in the said offices;
  • Environmental degradation resulting from mining activities adversely affects local communities and the country at large, but the burden of consequent rehabilitation is normally left to governments instead of the operators. Mining companies should be held liable for remediation for the entire operation; We pledge unflinching support in the fight for the effective implementation of the ‘Polluter Pays Principle,’ which further should include the proposition that current and past mine owners be fully liable for pollution and environmental degradation;
  • Governments must determine adequate compensation for persons and communities affected by the toxicity of mining operations and environmental damage ensuing therefrom;
  • Informed and empowered community ownership of, and participation in extractive industries must be mandatory within legislative frameworks and not optional according to corporate / governmental whims;

We hereby avow our commitment to the above stated issues and pledge our on-going support on the same with unflinching resolve and adamance!

Declared and endorsed at the AlterNATIVE Mining Indaba held in Cape Town, Republic of South Africa in February 2011 by:

Bench Marks Foundation
Economic Justice Network
Norwegian Church Aid
IANRA (International Alliance on Natural Resources in Africa)