AMI 2017 Day 1

Welcome to AMI2017

The 8th Alternative Mining Indaba opened with the theme:

Making Natural resources Work for the People: Domestication of the African Mining Vision (AMV): From Vision to Reality

Reverend Suzanne Matale opened the conference by observing that, for countries to prosper and develop, the governance of natural and mineral wealth has to be founded in justice. She emphasized that natural resources were created to benefit all people, not just a few.

Mandla Radebe then recounted key moments in of the Alternative Mining Indaba and how it has grown from the first 50 participants in 2010 to the current 470 participants from 45 countries at this year’s AMI. He recounted the AMI’s beginnings, that after hearing the harrowing stories of communities affected by mining, a number of institutions came together and decided to create an alternative to the Mining Indaba that would discuss strategies for confronting corporate power in the mining sector.

The AMI was established as a platform to enable communities’ to sharpen their demands from mining companies. He noted that mining should be sustainable, transparent, accountable and should ensure the participation of people. The AMI therefore created a space for empowering each other.

Mandla concluded his remarks by noting the presence of participants from different countries namely: Angola, Australia, Austria, Benin, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Colombia, Cote D’ivoire, DRC, Egypt, Germany, Honduras, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Peru, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, SA, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Uganda, UK, US, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

The History and Achievements of the AMI

The Chairperson of the AMI Steering Committee, Carol Kiangura described the progress and achievements of the Indaba. She highlighted a fundamental achievement of communities taking the initiative to have their own national AMIs, particularly in Angola, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Some had even organized provincial AMIs.

She noted that the AMI was not a February event but a process that was engaging different institutions at different levels including. You can download her full presentation here. 

She noted that through these engagements, the AMI transformed into a solid platform where organisations and communities collectively bring out issues that the Mining Indaba refuses to address such as issues facing women, poverty of communities adjacent to mining activities; the lack of adequate job creation; the environmental impact of mining activities on communities; sustainability after mining operations.

Keynote Address: Nonhle Mbuthuma-Forslund, Amadiba of Crisis Committee, South Africa.

Nonhle was greeted with song and cheering for her activism and bravery in the light of intimidation and violence in her village. She noted that at the heart of human survival and prosperity was land, “for land is the mother earth that provides everything humanity needs”. She also highlighted the link between land and identity. Because of this belief, she and her community confronted the mining company that had attempted to move the entire community when they discovered minerals in Pondoland.

You can view a documentary about her and her village here.

The people of Pondoland have filed a declaratory order with the courts asserting their rights as citizens to say no to mining companies. She is confident that if they win the case, it will set a precedent for the whole country, region and continent. The community of Pondoland have emphasized the alternatives to development, most notably agriculture and tourism because these two are sustainable.

No matter how difficult the process will be, Nonhle and her people are ready to sacrifice their blood to save the land for future generations.

High Panel Discussion: Extraction of our natural resources: How to promote broad-based sustainable growth and socio-economic development in Africa?

 A High Panel discussion moderated by Moreblessings Chidaushe included a community member from Zambia (Lawrence Mwanangombe), EJN Executive Director Malcolm Damon, Tom Butler of ICCM and Thabileng Mothabi from Amnesty International (download his presentation here)

The panel raised critical issues in the mining sector ranging from the need for redistribution of resources, taxing mining companies, stewardship in the sustainable exploitation of natural resources, unfulfilled promises by mining companies (particularly in Marikana after the 2012 tragedy), corporate injustices practiced by mining companies, land grabs among others.

The panel noted the need for dialogue and lamented the culture of silence. The meeting also heard what was happening at the Mining Indaba with issues of environmental and social standards also being raised but the breakdown of trust and relations between governments, mining companies and civil society was noted. Therefore dialogue was discussed as key to ensure development for all but for this to happen there was a need for accountable leadership in both the government and corporate sector.

Parallel Training sessions

The conference then went into training sessions:

  • Legal aid clinic
  • Tax and Extractives
  • Model Mining Law
  • Mine Alert Tool
  • Organising Fence Line communities-the role of CBOs and NGOs

Community Experiences from National Alternative Mining Indabas

After the breakaway training sessions, we moved into a plenary where experiences from NAMIs (national alternative mining indabas) were discussed from Angola, Mozambique and South Africa. There are some common issues that were resonating from the issues raised earlier on in the key note address and other training sessions. These included:

  • Some companies that are exploiting the environment and the poor are domestic companies owned by the political and military elites and not just multinational companies;
  • The AMI should be taking place in the communities and not cities including national AMIs
  • Engage in popular public demonstrations to force our governments and companies to act
  • Litigation is one if the ways to get companies to act
  • AMV is not looking at issues affecting communities
  • AMV has failed to provide adequate guidance to both mining policies on the continent. The legislative regime in SA and SADC are accommodating companies that are destroying communities
  • Therefore there was a strong need to overhaul mining legislation
  • The leakage of mineral resources should be addressed
  • communities ‘ plight especially women and children were being ignored and need to be listened to
  • Community rights to promote access to information were fundamental steps in fulfilling the constitutional rights of people

African Mineral Governance Framework-Paul Msoma, UNECA

The meeting heard from Paul Msoma of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, which is hosting the African Union’s  African Mineral Development Centre (AMDC).

He noted that the AMV was a vision – but to realize instruments were needed and emphasized the fact that AMV is not about mining but about development. Download his presentation here.

Breakaway Thematic Sessions

To end the day, the Indaba broke into three parallel sessions:

  • Fiscal Regime and Revenue Management
  • Legal and institutional Management
  • Artisanal and small-scale Mining

Find all available presentations for download on the Documents of Interest page.