Mozambique: Protest hits coal mine

2013-04-17 14:45

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Maputo - Hundreds of Mozambican protesters blocked access to a coal mine owned by the Brazilian group Vale on Wednesday, demanding compensation for the loss of livelihood caused by resettlement.

The group used stones to block two roads and a railway line leading to Vale's Moatize mine, in the coal-rich north western province of Tete, and demanded to speak to management.

While police said there were fewer than 300 protesters around the mine, community members told AFP more than 1 000 people were taking part.

"They are peaceful. They want to speak to Vale," the Administrator of the Moatize district, Elsa Barca told AFP.

The community is up in arms over the loss of its brick-making activities in the area the mine now occupies.

They say the roughly $1 900 each brick maker received from 2008 as initial compensation was not enough and that, in some cases these businesses should receive up to $32 000 for the loss of its activities.

"When Vale came to Mozambique the government told us, you will get very rich. That is why we want the company to pay us what it owes us," one of the protesters, Maxwell April told AFP.

Barca, however, took a hard line: "This process was concluded in 2010 as far as the government is concerned there is no space for negotiation."

Rights of citizens

But, she added, police were monitoring the situation and would not use force if the protest is peaceful.

The mine produces millions of tons of coal a year, but output has been hampered by poor transport infrastructure, leading to a slowdown in exports.

In a statement Vale said it respected "the rights of citizens to demonstrate peacefully", but insisted it had dealt with brick makers' demands.

"This process was monitored by the Commission for Resettlement," the company said.

Representatives from the Brazilian coal giant are due to meet the protesters later on Wednesday, Barca told AFP.

Meanwhile, community members said they have time on their side.

"The protest will continue. People are prepared to stay here six months, up to a year. Vale will stay shut, unable to work," said April.

- SAPA
Read more on:    mozambique  |  southern africa
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