'Alternative Mining Indaba': you should not only take oil and diamonds

A group of about 70 people marched to the Mining Indaba 2020 being held at Cape Town International Conference Centre to highlight their concerns over the problems extractive mining is causing for communities who live near mines. 

Rev. Martha Mutswakatira, from the Reformed Church in Zimbabwe, who had walked down Adderley Street with the civil society activists in her white collar on Wednesday, said communities are carrying the cost of damages caused by extractive mining. 

Reading from a memorandum, she said, in her view, the extraction of mineral resources in Africa was only benefiting the elites in the global market and in economies like China and India. 

Other activists expressed deep concern over what they consider to be little to no consultation with communities who live around mines, or along major mining transport routes. 

They are worried about their health and safety, and have called for more agencies and ombudspeople to monitor compliance with laws by extractive mining companies.

One man from Angola among the Alternative Mining Indaba picket said: "When you come to Africa you need to invest in people.

"You should not only take oil and diamonds, and leave people with their hands empty."

They felt that climate change linked to mining is also not getting the attention it deserves. 

They demanded legal reforms, responsible supply chains, and that mines that pollute be prosecuted. 

They also called for the legalisation of artisanal mining, with licences being granted to these miners, and that they be entitled to health and social care. 

They recommend carbon taxing of mining companies, not allowing social initiatives by mines to be tax deductible, and a move away from fossil fuels.

The group held its own Alternate Mining Indaba between Monday and Wednesday with its own line-up of speakers, while the Mining Indaba 2020 took place on the other side of the CBD.

The group also wants the mining industry to provide compensiation for former miners' whose health has been adversely affected. 

Their memorandum was accepted by a delegation which included Kristen Dodd from the International Council on Mining and Minerals; Setepane Mohale, a chief director in the Department of Minerals and Energy and Tebello Chabana, of the Minerals Council South Africa.

The group dispersed afterwards. 

Mining Indaba portfolio director Simon Ford said some of the topics were already included in the discussions taking place at the Mining Indaba 2020.

"We are the platform for the mining industry and we need to make sure that all of the key topics and the key challenges and issues are at the forefront of the debate and of the conversation that we have at the Mining Indaba." 

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