Posts Tagged ‘Diamanten’

Republik Südafrika: Was bei der WM wirklich verloren ging

Donnerstag, Juli 1st, 2010

What South Africa Really Lost at the World Cup

Resource "Curse" and Rising Xenophobia


fifa fafi.jpg


Soccer-loving cynics have long predicted problems now growing worse here in South Africa because of World Cup hosting duties:

• loss of large chunks of government’s sovereignty to the world soccer body Fifa;
• rapidly worsening income inequality;
• future economic calamities as debt payments come due;
• dramatic increases in greenhouse gas emissions (more than twice Germany’s in 2006); and
• humiliation and despondency as the country’s soccer team Bafana Bafana (ranked #90 going into the games) became the first host to expire before the competition’s second round.

Soon, it seems, we may also add to this list a problem that terrifies progressives here and everywhere: another dose of xenophobia from both state and society.

The crucial question in coming weeks is whether instead of offering some kind of resistance from below, as exemplified by the Durban Social Forum network’s 1000-strong rally against Fifa on June 16 at City Hall, will society’s sore losers adopt right-wing populist sentiments, and frame the foreigner?

This is not an idle concern, as the FaceBook pages of hip young Johannesburg gangstas exploded with xenophobic raves after Uruguay beat Bafana last week.
Wrote one young punk, Khavi Mavodze, “Foreigners leave our country, be warned, xenophobia is our first name.”

Even the ordinarily defensive African National Congress national executive committee and the Cabinet have both recently expressed concern about a potential repeat of the May 2008 violence that left 62 people dead and more than a hundred thousand displaced.

This at least is progress, for 30 months ago, the Africa Peer Review Mechanism panel of eminent persons issued a warning that went unheeded: “Xenophobia against other Africans is currently on the rise and must be nipped in the bud.”

The then notoriously out-of-touch president, Thabo Mbeki, replied that this was “simply not true”, and after the xenophobia calamity began six months later, Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad called it “a totally unexpected phenomenon” – notwithstanding dozens of prior incidents.

So when the current president, Jacob Zuma, told his party executive in May that “The branches of the ANC must start working now to deal with the issue of xenophobia”, it was depressing when another politician combined denialism and stereotyping.

Replying that “There is no tangible evidence,” Police General Bheki Cele added, a few days later: “We have observed a trend where foreigners commit crime – taking advantage of the fact that we have an unacceptable crime level – to tarnish our credibility and image.”

Generalizations against ‘foreigners’ as prolific perpetrators of crime are baseless, as no scientific ‘trend’ can be discerned because no reliable data exist to confirm whether immigrant ‘tsotsis’ (thugs) represent a greater ratio of their numbers than indigenous tsotsis. (We don’t even know roughly, to the 500 000th, how many immigrants there are in South Africa, because of the porous borders.)

Cele’s finger-pointing at immigrants for crime is just one of the scapegoat strategies. The Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa this week called xenophobia a ‘credible threat’ in part because “some perpetrator appear to believe they have the tacit support of local political actors.”

In addition to increasing its moral suasion, prosecuting those guilty of xenophobic attacks, resolving local leadership turf battles that have xenophobic powerplays, and establishing emergency response mechanisms, the state has an obligation to address root causes for the social stress which is often expressed as xenophobia: mass unemployment, housing shortages, intense retail competition in townships and South Africa’s regional geopolitical interests which create more refugees than prosperity.

The state won’t tackle these root-cause problems, however, because making substantive progress would probably throw into question class relations and the mode of production itself.

To illustrate, if observers believed (as did I) that the replacement of Mbeki with Zuma in September 2008 might mean a change in Pretoria’s foreign policy so as to end the nurturing of Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe repression, then that was naïve, as Zuma showed in London by lobbying hard for an end to smart sanctions against Mugabe’s Zanu (PF) ruling elites a few weeks ago.

South Africa’s post-apartheid leaders are simply unwilling to reverse a 120-year old structural relationship of exploitation, by which Johannesburg-based companies – such as those involved in eastern Zimbabwe’s bloody Marange diamond fields, controlled by Mugabe’s army – rip off the region’s resources. Marange is the world’s largest diamond find since Kimberley, South Africa in 1867.

How does this work? Consider the case of a victim of elite SA-Zimbabwe minerals-extraction collusion, the courageous civil society researcher Farai Maguwu (a former student of mine at Africa University). Maguwu was jailed on June 3 because, according to his (ordinarily very reliable) account, a South African named Abbey Chikane set him up for an arrest and maltreatment by Mugabe’s police.

Chikane is a leading officer of the Kimberley Process, a deal cut exactly a decade ago between industry, government and international civil society watchdogs, meant to halt trade in blood diamonds. The sign-on by the monopolist DeBeers was crucial, for the formerly-South African company (now London-based) needed to deal with the growing global diamond glut and to restore some Public Relations after a gloomy period.

In a hotel room in the eastern Zimbabwe city of Mutare on May 25, Maguwu provided Chikane information about hundreds of murders at Marange since 2006, at the hands of Mugabe’s army.

Instead of using the information to write a critique of Marange, Chikane turned out to be a narc, reporting Maguwu to the Zimbabwe police. When cops drove up at his modest house the next day, Maguwu went underground. During the search, the police beat and tortured family members, leading Maguwu to surrender. After a week in prison, he was hospitalized last Friday due to maltreatment, and then was denied bail on Wednesday by a pro-Mugabe judge.

There’s a great deal at stake in this story, emblematic of so many aspects of Africa’s ‘resource curse’ corruption and poverty.

The army leadership’s inflow of illicit diamond funding (via Dubai where the Kimberley Process is apparently ignored) represents the prime source for their own embourgeoisement, as well as for waging Zimbabwe’s next national election campaign. (Looting state resources is much harder for Mugabe’s men since January 2009, when Zimbabwe lost its currency and with it, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s money-printing, hyper-inflationary, crony-capitalist patronage.)

Chikane soon issued an official report finding that Marange complies with international diamond trading guidelines, leading this week’s Kimberley Process meeting in Tel Aviv to deadlock over whether to continue excluding Zimbabwe. Because of its cutting industry and the threat of boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigning, Israel has become a strong supporter of Zimbabwe’s, insisting that Marange stones not be labeled blood diamonds.

According to the respected newspaper The Zimbabwean, several SA mining houses will benefit if Chikane’s whitewash continues, including his cousin Kagiso Chikane’s African Renaissance Holdings and black tycoon Patrice Matsepe’s African Rainbow Minerals – with whom his brother Frank Chikane (formerly a leading anti-apartheid cleric) works – as well as two financiers supporting Johannesburg diamond miner Reclam: Capital Works and Old Mutual.

Abbey Chikane has, in the process, wrecked the Kimberley Process’s reputation for monitoring blood diamonds in the same way that Mbeki-Zuma soiled Pretoria’s when it comes to justice and democracy for wretched Zimbabwe. The last decade has witnessed a variety of similar betrayals of their people by the SA and Zimbabwe elites.

Given such relationships, it’s not surprising that the UN High Commissioner for Refugees last week reported that there are 158,200 Zimbabweans currently seeking formal asylum internationally, of whom 90 per cent are in South Africa. (That’s more than three times as many as the second-place country, Burma, which was followed by two Washington-backed regimes: Afghanistan and Colombia.)

There are at least a couple million Zimbabweans in South Africa, many illegal as low-waged but often highly-skilled workers, who regularly come under intense pressure from the unemployed locals. A genuine solution to workers’ plight across the region would include not only a reversal of Pretoria’s geopolitical approach, but also its macroeconomic policies.

(Statistics South Africa announced last week that another 79,000 jobs were lost in the most recent quarter-year, bringing to nearly a million those shed since the world crisis hit hard in 2008.)

Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma did make some concessions for Zimbabweans, allowing a somewhat longer stay in the country and work permits (so as to better collect taxes), but at the same time radically reduced the inflow from Lesotho to South Africa, even though a large share of Lesotho’s GDP comes from migrant workers.

If SA police chief Cele were actually serious about foreign criminals he might concentrate a bit more of his force’s effort on a really dangerous crew: Fifa. With the possible exception of Wall Street and the City of London, no more larcenous gangs of white-collar thugs are to be found than in Zurich, both in the banks which financed apartheid when no one else would, and at the soccer body’s temporary hideout south of Johannesburg.

The latter mafia is so self-confident in dealing with General Cele’s mentally-corrupted South African Police Service that last Friday, Fifa general secretary Jerome Valcke openly bragged how they will spirit away $3.2 billion in pure profit (50% more than the $1.8 billion taken from Germany four years ago).

Fifa pays no taxes, ignores exchange controls, and is quite likely preparing South Africa for a currency crash in the process.

To ensure the heist is complete, Cele’s police are obviously on the take, observers confidently conclude – but not because there’s evidence of Fifa’s fabled fraud squad at work. No, just as debilitating is the above-board commercial, contractual corruption in evidence these past few days:

• in the service of the main company providing security at the World Cup games, Stallion – a firm which should have been banned last year, as promised by Labour Minister Shepherd Mdladlana, and which in 2001 was responsible for a soccer stampeded in Johannesburg that left more than 40 fans dead – the police enforced Stallion’s exploitative low-wage regime, heaving stun grenades and tear gas at hundreds of unpaid workers after a night game in Durban, and even shooting a Cape Town bystander multiple times with rubber bullets in similar confrontations;

• no wonder, because Linda Mti – the former prisons commissioner linked financially to the notorious, privatized Lindela transit camp for arrested immigrants (as well as a triple arrestee on drunk driving charges) – is head of security for Fifa’s Local Organising Committee;

• defending that pissy US beer Budweiser, the police were again at Fifa’s service when they arrested two Dutchwomen during the Holland-Denmark game, because their subtle ‘ambush marketing’ amounted merely to wearing orange dresses with a tiny Bavarian beer logo;

• at a Fan Fest at Durban’s South Beach, police arrested local environmentalist Alice Thomson last Monday for passing out anti-Fifa fliers regarding the June 16 march to City Hall; and

• a man caught with 30 game tickets ‘and no explanation’ got a three-year jail sentence, while hardened criminals roam the streets freely.

Thieving and trademarking the local culture, as well, Fifa and corporate partner CocaCola also tried to steal Africa’s soul by paying Somali singer K’naan to raise spirits with his easy ‘Wavin’ Flag’ lyrics. But that won’t work, for much more challenging tunes for Fifa to digest have been produced – and are free to download on the internet – by hip-hop artists Nomadic Wax and DJ Magee (‘World Cup’), Chomsky AllStars (‘The Beautiful Gain’) and, best of all, Durban’s own Ewok (‘Shame on the Beautiful Game’).

On July 3, another City Hall rally – this time against xenophobia – will let Durban reproduce a genuine African ubuntu spirit that can withstand Bafana’s defeat, Fifa’s profiteering and all the other losses we are suffering.

Patrick Bond directs the Durban-based Centre for Civil Society, an institute dedicated to furthering the memory of SA’s greatest political economist of sport, Dennis Brutus, 1924-2009. Brutus was a Robben Island prison veteran; a critic of corporate athletics including Fifa; the primary organiser of 1960s Olympic Boycott of white South Africa, of expulsion of white SA from Fifa in 1976, and of 1970s-80s cricket, rugby and tennis anti-apartheid campaigns; a leading poet and literary scholar; a global justice movement strategist; and at time of death, a Centre for Civil Society Honorary Professor. Until his last breath, he opposed the World Cup™  being held in a country characterized by what he termed ‘class apartheid’. 


(Quelle: Counterpunch.)


Siehe auch:

Groups on High Alert for Post-Cup Xenophobia


Simbabwe: Blutdiamanten-Handel wieder aufgenommen

Samstag, Juni 26th, 2010

“Doubts Over Zimbabwe Diamonds

By Busani Bafana & Pierre Klochendler

BULAWAYO and TEL AVIV, Jun 24, 2010 (IPS) – Three days of tense deliberations by members of the Kimberley Process have failed to reach consensus on whether diamonds from Zimbabwe’s Marange fields should be certified as conflict-free. Zimbabwe has already announced that it intends to resume exports of the precious stones immediately.

The Kimberley Process (KP) is a joint effort by governments, the diamond industry and civil society to curtail trade in “blood diamonds” – stones that have provoked, financed and fueled civil wars in Angola, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Marange diamond fields lie 300 kilometres east of Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare; after diamonds were discovered there in 2006, thousands of unlicensed miners moved in to take advantage.

In October 2008, the government of Zimbabwe sent the army to clear the area in an operation widely condemned for its disregard of human rights. The security forces are alleged to have committed murder, rape and press-ganged young children and women into forced labour.

Zimbabwe avoided suspension from the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme at a plenary meeting in Namibia in November 2009, when KP members accepted a work plan that Zimbabwe itself had proposed.

Consolidating the Kimberley Process

Speaking at the end of an inconclusive meeting of 200 representatives of 75 countries, multinational companies, private diamonds traders and human rights activists, Kimberley Process chairman Boaz Hirsch, the KP chairman, said, “There’s been quite a lively discussion with a whole spectrum of opinions expressed.”

Hirsch tried to steer the meeting away from a narrow focus on Zimbabwe. At the opening session on Jun. 21, he introduced a series of three initiatives, the measure of Israel’s “commitment to jointly develop a vision for the KP that focuses on capacity building”.

In an effort to consolidate enforcement and border control, the chairman announced the creation of a joint working team to draft a multi-year plan for collaboration between the KP and the World Customs Organisation.

Hirsch informed participants that the WCO has already added the issue of illicit trade in rough diamonds to its list of subjects reported under the Customs Enforcement Network.

The second initiative involved establishing a permanent office to boost the efficiency of the KP. Each year, its chairmanship moves from one country to another. This ‘changing of the guards’, Hirsch noted, causes “a lapse in the KP organisational memory” and impedes implementation.

The third Israeli initiative was to create a Working Group on Trade Facilitation that will serve as a mediator in cases of disagreement that arise due to different interpretations of the KP procedures and result in substantive damages.

The plan committed the country to a phased withdrawal of the armed forces from the diamond fields (but without specific timelines), directed that police would take responsibility for security for the area, and provided for a monitor acceptable to both Zimbabwe and the KP would examine and certify that shipments of diamonds from Marange meet Kimberley Process standards.

That monitor, South African businessman Abbey Chikane, is satisfied that Zimbabwe has met the minimum conditions, though his report has not been made public. “Chikane states that ‘the government of Zimbabwe has demonstrated its commitment to meet the minimum requirements’ of the KP Certification Scheme for the trade in rough diamonds,” according to a statement by the Israel Diamond Industry, which hosted the KP Intersessional meeting in Tel Aviv.

Fully exploited, the gems from Marange could make up 25 percent of the global supply, estimates Haim Even-Zohar, head of the Israel-based diamond consulting firm Tacy Ltd.

Zimbabwe is set to auction four million carats from its gem stockpile, reportedly worth up to 1.7 billion dollars. The proceeds from diamond sales could be enormously important to the economy of a country saddled with debt of more than $7 billion, but human rights groups inside and outside the country say it’s premature to certify the country’s diamonds.

One warning sign is the arrest and detention of Farai Maguwu, director of the Centre for Research and Development, who met with Chikane and briefed him on alleged human rights violations in the Marange field.

Maguwu had been invited to attend the Tel Aviv meeting, but instead appeared in court in Zimbabwe to face charges of peddling falsehoods prejudicial to the state on Jun. 22. He remains in custody; if convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison.

“If Zimbabwe is jailing activists for writing about abuses connected to diamond mining, then it’s hardly meeting the minimum standards for KP membership,” said Rona Peligal, acting Africa director for Human Rights Watch.

HRW published a report on Jun. 21 asserting that the Zimbabwean army continues to engage in forced labour, torture, beatings and harassment in the Marange area.

“It will be tragic for the diamond sale ban to be lifted now, especially if someone who wrote about human rights violations is in jail and his life is under threat,” Kucaca Phulu, told IPS. Phulu is a lawyer and chairman of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association.

“The diamonds have been a sinister situation for the people of Marange, who have not been rehabilitated from the trauma with the soldiers still there. Why give an impression that everything is now normal by lifting the ban?”

But a senior government source and mining expert in Zimbabwe dismisses the llegations of human rights abuses as a smoke screen to deny Zimbabwe revenue from the diamond sales to the benefit of global companies eyeing a stake in the countries mines.

“Who has died in Chiadzwa?” the source, who declined to be named, told IPS. “This is all NGO talk to ensure that Zimbabwe does not progress and benefit from its diamonds.

“The government has done everything above board and in a proper manner. This nonsense about blood diamonds is to stop Zimbabwe from progressing as the [KP] monitor has already given the country a green light.”

One participant in the closed proceedings said the U.S., Australia, Canada and the EU opposed resuming exports of Marange diamonds. Most African countries, Brazil, China, Russia, and India supported the resumption of exports, based on the latest report on the conditions there issued by the KP.

At stake is the principle of whether or not to broaden the KP definition of a conflict diamond. Human rights activists have urged that the definition include diamonds that provide financial support to governments in violation of human rights.

The wealth from the gems found in Marange can only reinforce authoritarian rule in Zimbabwe, they argue.

Eli Izhakoff, president of the World Diamond Council, declared, “We will not rest until this diamond producing area is operating for the benefit of all the country’s citizens.”

But, he cautioned, “We should never overlook what has been achieved.”

That not much was achieved in Tel Aviv is not entirely unexpected. The Kimberley Process was originally conceived to stem the flow of “blood diamonds” mined or traded by rebel movements to finance their operations.

Applying it to the case of Zimbabwe, where activists charge the profits will enable an authoritarian government to consolidate its grip, would mark an expansion of the definition of a conflict diamond.

A higher level Plenary Meeting to be held in Jerusalem in November may provide a second opportunity to restore the promise the KP has stood for.

(Quelle: IPS News.)

Simbabwe: Blutdiamant bleibt Blutdiamant

Mittwoch, Juni 9th, 2010

“Global Witness rejects claim that Zimbabwe diamonds are clean

Press Release – 08/06/2010

State-sponsored violence and human rights abuses are still taking place in the diamond fields of eastern Zimbabwe, in contrast to claims made in a leaked report from the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme monitor, said Global Witness today.

Global Witness has serious concerns about the credibility of the report, which recommends that Zimbabwe be allowed to resume diamond exports from the controversial Marange area.  

The Kimberley Process (KP) was set up in 2003 to eradicate the trade in blood diamonds. Last year, KP officials visited Zimbabwe and confirmed reports of killings carried out by state security agents as well as diamond smuggling rackets run by the military.

A supervised export mechanism for diamonds from Marange was put in place in November 2009, as part of a work plan agreed between KP and Zimbabwe to address the country’s non-compliance with the scheme’s standards. The report by the South African KP monitor, Abbey Chikane, says that Zimbabwe has now met the KP’s minimum requirements.

‘We are extremely concerned by the monitor’s report, which directly contradicts information recently obtained by researchers and observers on the ground’, said Elly Harrowell of Global Witness. ‘There is no sign that state-sponsored brutality in the diamond fields has stopped or that the widespread smuggling of diamonds from Marange into neighbouring countries has been curbed. Lifting the ban on Marange exports would mean letting blood diamonds onto international markets.’

The report follows the arrest by Zimbabwean police on 3 June 2010 of Farai Maguwu, head of the Marange-based Centre for Research and Development (CRD), after a meeting with the KP monitor. CRD has regularly provided information about ongoing abuses in Marange to the Kimberley Process. The fate of Maguwu, who was forced to turn himself in to police after his office and home were raided and members of his family arrested, raises concerns about the way in which the monitor went about his work in Zimbabwe.

‘Human rights organisations in Zimbabwe are regularly harassed by the authorities. Chikane had been warned of the risks involved in meeting Maguwu while accompanied by Zimbabwean government minders and intelligence agents, yet he neglected to take the necessary precautions. This raises serious doubts about his suitability for the role of KP monitor,’ said Harrowell.

Chikane’s luggage was also broken into by the intelligence forces and key documents stolen, one of which was later published in the state-owned Herald newspaper.

‘The monitoring arrangement for Marange should be suspended immediately and no exports permitted until the Zimbabwean government can give credible assurances that people providing information to the Kimberley Process will not be persecuted, and that the scheme’s monitor will not be spied on by security agents,’ said Harrowell. ‘Zimbabwean authorities must stop all violence in the diamond fields and ensure that members of the military are not illegally involved in exploitation or marketing of diamonds. This is a non-negotiable condition for any resumption of trade.’



Elly Harrowell on +44 (0)7703 108 401 or Annie Dunnebacke on +44 (0)7912 517 127″

(Quelle: Global Witness.)

Indigene Völker protestieren gegen Uran-Abbau

Donnerstag, Juni 3rd, 2010

“Two statements to UN CSD on Indigenous Peoples & uranium

Published Date: 29-05-2010
Source: Statement
Source Date: 06-05-2010

The following are two civil society statements to the May 2010 UN Commission on Sustainable Development. One of the themes of the meeting was on mining, and its contribution to sustainable development [sic]. There were a number of presentations from multiple stakeholder groups, and two of them (one presented on behalf of the Indigenous Peoples group and another submitted on uranium) are published below.

Next year’s meeting in May 2011 will come up with policy recommendations on the subject. You can find out more, including access to other papers, at

Presentation from Indigenous Peoples Group to UN CSD on thematic session on mining

CSD18 Review Session, Interactive Panel: Thematic Session on Mining 6 May 2010 UN Headquarters, New York Mining and Sustainable Development

Victoria Tauli Corpuz Member, UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

Executive Director, Tebtebba Foundation (Indigenous Peoples’ International Centre for Policy Research and Education)


The topic of this thematic section is on the potential contribution of mining to sustainable development. I would like to address this issue from the perspective of indigenous peoples and also from the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

I am an Igorot from the Cordillera Region in the Philippines. My region is where large scale gold, silver and copper mining has been taking place since the 1900s, during the American colonial period, and continues up to the present under the postcolonial governments. Until the early 1980s, almost 75 % of the exports of gold, silver and copper came from my region. The Igorot in Benguet Province are still suffering from the legacy of mining adverse environmental and social impacts. Since mining remains as one of the pillars of economic growth of the Philippine government, mining operations expanded to many parts of the country and in most cases, Indigenous Peoples are the ones most affected as it is in their territories where these minerals are found.

I was also the Chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues from 20052009 and I am on my last term as a member this year. We just finished our two-week session last Friday, April 30. As it has been since the Forum started, issues related to mining were raised many times over during this session. Last year the Forum held an International Expert Group Meeting on Extractive Industries and the report of this can be found in E/C.19/2009/CRP. 8 dated 4 May 2009.

The final report of this 8th Session contained several recommendations which I will talk about later. So much of what I will be talking about comes from my own experiences in my own country and other countries which I visited and the discussions which happened at the Forum in its 9 years of existence and also from the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations which existed for more than 20 years under the Commission on Human Rights.

The need to differentiate mining activities

I have listened with interest to the opening comments of Member States yesterday. There is a widespread agreement that mining is an essential element of a modern economy. It seems, that we cannot live without it’s products or at least some of them. It is hard to imagine that there is anyone who thinks the human need for gold jewellery outweighs the human need of poor indigenous farmers or hunters and fisher folk to the means to provide food for their families.

Yet when we talk of mining we are carelessly doing it in a generalised way as if all mining had similar benefits and similar impacts. It most clearly does not. Iron ore and copper mining and some others do indeed provide key core raw materials for contemporary production and satisfaction of basic needs. Not that this would make any more acceptable the rights violations that are sometimes associated with these mines. However, by contrast gold mining produces a metal with very limited productive uses and with a vast existing reserve in some central banks. Its extraction and processing is associated with some of the most problematic environmental dangers. Yet over the last 20 years exploration and mining for gold has, with some variations, attracted a disproportionately large amount of total mineral exploration expenditure globally. This currently can be seen as a response to the uncertainty of economic crisis and more generally because gold mining tends to show quicker returns on capital invested and lesser average levels of investment than for the base metals sector.

Uranium, as another example. Uranium mining is not in any sensible discourse — a credible contributor to sustainable development. Its two major uses are first in the production of nuclear weapons (clearly global destruction is not part of any sustainable development strategy. ) |Its other use is in generating nuclear power. Here, from being a discredited and largely abandoned option, following the Three Mile Island and Chernobyl disasters, it has seen a recent resurgence as companies and govts are emboldened by the climate crisis to promote the nuclear option. However there are serious fundamental problems associated with uranium.

First, an estimated 70% of the world’s uranium deposits are located on the lands of indigenous peoples. Uranium mines leave behind huge amounts of “tailings” as radioactive waste. The tailings, contain approximately 80% of the original radioactivity of the ore, with half lives up to 240,000 years. Surely this is the ultimate in unsustainability! Everlasting potentially deadly pollution. There is no means of safe disposal of the tailings, which in many cases are left in the open.

Exposed to wind and rain, and radioactive and poisonous materials are contaminating the surface water, groundwater aquifers, the soil, the air, plants and produce, livestock and wild animals, the air to breathe, and will continue to do so for thousands of years into the future.

The health impacts are serious; leading to elevated rates of cancers. These heightened incidences are not just confined to workers but also affects communities nearby.

In Niger, according to reports from indigenous peoples, uranium mining has already contaminated the groundwater (the level of uranium in the drinking water are 10 110 times as high as the WHO standards), depleted fossil water aquifers which will never be replenished, and the mining company announced officially that their planned new mine will have depleted the local fossil water aquifer about the same time that the uranium deposit will be exhausted. This leaves the Touareg people from those communities with nothing to survive on. We have had several Touareg representatives coming to the Permanent Forum presenting the problems they face with uranium mining. Uranium mining companies have not found any means to solve these problems and to store their wastes in any adequately responsible way. Many uranium and other mining companies have followed a common strategy and gone bankrupt after the deposits were depleted leaving their aftermath to the States to clean up.

In my view the only way forward is a global ban on uranium mining and ensure that the uranium and nuclear industry, monitored by the international community, clean up their aftermath, pay compensation to the victims of their activities and allow for a continued monitoring of the sites in question. And similar efforts are probably the essential minimum if mining is to regain its social licence to operate.

The case of the nuclear industry raises other issues. As I hope we all know in the past and up to the present, indigenous people’s lands and waters have been extensively used as nuclear test sites without regard or in some cases even warning to the traditional owners. These have led to catastrophic consequences such as cancers, blindness, stillbirths and what is now known as jellyfish babies, among others. Within the US, indigenous lands are sometimes chosen as sites for the most dangerous and toxic of industries including nuclear weapon manufacture within the US.

Now some Indigenous Peoples living in remote areas are obliged, even when they have recognition of their rights, to “welcome” such dangerous and polluting industries and dumps because of their absolute poverty and lack of other cash earning opportunities. So some consent to host such facilities and some may even allow mines. If and where this is done consciously clearly it is an exercising of their right to control developments within their own territories. However I think we should all be deeply disturbed by the implications of the toxic materials and poisonous wastes generated by rich industrial societies being dumped upon the poor and marginal whether these be indigenous or not or whether they “consent” to such discriminatory actions. Because such “consent” is clearly in large part an acknowledgement that their acceptance of the toxic waste is based on the desperation of their poverty.

So when we speak of mining then we need to be more differentiating in our assessment. Are we speaking of open pit copper mining, underground mining, mining for iron or for gold or diamonds.

Environmental and Social Impacts

Yesterday I also heard Member States expressing their grave concern that the environmental and social impacts are regrettable and disturbing. But my question to us all is what are we going to do about the clear documented and continuing evidence of the association of some mining activities with grave human rights violations including, the disregard for already adopted international minimum standards for the dignity and welfare of indigenous peoples, such as the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and ILO Convention No. 169?

As I mentioned earlier, in my capacity as Chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues from 20052008 and as a member this year, I have heard numerous and most serious presentations on the impacts of mining on Indigenous Peoples. Some involving violent dispersal, killings, destruction of homes, desecration of sacred sites, the destruction of subsistence economies constituting a threat to life and culture and many more. Without naming names these complaints identify companies small and large, including members of the ICMM which is an alliance, as we heard yesterday, of industry leaders promoting best practice.

The mining industry has an appalling record for environmental and social impacts going back over a long period. Deeply negative impacts from mining have been felt on every continent (so far with the exception of Antarctica). Both past and present mining has generated environmental impacts that include the devastation of river systems and valley peoples like the Ok Tedi and Fly rivers in Papua New Guinea. The impacts of pumping mine waste into these rivers started by BHP (currently the world’s largest mining company) are predicted by scientists to generate pollution of the river system and the poisoning of adjacent forests that are not only killing fish and other life forms in the river but causing die back in surrounding forests that is predicted to grow worse and continue to spread for hundreds of years into the future. Even ancient mining activities can generate lasting negative environmental impacts that persist long after the demise of the people and corporations that caused them.

Aluminium, copper and steel production alone account for more than 7% of global energy consumption. Bauxite is often mined over extensive areas resulting again in the stripping of surface vegetation disruption and pollution of water courses and the common range of both environmental and social impacts. However in addition bauxite processing on average requires 15 kilowatt hours of electricity for each kilo of aluminium produced. Recycling of aluminium however on average requires only approx 5% the energy input of primary production. Recycling of aluminium currently accounts for approximately 1/3 of production. Yet large amounts of recyclable aluminium and other minerals are still lost in landfill. Other recycling efforts also remain underdeveloped.

Additionally according to Citigroup “At higher latitudes, high rainfall may require some operational adjustments, with the integrity of tailings dams being an issue for consideration, and the potential for consequential environmental damage.” The analysts also asserted that “Critical infrastructure such as ports may be at risk from small sea level rises particularly if combined with storm events.”

Other forms of tailings containment may also require a rethink or a ban. Unpredictable weather shifts may also require additional safety measures and expenses in arid and semi arid regions. In high mountain areas there have been some recent attempts to store mine wastes including potentially toxic materials in glaciers. However in the Andes and Central Asia global warming has exposed the short-sightedness and irresponsibility of such claims. Melting glaciers are already posing problems of containment of potential serious pollution.

Despite increased reference to industry best practice, clearly unacceptable and widely banned practices including Riverine and Marine dumping are still continuing. Such practices have resulted in the choking of rivers and inshore waters including corals. Marine dumping has been a source of great controversy and is banned in many states. Companies nonetheless advocate the increased use of marine dumping of mine waste. This despite the fact that we remain unclear about the full role of the sea in maintaining a balance in global climate. Research, however, points to a vital role for small marine organisms as potential absorbers of carbon. Yet large scale pollution of waterways and direct marine dumping are adding to marine pollution and putting marine ecosystems under increased pressure. Marine mining and further dumping is now also developing.

Clean water is a precious and increasingly scarce resource yet it is used in vast quantities in mining even in semi arid and arid regions. Mining in these regions and seasonally dry areas has always posed severe problems. Mining is a massive user of water. The Citigroup analysis of climate change risks to mining suggest “availability of fresh water is critical to most mining and processing operations.” In the USA between 1964 and 2005 Peabody coal has drawn millions of gallons from aquifers under the deserts of the South West that are a main source of drinking water for Navaho people and their stock.

This vital life-giving water was used by Peabody Energy to pump coal in a mixture of gasoline and water in a slurry pipeline operation to transport extracted coal to the Mohave electricity Generating Station in Laughlin Nevada.

The report of the DESA for this Session which is entitled ” Trends in Sustainable Development: Chemicals, Transport, Mining and Waste Management” states that “approximately 10 per cent of active mines and 20 per cent of exploratory sites are located in areas of high conservation value, while nearly 30 per cent of active mines are located in water stressed areas.

The increasing consumption of resources (mostly energy and water) needed to extract metals as well as the pollution generated by the extraction process are main constraints to sustainability of mining”.

Pollution problems due to mining are exacerbating in most mining areas. Direct dumping into rivers is still practised by major companies. The Grasberg mine in West Papua, Indonesia for example produces up to 300,000 tons of waste per day. Which dwarfs the problem of a city even like New York that produces up to 15,000 tonnes per day. Dumping into the ocean has been and is practised despite our lack of knowledge of its full consequences on marine organisms.

Depositing on the land is also practised mostly in arid and semi arid zones. But in this time of climate change and unpredictability this may prove problematic also. Tailings dams are common and numerous but are subject to collapse and breaches. Over past 25 years Philippine mines alone have experienced on average more than 1 serious incident every 2 years. These have included several incidents resulting in deaths from the slides and lasting environmental and economic consequences inundating fields, poisoning rivers etc This is not including the many small spills.

All such waste disposal systems are also confronted by new threats from climate change. Again in the Philippines our best tailings pond (lake better describes it) were built to withstand a 1500 year event. However in the last 10 years the Philippines has recorded an increase in the number and the intensity of typhoons last year two major typhoons hit the northern Philippines within 10 days causing tremendous devastation. Dams were protected by releasing as much material as possible before and during the typhoon.We are increasingly concerned that climate change will make the impacts of mining more severe and the lives of those downstream less secure. Acid mine drainage and other damages to rivers resulting in their death, skin lesions and other health problems for people, fish, livestock caused by downstream pollution of mines, air pollution by dust from the mining operations and many others.

In the 21st century I say frankly that in a time of review and policy recommendations for a sustainable future we have to be more forthright in terms of identifying what the real problems are and make recommendations on how these can be addressed. Majority of the UN member states have obligations under International Human Rights Law and under Multilateral Environmental Agreements which they should meet and compliance with these obligations is one of the steps in addressing issues of human rights violations and adverse environmental and social impacts of mining. Within the framework of CSD, we cannot turn a blind eye to these bad consequences because we are hooked on mining providing a cheap, too cheap perhaps, supply of raw materials.

At the last year’s 8th Session of the Permanent Forum we came up with a recommendation which supported the framework which John Ruggie, the Special Representative of the Secretary General on the issue of Human Rights and Transnational Corporations and other Business Enterprises, developed on Human Rights and Business. This recommendation states;

12. The Permanent Forum supports the conceptual and policy framework proposed by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises. This framework rests on three pillars: first, the duty of the State to protect against human rights abuses by third parties, including transnational corporations and other business enterprises, through appropriate policies, regulation and adjudication; second, the corporate responsibility to respect human rights, which means acting with due diligence on all matters to avoid infringing on the rights of others; and third, greater access for victims to effective remedies, both judicial and non-judicial. (E/2009/43 E/C.19/2009/14)

I hope the CSD 18th Session and the member states will reiterate this framework and further elaborate on it as it applies to the mining industry. There are other Special Rapporteurs who also made comments on mining and how this affects the right to food and subsistence, housing, freedom of religion, among others. The past and present Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, (Rodolfo Stavenhagen and James Anaya), also made several references on their annual reports on mining and indigenous peoples.

There are clear signs that the mining industry is moving on in important areas. We would acknowledge that some companies have made welcome advances, for instance in Australia with the employment of Aborigines. These have been conscious policies resulting in significant improvements and benefits for local people. Companies like Rio Tinto and others conduct some trainings on human rights for their staff. This is most welcome as a start and if it could be rolled out elsewhere I think it would be widely welcomed and would contribute positively.

However in the area of respect for basic human rights, the recognition of basic rights like the need to secure the Free Prior and Informed Consent of Indigenous Peoples before operating on their lands, despite discussions and explanations this is not, as I understand FPIC is not yet endorsed to by the ICMM. And the Intergovernmental Forum on Mining and Sustainable Development has had no interaction with the UNPFII nor with UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples Rights. Even if this is an intergovernmental forum it should not remain as an exclusive intergovernmental body. The CSD is an example of inclusiveness and this practice should be followed by the IGF.

Some companies have taken the welcome step of announcing their individual commitment to human rights standards and I can quote from the Rio Tinto Annual report for 2009 as one example. It says “Rio Tinto operates in a manner consistent with the UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples and sovereign obligations. We respect the land connection of indigenous communities and work with them on their land in a spirit of reciprocity, transparency and recognition of their culture…..”

Now there are indigenous brothers and sisters of mine who would dispute if in fact Rio Tinto does fully operate in such a manner. There is a problem we face generally of the absence of credible independent monitoring of corporate behaviour, which means such claims remain unconfirmed. However, I am sure that such commitments are a welcome development in so far as they go and can be, if supported by actions and independent verification the foundation for reductions in conflict and greater mutual respect.

The Rio Summit nearly 20 years ago and Agenda 21 which will soon to be remembered and built on, popularised and inspired millions with its call for sustainable development. The situation was so serious then that there was a willingness to contemplate new and different approaches. For indigenous peoples we were hailed for our sustainable living our walking gently on the earth which is both the philosophy and practice of indigenous societies throughout the world. We were hailed and acknowledged in those documents as a model for the future no longer consigned as so often before into being remnants from the past.

However there is often a gap, a time lag, between words and actions. At the time Indigenous Peoples had been suffering great hardship as the result of the insatiable and unsustainable demands of the global economy. Through logging, mining, industrial fishing and other assaults our praised models of sustainable living were and remain under a severe attack. Indigenous Peoples, who have contributed the least to the generation of these current global economic and ecological crises, are however the first to suffer its impacts and most of the times, left with no recourse or redress. This is because most of us live closely with and depend on nature. Our regard of earth as our mother, which always was the source of our security, now becomes the source of our greater vulnerability as the earth strikes back.

I would like to conclude by reiterating some of the recommendations presented by the indigenous peoples’ major group statement yesterday.

1. The respect for human rights and aspiration for social justice is an essential pillar of our shared striving and vision for sustainable development. It is for Indigenous Peoples, and us all, the foundation of engagement with this multi-stakeholder process.

2. I call on mining corporations both transnational and national, as well as investors for mining (whether institutional or individual) to endorse the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. I recommend that mining Corporations and their associations such as the ICMM and the IGF work with indigenous peoples to elaborate operational guidelines on how to use the UNDRIP in their day to day operations and how to monitor and promote its implementation.

3. Whatever good or best practices there are, in the main, mining is such an unsustainable destructive activity which is why I strongly recommend that stronger regulations in different areas should be done. Voluntarism is not enough given the seriousness of the economic, environmental, social, cultural and spiritual impacts for indigenous peoples. Mining legislation which allows for the unfettered operations of mines should be repealed and revised.

4. One lesson from the financial crisis of great importance is not allowing speculative hot money to force an artificial acceleration of the exhaustion of our natural none renewable resources in mining. Derivatives trading and other speculation against metal ore stocks may damage both the environment and the mining industry.

5. Indigenous Peoples and others deeply affected by mining have raised their complaints in many arenas, whether in the judicial or non-judicial systems. Still there is a limited capacity to respond to such complaints. I strongly recommend that information on channels and mechanisms for complaint, justice and redress at all levels from the local to the global level, be disseminated widely to indigenous peoples and these should be made more accessible to them. Relevant capacity building activities should be done with the support from bilateral donors, intergovernmental bodies and the States.

6. The mining industry and governments have established an intergovernmental panel on mining and sustainable development. However, indigenous and other affected communities are excluded from this body and other bodies like the ICMM. The threats to and opportunities for sustainable development posed by the mining industry require a more balanced standing body representing all concerned sectors to work with independent monitoring structures to present and disseminate in a transparent manner more information on the serious issues concerning mining extraction.

7. The World Bank Group and other international financial institutions should continue to monitor and review their operational directives and safeguard policies pertaining to indigenous peoples in conjunction with existing international standards, especially the right to free, prior and informed consent as required under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Bank should also implement the recommendations of its own Extractive Industries Review. Likewise, other multilateral lending institutions should include the requirement to obtain free, prior and informed consent in their safeguard policies on indigenous peoples’ environments and other concerns.

8. With the changing patterns in sustainable production and consumption, and with consideration of the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and the ecosystems based approach, all sectors, especially Governments, should actively promote more sustainable ways of life, including those practised by indigenous peoples for generations including small-scale mining. Respect for their traditional knowledge, practices and innovations, and their customary governance systems and laws on extraction of natural resources should be ensured. States, corporations and society at large should work to reduce and promote the reuse, recycling and substitution of metals and minerals help minimize mining and related processing activities which result into toxic wastes. I also recommend that the specific roles and contributions of indigenous women in developing more widespread sustainable production and consumption should be strongly supported.

9. The CSD, corporations and States should operationalize the framework on human rights and business developed by John Ruggie which rests on three pillars: first, the duty of the State to protect against human rights abuses by third parties, including transnational corporations and other business enterprises, through appropriate policies, regulation and adjudication; second, the corporate responsibility to respect human rights, which means acting with due diligence on all matters to avoid infringing on the rights of others; and third, greater access for victims to effective remedies, both judicial and non-judicial.

10. Finally, I reiterate the proposal of the UNPFII which calls on the ICMM to invite the members of the Forum, the affected communities and indigenous experts to visit 10 of their sites which they claim are doing best practice, so they can see and make their own evaluation of these. Then they can use the experience to craft more relevant recommendations for the Policy year in 2011. Thank you very much.
Victoria Tauli Corpuz email: website:

Uranium Mining at the UN Committee on Sustainable Development (CSD)

African Uranium Alliance Statement

6 May 2010

New York – In the area of mining, the mining of uranium is a special issue. Uranium is heavy metal which is radioactive, toxic (chemically poisonous) and repro-toxic (toxic / dangerous for the reproduction). Its only uses are for nuclear weapons, including Depleted Uranium weapons, and for the generation of electricity through nuclear power plants.

Nuclear weapons are not desirable; many statements of politicians state that nuclear weapons should be abolished altogether. Nuclear energy is the other use of uranium; although it is often said – and advertised by the nuclear industry – to be a “saviour” from global warming, nuclear energy CANNOT contribute anything substantial to the problem of global warming; this has been shown and proven by different scientific studies.

Approximately 70% of the world’s uranium deposits are located on / under the lands of indigenous peoples. Thus, the rights of indigenous peoples, their land rights, their human rights in terms of health, securing their livelihoods and their means of subsistence, their way of life / their culture are often at stake when dealing with uranium mining.

Uranium mines leave behind huge amounts of “tailings”, radioactive waste due to the fact that uranium is contained in the ore only at 0.1 to 1 or 2 percent. The quantity of the tailings alone is a serious problem.

The tailings, which include solid tailings as well as liquid / slurry, contain approximately 80% of the original radioactivity of the ore – a cocktail of a dozen of radioactive decay products of uranium, with half lives up to 240,000 years – dangerous forever, in human terms. These tailings are in most cases left in the open, exposed to wind and rain, and radioactive and poisonous materials are contaminating the surface water, groundwater aquifers, the soil, the air, plants and produce, livestock and wild animals, the air to breathe, and will continue to do so for thousands of years into the future.

Uranium mining companies have NOT found any means to solve these problems and to dispose of their wastes in any responsible way, and they are NOT living up to their corporate social responsibility to clean up. (In fact, companies rather ‘invest’ in PR and other activities to promote themselves as “good corporate citizens” through sponsorships, donations etc. rather than to deal with reality.)

On the contrary, many uranium mining companies have gone bankrupt after the uranium deposits were depleted – leaving their aftermath to the states / Governments to clean up; in most cases – from the US through Canada to Niger, Namibia, South Africa and to Asian states such as Kazakhstan, the companies have NOT cleaned up or provided for ANY secure methods to deal with the wastes they created.

In addition, attempts to contain the tailings have proven to be ineffective and have been shattered by all kinds of influences, from engineering faults to unforeseen events.

This shows that humankind has NOT found a safe way to deal with the wastes from uranium mining, and that it is virtually impossible to deal with them in way that will assure “safety” for thousands of years.

Based on the track record of companies, as well as on the factual difficulties / impossibility to ‘contain’ uranium mining wastes safely for thousands if years, uranium mining is not – and will never be – a ‘sustainable development’.

The health effects from uranium mining to miners, people living in the vicinity of the mines, are also detrimental, as reports form mines in Namibia and Niger are showing, and reports from former uranium mines confirm the deadly impact (7,000 cases of lung cancer in Germany due to former uranium mines).

The low-level radiation material spilled / emitted by uranium mines will affect many generations to come through damage to the DNA which is passed on from generation to generation. Thus, uranium mining is not – and will never be – a ‘sustainable development’.

At present, uranium mining is pushing ahead with companies targeting countries in Africa – explicitly and for the simple reason that laws and regulations in countries like Australia are considered to be “too sophisticated” for them to operate. Thus, countries on the African continent are “preferred” targets – some do not have any radiation protection laws at all (e.g. Namibia) or they do not have the capacity to monitor (e.g Malawi, Niger) the mines and enforce their laws and regulations.

Uranium mining is by no means a “sustainable development”, but rather subject to “hit and run” policies which has been controlled by uranium mining companies all over the world for many years (as is shown by the many abandoned and un-reclaimed tailings dams evident in all parts of the world).

Finally, in places such as Tanzania and Mali, mining activities are literally destroying existing sustainable economies:

In the Bahi region of Tanzania, referred to as “Bahi swamp”, in reality a rice-growing area, local farmers are effectively growing rice; their fields could potentially be taken over by uranium mining companies and turned into open-pit mines for uranium – thus, destroying the livelihood of people in a country which is struggling for food security. A few more examples of the impact of uranium mining especially on indigenous peoples:

In Namibia, the Topnaar-Nama people living in / near the Namib-Naukluft desert see their livelihood threatened by uranium mining which uses huge amounts of water pumped from the underground aquifers, bringing down the water level so that grass does not grow anymore, trees die, and their livelihood / means of subsistence is being destroyed. In Tanzania, The Wasandawi people, living as hunters and gatherers, in the central part of the country; open-cast uranium mining will destroy their traditionally used lands, uproot their society and destroy their way of life. In Niger, uranium mining has already contaminated the groundwater (the level of uranium in the drinking water 10 – 110 times higher than WHO standard), fossil water aquifers, non-renewable resources, have been depleted and will NEVER BE REPLENISHED.

AREVA a French mining company, announced officially that their planned new mine (Imouraren) will have depleted the local fossil water aquifer about the same time that the uranium deposit will be exhausted – leaving local Touareg people with nothing to survive on. In Malawi, the newly opened Kayelekera Uranium Mine (Paladin Resources, Australia) has claimed the lives of two workers even before the mine opened; the mine and its tailings pose a serious threat to Lake Malawi which is a critical huge freshwater resource in South-East Africa, on which some 3 million people depend; the state / Government of Malawi pointed out that they do NOT have the capacity to monitor the mine, its effluents etc. independently and “trusts” the company to basically monitor itself. The list of the short AND long-term negative impacts of uranium mining could be continued ad infinitum.

The negative and long-term impacts with NO way to resolve them at present, clearly demonstrates that uranium mining is by NO MEANS a sustainable activity. It needs to stop.

As far as South Africa is concerned, we have experienced Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) and the failure to find a solution to acidic and radiotoxic uranium mine tailings impacts that demonstrate that uranium mining can never be sustainable.

More importantly, we find the end-use of uranium — namely, nuclear weapons and depleted uranium ordnance — morally reprehensible and cannot support an industry where the long-term destruction of human life is its overriding purpose. The subsequent cover-up of an overly expensive and dirty civilian nuclear power industry is an equally unacceptable by-product of the weapons industry, when so many healthier and cheaper alternatives to electricity conservation and generation exist.

We conclude that only a global ban on uranium mining, with the uranium and nuclear industry obligated to clean up affected sites, pay compensation to the victims of their activities, and the constant monitoring of the sites in question, help improve, diminish and eliminate the current crises suffered by people and the environment.

c/o Citizens For Justice-(CFJ) Friends of the Earth, Malawi,
Off Lilongwe-Blantyre Highway, Falls Estate, Plot # 57431, Post Dot Net, Box X100, Crossroads, Lilongwe, Malawi.
Phone: +2651727822 and +2651727828, Fax: +2651727826 Email:

(Quelle: Mines and Communities.)