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23.11.2007 Business & Finance

Mining In Africa, Companies Must Be More Responsible

By Daily Graphic
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The pressure group, War on Want, says it wants the British government to force mining companies operating in Africa to honour their social responsibilities.

The group says companies with UK links such as the Anglo American, AngloGold Ashanti and Vedanta are failing to live up to a voluntary code of conduct.

It accuses the firms of human rights violations and environmental damage. Anglo American and AngloGold Ashanti say the allegations are inaccurate and out of date. In the past, the British government declined to intervene in what it says are "business matters".

Ghana

The War on Want report refers to cyanide spills at Ghana's largest gold mine in Obuasi, operated by AngloGold Ashanti, and says company security officials have helped conduct "swoops" on nearby communities to catch illegal miners, which have caused injuries and created a climate of fear.

AngloGold Ashanti's spokesman, Alan Fine, told the BBC that two spills from a cyanide containment lake, referred to by the pressure group, dated from late 2005 and the company had "organised a clean-up".

He said since the company took over the mine in 2004, it had upgraded the infrastructure and interacted with locals to reduce tensions with artisan miners.

South Africa

The report says that a subsidiary of Anglo American, Anglo Platinum has clashed with poor farmers from villages near the Bushel Mineral Complex in South Africa.

It alleges that residents were forcibly resettled at Magobading to make way for the company's new Twickenham mine.

In a rebuttal statement, Anglo American says "the residents were resettled with improved housing and compensation after a lengthy consultation" and were not forced off their land.

Zambia

War on Want says Zambia's Environment and Natural Resources Ministry has accused the Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), which is 51 per cent owned by Vedanta Resources of negligence, leading to toxic leaks.

It also says KCMB has failed to comply with remedial measures and could be liable for prosecution.
But Vedanta Resources told the BBC News web-site they spent "several million dollars rectifying" the Kafue river leak.

A spokesman said the company took human rights, the environment and their relationships with communities very seriously.

— Credit BBC

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