Media Statement 28 June 2023
To: All Media Editors, Journalists, and News Outlets
Press Statement: Mining-Affected Communities Demand Inclusion and Justice in the Mining Sector
The upcoming Mining & Energy Investment Conference, set to take place in Kimberly on 29 June 2023, has named the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Gwede Mantashe, as the keynote speaker. However, the absence of mining-affected communities from the conference agenda once again highlights communities’ consistent exclusion from critical discussions. This exclusion challenges the false narrative that mining brings development and opportunities to host communities, revealing a deeper truth: mining, the energy sector, and the green transition are failing to achieve a just transition and instead perpetuate the exclusion of the majority while benefiting a corrupt elite minority.
While mining plays a significant role in South Africa, offering potential solutions to key challenges such as unemployment, inequality, and climate change, it is important to assess its current impact on affected communities, particularly women and youth. Communities face a range of challenges, including pollution, forced displacement, increased gender-based violence, and social disruptions, all of which have long-lasting consequences and undermine the fabric of the community.
Regrettably, mining companies and the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) consistently marginalize the concerns and interests of affected communities, prioritizing profits and the needs of a privileged few while neglecting the marginalized mining-affected communities. This power imbalance perpetuates a system where communities are disenfranchised, frustrated, and ignored, despite being the most impacted by mining activities.
The Minister’s participation in the investment conference raises questions regarding the genuine benefits for mining-affected communities. While attracting investments is crucial for economic growth, it is equally vital to ensure that these investments lead to inclusive development for all South Africans, especially those residing in mining-affected communities.
The exclusion of mining-affected communities from discussions on mining investments exposes the dishonesty of the state and industry, as they publicly claim commitment to a just energy transition while deliberately excluding these communities.
To begin contending and addressing the climate crisis, unemployment, inequality, and gender-based violence in South Africa, inclusive discussions and meaningful participation of mining-affected communities are essential. It is crucial to recognize that a Just Energy Transition is impossible without Just Mining.
Mining-affected communities possess invaluable knowledge and lived experiences that provide critical insights into the social and environmental impacts of mining. Communities’ full participation and consistent informed consent are vital to acknowledging and addressing key concerns, ultimately mitigating adverse effects and working towards a just mining sector.
The Minister’s flippant participation in the investment conference serves as a reminder of the urgent need to rectify the exclusion of mining-affected communities from discussions about the industry.
The Mining and Extractive sector must prioritize the well-being of marginalized mining-affected communities and the environment over cheap profit margins. By actively engaging with affected communities and promoting inclusive decision-making processes, not only can a Just Energy Transition be realised but more equitable and sustainable development that benefits all South Africans.
For further information please contact:
Gilbert Moela – MACUA Comms and Media Officer: 079-777-6175
Meshack Mbangula – National Coordinator of MACUA: 0749775588
Maureen Seshoka – National Convenor of WAMUA: 0661813743
Mining Affected Communities United in Action (MACUA) is a coordinating body representing and advancing the rights and interests of mine-affected communities across eight provinces of South Africa. The network is made up of 50 community organisations and calls for communities to be granted a greater say in issues that affect their human rights and which they believe are denied to them in current regulations governing the mining sector.
Women Affected by Mining United in Action (WAMUA) is an official national platform formed within MACUA with the purpose of advancing the rights and interests of women in mining-affected communities. WAMUA aims to advance and support women in mining-affected communities to strengthen their participation in community decision-making processes and influence local, provincial, and national policy and legislative processes in the mining sector.