Big Oil and Gold Miners Get The ‘Unwelcome Mat’ From African Grassroots Groups

By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network

NEW YORK (IDN) — Oil companies and gold mines in Africa are facing increasingly fierce challenges from grassroots community organizations trying to address serious climate concerns.

Shell Oil, to give an example, was hit with legal challenges as both the company and individual Board members faced opposition from Friends of the Earth.

Total, a French oil major and the China National Offshore Oil Corporation East Africa Oil Pipeline (EACOP) continue to face significant opposition from locals, with 260 community groups across Uganda, Tanzania, and neighbouring countries drawing awareness to the situation globally with the campaign #StopEACOP.

Public protests, legal action, and media attention have helped delay the works for the last two years. The ‘heart of Africa’ line shipping crude from Uganda to Tanzania is unnecessary and poses a huge environmental risk, they say.

Last month, Friends of the Earth Netherlands/milieudefensie sent a letter to Shell directors citing their personal responsibility in not acting on a climate case verdict one year ago at The Hague. By continuing to violate human rights, the company could have endangered the community by causing dangerous climate change, they said.

“Millions of people around the world are suffering from increasingly extreme weather events: drought, fires, floods and other climate impacts. Yet Shell seems to think it does not need to implement the orders of a Dutch court to reduce its emissions,” warned Sam Cossar, Friends of the Earth International.

“This is morally wrong and economically risky, for both the company and Shell’s Board of directors, who have a legal obligation to enact the climate verdict.”

At the current Mining Indaba in South Africa, Barrick Gold—the largest gold producer in Africa—attempted to polish its reputation by blaming developed countries for their selfishness in hoarding COVID vaccines.

“Global problems need global solutions. But instead of the developed countries leading a coordinated response to the need for COVID vaccines, we saw them give a shameful display of selfishness, initially at least, starving poorer countries of vaccines while they sat on stockpiles of the stuff,” Mark Bristow, Barrick CEO said.

“If ever there was a need for partnership, this was it, and they failed the test.”

But Barrick Gold record was not much better when it faced legal action in the UK on behalf of victims of shootings and beatings by mine security at their North Mara Gold Mine in Tanzania. Continuously embroiled in conflict and legal action, according to Mining Watch Canada, the company has “deeply harmful relations with the indigenous communities that surround its mines.”

In yearly visits since 2014, MiningWatch Canada has documented over 200 cases of excessive use of force at this mine and supports some of the victims through the current legal action by Cardiff-based firm Hugh James.

Early this year, indigenous communities, environmentalists and fishing groups in South Africa celebrated a court ruling that ordered oil giant Shell to suspend plans for seismic blasting along the country’s eastern coast.

Other African grassroots groups resisting the once all-powerful oil and other extractive industries operations include Ghana, Kenya, Senegal, Nigeria and the DRC, according to, an African grassroots movement.

“We believe that an African grassroots movement can hold our leaders accountable to the realities of science and the principles of climate justice,” they wrote on their website. “That movement is rising from the bottom up all over the continent and is coming together to champion solutions that will ensure a better future for all.” [IDN-InDepthNews – 16 May 2022]

Photo: Indigenous communities in South Africa sue, and protest off-shore oil and gas exploration. Source: MONGABAY

IDN is the Flagship Agency of the Non-profit International Press Syndicate.

Visit us on Facebook and Twitter.

This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence. You are free to share, remix, tweak and build upon it non-commercially.

Related Posts

Begin typing your search term above and press enter to search. Press ESC to cancel.

Back To Top