Hunt for Minerals Leads to Growing Number of Accidents and Evictions by Mining Companies

By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network

NEW YORK (IDN) — Seydi Sow, a landowner in Djogo, Senegal, contemplated his eviction by a mining company with joint headquarters in Australia and France and which mines zircon in central Senegal.

The elderly landowner said he was wronged in the compensation process.

With two fields over two hectares in size, he complained he received a small payment, much less than others with smaller farms.

The mining company played down the situation, claiming that “human beings each time they acquire something, seek to acquire even more. This is very normal.”

Elsewhere on the continent, eight workers remain unaccounted for in Burkina Faso following the evacuation of an underground area at the Perkoa mine, with headquarters in Vancouver. Search and rescue efforts continue. Intense rainfall in the early morning of April 16 resulted in a flash flood that breached protective berms surrounding the open pit.

In South Africa, gold miner Harmony Gold reported that a mine-worker died in an accident at one of its mines in Johannesburg last month.

“Harmony Gold Mining Company Ltd regrets to report that one of its employees tragically lost his life following a mine-related incident at its Doornkop mine near Soweto,” the company said in a statement.

Harmony, with its largest shareholder base in the U.S., said the affected part of the mine had been closed while investigations were underway.

According to the Bloomberg news service, deaths in South Africa mines, which include the world’s deepest gold and platinum operations, rose for a second consecutive year as worker safety deteriorated.

Recently, a death was reported by Sibanye-Stillwater at their Driefontein mine. This follows last year’s death record when 18 employees died.

Trade union Solidarity urged inspectors from the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy to reconsider closing the entire mine until it is proven to be safe to work there.

The fact that the company ended the previous year with a poor mining safety record and already reported the first fatal accident for 2022 in the first month of the year, is reason enough for drastic intervention, the union said.

The union is also extremely concerned about a slime dam that shows weak spots and whose embankment can break if not urgently repaired.

“Part of the mining house’s problem is their arrogant and aggressive management style, which was the cause of the wage dispute, after almost six months of negotiating,” said Gideon du Plessis, General Secretary at Solidarity.

“At this stage, the company is only offering inflation related increases, despite massive bonuses received by senior management, with one member of management even bragging that he brought a farm with his bonus.”

Lastly, in western Guinea, at least 18 people were killed as an informal gold mine collapsed, a government spokesman said.

Coincidentally perhaps, South African officials including President Cyril Ramaphosa were booed at this year’s May Day labor event. The President abandoned his Workers’ Day speech in the city of Rustenburg when striking mineworkers stormed the stage. [IDN-InDepthNews – 03 May 2022]

Photo: Anti-eviction protest. Source: Global Information Network

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