African Mining Activists and Researchers Meet in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania

From October 28-31, Third World Network-Africa and HAKIARDHI (the Lands and Resources Research Institute) hosted an Africa-wide strategy meeting on mining in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. The meeting concluded with a statement of principles and a strategy to ensure concerns about mining impacts are on the agenda at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Rio+10) in Johannesburg in September 2002. Joan Kuyek attended on behalf of MiningWatch Canada.

Mining exploration and mine development investment in Africa have more than doubled between 1990 and 1997. The boom has caused adverse environmental, social, security and human rights effects for countries and communities that host mining projects. Incidence of community dissent against mining projects is widespread and growing in Africa. This dissent centres mainly on sharing of benefits of mining projects and environmental pollution, which together deepen the plight and poverty level of the people. This is a situation that constrains the efforts of the people towards a decent condition of life.

It is also important to note that in spite of the mining boom in Africa its role in the economic development of the continent on the whole is suspect. For instance, while the sector accounts for 60% of foreign exchange earnings; it contributes on the average less than 10% to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of mineral endowed African countries and accounts for, on average, about 2% employment of the region.

The policy paper for the meeting stated: "These issues persist and get worse in many communities affected by mining in the continent because even in the face of the growing investment in the mining sector, very few African countries have in place comprehensive environmental protection and management legislation to regulate the mining industry. To most African governments, stringent environmental policies would deny them the benefits of mining and therefore ruin their hope of attracting capital for faster economic growth and development. The tendency has been that governments place high priority on capital inflows from mining but have little actual interest in environmental protection and community concerns."