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Media Invitation: Film Screening and Panel Discussion on Experiences of Communities Affected by Environmental Impacts of Mining

1 February 2012 at 3:16 pm

Media Invitation: Film Screening and Panel Discussion on the Experiences of Communities Affected by Environmental Impacts of Mining

Centre for the Book, Queen Victoria Street, Cape Town

8:30 to 11:00, Wednesday, 8 February 2012

For the past two years, there has been ongoing engagement between civil society, community organisations, academic institutions and law clinics increasingly concerned about the impacts of mining on the environment and on the communities that rely on those natural resources.  This coalition has now evolved into a Mining-Environment-Community Alliance that works together to implement a civil society legal strategy to promote environmental compliance, transparency and accountability in mining.

Every year, Cape Town hosts the Investing in African Mining Indaba, which describes itself as “the world’s largest gathering of miners, explorers, project developers, mining analysts, fund managers, investment specialists, financiers and many other professions.” Communities directly affected by the environmental impacts of poorly managed and poorly regulated mining are generally excluded from events like this. Therefore in 2012, the Mining-Environment-Community Alliance would like to create an opportunity for the voices of our community partners to be heard.

You are invited to attend a media event on 8 February 2012 at 8:30-11:00 at the Centre of the Book, Queen Victoria Street, Cape Town. Present at this meeting will be community representatives from communities across the country affected by mining, as well as some of the attorneys representing these communities.

The media event will entail three components:

  1. The screening of four short films (more details about each of these films below).
  2. A panel discussion with community representatives about their experiences.
  3. A Q&A session with the community representatives and some of their attorneys.

Please RSVP to [email protected] or 021 447 1647 by Monday, 6 February 2012.

Background on environmental impacts of poorly managed and poorly regulated mining

Unrehabilitated historic and existing mines are already causing significant environmental degradation and continue to do so. This can be seen in the examples of acid mine drainage on the West Rand and coal mines in Mpumalanga.

A flood of new mining applications that are processed through a woefully inadequate environmental licensing process, without adequate public participation, is further of great concern to the deterioration of the quality of our precious water and other natural resources.

The environmental, health and social impacts of mining are keenly felt by those communities who live and work in close proximity to the mines. As is often the case, it is marginalised and vulnerable communities that have the least power and ability to impact the decision making around mines.

Affected communities are particularly vulnerable to flawed consultation processes, a lack of access to information and inadequate provisions made for the rehabilitation of mines. There is further very little attempt made to hold those mining companies who violate the human and environmental rights of affected communities accountable, and regulators like the Department of Mineral Resources have been slow to respond to community concerns and requests for access to information.

Information on the films

All films will be downloadable before the media event from www.cer.org.za. The films have been produced by Green Renaissance, and cover stories from the following communities:

  • Unrehabilitated coal mine on land of an emerging farmer near Belfast, Mpumalanga and impacts of mining at Wessleton outside Ermelo, Mpumalanga (Wessleton community)
  • Risks of erosion caused by unrehabilitated clay mining near Tzaneen, Limpopo (Batlhabine community, Lenyenye, Limpopo)
  • Impacts of illegal anthracite mining at Madadeni, near Malelane, Mpumalanga (Madadeni community)
  • Holding De Beers Accountable: Ensuring proper rehabilitation pursuant to sale of Namaqualand Mine (Hondeklipbay community)

The films and the event are funded through a grant by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund.

Other communities and community organisations which will be represented include:

  • Amadiba Crisis Committee, Wild Coast, Eastern Cape
  • Davidsonville Community, Randfontein, Gauteng
  • Earthlife Africa JHB Acid Mine Drainage Committee
  • Mapungubwe Action Group, Limpopo
  • Riverlea Community, Gauteng

Centre for Environmental Rights, www.cer.org.za, Tel 021 447 1647

Lawyers for Human Rights, www.lhr.org.za, Tel 012 12 320 2943

March to Parliament and Mining Indaba

After the Media Event, members of the media can also attend a march to Parliament and the Mining Indaba starting at 11:00, organised by the Environmental Justice Network www.ejn.org.za.