Mining firms 'polluting Africa'

20 November 2007 - 12:00am

UK mining companies complicit in abuse of poor

19 November 2007 - 10:35pm

Vedanta, Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton accused

NEWS HOOK: Mines and Money World Congress opens on 20 November 2007 at the Business Design Centre, 52 Upper Street, Islington, London N1 0QH

EMBARGO: 00.01 hrs GMT, Tuesday 20 November 2007

British mining corporations supported by the UK government, such as Vedanta Resources, Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, are complicit in human rights abuse while making huge profits in developing countries.

This charge is made today by the anti-poverty charity War on Want in a report which attacks these and other UK companies for fuelling conflict and violence against vulnerable people. War on Want launched the report, Fanning the Flames, as the Mines and Money World Congress for the booming industry opens in London today.

Ruth Tanner, senior campaigns officer at War on Want, said: "The British government has championed the cause of UK mining firms across the world. Yet the industry is complicit in a range of human rights abuses and is profiting at the expense of the poor. It is time for the British government to take action to stop these abuses."

The report is launched in the wake of the Norwegian government's decision to drop Vedanta from its global pension fund due to "systematic" environmental and human rights failures.Vedanta's bid for mining rights in the Indian state of Orissa faces mounting opposition from thousands of Dongaria Kandha tribal people who fear the company's plans will damage the fragile ecosystem of the Niyamgiri mountain forest, on which they depend for their livelihoods. According to the report, the Indian Supreme Court heard evidence that people forced to leave their villages to make way for the refinery were beaten.

Dandu Sikaka, a Dongaria tribal woman, said: "How will we survive without Niyamgiri, the mountain? Our streams will dry up. If they mine, it will become a disaster. We will all die if you dig out our forest."

The report pinpoints other Vedanta involvement in abuse in India. At Mettur in Tamil Nadu, the company is accused of seizing land, with discharge from its aluminium plant poisoning farm soil, contaminating water and killing animals, and emissions from the plant and coal-fired power station causing severe health problems for local people. One non-governmental investigation found that male bauxite workers at Mainpat in Chhattisgarh state earned just over 60 rupees, about 80p, for delivering one tonne of ore, with women paid even less. The workers live in small thatched hovels perched over the quarry, denied electricity and adequate water.

Last year Rio Tinto earned $122 million from its stake in the Grasberg gold and copper mine in West Papua, Indonesia, where local people have suffered years of serious human rights and environmental abuse.

BHP Billiton is pressing for new mining opportunities in the Philippines, despite a wave of murders and other human rights violations linked to the extractive industry.

In addition the report cites abuse surrounding operations by UK mining companies Anglo American, Oxus Gold, Global Coal Management, Monterrico Metals and Xstrata in countries such as South Africa, Papua New Guinea, Bangladesh, Peru, Zambia and Colombia.

CONTACT: Paul Collins, War on Want media office (+44) (0)20 7549 0584 or (+44) (0)7983 550728

NOTES TO EDITORS: Fanning the Flames can be downloaded from here. Information on the Mines and Money World Congress can be downloaded at

Struggle for Housing in Kliptown, South Africa Continues

19 November 2007 - 5:33pm

Residents of Kliptown, a residential area near Soweto, have been living with a housing crisis for over a decade. Recent protests were met with gunfire from local police. Anti Privatisation Forum (APF) organiser Silumko Radebe has written an update of how they are fighting for the basic rights of Kliptown's residents.

Coca-Cola: drinking the world dry

19 November 2007 - 4:45pm

Coca-Cola is one of the most recognizable brands in the world. The company claims to adhere to the "highest ethical standards" and to be "an outstanding corporate citizen in every community we serve". Yet Coca-Cola's activities around the world tell a different story.

The real cost of fashion: A special report

16 November 2007 - 12:00am

The Independent

UK premiere for Brazil poverty film

14 November 2007 - 10:00am

A landmark film on Brazilians threatened by corporate power will get its first UK screening tonight (14 November 2007).

First Iraq graphic novel launched

6 November 2007 - 3:49pm

The anti-poverty charity War on Want today publishes the first political graphic novel on contemporary Iraq.

Competition Commission backs down on tackling supermarket power

31 October 2007 - 4:41pm

The anti-poverty charity War on Want today attacked the Competition Commission interim report on supermarkets.



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