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Polluted river water ue to gold mining in Manica. [File photo: DW]
The governor of one of Mozambique’s central provinces has announced the suspension of Chinese and South African gold mining companies’ activities because of the pollution they cause and because they are not helping to end poverty there.
“We will continue to be ruthless with these companies. If they are not prepared, we will have them shut down. Our resources cannot be a curse,” Governor of Manica Rodrigues Alberto said at a rally held on Monday in Mavonde in the province’s east, near the border with Zimbabwe.
“Social responsibility is a matter of law, not a favour,” he said, announcing a suspension of activities of some mining companies in the region, but without advancing numbers or names.
Sanctions may even include the withdrawal of licenses, he said.
The governor pointed out that there was a strong contrast between the intensity of gold mining and the poverty that characterises the region.
Rodrigues Alberto’s statement came after residents’ complaints of expropriation of agricultural land, pollution, road degradation and lack of compliance with mining companies’ promises to build schools and health centres.
Rodrigues Alberto said that the authorities were “tightening the noose on these companies”. Visits to mining companies in the region had found that their contribution to the development of communities “was either minimal or non-existent”.
Rodrigues Alberto said that several rivers were polluted with toxic mining products such as mercury, which used to wash the gold, endangering the livestock and agriculture which provide subsistence for the population.
“Let business be carried out with respect for local communities, developing them and, above all, respecting the most basic values of environmental conservation,” Rodrigues Alberto said.
Manica province has abundant mineral resources and is the scene of intense gold and bauxite extraction by domestic and foreign companies, as well as fervid artisanal mining activity often involving children.
Artisanal gold miners usually sell gold to mining companies with export licenses, a government-backed measure to prevent ore smuggling.Source: Lusa