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African miners say mineral wealth must benefit continent

Major themes of the conference included beneficiation, artisanal and small scale mining, safety and ILO Convention 176, and illicit financial flows.

The meeting was opened by IndustriALL assistant general secretary Kemal Özkan, who explained that there is a crisis of inequality worldwide, but mining unions are at the forefront of developing a union response. He gave the example of the Goodbye Neoliberalism report released by Australian affiliate the CFMEU.

Leaders of local affiliates, Tamim Salehe of TUICO and Fred Hans Kipamila of TAMICO, introduced the work of their unions, and Tanzania’s mineral commissioner David Mulabwa welcomed the delegates to Tanzania. He outlined the government’s priorities for the sector.

Industry director Glen Mpufane spoke about the boom and bust cycle in the commodities market. The current boom is driven by electric vehicles, but mineral wealth often doesn’t contribute to general economic development.

“The mining industry is like a parallel state, with illicit capital flows which bleed resources from the continent. The African Mining Vision is a pathway for a change to a new economic vision, developed by Africans, to benefit the whole continent,”

he said.

Regional co-chair and NUM president Joseph Montisetse said:

“Our raw materials are exported and we are left in poverty. That’s why beneficiation must be on the agenda of every union.”

IndustriALL vice president Issa Aremu of Nigeria said,

“We need to turn the resource curse into a resource blessing.”

Pierre de Pasquale spoke about using the Responsible Mining Index to evaluate how compliant companies are with their stated principles, and Peneyamboko Alina Munkawa of the ILO gave a detailed explanation of ILO Convention 176 on safety and health in mines.

Lydia Nkopane of the NUM spoke about violence against women. Women in the mining industry face gender-based violence at work, a lack of protective equipment and facilities suitable for women and discrimination in jobs and union positions.

Claude Kabemba of Southern Africa Resource Watch and Luc Assosa of PACT spoke about the situation of small scale and artisanal miners. There are nine million in Sub Saharan Africa.

Kabemba said,

“Artisanal and small scale miners are miners, and they belong in mining unions.”

Tendai Makanza of IndustriALL addressed the tremendous resources which are lost in Africa through illicit financial flows, through criminal activity, public sector fraud and corporate activity, including tax dodging and under-reporting the value of exported minerals.

Kemal Özkan said:

“We have raised many issues which need to be addressed, both at the world mining conference and tomorrow’s conference on industrialization. Our affiliates need to take the lead in deciding their priorities for action, whether it is campaigning on C176 or something else, and IndustriALL will be there to support them.”

Source

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