News / Africa

Mozambique Villagers Exposed to Open-Pit Coal Mine

Civil society groups in Mozambique are crying foul over the actions of an Indian coal-mining company in the remote, northeastern province of Tete.  They accuse Jindal Steel of conducting open-pit mining without first resettling communities who are now breathing in black dust from the pits.

According to the Mozambique-based lobby group Justica Ambiental, or Environmental Justice, at least 500 families are living less than a kilometer from where Indian company Jindal began open pit coal mining early this year.
 
The organization’s communications officer, Ruben Manna said the health risks are obvious. "It is a permanent cloud of coal.  They use dynamite on that mine to make it easier to extract coal, so every now and then when they blow explosives there is literally a cloud of coal flying through their community.  There are at least 100 children in that community.  It is not pretty," he said. "There are schools inside there."

Justica Ambiental accuses the company of going ahead with its operations without conducting an environmental impact study.

The head of Jindal Steel in Mozambique, Manoj Gupta, dismisses these claims, insisting an environmental study was carried out. "It was done a long time back, before we started operations, and issued by the government of Mozambique.  Somebody is just trying telling stories which are absolutely false," he said.

As to why 500 families have been living for months so close to an open pit mine, Gupta blames delays by the authorities in getting a resettlement plan approved. "People should ask this question to the government of Mozambique.  Because we have submitted the plan and on six August the government has approved the resettlement plan and it is going on now," he stated.

Tired of waiting for the land they had been promised, and unable to plant seeds to grow food, the community launched two days of violent protests against Jindal in late July, assaulting four of its employees, said Justica Ambiental.

Jindal Steel insists it enjoys good relations with the community, blaming the conflict on outsiders.

"I do not say that anybody from the community has created these problems.  People from outside have created this problem.  So we have made a police case and the police are doing an investigation," explained Gupta.

Just weeks after the protests erupted, Mozambique’s President Armando Guebuza came to inaugurate the mine.  He did not mention the problems there.  

Mozambique’s government needs to do more to protect communities said Manna.

"The government is conniving with this and that is for sure.  At the end of the day Jindal, like Vale, like Rio Tinto, before that Riversadale.  They are just companies.  Their motive is profit," said Manna. "As a Mozambican I will hold my government accountable. They are the ones we will ask why is this happening and why are you not doing anything about it?"

Jindal is not the first foreign company cited for human-rights abuses in Mozambique’s Tete province, where major resettlements by Brazil’s Vale and Australia’s Rio Tinto have already taken place to make way for coal.  

Rights group Human Rights Watch said earlier this year that not enough is being done to safeguard communities amid the scramble for coal.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

US Secret Service Head: White House Security Lapse 'Unacceptable'

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after a recent intrusion at the White House: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid