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

Video Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Gay-marriage opponents are looking for ways to maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture, one writer says More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More