Nonhle Mbutha from Pongoland in South African gave an amazing account of the struggle of the Amadiba community to protect their agricultural-based culture. The Australian company, Mineral Commodities Ltd, wanted to mine titanium, offering various incentives, such as fridges and TVs, and also promising jobs. Though the traditional leader and some other leading members of the community were taken in, a grass roots campaign emerged, led largely by women. This Amadiba Crisis Committee fought for many years, enduring death threats and an actual murder. Their argument was that mining was not only damaging to their environment, including the ocean where they fish, but was not a viable long-term option for the next generation. They can now feed themselves and want to continue to do this. “Food must be prioritised before profits and before minerals”. “If we destroy the biodiversity then we won’t be able to produce the food”. Politicians who supported the mining company were forcing them to choose between land and money. “We chose land because it is not going to be finished”.
The campaign used the ‘Right to Say No’ in the courts and won. This means that the community has the right to say if they want the development or not. This is a tactic that has been used elsewhere, often for indigenous communities. Marina Gomez Soto, also on the panel, had seen this in her home town in Colombia where they were able to hold a referendum on a mining development.
For more information:
Amadiba struggle: www.theshorebreakmovie.com (seems go not be available online but worth searching out)
Colombia: https://news.mongabay.com/2020/10/years-after-defeating-a-giant-gold-mine-activists-in-colombia-still-fear-for-their-lives/, https://theecologist.org/2014/oct/21/gold-joy-one-day-mariana-gomez-soto
London Mining Network for info on campaigns to support local communities around the world who are fighting against mining companies: www.londonminingnetwork.org