Australian mining companies are linked to hundreds of deaths and injuries in Africa, which can go unreported at home. Some of the Australian Securities Exchange-listed companies include state governments as shareholders. One company recorded 38 worker deaths over an eleven-year period.
In Malawi, litigation continues against Paladin Africa Limited, a subsidiary of Perth-based Paladin Energy, and its subcontractor after an explosion disfigured one worker with such heat that his skin shattered when touched by rescuers. Two others died in the same incident.
Other allegations include employees in South Africa hacking a woman with a machete and Malian police killing two protesters after a mine worker reportedly asked authorities to dislodge a barricade on the road to the mine.
An investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, in collaboration with 13 African reporters, uncovered locally-filed lawsuits, violent protests and community petitions criticising some Australian companies.
In all, reporters counted more than 380 employees, subcontractors and community members in 13 countries who died in accidents or incidents linked to the companies since the beginning of 2004, including some who were shot to death.
More were horribly disfigured or injured while working at Australian mines or during community protests against them.
The companies involved deny that they were responsible for any of the incidents.
But Tracey Davies, an attorney with the Centre for Environmental Rights in Cape Town, South Africa, says she has seen a pattern of poor behaviour by Australian mining companies, a sentiment echoed by employees, villagers, tribal leaders, members of parliament and activists across Africa.
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