When companies design development programs for areas near their operations in South Africa that are required to win government approval for licenses, local communities are often not consulted and have no right to veto the mines, according to a group that’s lobbying for stronger regulation.
In five case studies of mines ranging from platinum and coal extraction to clay, the Centre for Applied Legal Studies, based at Johannesburg’s University of the Witwatersrand, found that most communities were unaware of the commitments companies made in the social and labor plans and in almost all cases those promises weren’t fulfilled.
The plans, along with legislation demanding greater black ownership of assets such as gold and platinum mines that account for about half of South Africa’s exports, are supposed to be part of the post-apartheid government’s plans to reduce inequality.
Mines in South Africa are often ringed by shanty towns housing migrant workers, while environmental damage to surrounding areas regularly threatens the livelihoods of local communities.
“Our case studies, together with the testimonies of mining communities, would suggest that social and labor plans are not assisting in overcoming systemic inequality,” the study’s authors, Robert Krause and Louis Snyman, said. “There should be circumstances in which communities are to be accorded the right to say ‘no’ to mining.”
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