'Mines firm profits from abuse of poor'

15 April 2008 - 4:25pm
Press release

The UK-based mining giant Anglo American today faces growing pressure over allegations that the corporation is making huge profits while its operations are worsening poverty, damaging the environment and fuelling conflict and human rights abuse.

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Photo by Vickiesha Chabra/War on Want

Activists targeted Anglo American's annual meeting as campaigners urge the British government to introduce regulation that will hold such corporations to account. This push came this morning when Anglo American held its AGM amid claims that the firm is complicit in the abuse of poor people and the environment in Latin America, Africa and Asia.

The anti-poverty charity War on Want, the London Mining Network (LMN), a coalition of human rights, development and environmental groups, members of London's Philippine community, Colombians from communities affected and ActionAid with South African campaigners staged a protest outside the meeting. They claim the multinational has profited at the expense of poor communities in developing countries.

In conflict-hit countries such as Colombia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the LMN and War on Want say Anglo American continues to profit from human rights abuses which condemn local communities to insecurity and terror. In the Philippines and South Africa, communities with livelihoods threatened by Anglo American mining have faced severe repression in a fight to stay on their land. And in Ghana and Mali, communities see little of the big money earned by Anglo American's former subsidiary AngloGold Ashanti, until recently 41% owned, and still 17% owned by the London-based company. They suffer fear and intimidation and the harmful impact of mining on their employment and health and the environment.

London, home to some of the world's largest mining companies, provides much of the finance for the industry. Yet the LMN and War on Want contrast the deepening poverty of people hit by Anglo American with the company's $10.1 billion record operating profit last year. They point to the way Anglo American claims to represent good citizenship business principles in order to promote itself as a responsible company in the global economy. But, according to the LMN and War on Want, this promotion means little to the communities who face the negative effects of the company's activities.

Ruth Tanner, senior campaigns officer at War on Want, said: "While Anglo American reaps massive gains overseas, the firm is complicit in the dreadful cost to the poor and the environment. We cannot rely on companies' voluntary action to ensure responsible operations in developing countries. If Gordon Brown wants to tackle global poverty and climate change, he must bring in regulation to halt this abuse."

Richard Solly, secretary of the London Mining Network, said: "Anglo American prides itself on its reputation for corporate social responsibility. The company and its subsidiaries and associates need to be accountable to the communities that are telling them to stay away or to get out. If communities freely accept these companies' presence, community members must be treated with decency and justice."

NOTES TO EDITORS

 

  • War on Want's report on Anglo American is available here
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  • The LMN and War on Want will also protest at the annual meeting of another mining giant, Rio Tinto, on Thursday (17 April). They say Rio Tinto earned $122 million from its stake in a gold and copper mine in West Papua, where local people have suffered years of human rights and environmental abuse. The demonstration will take place with Friends of the Earth, which is concerned about Madasgascar, where, the organisation claims, Rio Tinto is increasing poverty and threatening unique biodiversity. The protest will take place from 10.15-11.00 am on Thursday at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Broad Sanctuary, Westminster, London SW1P 3EE. The meeting starts at 11.00 am.
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  • Speakers from Argentina, Colombia, South Africa, West Papua and the US will address a public meeting on UK mining companies profiting from abuse. The LMN meeting will take place at 7.00 pm on Thursday (17 April) at Amnesty International UK, The Human Rights Action Centre, 17-25 New Inn Yard, London EC2A 3EA.

 

CONTACTS Paul Collins, War on Want media officer (+44) (0)20 7549 0584 or (+44) (0)7983 550728

Richard Solly, secretary of the London Mining Network (+44) (0)7929 023214

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