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Mozambique: Livelihoods lost as mining moves in
Community brick makers
Tete province, Mozambique
“We have no government in this country, we are all left alone, the sons of no one. This country has been sold to multinational companies. It is the companies who rule here.”
Tete province, Mozambique, is home to communities of brick-makers (locally called oleiros), whose livelihoods were all but destroyed when the Brazilian mining giant Vale began mining for coal. Vale’s open pit coal mine in Tete province is situated on 40,000 hectares of land. Human rights abuses, illegal arrests, and insufficient compensation have been regular occurrences as these traditional brick-making communities are forced aside.
According to one brick-maker: “When Vale first appeared, they started to make promises, without us asking them anything. They said we had to stop working, but they would give us compensation for it. Until today we have not received anything. We are people too.”
This is a recurring theme in the Tete province, with recent protests from impacted communities against the Indian-owned Jindal coal mine. Over 500 families from the Cassoca villages, Luane, Cassica, Dzinda and Gulu, all directly affected by the coal mine shut down operations for a day in protest over their treatment.
Much of the land in Tete province has been ear-marked as coal concessions. Communities protest against the violation of their human rights, land grabs, and over the broken promises of the mining companies in the region. These protests are often met with force – in this case live ammunition was fired, although no one was hurt.
According to the communities, resettlement promises, employment and better living conditions, have not been met, and some communities especially those affected by Jindal continue to live within the mine concession area – in inhumane living conditions and fully exposed to all the noise, air and water pollution associated with open-pit coal mining.
Another community member stated: “We have no government in this country, we are all left alone, the sons of no one. This country has been sold to multinational companies. It is the companies who rule here.”
The women, men and children of these communities have had their agricultural land taken away, have not been provided alternative housing or livelihoods, and have been denied the right to a clean and healthy environment.
Another brick-maker continued: “The development which is said to be taking place as the result of these mining projects, it’s only for some few people, in fact people from outside Moatize. Here the government does not even care about us, and for Vale, here… there are no people, they consider us as if we are simple ants.”
Individuals and families demand a dignified life – denied them in the name of ‘development’. The quotes in this article are from individuals directly impacted by Vale’s activities; they remain anonymous for legal reasons.
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