Maputo, Mozambique — 19 September 2012 – Mining and gas companies operating in Mozambique will face fines and may lose their operating licences if they do not relocate communities in a manner that protects their social and economic interests.
Mozambique, home to some of the world’s largest untapped coal reserves, could fine companies up to US$172,500, Reuters quoted provincial director for the minerals and energy Manuel Sitole as saying. “The people affected by resettlements have the right to an equal or improved living situation,” Sitole told a coal conference here.
Mozambique passed a law in August to prevent global mineral companies from unjust resettlements. Violent protests earlier this year against previous resettlements had threatened to derail investment in the booming economy.
According to the new rules, companies need to prove that their resettlement areas provide the necessary infrastructure and give people proper and sufficient space to pursue economic activities such as farming.
Although society has welcomed the tighter policies, critics wonder if the government will manage to enforce the rules, with staffing in government ranks largely inadequate.
The former Portuguese colony, which emerged from civil war two decades ago, has attracted billions of dollars in foreign investment from firms looking to tap into its coal reserves and vast natural gas deposits along its Indian Ocean coastline. But critics say the riches have not made their way to the country’s poor.
In January, some 700 families resettled by Brazil’s Vale took to the streets near the company’s Moatize mine, protesting against the lack of access to water, electricity and agricultural land at their new resettlement area.
Source: Reuters Africa. For more information, click here.