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29 Dez 2023

Malavika Vyawahare, Mongabay

Global Witness new report finds rush to lithium mining in Africa is tainted with corruption and community harms, incl. cies responses

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'Report: Rush for ‘clean energy’ minerals in Africa risks repeating harmful extractivist model' 29 December 2023

...A recent report from U.K.- and U.S.-based nonprofit Global Witness captures the details of how a new mining rush driven by demand for “clean energy” minerals can go wrong, reproducing the same model of extractivism that has impoverished African countries for centuries... The team investigated mining projects for lithium, an essential mineral in the production of batteries for electric vehicles and power storage, in Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Namibia. They highlighted the risk that future mining will “embed corruption, fail to develop local economies, and harm citizens and the environment.”...

In January this year, residents living near Uis in western Namibia started noticing a daily convoy of trucks leaving an area they believed to simply be an artisanal mining site. ... In March, people took to the streets to protest the activities of Chinese miner Xinfeng Investments, the owner of the trucks and entity extracting resources, alleging the company was carrying out large-scale industrial mining without the proper permits or social license... According to documents reviewed by Mongabay, a Namibian company, Long Fire Investments, owned by businessman January S. Likulano, bought 10 mining claims for around $160 in total to carry out small-scale mining in the region. Only Namibian citizens can apply for small-scale mining permits, which are much cheaper than industrial mining permits issued to foreign companies... In an email to Mongabay, a Xinfeng representative declined to comment on the allegations or share documents proving the operation’s legitimacy. Likulano also didn’t respond to a request for comment.

In Zimbabwe, another activist, Farai Maguwu, director of the Centre for Natural Resource Governance, described a similar experience of exclusion and exploitation at the Bikita mine, calling it “typical extractivism.”... Artisanal miners were the first to seize the opportunity, but the Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) soon obtained a lease for the mine... ZMF’s president, Henrietta Rushwaya, is an associate of Zimbabwe’s president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, sharing ties of traditional kinship. An Al Jazeera investigation had previously linked Rushwaya with corruption and money laundering in the gold mining sector. She was convicted and fined for gold smuggling this November. The report cited the involvement of players like Rushwaya as red flags for persistent corruption in the sector...They’re paid lower prices for mined ore than before, even as the ZMF strikes profitable deals to export lithium. The federation didn’t respond to Mongabay’s requests for comment...

In the DRC, two foreign companies are vying for control of the vast Manono lithium deposit, which could become Africa’s largest lithium mine. The project has been mired in corruption allegations and legal challenges for more than five years now. Australian company AVZ Minerals and Chinese mining behemoth Zijin Mining Group Ltd. are both vying for control of the concession, with a state-owned mining entity, Cominière, involved in alleged suspect dealings with both... AVZ did not respond to Mongabay’s requests for comment, while Zijin Mining denied allegations that it was involved in corrupt dealings with respect to the Manono project.