Make mining deals just

Something has gone terribly wrong in Limpopo.

Something has gone terribly wrong in Limpopo.

South Africa's new mining law was supposed to ensure that a fair proportion of the fabulous wealth hewn out of our land by giant mining companies benefits local communities.

Platinum is by far the most profitable of our minerals. But by an ironic quirk of history many of the communities perched atop the richest vein on Earth derive little benefit from it. Yet they are expected to abandon their homes and villages to make way for big mining companies. Many of them are relocated to unsustainable villages and the social fractures this causes is manifested in the area's high crime rate. The companies dispense scarce jobs and patronage, but little of the wealth reaches the displaced people.

The situation has echoes of forced relocations in our recent apartheid past that destroyed our society. Things are done differently today, but the outcome is not much better.

Platinum mines make billions of rands in profit. More of it should be flowing to local communities and less to BEE bigwigs who are as guilty of cruel avarice as their old-style colleagues.

It is unconscionable for any new mining company not to involve local communities as full partners with a significant chunk of the equity and a direct say in operations.