Residents threaten mining companies

UP IN ARMS: Residents from Mandagshoek at Sekhukhune in Limpopo are fighting against the continued expansion of the Anglo Mine without their knowledge. Pic: ELIJAR MUSHIANA. 17/12/2009. ©  Sowetan.
UP IN ARMS: Residents from Mandagshoek at Sekhukhune in Limpopo are fighting against the continued expansion of the Anglo Mine without their knowledge. Pic: ELIJAR MUSHIANA. 17/12/2009. © Sowetan.

DESPITE being surrounded by 15 platinum and chrome mines most residents of Sekhukhune still live below the poverty line.

DESPITE being surrounded by 15 platinum and chrome mines most residents of Sekhukhune still live below the poverty line.

Former president Thabo Mbeki had in 2002 announced the region as a nodal point of development and said the government would allocate resources to improve the lives of residents.

"But seven years after the announcement no visible improvement has been made," Sekhukhune Royal Mining Consortium social facilitator Biko Mphoka said yesterday.

Mphoka was speaking a day before several thousand residents, traditional leaders, politicians, businessmen and women and youth organisations come together to discuss whether the mines have any social responsibility in the areas where they operate

The meeting, which will be held at the Bothershoek Centre today, will chart the way forward on what they expect the mines to plough back into the community.

Mphoka said it was amazing that communities in Sekhukhune were poor while they were sitting on top of precious stones.

He said the minerals that were being mined in their area were sold abroad at exorbitant prices, leaving the community in dire poverty.

"We need schools, halls, recreation facilities, clinics, water, electricity, tarred roads, libraries, post offices, stadiums and other vital human needs," Mphoka said.

He said the consortium had approached the mining houses in the area for assistance, 'but all our efforts fell on deaf ears'.

"They make all sorts of promises but at the end of the day they give you the run-around and send you from pillar to post."

According to Mphoka the protracted feuds between the communities and mining houses were fueled by mine management's failure to plough back into the communities.

He threatened that they would close down mines that do not want to plough back into the communities.

Limpopo provincial government spokesperson Mohale Nchabeleng said it was the responsibility of every business to plough back into communities they operate in.

Meanwhile Samacor Chrome transformation manager Archie Phalane said they had set aside R61million for economic development projects in the area.

He said this was part of their social responsibility plans for the next financial year.

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