Mozambicans still awaiting benefits of Rio Tinto heavy sand exploitation


Anglo-Australian multinational Rio Tinto has launched another heavy sand mega-project in Inhambane province in southern Mozambique. Local residents however continue to complain about the lack of job opportunities and access to basic health services and education, and are calling for improvements in access.

In an interview with DW Africa, provincial director of mineral resources in Inhambane, Solomon Mujui, said that 116 sample digs had already been made. Samples were sent to an international laboratory for assessing the quality and quantity of heavy sand in the Jangamo district.

“At this precise moment, 116 holes have already been drilled, which corresponds to about 3,200 metres, and 1,080 samples were collected,” he says.

Salomão Mujui says that the environmental impact study has not yet been submitted by Rio Tinto, but that nothing will be done without this study.

“The environmental impact study will be presented. In fact, it is not possible to carry out the exploration without first carrying out an environmental impact study, taking into account all the impact that will be caused in the area of exploitation, taking precautions will so that any damage done is not so great.”

DW Africa was unable to talk to an environmentalist about possible environmental damage resulting from the Inhambane mega-project.

Residents want compensation for exploration

Rio Tinto started work in the southern Mozambique province in 2000, but local people complain of a lack of employment opportunities.

Local resident Rafael Augusto says: “I never got a Rio Tinto job, and the company has yet to build a school or a hospital. I’m just watching the company working there. I do not know what the job is and I’m just watching them getting on with it,” he says.

In Jangamo district, where Rio Tinto will also explore mineral resources, the residents have no health unit, no school, and are demanding improvements in access to the region.

Like Rafael Augusto, another resident, João Ngulele, explains that the community is not yet aware of any social responsibility actions by the multinational.

“We still have not seen any benefits. We still don’t have a health centre. I would like [the company] help us get water and energy, and rehabilitate this road,” Ngulele says. He too complains about the lack of jobs. According to him, the company only hires outsiders, while there are many unemployed youths in the community.

Rio Tinto holds two prospecting and research licenses in Jangamo inInhambane province. Another similar project is being developed by Kenmare in Moma, Nampula province.

Source: Deutsche Welle

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