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Ugly Australians, like Paladin Energy, linked to 100s of deaths in uranium mining in Malawi and Namibia

There is a very strong perception that when Australian mining companies come here they take every advantage of regulatory and compliance monitoring weaknesses, and of the huge disparity in power between themselves and affected communities, and aim to get away with things they wouldn’t even think of trying in Australia,”

flag-AustraliaAustralian miners linked to hundreds of deaths, injuries in Africa, SMH,  July 11, 2015 -Will FitzgibbonAustralian mining companies are linked to hundreds of deaths and injuries in Africa, which can go unreported at home. Some of the Australian Securities Exchange-listed companies include state governments as shareholders. One company recorded 38 worker deaths over an eleven-year period.

justiceIn Malawi, litigation continues against Paladin Africa Limited, a subsidiary of Perth-based Paladin Energy, and its subcontractor after an explosion disfigured one worker with such heat that his skin shattered when touched by rescuers. Two others died in the same incident.

Other allegations include employees in South Africa hacking a woman with a machete and Malian police killing two protesters after a mine worker reportedly asked authorities to dislodge a barricade on the road to the mine.

An investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, in collaboration with 13 African reporters, uncovered locally-filed lawsuits, violent protests and community petitions criticising some Australian companies. 

In all, reporters counted more than 380 employees, subcontractors and community members in 13 countries who died in accidents or incidents linked to the companies since the beginning of 2004, including some who were shot to death. More were horribly disfigured or injured while working at Australian mines or during community protests against them.

The companies involved deny that they were responsible for any of the incidents.

But Tracey Davies, an attorney with the Centre for Environmental Rights in Cape Town, South Africa, says she has seen a pattern of poor behaviour by Australian mining companies, a sentiment echoed by employees, villagers, tribal leaders, members of parliament and activists across Africa.

“There is a very strong perception that when Australian mining companies come here they take every advantage of regulatory and compliance monitoring weaknesses, and of the huge disparity in power between themselves and affected communities, and aim to get away with things they wouldn’t even think of trying in Australia,” she said.

Australia has more publicly-traded mining companies with interests in Africa – more than 150 at the end of 2014 in 33 countries – than other resource rivals, including Canada and China.

In the Paladin case in Malawi, where two workers died and another was disfigured after an explosion, an initial accident report indicates unsafe practices by contractors may have been a factor……..

At Paladin’s second Africa-based mine in Namibia, unions criticised the company’s safety record after allegations that three female miners miscarried due to radiation exposure. In 2013, a government committee investigated and found “no scientific evidence” that the stillbirths were caused by radiation. The report did, however, identify other breaches of health and safety requirements, contributing to “an impression that Safety matters are not given the necessary priority,” according to report………

Although the companies have considerable legal leeway in what they report, critics believe that Australia should require companies to report more social and environmental impacts to the ASX.

Justine Nolan, associate professor at the University of New South Wales, says Australia lags behind other countries.

“Everything keeps getting swept under the rug,” she said.

Additional reporting by Shinovene Immanuel and Cecile Schilis-Gallego. http://www.smh.com.au/business/mining-and-resources/australian-miners-linked-to-hundreds-of-deaths-injuries-in-africa-20150710-gi7rzk.html

 

 

July 11, 2015 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA, environment, health, Malawi, Namibia

5 Comments »

  1. Are there any legal options open to Namibians to bring Australian mining violators (or any other country) to either, an Australian Court or any International Court? I was born in Namibia.

    Comment by Phillip Stanley Bougard | June 22, 2017 | Reply

    • I think not. This is the reason that Australian (and some other) mining companies choose certain African nations as the location for their profitable industry.

      Comment by Christina MacPherson | June 22, 2017 | Reply

      • What about UNIVERSAL JURISDICTION …..and RESTORATIVE JUSTICE…..As a matter of interest, I’d like to get a legal opinion from the International Law Experts, at Human Rights Watch’s New York Office. And also from Michael Hausfeld, who represented The Khulumani Group..(made up of victims of apartheid) who successfully sued GENERAL MOTORS even though a few attempts were made, they eventually succeeded in a New York Court. I intend to aggressively seek, further, expert legal opinion on this. Please, let us stay in touch. I was born in Namibia, currently live in Canada, and hoping to complete my Law Degree

        Comment by Phillip Stanley Bougard | June 22, 2017

      • Your comment is awaiting moderation.
        What about UNIVERSAL JURISDICTION …..and RESTORATIVE JUSTICE…..As a matter of interest, I’d like to get a legal opinion from the International Law Experts, at Human Rights Watch’s New York Office. And also from Michael Hausfeld, who represented The Khulumani Group..(made up of victims of apartheid) who successfully sued GENERAL MOTORS even though a few attempts were made, they eventually succeeded in a New York Court. I intend to aggressively seek, further, expert legal opinion on this. Please, let us stay in touch. I was born in Namibia, currently live in Canada, and hoping to complete my Law Degree

        Comment by Phillip Stanley Bougard | June 22, 2017

      • Splendid. The fight for justice will surely be won by those who NEVER GIVE UP. Good luck with your efforts, and I wish you success in your studies.

        Comment by Christina MacPherson | June 22, 2017


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