The mining industry is still digesting the deliberations at the Conference on African Development Bank’s Conference of African Civil Society Organisations on Natural Resources, which was held in Johannesburg earlier last month. The facts raised give mining companies facts to examine their relationship with the communities in which they operate.
The highlight of the conference was a point which Graça Machel Trust founder Graça Machel , one of the panelists, raised.
Commented Machel: “the natural resources of a country were the shared right of all its citizens and not just the property of governments and mining companies. Therefore, ownership was a matter that CSOs must pay greater attention to.”
Machel stressed that it was critical that local people gained the knowledge and expertise to develop and operate natural resource projects.
She added that it was important for effects of a mine’s closure were well managed. “Once a project’s resource has been depleted, countries should not just be left with big holes and resentment by local communities because they did not benefit sufficiently from the mineral resources that were extracted.”
Machel stated that CSOs were to play a central role in this as they were the voice of the people and the protectors of their national interests for now and for future generations to come.
“CSOs must ensure they familiarise themselves with the country’s legislation and learn how the legislative process works, as this would enable them to effectively advocate their views to assert what should be done and to highlight what had not been contemplated, as well as how to correctly address these concerns with the judiciary,” she pointed out.