Pic: Estacio Valoi/Mecufi
Obscure and hidden licenses granted to concessionaires and their sneak attacks on obtaining minerals in Mecufi, Cabo Delgado
By Estacio Valoi
In Cabo Delgado, a province in Northern Mozambique, there are more than 15 mineral concessions which are practically all involved or associated with Mozambican Government stakeholders, including the President of the Republic, his family, generals, ministers, directors and others who operate as an obscure kleptocracy. Some in exchange for commissions and others who want everything even at the cost of thousands of Mozambicans who aren’t receiving any benefit for their own land rights.
These rats have chewed everything for the mining concessions, from gas, rubies, gold and graphite. The long march for concessions of minerals is continuing and is now in the coastal area in the district of Mecufi and Murebwe where some of the pristine of the country are located. These sparkling clear pristine marine waters, (which are tourists attractions), are at risk of becoming mining concessions for rutile, titanium and zircon.
The prospecting and exploration license was awarded to Hua Xing Company, Pesquisa & Design Moçambique Lda and COMEJI Consultoria. The licenses are being adjudicated with prospecting and research license nr 10013L in progress, for an area of approximately 212 hectares that are bordered by other concessions. In this process the Mecufi district administrator’s office coordinated a socio-economic survey of the area in coordination with the Provincial Directorate for Territorial Development and Environment of Cabo Delgado, and other entities in charge of mining activities in the Mecufi district. The report of the survey indicated that in the area there are active farm lands already with DUATS (legal documents for ownership of the land), sacred sites and cemeteries. The government intends to move forward with the process for mining of heavy sands. Everything is done behind closed doors. Meetings are called and many who have land there do not know what is happening. Those who have DUATS have been called.
According to Dinis Issa Mitane Administrator of Mecufi, making mention only of the mining of heavy sands, in a meeting said he intends to put the district in the national and world panorama as a destination point for sand mining companies. “Our district is in a situation where one day it can be in the international levels as well as national. This occurs at different ore sites that have occurred in our province and country. This meeting of ours is basically to look at this perspective of development. In our territorial constituency we have minerals on the inside above, under and around the fields, farms, houses and other spaces.” Said Mitane at the aforementioned meeting recorded on video in our possession.
From a brief search in the official government newspaper, the license goes beyond heavy sands mining “BR III SERIES – Number 64 Thursday, April 2, 2020
Extractive Industry Legislation
In the analysis of the Mining Law (Law No. 20/2014) three dimensions stand out: the first on the rights of communities, the second on the duties of the state and concessionaires, and the third on penalties provided for non-compliance with the legislation.
In Chapter I, General Provisions, Article 12 of this same Law, on the use and benefit of land, expressly states in number 2 that “pre-existing rights of land use and benefit are considered extinguished after payment of fair compensation to users of the land and revocation of the same, under the terms of the applicable legislation. Also with regard to compensation, Chapter II on Pre-existing Rights, Article 30 (fair compensation) states in number 1, “when the available concession area covers, in part or in full, spaces occupied by families or communities that imply their resettlement, the company is obligated to compensate those affected in a fair and transparent manner, in a manner to be regulated by the Government. In its number 2 the same article states that for the effectiveness of the fair compensation there must be a memorandum of understanding signed between Government, companies and communities.
However, there is a clear ambiguity in the Mining Law when it states in Article 31, paragraphs a), b) and c), that fair compensation covers: a) “resettlement in decent dwellings by the concession holder, in better conditions than before”; b) “payment of the value of improvements under the terms of the Land Law and other applicable legislation”; c) “support in the development of activities on which the life and food and nutritional security of those affected depend”. This question raised at various times by researchers and CSOs leaves open what the law considers to be fair compensation and effectively falls within the compensation due for the expropriation of communities. 1
Referring only to the duties of the holders to respect the rights of the communities, article 41 on the specific rights of the holder (Chapter II of the Mining Title Legal Regime) prescribes that in cases of damage caused to land by mining activities, land users must be compensated (paragraph g), as well as the duty of the company to carry out environmental recovery and repair the damage resulting from prospecting and research. However, the remaining communities suffer directly from the effects of the activities that took place during the prospecting process, without the current legislation being applied
Legal provisions for the resettlement of the population
The Regulation on the Resettlement Process Resulting from Economic Activities (Decree No. 31/2012, August 8) and the Technical Directive on the Process and Implementation of Resettlement Plans (Ministerial Diploma No. 156/2014, September 19), are instruments that regulate the displacement of people and their rights depending on the expropriation process.
The Regulation on Resettlement Process determines as principles (Chapter I, General Provisions, Article 4), among others, that of “social cohesion – resettlement should ensure social integration and restore the standard of living of those affected, to a better level”; “social equality – in the resettlement process all those affected are entitled to the restoration or creation of conditions equal to or above the previous standard of living”; “no change in income level”; and the principle of “public participation – in the resettlement process it must be ensured that local communities and other parties interested and affected by the activity are heard” (Article 4 paragraphs a, e, f).
In this mechanism, it also defined what is incumbent upon each of the State sectors. We highlight in article 12 the responsibilities of the public works sector in “guiding and monitoring the implementation of infrastructure, namely passage access, water supply, electricity, sanitation (…)” and the Agriculture sector that must guide, ensure and supervise the resettlement implementation process. Also noteworthy in this mechanism is the obligation to hold public consultations (article 23) and the supervision exercised by the Environmental Inspectorate (article 24). In article 16, on resettlement models, it is stated that the resettlement process is accompanied by the implementation of access roads, water supply systems, environmental sanitation, electrification, sanitary facilities, schools, children’s centers, markets, stores, police stations, places for leisure, sports, recreation, worship and assembly. https://www.wlsa.org.mz/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/LegislacaoMinas.pdf
However, according to the people who are covered or effected that will be removed from the future heavy sands and other mining area(s), they still don’t know where they will be resettled, much less about the amounts to be compensated.
“These people came here and said that they had work for us while they didn’t. They just want to invade us here and eat other people’s money. We’d rather continue fishing. They are digging sand here and saying that the sand is going to the company. If they are taking it or not, we might as well keep fishing. They promised to pay us when they start exploring. The elders are the ones who are accepting compensation. When they take land then we and our children will stay there in the bush without any help or anything?! When they came, we were informed that we have to leave this land. They didn’t tell us where we’re going to stay, we’re not going to have anywhere else to live here!”
Pic: Estacio Valoi (Offce of (Hua Xing Company, Pesquisa & Design Moçambique Lda and COMEJI Consultoria)
Further more, some residents and tourist operators in the nearby areas where the projects will be implemented are unaware of or have no information about how they will be effected. They also fear that the projects might be expanded and possibly affect their tourism investments by changing the ecological environment and health of the beach areas there.
“We don’t know how far this project will be expanded, they say it’s 212 hectares but it can be expanded, the access to the beaches closed, it will have social, economic consequences not only for us as operators but also for the local communities. That area is going to be privatized. Conflicts can also arise in that area, worse when there is no openness and everything is being done without the knowledge of many people directly affected and others not as we have already seen here in the province in other mineral exploration.” Some tour operators said
Still in the path of exploration we contacted some environmental organizations such as A Amigos do Ambiente (AMA), Conselho Cristão, ADEL and others from civil society in the city of Pemba in Cabo Delgado and, all were unanimous in their answers. “We don’t have any official knowledge about this project, we only heard about it in a forum about heavy sands. But we haven’t heard anything officially. Let’s find out.” Pointing out that the AMA which has been developing a marine resources project in Mecufi also don’t have any no information.
Referencing that by Resolution nº 5/95, of 3 August, the Council of Ministers approved the National Environmental Policy. The Resolution’s “preamble” refers to the Constitution, the citizens’ right to “a balanced environment and the duty to defend it”, attributing to the State the task of its materialization through “initiatives aiming at the ecological balance, conservation and preservation of nature”.
Nothing is known about the environmental sustainability or socio-economic viability of the project for the hundreds of people that will be covered in a 212-hectare coastline area where there are several tourist developments. The Public has not been made aware of the environmental impact study.(Moz24h)