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togo and mali: joining forces to resist mining

The Togolese Government has signed a contract with a Bahamian mining company, M M Mining Investment Holding Ltd, to extract bauxite and other minerals from Mont Agou in the south of Togo. Mont Agou, Togo’s highest mountain, is an important part of the country’s national heritage, and mining here would have catastrophic impacts on the environment and local communities.
togo and mali: joining forces to resist mining Rich in biodiversity, the area is also the source of fresh water for local people, and is home to the area’s biggest producers of crops including coffee, cocoa and bananas. It is also a popular destination for leisure and tourism.

 

what happened?

Friends of the Earth Togo / ADT Togo organized an exchange of information with Friends of the Earth Mali / Guamina, including a visit to communities living near to Mali’s Sadiola opencast goldmine. One community member described these mines as “‘hell on earth' for our village.”

 

From 28 June to 4 July, representatives of the Mont Agou communities travelled to Sadiola to find out how local people have been affected by the mining, and to share experiences on how to lobby and campaign against the mining contracts.

 

On their return, the group that visited Mali shared their experiences with communities in Agou, and showed a film about the impacts of mining and the realities of life for people in Sadiola.

 

what changed?

The visit and subsequent activities have made communities living around Mont Agou much more aware of the potential impacts of mining, and confident that they know how to resist it. They learned about the ways in which minerals are exploited, and the international and state actors involved. Local people’s lobbying capacity has been strengthened, and a network of mining-affected communities in Mali and Togo has been set up.

 

“These communities can from now on defend themselves. The Agou community representatives saw the impacts of gold mining in Mali and the suffering of the local people. They now have the necessary tools to make their own case, and not to give in to the demands of the corporations and politicians” said Ekue Assem, from FoE Togo.

 

what next?

FoE Togo and FoE Mali have committed to work together in 2009, on climate justice and extractive industries. They are planning to visit Guinea Conakry, where bauxite is mined, to collect witness statements, and film and photograph affected communities. If possible, they hope to identify another group to work with within Friends of the Earth Africa. They will also organize workshops to strengthen communities’ advocacy capacity in Mali.

 

Read FoE Togo’s report of the project here: www.amiterre.tg/programmemine.htm

 

with thanks to our funders: the dutch ministry of foreign affairs (dgis)

 

 

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