Villagers Alseny Bah, Mariama Camara and Kounssa Bailo Barry are angry about the effects of a nearby mine. (supplied)
A company jointly owned by Australian mining giant Rio Tinto has been charged with human rights violations for the treatment of people living near a mine in the African nation of Guinea.
- Villagers in Guinea say that a jointly owned Australian mine contaminates agricultural lands and waterways
- Villagers say that nearby pasture productivity has declined due to the bauxite mine
- The mine is run by a company is part-owned by Rio Tinto
Villagers from the area around the bauxite mine told ABC that rivers and agricultural lands are contaminated as a result of mining and mapping activities. They also say that the mining company has conducted surveys on their lands without permission.
"In our villages we have run out of drinking water. After the mine started, most of our backwater has been contaminated," said villager Kounssa Bailo Barry.
"The air is polluted. Dust drops on our plants. The productivity of the land is reduced. There is less arable land available."
A nearby river that locals say has been contaminated by the bauxite mine. (Provided: Inclusive Development International)
The mine, in a region called Boke, is operated by a company called Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinea (CBG) and has been in operation since 1973.
Rio Tinto is the co-owner of CBG, together with two other companies, Alcoa and Dadco, in collaboration with the Guinean government.
Rio Tinto is one of the largest mining companies in the world, collecting $ 2.3 billion in revenue from bauxite mines across the globe in 2018, including the one in Guinea.
Households from 13 villages near the mine have filed a formal complaint against the private sector lending arm of the World Bank, International Finance Corporation (IFC), which gave CBG a $ 200 million loan in 2016.
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The villagers are assisted by a non-governmental organization called Inclusive Development International (IDI), which claims aluminum produced from the bauxite extracted from the mine has found its way into the supply chains of multinational companies such as Coca Cola, Red Bull, Audi, BMW , Fiat-Chrysler, Ferrari, Coors and Campbell's soup.
The complaint is filed with an independent watchdog from the IFC and accuses the lending organization of violating its own standards and international law.
The watchdog, Compliance Advisor Ombudsman, is currently in the process of facilitating a mediation process between the villagers, the IFC and the mine owner.
& # 39; We never hear back & # 39;
Kounssa Fassaly Foutabhe says the mine has contaminated areas and waterways around his village. (Delivered)
Local villagers have told ABC that the mining company is entering their land and conducting land surveying without asking permission, and does not adequately compensate them.
"There have been cases where people have come to [our] countries, conducted 10 surveys, which were never registered and never compensated," Barry said.
"They do not go through the local government. They go straight to the country. It is only when we find them in our fields and ask questions that they can tell us what they are doing.
" With the blast happening, is our backwater all polluted and there is dust everywhere. So we are most concerned about our health. "
Mr. Barry said that the local authorities were also in the mining company over the local residents.
" The problem is that the local authorities do not fully support us. We can complain, society can complain, but we never hear back, "he said.
" They do not get involved in the mining business, and when they do, they always intervene for the company. " Villagers say they were warned not to protest my
The mine in Boke, Guinea, is operated by a company called Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinea, which is part-owned by Rio Tinto. (Provided: Inclusive Development International)
In September 2017, people in the Boke region became angry over their lack of local services and the impact of the mine. Several were shot dead by Guinean security forces.
Other villagers from the region said that the ABC authorities frightened the villagers by threatening to send police or the military if they protested the mining operation.
They also said that the mining company made arbitrary decisions about the amount of damages caused by trees and pastures destroyed by the business.
Mamadou Saliou Dialo, who lives in a village called Samayabhe, said the mining company took over a plateau used for grazing and breeding of cattle and did not compensate the affected villagers.
He also said that children had trouble getting to school because they had to cross the train tracks.
He said that since the mining company started its business in 1973, there had been no investment in infrastructure.
Boke villager Mariama Camara said a railroad had been built through valuable agricultural land confiscated by the mining company. (Delivered)
Another villager, Mariama Camara, said the mining company confiscated valuable pastures to run a railway through them and that sheep and cattle had been struck by trains
David Pred, CEO of Inclusive Development International, said the owners of the mine, including Rio Tinto, should take responsibility for the impact of the mine on the villagers.
"I would say that the onus is right on the owners of the mine, including Rio Tinto, to ensure that the project not only harms their host communities, but that the host communities secure meaningful and lasting benefits from the mining operation," he said.
"If the company is unwilling to take the necessary measures to avoid negative impact, and to make long-term investment in the well-being of these communities, they have no business being there, and they certainly should not receive money from the World Bank Group. "
In a statement to ABC, Rio Tinto said:" It is in our policies and standards, in accordance with the United Nations Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights, to identify whether we have caused or contributed to adverse human rights impacts and , in which case, to support our partners in cure participation.
"We therefore support CBG's participation, in accordance with our Human Rights Policy and CSP Standard (IFRS) in the IFC Complaints Mechanism operated by the Compliance Counsel Ombudsman. "
The IFC said it" worked closely "with the mining company to address concerns raised by the residents of the mining area.
mining environmental issues,