Amnesty says China miner destroying Mozambique village

Amnesty International (AI) has accused a Chinese mining firm of putting an entire Mozambique coastal village at risk by its operations.

The human rights watchdog says in a report that Nagonha village could be washed into the Indian Ocean due to the irresponsible mining by Chinese firm Haiyu.

The report titled: Our lives mean nothing: the human cost of Chinese mining in Nagonha, Mozambique, says Haiyu had contributed significantly to a flash flood in 2015 in Nagonha, which destroyed 48 homes and left 290 people without shelter.

Nagonha is a fishing village with 1,329 residents living in 236 huts, about 180km east of Nampula City.

Mining concession

The village is located inside a mining concession which was awarded to Haiyu Mozambique Mining Co. Lda, a subsidiary of Hainan Haiyu Mining Co. Ltd based in China, on December 19, 2011.

The company has been mining heavy sand minerals, namely ilmenite, titanium and zircon.

Haiyu began mining about 3km north of the village and continued southwards, bulldozing sand dunes, clearing vegetation and dumping mining waste over the wetland, burying two major lagoons and the waterways that connected them and the wetland to the sea.

Amnesty International said the Mozambican authorities’ failure to regulate the industry in the wake of the disaster had also contributed to the risks to the village.

According to the lobby group, the devastating flooding in 2015 should have been the wake-up call to the Mozambican authorities to ensure Haiyu adhered to proper regulation

Pursuit of profit

“The devastating flooding in 2015 should have been the catalyst for the Mozambican authorities to address Haiyu’s activities by implementing proper regulation,” AI quotes its Regional Director for Southern Africa, Mr Deprose Muchena, as saying.

“Their inaction has left the people of Nagonha at the mercy of a company that puts the pursuit of profit ahead of people’s lives. Left unchecked, Haiyu’s mining operations pose a grave danger of further catastrophic flooding that could wipe Nagonha off the map.”

In addition to the 48 houses destroyed by the 2015 flooding, local government authorities also recorded 173 more as partially destroyed.

“Local elders and authorities who had lived in Nagonha for more than 70 years told AI that they had no record of such floods occurring previously,” the report further says.

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