Notes on the Anglo American plc AGM held at the Royal Society in April 2008 Print
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Saturday, 10 May 2008 19:08

London Mining Network

Notes on the Anglo American plc AGM held at the Royal Society, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1, England, on Tuesday 15 April 2008

There was a lively presence outside the building from 10am until the meeting began at 11am. Protests were organised by Action Aid, War on Want and London Mining Network, working in close co-operation.

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Protest outside the Anglo American AGM

 

Phillipos Dolo and MP Giyose of Jubilee South Africa were accompanied in the AGM by Alex Wijeratna of ActionAid. Peter Bearder and Richard Solly of Colombia Solidarity Campaign, Geoff Nettleton of PIPLinks and Frank Nally of the Society of St Columban also attended the AGM as shareholders or proxies. Teofilo Acuna of Colombian smallscale miners’ union FEDEAGROMISBOL remained outside the building with members of Colombia Solidarity Campaign as FEDEAGROMISBOL has a policy of strict non-engagement with the company. Inside the meeting, Peter Bearder read out a statement prepared by Teofilo on his behalf.

Company Chair Sir Mark Moody Stuart’s address to shareholders consisted largely of an attempted refutation of the report published by ActionAid and forming the content of a BBC Radio 4 programme some days before the meeting, concerning Anglo Platinum’s operations in South Africa, showing how badly shaken the company was by ActionAid’s allegations. The company had also brought to the meeting individuals from South Africa favourable to Anglo Platinum’s operations there.

Company CEO Cynthia Carroll then gave a slightly halting commercial and technical overview of the company’s operations across the world, paying tribute to the company’s workers and regretting the losses of life at the company’s operations during the year.

Both addresses can be found on the company’s website (http://www.angloamerican.co.uk/) at http://www.angloamerican.co.uk/static/uploads/Anglo%20American%20AGM%20150408.pdf.

Discussion of the company’s annual report was entirely dominated by the company’s critics.

Phillipos Dolo said that he was concerned at the polluted water and environmental destruction around Anglo Platinum’s operations in Limpopo Province in South Africa. He asked why the company did not sit down with affected communities and deal with how the problems should be solved.

Sir Mark Moody Stuart asked if there were any other questions on the subject.

Alex Wijeratna from ActionAid confirmed that ActionAid is a responsible development charity active around the world. It had spent nine months doing the research in villages around Limpopo for its report, using Mark Curtis, one of the best researchers in the field. It had checked everything with its lawyers before publication. Its water testing methods had been made available to Anglo Platinum and Anglo American. The new communities would have less access to land than the communities removed for mining. Alex asked if the company would take the problems of water and land access seriously. Would the company co-operate with the water investigation and with the South African Human Rights Commission to see if any of the company’s operations infringe the right to land, housing, water and food?

Another speaker, invited by the Chair, said that he was from one of the communities relocated by Anglo Platinum’s operations and featured in the ActionAid report. He said that the ActionAid report was not true – not all the stakeholders were consulted in compiling it.

A representative of the Ga-Pila Section 21 company working with Anglo Platinum said that post relocation projects presented challenges that must be appreciated, identified and corrected. After the relocation of communities, the company need to make sure that they will co-operate with the new local social, administrative and political systems and maintain community social cohesion, not destroying their traditional community values. It is important to create relations with the local municipal authorities. Social scientists need to be involved before, during and after relocation. There are positive aspects of relocation: the provision of infrastructure, water, sanitation and modern houses, leading to an overall change in living standards.

Phillipos Dolo said that at Ga-Pila, 25 families had refused to move away to make way for mining and that their water and electricity had been cut off. Anglo American director Dr Mamphela Ramphele had visited the area on April 2007 and heard testimony from these families. Dolo asked what the company would do for the families who refuse to move away.

Sir Mark Moody Stuart said that he had no doubt that ActionAid was respectable but that its actions in this area were not respectable because they were selective. ActionAid did not visit the new communities. They did water analyses last year and revealed their results live on BBC before putting them to the communities, the municipality or the company. They told a teacher live on BBC radio that children would get cancer. This was not responsible. Reports go to the authorities regularly about water quality. They were not able to get ActionAid’s expert to talk to the company. The company wants to discuss the findings quietly with ActionAid and has been unable to do so. Sir Mark Moody Stuart showed a graph showing water quality at different parts of the water table around the mine. He said that the ActionAid samples had been taken from bore holes up hill from the tailings dam. He said that there are issues of water contamination in the area, dating from before there was ever a mine, because of latrines, geology and cattle kraals. He said that the company wanted development organisations like ActionAid to help work on the general problem, not pin the blame on the mine.

On housing, Sir Mark showed pictures of both the old and the new housing. He said that the new houses were bigger than the South African standard for basic rural housing. He showed pictures also of a crèche, a clinic and the new church in Motlhotlo. He said that the company is not perfect but has done a good job for the people who have had to move because of the mine. The company is not forcing people to move: they agreed to move. The company agrees that it needs to work with social scientists and try to help people develop livelihoods. They need to work together with all members of the community. Sir Mark said that he had sympathy with Dolo as a member of one of the families who refused to move. Dolo interjected that he was not a member of any of these families. Sir Mark said that new housing was available for them.

Sir Mark also said that it was not true that the company had given people less land than they had had before. Ga-Pila had occupied 553 hectares – the new community 828. Mothlotlo had occupied 3850 hectares, the new town 8802. It was a justifiable complaint that some of the land is remote from the village. The amount of land around the village itself is the same as it was in the old village – the more remote land is intended as a commercial operation. He called on Mary-Jane Morifi, responsible for Anglo Platinum’s community relations in South Africa, to speak.

Mary-Jane said that since the launch of the ActionAid report the company has said that it will work with the Human Rights Commission to get to the truth. No forced relocations have taken place. Negotiations started in 1998. The first families moved from Ga-Pila in 2001. Individual agreements were signed with home owners. They were not forced. It is not true that Anglo Platinum has taken away land, and the company will share its data with the Human Rights Commission. Families have been offered title to their homes for the first time in many cases.

Sir Mark added that it was not Anglo Platinum that cut off water and electricity to the 25 families refusing relocation in Ga-Pila, but the municipality.

Alex Wijeratna said that the ActionAid website notes exactly when ActionAid’s water quality findings were received and communicated to the community and the company. They were provided before the interview with the BBC. The teacher interviewed by the BBC knew the general findings before the interview took place. With regard to land, ActionAid had looked at the land provided and found that there are two big new farms 40 kilometres from the community in a mountainous and uncultivated area. ActionAid has done a breakdown of the kind of land provided. ActionAid will hand over all its research to the South African Human Rights Commission and urge them to investigate the issues. Alex said that it was irresponsible and disingenuous of Sir Mark to denigrate ActionAid’s research.

Sir Mark Moody Stuart said that it was a shame that ActionAid did not attend the meeting the week before which had been shut down by the municipality.

Alex Wijeratna said that the meeting had been cancelled because the company refused to allow community representatives to attend it, and it is important for them to get all the facts.

Mary-Jane Morifi said that the municipality’s department of water affairs had told the company that it had not been aware of the ActionAid study’s information before the company gave it to them. She said that in Mohtlohtlo the company had moved more than 800 people. Resistance is by 95 people. She asked how a minority could be identified with ‘the community’.

The representative of the Ga-Pila Section 21 company said that he works for the municipality with responsibility for water and sanitation. They had received the results of Action Aid’s tests and found them not to be the case. The samples that ActionAid had taken were from a bore hole in the school yard which the municipality was not aware of and which they are now investigating.

Sir Mark Moody Stuart said that the discussion of samples should take place between technical people. Water contamination is an issue whether or not the mine is there.

Phillipos Dolo said that there was a dispute about the location of bore holes.

Sir Mark Moody Stuart then called for questions about other matters.

 

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Teofilo Acuña

Peter Bearder, of the Colombia Solidarity Campaign, said that he wished to speak about the operations of Kedahda SA in Colombia. He said that Kedahda was a subsidiary of Anglo Gold Ashanti, in which Anglo American was a major shareholder. He noted that he had visited Colombia in 2007 as part of a ‘mining caravan’ visiting communities affected by Kedahda’s operations and had sent a copy of his report to both Anglo Gold Ashanti and Anglo American. He then read a prepared statement from Teofilo Acuna, President of the Agro-mining Federation of the South of Bolivar (FEDEAGROMISBOL) in Colombia. He said that Teofilo was present outside the AGM but had not entered as he felt that this would be an offence to the dignity of those who were suffering in Colombia.

 

The statement read as follows.

‘I have come to England out of grave concern for the presence of AngloGold Ashanti in Colombia – a company of which you own 17%. In Colombia it goes under the name of Kedahda.

‘Kedahda claims to have protected the rights of small scale miners through a programme called Good Friends and Neighbours. But we ask ourselves, “who are our neighbours” and if the are our, they certainly are not our friends”. neighbours

‘Prior consent of the community was not gained by Kedahda when it entered our lands. We have seen tens of thousands of hectares frozen by the company’s applications. Subsequently, local leaders were bought off by the company.

‘It appears to me there is an ethical responsibility at play. I ask the board how is it that Anglo American can claim to exert no special influence in assuring that AngloGold Ashanti is acting in accordance with your business principles and international accords?

‘Between the 28th and 30th March this year our federation held an assembly that was disturbed by the army, police and demobilized paramilitaries. Following this, on the 3rd April, we received a threat from the paramilitary group the Black Eagles saying that we are military targets for having carried out such assemblies.

‘In our region the army has said that it has come to guarantee the entrance of Kedahda. The well documented reality is that the military works in conjunction with the paramilitaries to displace us from our lands. This is a correlation that has presented itself across the 23 departments where Kedahda have made a presence.

‘How can Anglo American claim that there is no correlation between your mining operations and the marked increase in human rights violations that have occurred in these territories?’

Sir Mark Moody Stuart said that he and Peter Bearder had corresponded on these matters. He said that Anglo American now owns only 16% of Anglo Gold Ashanti, having sold down the rest of its holding, and it is the process of selling the remainder. He said that as a responsible shareholder, Anglo American communicates with Anglo Gold Ashanti but does not have a position on its board any more. Questions would better be addressed to Anglo Gold Ashanti itself including at its AGM. The information provided by Anglo Gold Ashanti is satisfactory to Anglo American. Sir Mark said that he was confident that Anglo Gold Ashanti is not causing disruption. He said that he believes that Anglo Gold Ashanti can operate responsibly in Colombia. He had passed Peter Bearder’s report on to Anglo Gold Ashanti. Peter should talk to Anglo Gold Ashanti in Colombia.

Peter Bearder replied that he would of course continue dialogue with the company but that there was a continuing human rights crisis in the South of Bolivar. The organisation to which Teofilo Acuna belongs was still suffering a campaign of intimidation and stigmatisation. Teo had been illegally detained in 2007 for his opposition to Anglo Gold Ashanti’s operations. It was unacceptable that Anglo American was not willing to exercise pressure on Anglo Gold Ashanti, given the size of its shareholding.

Sir Mark Moody Stuart said that he did pass on Peter Bearder’s report to Anglo Gold Ashanti and was satisfied with the company’s response. He was distressed by Teo’s detention and was not sure why he had been detained. Sir Mark said that Peter Bearder stated that it was because of Anglo Gold Ashanti but Sir Mark did not know. He would raise the matter again.

Richard Solly, of Colombia Soldarity Campaign, spoke about Anglo American’s involvement in the Cerrejon coal mine in Colombia. He said that the report on the mine’s impacts by an Independent Panel established by the company, published in January, had been welcomed by those members of communities affected by the mine’s operations with whom he had been working, even though it had not gone as far as they would have liked. He said that he was glad that the company had accepted the Panel’s recommendations. He said that, given that the Panel’s report had vindicated many of the points made over a number of years by groups around the world, he hoped that the company would in future be more willing to take criticism seriously. He asked that the company act quickly to implement the Report’s recommendations and not simply state its intention to do so without acting.

Sir Mark Moody Stuart replied that the Panel had not been set up to investigate any particular allegations but in order to have an independent review of all that the company was doing, including the good things. It was a sensible way forward to have a panel of people of integrity. He said that the Panel’s report had vindicated many of the things that the company had been saying over the years. Cerrejon Coal had fully accepted the report. So had its shareholders. The company needs to work as rapidly as possible to implement all its recommendations. Sir Mark will go to Colombia later in the year.

A shareholder asked what is currently being undertaken to improve the profitability of Anglo Coal’s operations in Australia, which performed badly in 2007.

Cynthia Carroll replied that profitability had improved in 2008. There had been problems related to the exchange rate, which had accounted for one third of the loss, as well as to the railway and port. The company had found ways round these problems and there had been an increase in output of 7% so far in 2008.

Geoff Nettleton of Philippine Indigenous Peoples’ Links said that for the last three years they had been asking questions about the company’s Connor project in the Philippines. The community had been asking for a community meeting so that the community could express its opposition to the project. Last year a community leader had come to the Anglo American AGM at some risk to herself because of tensions in the community and the human rights situation in the Philippines. A year later, the promised meeting with the community has still not happened. There is a process of attrition going on – softening up and dividing the community. Another kind of meeting did take place, however, in the resort city of Baguio, in one of the most prestigious and high class golf and country clubs in the Philippines. Tina Moyaen was invited with three days’ notice. She was the only representative of the local opposition who was invited. She turned down the invitation for those two reasons. She is now subject to pressure from local officials from the area who did attend the meeting, and there is division. Can there now be an open, inclusive, recorded meeting so that the extent of opposition to the project can be gauged? Indigenous Peoples in the Philippines have the legal right to Free, Prior, Informed Consent.

Frank Nally of the Society of St Columban, representing the Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility, raised concerns about the company’s operations in the north east of Mindanao in the Philippines. He said that a lot of mining companies are going in to the area. There are many mines in the area already, and many problems. He then read out a statement from residents of Anislagan, Placer, Surigao del Norte, Philippines. The statement was as follows.

‘Greetings!

‘We are residents of Anislagan, Placer, Surigao del Norte, Philippines.

‘Our village is the target site of the Bayugo-Kalayaan Copper Gold Project for mining exploration by the Kalayaan Copper Gold Resources, a joint project by your subsidiary the Anglo American Philippines Exploration, Inc and the Manila Mining Corporation, a subsidiary of the Lepanto Mining Company.

‘We would like to inform the Anglo American PLC shareholders that our village is a watershed area that is the source of our drinking and household water as well as irrigation for the ricefields in our municipality and surrounding areas. Your Bayugo-Kalayaan Copper Gold Project threatens to deprive us of our human rights to water, sanitation, food and livelihood. It endangers the ecosystem foundation of our agricultural life that has supported generations before us and that we hope to continue for generations to come.

‘You might have heard of the shortage of rice supply in the Southeast Asian Region. It has already reached crisis proportion here in the Philippines and even we who live surrounded by rice fields are already reeling front the surge in food prices. Your project to explore and mine in our village which is a rice production and watershed area. is not only insensitive to our plight but downright cruel.

‘Provision of access to water for drinking and sanitation to more people is included in the Millennium Development Goals pledged to be achieved by our governments. Your project threatens to do just the opposite. Again, we remind you that you are targeting for mining a water source protected area. No amount of post mining rehabilitation will bring back a destroyed watershed.

‘We ask you to stand by the Corporate Social Responsibility aims of your company. Cancel all of your mining projects in watershed and agricultural areas. Scrap your Bayugo-Kalayaan Copper-Gold Project as well as your Copper-Gold Project with Philex Mining Corporation exploring the adjacent Boyungan gold-copper porphyry deposit.

‘Until you do so, we will continue our barricade that we have set up since the start of this year to prevent the entry and passage of your workers for any mining activity in our village and surrounding areas. Attached is our statement against any mining activity in our village as well as the Barangay Resolution of our village officials opposing the operations of the Kalayaan Copper Gold Resources.

‘Thank you and good day.’


The statement was signed by the following people.

 

Manuel E. Tejada                         Jesus Ormega
Barangay Captain                        President
Anislagan, Placer Anislagan         Bantay Kalikasan Task Force
Surigao del Norte                        (ABAKATAF)


Another shareholder said that many of the questions concerned governments. He asked if it were legal for people to set up barricades. He said that we should live by the law. If there are community consultations within the law, it is for the government to enforce the law.

Sir Mark Moody Stuart said that in Northern Luzon in the Philippines, as a result of last year’s Annual General meeting, he went to the Philippines to assure himself that the correct procedures had been followed. He had met with the Philippine Indigenous Peoples’ Council (he was referring in fact to the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, NCIP) and representatives of local barangays in the area of exploitation. The Philippines has excellent laws on the rights of Indigenous Peoples. Edward Bickham (Anglo American’s Vice President for External Affairs) and Sir Mark discussed Philippine legislation with the NCIP. Local representatives on the Council come from the area which the company plans to explore. They explained the process of obtaining local consent: the company comes to the area to explain the benefits of mining, then there is a period during which the company is excluded. There is a consensus-building process under the leadership of the NCIP. If the consensus is to go ahead, conditions will be laid down. Some areas did not agree to mining, and those areas have been excluded from the area of mining. The Cordillera Peoples’ Alliance has a headquarters in Baguio. The company invited them to a meeting but they refused to attend, saying that they had internal discussions and were not prepared to come. The NCIP was interested in the delegation which had come to London because, said the NCIP, nobody in the Philippines had challenged the process. Sir Mark said he would be happy to go back to the Philippines to continue discussions there.

Sir Mark Moody Stuart said that he had also visited Mindanao. He had seen the employment of local people in the local barangay. The company will not explore in the barangay that does not want them.

Mr Waters, Anglo American’s Exploration Manager for the Philippines and Indonesia, added that Anglo American had worked with Philex Mining for a decade. They had drilled in Anislagan at the beginning of that period and after that a local company had drilled in the area against local opposition. There had been a lawsuit. The company would like to go into Anislagan and tried to obtain the Free Prior Informed Consent of the local people. The community was split 50/50 over mining. The watershed was excised from the mining area. Most paddy fields produce one crop a year. Anglo American embarked on a programme to improve productivity. The newly elected Barangay Captain is against mining and is a money-lender mortgaging rice fields.

Geoff Nettleton said that nobody from the community who opposed the mining had been able to attend a meeting with Sir Mark while he was in the Philippines because Tina Moyaen had been the only opponent invited and under the circumstances she felt she could not attend. In response to the shareholder who had spoken about working within the law, Geoff said that over 600 people had been extrajudicially killed in the Philippines over the past few years, some of them for opposition to mining. The figures came from the United Nations. On a matter of fact, there is a registered complaint by Indigenous Peoples in Connor regarding the operation of the Free Prior Informed Consent process. The company has excised certain areas when it has not been possible to overcome opposition to mining. The NCIP is made up of people selected by the President of the Philippines, not elected by Indigenous Peoples themselves. The Cordillera Peoples’ Alliance is one of the oldest and most respected Indigenous Peoples’ organizations in the world. It is not right to slander them. In Anislagan, the Captain was elected precisely because he was against mining and he, too, had been subjected to unsubstantiated character assassination.

Sir Mark Moody Stuart said that the three year consultation process had been supervised within the NCIP by a former member of the Cordillera Peoples’ Alliance who was not naturally inclined to support mining. He said that she was convinced that the process had been carried out impeccably. He said that he believe that what the company is doing is in line with the highest standards of this country. He then suggested that Geoff Nettleton did not know the local situation, to which Geoff responded that he had lived for years in the Philippines and had married into a local Cordillera family.

Frank Nally said that the process was not proper. He said that there is a complaint at the United Nations at present and the Philippines Government had been taken to task by the UN because the legal processes are not working and are being undermined. He pointed out that he had worked in the Philippines for eight years and that he keeps in close contact. There is much corruption in the Philippines and many politicians are implicated. Much destruction is caused by mining and forestry. He said that you cannot take the word of some people and say that the people who are against mining are completely wrong.

Sir Mark Moody Stuart said that he agreed that there is enormous corruption in the Philippines. In the company’s operations, they run them to a high standard and try to ensure that procedures are in line with nationally established procedures. The company will continue with the process and if the answer is ‘no’ it is up to the company to make its case. He said that other people must join in the process.

A shareholder said that it was time to get to the business of the meeting.

Sir Mark Moody Stuart said that people have the right to come to the AGM and ask their questions but that it was a pity that other people get put off from coming because of the length of those questions.

The meeting then passed on to consideration of the resolutions on the agenda, all of which were passed with enormous majorities.

 

In discussions after the meeting with Geoff Nettleton and Frank Nally, Sir Mark Moody Stuart said that the Cordillera Peoples’ Alliance could easily have had a meeting but Geoff Nettleton reminded him that at the 2007 company AGM Sir Mark had insisted that a preparation meeting for a community consultation was in fact the promised consultation itself. This was clearly a fraud and following that it was obvious that the Cordillera Peoples’ Alliance would be most wary of putting themselves in such a position again in the absence of adequate community representation.