Two open-pit coal mines have been operating next to inhabitated areas in Moatize, Mozambique, since 2011.
The operations of such mines, as well as mine blasting and heavy traffic, have been releasing dust particles into the air which fall over the nearby communities. While the dust did never represent a problem before the mines were built, it is now consistently present, even when the mine is not operating. The dust has polluted both the air and water. The mines have taken control of the water Moatize’s residents depend on, and the areas of their operation have been deforested. Dust causes severe health problems to locals, on the other hand pollution has given rise to conflicts within the area. Some of these conflicts, over land and water grabbing, are between local communities and the mine companies. Pollution is impinging on the residents’ fundamental rights to health and to their adequate standard of living.
The state of Mozambique has failed to meet its duty to protect the rights of people living in the spaces that are impacted by mining activities, or to regulate the environmental impact of these companies. Neither the mining companies nor the government of Mozambique have provided these communities with information about the mines’ impact. Both the lack of information and the absence of community members during decision-taking processes on the use of natural resources do violate human rights, recognized at regional, national and international levels. The communities surrounding the mines lack concrete evidence to prove that pollution from the mine is violating their human rights and damaging the environment. They lack technical tools and support of the government to assess the state of the environment and their health.