March 25, 2008 / 12:31 PM / in 11 years

Angloplat mines displace S.African villagers-report

LONDON, March 25 (Reuters) - Mines operated by the world’s biggest platinum producer Anglo Platinum (AMSJ.J) have displaced thousands of South Africans, who have lost access to farmland and clean water, pressure group ActionAid said on Tuesday in a report.

ActionAid said it has asked the South African Human Rights Commission to investigate the issues, including independent tests showing some water sources near mines were unfit for human consumption.

"Communities, especially women, have lost their main means of livelihood — access to land and water. We believe this constitutes a violation of their basic human rights," said Zanele Twala, ActionAid’s country director in South Africa.

Villagers were removed from homes following relocation agreements signed with community associations, but those groups were created by the company itself, ActionAid said.

Independent water tests commissioned by the group showed that samples at four out of 10 sites near the Potgietersrus mine in the northeast were contaminated by high levels of total dissolved salts, sulphates and nitrates, it added.

No one was immediately available at Angloplat for comment, but ActionAid said the company responded by saying water testing by the firm and the municipality found only one incidence of contamination and action to correct the problem was taken immediately.

Angloplat, majority owned by mining group Anglo American (AAL.L), said on its website it spent 126 million rand ($15.66 million) in corporate social investment last year.

It said its resettlement policy was based on guidelines from the World Bank and the South African Chamber of Mines.

"We continually work with our host communities to ensure they are not negatively affected by our operations and that they are uplifted through socio-economic development initiatives supported by our operations," it said.

Total excess water discharged in 2007 rose by 85 percent to 4.6 million cubic metres. "The water discharged typically has a neutral pH and elevated nitrate, sulphate and chloride concentrations, but at current discharge concentrations these do not pose a danger if consumed by livestock or humans," it said. (Reporting by Eric Onstad; Editing by David Cowell)

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