Protesting Peasants Invade Section of Vale Mine in Mozambique

Dozens of peasants in Moatize invaded one of the sections of the Vale coal mine in Tetein the center of the country, accusing the company of preventing farmers' access to a river in the region.

The protests by the group, which is also composed of potters and comes from the 1.º de Maio neighborhood in Moatize, reportedly interrupted Vale's operations in that part of the mine for almost 10 hours on Wednesday and the peasants only left the site after a management team arrived for negotiations, according to a note from the non-governmental organization (NGO) Justiça Ambiental (Environmental Justice).

"These potters and peasants have recently seen their access to the river cut off by mining company Vale, as part of the expansion process of the company's activities," says the organization, pointing out that this is a river "fundamental to the subsistence and survival activities that the peasants have carried out since 1994."

"It is unacceptable that Vale continues with this hostile posture in Tete, and that once again it has barred access to a river that is fundamental for the subsistence of the families living around it, without having negotiated," the NGO adds.

In a reaction note sent to Lusa, Vale states that it keeps the "communication channels with the communities open", with the objective of "understanding their claims and finding sustainable solutions".

"The company relies on an open and transparent dialogue and complies with all legal obligations, supported by the best international social management practices," the company stresses, recalling that it has invested $37 million in development projects for communities, in a figure in which at least $3 million was applied specifically in the neighborhood of the group that organized the protest (May 1st).

Coal is one of Mozambique's main export products, mainly to Asia, and Vale employs about 8000 people, close to 3000 of its own employees and the rest subcontracted.

In January, Vale announced its intention to sell coal mining in the country, justifying this with the goal of being carbon neutral by 2050 and reducing some of its major sources of carbon pollution by 2030.

The company has already signed a memorandum of understanding with Japanese partner Mitsui, "allowing both parties to structure Mitsui's exit from the Moatize coal mine and the Nacala Logistics Corridor (NLC) as a first step towards Vale's divestment of the coal business.

The Brazilian miner currently has installed capacity to produce 12 million tons of coal per year, but has fallen short: in 2018 it produced 11.5 million tons and in 2019 it produced eight million tons.

By 2020, the figure is likely to have been even lower due to the drop in demand for coal caused by the slowdown in the global economy in the face of the pandemic.

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