24 MARCH 2021
Maputo — Mozambique’s Administrative Tribunal (TA) has condemned the Brazilian mining giant Vale for its refusal to share information of public interest concerning its coal mining activities in the western province of Tete.
The Mozambican Bar Association (OAM) had gone to court to oblige Vale to provide information. The OAM, working under the project for “Legal monitoring of Land Rights and Food Security of Communities affected by Large Scale Investments”, demanded that Vale make publicly available the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the government, Vale, and the communities affected by its mine, all the agreements it had reached with local communities, and full details of the compensation paid to people whose interests or livelihoods had been damaged by coal mining.
The OAM also wanted a full statement of all taxes Vale had paid to the Mozambican state between 2013 and 2019, and “information on the current stage of the resettlement of communities affected by the project, and of solutions to the clams presented by the communities”, among other matters.
A lower court ordered Vale to provide all the information the OAM had requested, and so Vale then appealed to the Administrative Tribunal.
But, according to a release from the OAM, the Tribunal threw out the appeal, and ruled that the lower court’s decision stands. There was no legal basis, it said, to reverse the original decision. The lower court “correctly interpreted and applied the law when it condemned Vale-Mocambique for violating the right to information of public interest”.
The OAM has now urged Vale to respect the law and make available all the information requested, “so that it can contribute to a better understanding of society about its commitments under its coal mining operations”.
This is the second defeat for Vale in Mozambican courts so far this year. On 26 January, the Tete Provincial Court sentenced Vale to pay 14 million meticais (about 195,000 US dollars, at current exchange rates) to 48 peasants of Chidwe village, in Moatize district, who were unable to reach their fields because of a fence Vale had built illegally around its mine.