South Africa Pollution Scandal Exposed at Anglo American’s London AGM

Pietermaritzburg & London, 25 April 2003 - Anglo-American, the UK listed mining & pulp and paper giant, will be challenged at its London AGM today to clean up its act by Desmond D’Sa, a South African community leader, supported by Friends of the Earth (South Africa, England, Wales, and Northern Ireland). Mr D’Sa, leader of the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance, will be raising concerns about the pollution caused by Anglo American’s paper mill subsidiary, Mondi, in south Durban.

South Durban is a pollution hotspot and home to more than 120 industries that are within and adjacent to residential areas. Mondi is counted amongst the biggest polluters in the area. The local community is demanding that Mondi stops polluting their neighbourhood.

Mr D’Sa and groundWork (Friends of the Earth South Africa) are particularly concerned that Mondi is planning to save money by replacing its gas-fired boiler with a combustor, which will generate electricity by burning waste material from the plant, such as coal ash and other production waste.

The local community believe that this will increase profits for Anglo American at the expense of the health of local residents. Mondi’s South African and European operations achieved top spot in Anglo American’s portfolio with a 21% contribution to headline earnings in 2002. The local community is demanding that maximum use is made of the existing gas-fired boiler and that emission control devices are installed on the existing coal-fired boilers. Presently there are no such devices being used.

SDCEA has gone to court to challenge the South African Government’s decision to let the construction of the proposed incinerator go ahead. Mondi’s operations in south Durban have already led to WHO and SA Environmental air pollution guidelines being exceeded in the south Durban area.

“Anglo-American must be put on notice that the levels of air pollutant emissions from its site violate the constitutional rights of the residents of south Durban to a clean environment,” says Desmond D’Sa. “Mondi must not go ahead with building this waste combuster. In a democratic South Africa environmental injustices perpetrated by Anglo American must be severely dealt with.”

Bobby Peek, Director of groundWork (Friends of the Earth South Africa) added: “This kind of environmental abuse of multi-national corporations, mainly occurring in the South, will continue unless international framework for corporate accountability is instituted to hold multi-national companies fully liable and accountable for any environmental destruction and human suffering caused by their operations.”

For more information contact:

Bobby Peek, groundWork, on 033-3425662 or 0824641383

Desmond D’Sa, South Durban Community Environmental Alliance in London on (cell) 0944 781 0558 246 or (land line) 0944 207 566 1649