Vaal, Gauteng, 25 May 2023 – The communities of Sharpeville and Bophelong have gathered outside ArcelorMittal South Africa Ltd’s (AMSA’s) main plant in Vanderbijlpark to protest against ongoing pollution, non-compliance, failure to engage meaningfully with fenceline communities and unclear plans to decarbonise its operations.
The protest is targeting AMSA’s annual shareholders’ meeting which is also taking place this morning. Shareholder activists from VEJA (Vaal Environmental Justice Alliance), groundWork and the Centre for Environmental Rights are inside the AGM asking questions about AMSA’s ongoing environmental non-compliance, including soil and water contamination and air pollution; lack of meaningful community engagement; and its insufficient and opaque climate commitments.
The protesting communities will hand over a memorandum of grievances to AMSA executives. Some of the demands highlighted in the memorandum include that AMSA:
- protect people’s lives and health from the environmental impacts of its operations through reducing pollution and to move towards a Just Transition
- show accountability through ensuring access to information for affected communities and regular reporting on environmental compliance and monitoring
- create green and sustainable jobs, including training and re-skilling of workers in line with the principles of a Just Transition
Even though AMSA has made commitments in its Environmental Social Governance (ESG) 2022 report to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2030, the company failed to show how exactly it plans to achieve this and explain why it is unable to deploy cleaner technologies such a green steel at the pace and scale sufficient enough to reduce carbon emissions and climate-related risks.
In a hard-hitting judgement handed down in 2014, the Supreme Court of Appeal ordered AMSA to release environmental records to VEJA and to pay for legal costs. Almost a decade later, AMSA remains South Africa’s third worst greenhouse gas emitter responsible for 3% of the country’s emissions. The steelmaker has a long history of toxic air pollution, land and water contamination and a dismal record of engagement with communities and workers affected by the company’s violations and civil society will continue to demand better corporate behaviour when it comes to our constitutional rights.
Vaal Environemtal Justice Alliance
+27 63 812 0308
groundWork, Friends of the Earth South Africa
+27 74 405 1257