There have been calls for further investigation in to the Company which is set to take over Lisheen Mines, near Moyne, Thurles, Co Tipperary.
Ministerial approval is currently being sought by Anglo American and Hindustan Zinc Ltd, a division of the Indian mining conglomerate Vedanta Resources plc.for the transfer of the mining leases.
However, locals as well as some of the workers at the Lisheen mines have expressed grave concern about the companies previous operational behaviour, which, last Feburary 2010, was criticised by Amnesty International, for its safety and environmental record in India, as well as its treatment of indigenous people.
Indian owners of the Vedanta Resources Division, earlier last year, purchased the Tipperary zinc mine along with other bigger mines in South Africa and Namibia from previous owners Anglo American Zinc as part of a €1.34bn deal, latter which estimated Lisheen’s value at €242m. Vedanta won out in a bidding war with the Anglo-Swiss mining group Xstrata and China Metallurgical. However, London analysts are speculating that the FTSE listed Vedanta could seek to sell on Lisheen quickly, with one possible buyer being discussed, rival Xstrata which Verdanta outbid, which has a joint lead and zinc venture with Minco at Pallasgreen, on the border between counties Limerick and Tipperary.
A number of Lisheen’s 370 workers have aired genuine concerns regarding the eco-sensitive nature of the Lisheen Mines site.
Concerned workers state: “We would like it confirmed that our new owners have plans to protect the local environment, the life of this mine is finite and the plan is to continue mining here at Lisheen only until 2013, before we begin closure. Lisheen is presently one of Ireland’s most eco-sensitive mining sites”
The environmental fears of Lisheen workers have been aggravated by the Vedanta chairman, Anil Agarwal, who told reporters at a press conference in London recently that the company is looking at “debottlenecking” or removing obstacles that are presently preventing the mining process from being more efficient or workable, at the Anglo American Lisheen Zinc mine.
Amnesty International have claimed people living near the Lanjigarh refinery in Orissa breathed polluted air and were afraid to drink from or bathe in local rivers. Last year it called on Vedanta Resources not to expand the refinery or mine for bauxite nearby, before resolving the problems.
Kate Allen the UK Director of Amnesty International stated “People have a right to water and to a healthy environment but Vedanta has failed to respect these rights in Orissa”
The Church of England last February sold its shares in the blue-chip Indian mining company Vedanta, in protest over a controversial Indian bauxite mining project that activists say was destroying the livelihoods and spirituality of a mountain tribe. The officially established Christian Church in England said that it had sold £3.8m ($5.9m) of shares in Vedanta after a six-month dialogue with its management and a visit in the previous November by the church’s ethical investment advisers, to project sites in the east Indian state of Orissa.
There have been claims of homes being illegally seized in the Niyamgiri hills, without consent, while hired goons, police and other administration beat up those locals who protested.
A firm managing pensions for more than two million people in the Netherlands has sold its €13million (US$ 16million) stake in the mining conglomerate. The investment firm of PGGM made ‘intensive efforts‘ to engage with the British company Vedanta, over its plan to mine the sacred mountain of India’s Dongria Kondh tribe for aluminium ore. But according to PGGM, Vedanta refused to participate in a roundtable discussion on the issue.
Note: Vedanta has consistently rejected all allegations against it and the Vedanta offices in London and Bombay have yet to comment regarding the Lisheen workers concerns.