Mozambique's Tete province comprises the inland Moatize coal mines and is a province very rich in coal. It is estimated that Tete holds around 23 billion tons of mostly untapped reserves.See more...
Although the coal boom is still in its early stages, Mozambique already surpassed Zimbabwe and became the second-largest coal producer in Africa, behind South Africa in 2012. The Mozambican coal production has increased from 42,000 short tons in 2010 to nearly 5.4 million short tons in 2012. Several new infrastructure projects related to coal production are planned as well, which include a new coal terminal at the Beira port, coal export terminals in Nacala and a new port at Macuse.
Since 2009, a surge of foreign investment in Mozambique's coal sector has been taking place. Companies Vale, Rio Tinto, Riversdale and Jindal Steel from Brazil, UK, Australia and India have invested billions of dollars in the past decade and are expected to invest an additional 50 billion dollars in the coming 10 years.
The local population of Tete province has suffered from the coal boom, since large scale resettlements have been taking place since 2009. As a consequence, the communities have faced disruptions in accessing food, water and work, as Human Rights Watch (HRW) reports. Living conditions have decreased drastically, as many farming households who had previously been living along a river and were therefore self-sufficient, have now been resettled to sites 40 km away from the markets in Moatize, with agricultural land of uneven quality and unreliable access to water. Food insecurity and dependence on food assistance provided by the mining companies has become a serious issue for the families.
On 10 January 2012, an estimated 500 residents from the resettlement village Cateme from the company Vale took their frustration with the lack of response from the company to the streets, protested and blocked the railroad linking the coal mine to the port. The demonstrations were shut down violently by local police. About 700 families had been resettled to the Cateme area between November 2009 and December 2010 and had recently been suffering from a lack of access to water, electricity and agricultural land occurring due to the resettlement.
In 2012, through interviews with 79 resettled and soon-to-be-resettled community members and 50 government officials, company representatives, civil society actors etc., HRW investigated the impact of the resettlement process on the communities. Their report indicated that the resettlements have had “negative impacts on community members' standard of living, including rights to food, water, and work”. It was found that residents were especially struggling to regain their former self-sufficiency. The resettlements that took place due to coal mining in Tete province cited in the report include 10 original villages (Chipanga, Bagamoyo, Mithete, Malabwe, Capanga, Benga, Nhambalualu, Cassoca, Xissica, Nhomadzinedzani) that had been and were to be resettled by companies Vale, Rio Tinto and Jindal Steel at the Moatize, Benga and Chirodzi mines.
In August 2012, the government of Mozambique took steps to improve communities' protection during the resettlements by issuing a resettlement decree. Nevertheless, the government did not consult the affected communities during the development of the decree, therefore critical gaps still remain.