Large-scale coal mining and resettlements in Tete Province, Mozambique

While soon 6 million ha - more than half of the area of Tete province - will be covered by coal mining concessions, resettled families still haven't received proper compensation. There is deadly violence against people who reclaim their land.


On July 13, 2017, "a citizen was reportedly shot dead by police in the village of Moatize, Tete province, when a group protested against the closing of Vale Mozambique mining company concession access gates. After lengthy talks between the local government and Vale Mozambique, it was conceded that the gates should remain open in order to allow the former owners to graze livestock and gather firewood, a witness told @Verdade.  Allegedly, the deceased, Hussen Antonio, died fleeing from the police after being shot in the arm. Despite being already wounded, one of the officers called to the scene of the previously peaceful demonstration by Vale then shot the man in the back. Consequently, he fell dead. A Verdade tried to contact the police in Tete, but without success, since investigations into under what circumstances the deadly shooting happened were still ongoing. This is not the first time that Vale Mozambique has requested police intervention in conflicts with communities in the areas in which it operates, with sometimes dire consequences.(1) (2)  Hundreds of small farmers are still at odds with Vale Mozambique and also other coal extraction companies, and the Moatize local government, as a result of land grabbing and lack of compensation for having ceded their lands. Mozambique's Tete province comprises the inland Moatize coal mines and is a province very rich in coal. It is expected to become a very large energy power house, from coal and hydroelectricity.  It is estimated that Tete holds around 23 billion tons of mostly untapped coal reserves. 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.

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Basic Data
NameLarge-scale coal mining and resettlements in Tete Province, Mozambique
ProvinceTete Province
SiteMoatize, Tete Province
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Land acquisition conflicts
Water access rights and entitlements
Coal extraction and processing
Specific CommoditiesLand
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsTete province is a "commodity extraction frontier" rich in coal. It holds an estimated 23 billion tons of mostly untapped coal reserves, with the natural resource boom still in its early stages. Mining concessions and exploration licenses approved by the government cover around 3.4 million hectares (34% of Tete province's area). When licenses pending approval are included, around 60% of the province's area are covered, representing a project area of around six million hectares of land.

There are several plans for coal fired power plants, in thousands of megawatts. "... the province of Tete, once a remote outpost but now a hub of power generation for the southern African region and an emerging centre of global investment in coal extraction. Some of the world’s largest mining firms from both established and emerging economies have descended on Tete, investing billions of dollars in developing concessions to extract some of the world’s largest untapped coal reserves" (Kirschner and Power, 2015, Geoforum).

In July 2014, Rio Tinto sold its coal assets in Mozambique to the Indian state-run International Coal Ventures (ICVL).
Project Area (in hectares)6,000,000 hectares (including licenses pending approval)
Level of Investment (in USD)12,000,000,000 (for several coal projects)
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected PopulationMore than 7,000 (at least 1,429 households)
Start Date01/01/2009
Company Names or State EnterprisesVale S.A. (Vale) from Brazil
Rio Tinto (Rio Tinto ) from Australia
Jindal Steel and Power Limited from India
Riversdale Resources from Australia - mining
Coal Ventures from India
Relevant government actorsGovernment of Mozambique
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersHuman Rights Watch (HRW):
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Landless peasants
Social movements
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
Fisher people
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Refusal of compensation
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Potential: Malnutrition, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..)
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession, Displacement
Potential: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Specific impacts on women
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
Criminalization of activists
Violent targeting of activists
Application of existing regulations
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.By 2013, many of the resettled villagers and communities still felt misled and cheated by the outcomes of the resettlements which according to them, diverged significantly from what they had been promised. There also seems to still exist a lack of coherent, efficient complaint mechanisms, despite of the 2012 resettlement decree passed by the Mozambican government. There is police repression against people who want to use their own land which they have lost.
Sources and Materials

Human Rights Watch (2012), Human Rights Watch Recommendations for Mozambique's Resettlement Decree, 17 September 2012,
[click to view]

Human Rights Watch (2013), “What is a House without Food?”, Mozambique's Coal Mining Boom and Resettlements, HRW Report, May 2013,
[click to view]

U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) (2014), Mozambique Country Analysis Note, Last Updated: July 2014,
[click to view]

Mining and extractive urbanism: Postdevelopment in a Mozambican boomtown, Joshua Kirshner, , Marcus Power, Geoforum, 2015, vol. 61. p. 67-78
[click to view]


Mozambique families protest against Brazil's Vale, by William Mapote, Reuters Africa, 10 January 2012,
[click to view]

Mozambique protesters at Brazil-owned Vale coal mine, BBC News Africa, 17 April 2013,
[click to view]

Clashes at coal mine owned by Vale in Mozambique, by Cecilia Jamasmie,, 17 April 2013,
[click to view]

India's Jindal wins 25-yr coal licence in Mozambique, by Charles Mangwiro, Reuters, 4 February 2011,
[click to view]

Mozambique: Mining Resettlements Disrupt Food, Water, Human Rights Watch, 23 May 2013,
[click to view]

(2)Conflitos entre mineradora e comunidades em Tete causam morte de jovem. Disputa de espaço entre a mineradora Vale Moçambique e a comunidade de Nhanchere, na vila de Moatize, resultou na morte de Hussen António Laitone, um jovem de 25 anos de idade.
[click to view]

(1) From A Verdade, killing of Hessene Antonio by police for tresppasing on his own land now claimed by the Vale Company
[click to view]

Media Links

Human Rights Watch (2013), Mozambique: Protect the Rights of Farmers Resettled for Coal Mines, 22 May 2013,
[click to view]

Report (taken from DW) on the death of Hussen António Laitone. Conflitos entre mineradora e comunidades em Tete causam morte de jovem

Disputa de espaço entre a mineradora Vale Moçambique e a comunidade de Nhanchere, na vila de Moatize, resultou na morte de Hussen António Laitone, um jovem de 25 anos de idade.
[click to view]

Other Documents

Map of mining licences in Tete province Source:
[click to view]

Other CommentsAccording to Kirscher and Power (2015, in Geoforum): "Tete hosts another planned energy mega-project with the pro-posed Mphanda Nkuwa dam, sited 60 km downstream from Cahora Bassa at a cost of US$2.2 billion. When completed, the project will produce 1300 MW of power and is intended to attract energy-

intensive industries to Mozambique and to improve its balance of

payments through regional electricity sales. Vigorously opposed by

a range of civil society organisations.". Notice that much of electricity from Cahora Bassa goes to South Africa, is reimported by Mozambique, sold to Mozal for aluminium smelting that goes for export.
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Last update16/08/2017