Landmark Chambers International

NEWS

7 December 2017

World Bank's CAO to investigate complaint on South African mine's social and environmental impacts

The World Bank’s Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (‘CAO’) has decided that a complaint it has received from a South African based women’s NGO warrants a full investigation into the failure of the International Finance Corporation ('IFC') properly to scrutinise and monitor its investment in London-based Lonmin plc’s Marikana mine in South Africa. 

The decision arises out of a complaint lodged by a group of women living in the mine-affected community in relation to the social and environmental impacts of the Lonmin mine. 

In 2007, the IFC made a $50 million investment in Lonmin which was earmarked for Lonmin’s local economic development programme at and near the Marikana mine. The funding was granted to ensure Lonmin contributed to the development of nearby affected communities by providing infrastructure, basic services and poverty eradication programmes in line with Lonmin’s commitments under South African law. Ten years after receiving this funding, the living conditions of the communities near Lonmin’s Marikana mine remain dire: there is an absence of proper housing, proper sanitation, proper roads, and accessible and reliable running water. And the air and groundwater in the local communities are polluted by the operations of the mine. 

The CAO is the key accountability mechanism for ensuring that the IFC is not complicit, through its investment, in human rights violations and environmental degradation across the world. The complaint lodged by Sikhala Sonke (‘We Cry Together’) alleges that the IFC failed to comply with its own Performance Standards at both the pre-investment and investment stages of its $50 investment in Lonmin and, by doing so, facilitated ongoing human rights abuses and environmental pollution. 

The complaint was drafted by Toby Fisher together with lawyers at the South African legal organisation, the Centre for Applied Legal Studies.

The complaint can be found here.

Barristers Involved

Sectors:
Government
Environment
Commerce / Regulation

Services:
Advisory