‘BHP Billiton mining corporation poisons workers’

This video from the USA says about itself:

When Erica [Fernandez] found out that a liquefied natural gas facility was proposed for the coast of Oxnard and Malibu with a 36-inch pipeline routed through low-income neighborhoods, she was outraged. She worked in concert with the Sierra Club and Latino No on LNG group to mobilize the youth and Latino voice in protests and public meetings. She organized weekly protests at the BHP Billiton offices in Oxnard, met regularly with community members, marched through neighborhoods that would be most impacted, reached out to the media, and brought more than 250 high school students to a critical rally.

From British daily The Independent:

Lawyer pursues BHP Billiton over ‘living death’ poisoning

By Abigail Townsend and Mark Hollingsworth

Published: 26 November 2006

FTSE 100 giant BHP Billiton, the world’s largest mining company, has become embroiled in a row over compensation for workers suffering from manganese poisoning, a crippling condition similar to Parkinson’s disease.

The dispute is centred on a South African plant run by BHP subsidiary Samancor Manganese – the Metalloys plant in Meyerton, south of Johannesburg.

Richard Spoor, a lawyer specialising in occupational health and the mining sector, is demanding compensation for six severely ill former workers as well as screening for the entire workforce.

“There has been a spate of severe manganese poisoning cases at the Meyerton plant,” said Mr Spoor.

“I do occupational health and have seen some pretty ugly things but this [condition] is the worst I have seen. It’s a living death.”

Manganese poisoning is incurable and leaves victims, who also suffer seizures, unable to work.

But Mr Spoor said that BHP had not paid compensation to the former workers.

Instead they had been left to claim benefits from the Workmen’s Compensation Scheme, a state-backed fund.

He said that the maximum payment people were entitled to from the scheme was 11,000 rand (£798) per month, and that the workers he was representing were “getting nothing close to that.

The drugs [needed to control the condition] cost more than the [monthly] pension”.

Mr Spoor is planning further meetings with BHP management, but will also involve trade unions in the campaign. It is thought that legal action against BHP has not been ruled out. …

South Africa has large reserves of manganese, and Metalloys is one of the main producers of manganese alloys.

Earlier this year, BHP hit the headlines when its copper miners in Chile went on strike after claiming their wages, unlike company profits, had not benefited from the surge in global commodity prices.

2 thoughts on “‘BHP Billiton mining corporation poisons workers’

  1. Pingback: BHP Billiton corporation threat to orang-utans of Borneo | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: Brazilian workers fight back | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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