Foil Vedanta expose mining giant

Foil Vedanta holds a protest every year outside the AGM of Vedanta, a FTSE 250 listed British mining company controlled and 69.6% owned by Anil Agarwal and his family through a series of tax havens and holding companies.

They accuse Vedanta of illegal mining in Goa, increasing harassment, torture and false accusations against tribal activists in Nyamgiri, Odisha and eleven years of ruinous and continuing pollution by Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) in Zambia.

As well as holding protests, Foil Vedanta have also exposed illegal activities by the company and its assocaited companies around the world, with a detailed report on their activities in Zambia which showed the company had fraudulently avoided taxes and failed to publish mandatory accounts leading the Zambian government to take action against KCM.

Their protests have usually involved some highly visual stunts, including in the past a giant inflatable Vedanta Monster, a banner drop from a neighbouring roof and a large pool of fake blood. This year there were two men in giant inflatable suits  (reminding me of  Sumo wrestlers), one with the mask of Argawal, and the second with that of CEO Tom Albanese who was stepping down to  “spend more time with his family“, a decision perhaps not entirely unconnected with a charge by the US Securities and Exchange Commission that in his former job as chief executive of Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto he allegedly inflated the value of a Mozambique coal mine the company bought in 2011 for $US3.7 billion; they say Albanese continued to mislead investors as to its true value for some years after the company realised it was worth much less. By the time Rio Tinto sold it for a measly $50 million – around 1/75th of what they paid, Albanese had gone and was CEO of Vedanta.

Albanese was not the only senior executive to leave Vedanta last year.  They also lost former CEO of Anglo American Cynthia Carroll who had joined them to advise them on their aluminium business and decided for reasons unknown not to renew her contract in February.

The two inflated figures came holding bottles of dirty water allegedly from the Kafue River in Zambia which they showed to investors going in to the AGM. Several of the Foil Vedanta supporters have single shares in the company, which entitles them to go in to the annual meeting where they are able to question the company about its activities. After they had gone in and the meeting had begun, one of the other protesters poured the dirty water over the two figures representing Agarwal and Albanese.

The protest continued outside the AGM, and the posters were graphic reminders of the activities of Vedanta, and of the protests which were taking place not just in London but in India today, and of previous protests around the world where they operate, many of which have been very much larger than this, with thousands taking part. Some have been brutally repressed by police, and protesters have been injured and killed. Today’s in London was noisy but peaceful, and police who had earlier tried unsuccessfully to keep the protesters on the opposite side of the road restricted themselves to making sure the pavement and the entrance were kept clear.

Vedanta accused of global crimes


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