Part of our outreach strategy was to create, promote and deliver petitions to the investors of the Australian mining company, MRC.
In our research we discovered that the large majority of shareholders were in fact companies connected to directors of MRC or they were nominee shares held by banks on behalf of anonymous investors. After some digging through documents on the Australian Stock Market website we were able to find written proof that UK citizen Graham Edwards was indeed the owner of key shareholder AU Mining and his business partner, Guy Walker, is a non-executive director of MRC.
With a concrete target for the petition and MRC’s AGM approaching, Avaaz decided to rewrite the petition, targeting Graham Edwards specifically. A positive outcome was that activists from London Mining Network contacted us and they organised a protest outside of Edwards’ London offices. They filmed their messages of solidarity to the Amadiba Crisis Committe: http://vimeo.com/165549191?ref=tw-share
Associate Professor at Kingston University, Andy Higginbottom, also contacted us for the proof that we had found that linked Graham Edwards to MRC. This lead to Higginbottom’s more in depth research into Edwards and the publishing of several articles in the UK, Australia and South Africa.
News articles regarding Graham Edwards:
By March 2016 the petitions were closed shortly before MRC’s AGM in Perth. The initial petition aimed at MRC investors in general had 8590 signatures and the petition targeted at Graham Edwards specifically had 5497 signatures – collectively coming from 118 countries. The majority of signatures came from South Africa, Australia, and the United Kingdom.
A few months before MRC’s AGM in Perth we had hunted for activist allies in Australia who would be able to organise the delivery of the petition: Mia Pepper from the Conservation Council of Western Australia and Charles Roche from the Mineral Policy Institute. Roche and Pepper organised a statement to be read out in the Australian Parliament condemning the assassination of Amadiba Crisis Committee’s chairperson Bazooka Rhadebe. They organised a protest outside MRC’s AGM and via a shareholder activist, brought up Mr Rhadebe’s assassination during the AGM. The shareholder activist went to great lengths to deliver the hard copies of the petitions to shareholders but was physically thrown out of the building. The petitions were later sent to MRC and Graham Edwards.
In July 2016 MRC sold their shares to their BEE partners Keysha Investments. However it is not clear whether MRC remain involved behind the scenes. Mining remains a threat to the Amadiba community and Keysha Investments is most probably linked to the familiar local pro-mining faces who have at various stages been members of XOLCO. Eyes remain on MRC, Graham Edwards as well as local thugs.