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Death of Roger Moody, one of the founders of Mines and Communities

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

With deep sadness we announce the death of our friend and co-worker Roger Moody, mining researcher and activist.

We learnt on Monday 6 June that Roger had died, apparently peacefully, and his body had been found in his flat. We await the results of a post-mortem examination to determine the cause and date of his death.

Roger was born in Bristol in the 1940s. One of Roger's endearing, if frustrating, characteristics, was his unwillingness to reveal his age, which is making the bureaucracy involved in dealing with his death all the more problematic.

Roger was active in the peace movement and, along with his friend Jan Roberts, set up CIMRA (Colonialism and Indigenous Minorities Research and Action) to stimulate support for indigenous land rights struggles across the world.

At the suggestion of Indigenous activists in 1978, those involved in CIMRA set up Partizans (People Against RTZ and its Subsidiaries) to work against RTZ (now Rio Tinto) for its multiple violations of indigenous rights. Partizans pioneered the technique of attending company AGMs to raise issues of concern. One year, activists stormed the stage and took control of the AGM, giving a platform to indigenous representatives.

Partizans became a worldwide network of activists and in 1990 gave birth to the London-based Minewatch Collective, which conducted research into mining damage and shared information with indigenous and other land-based communities around the world. The Minewatch Collective drifted apart in the late 1990s but gave birth to regional-focused projects, and Roger continued work on mining in the Asia-Pacific region in particular. The Minewatch Asia-Pacific Project called together mining justice activists from various parts of the world to a conference in London in 2001 and the Mines and Communities network was established, with the aim of continuing to share information on mining with land-based communities through our website. Roger was centrally involved in this initiative. In 2019, Mines and Communities was awarded the UK-based Gandhi Foundation's prestigious Peace Prize, largely because of Roger's work on mining in India.

Roger was involved in discussions leading to the foundation of London Mining Network (LMN) in late 2006 and early 2007. These discussions emerged from a conviction, shared by Roger, that a dedicated organisation was needed in the UK to put pressure on London-listed mining companies. Roger wrote much of LMN's 2012 report, UK-listed mining companies and the case for stricter oversight. In more recent years, he has not been active in London Mining Network, and declining health after a stroke left him unable to maintain his former level of activity or complete some of the projects that he had hoped to carry out.

For many years, Roger cared for his older brother Peter, who had Down's Syndrome. Peter, who died in 1998, made a useful contribution to the work of the Minewatch Collective, particularly by defusing tense conversations with humour. Roger and Peter wrote a book about their life together, called Half Left. (Peter would usually reply to the question, "Are you all right Pete?" with the quip, "No, I'm half left.") Roger actively promoted the rights and welfare of people with Down's Syndrome, and much of his passion for solidarity with those who are different from expected social norms sprang from his love and respect for his older brother.

Roger wrote many, many articles and books. Among his major books on mining are Plunder! (a history of RTZ to 1991), The Gulliver File (an encyclopedic history of world mining companies to1992), Into the Unknown Regions (about submarine tailings disposal), The Risks We Run (about mining political risk insurance), and Rocks and Hard Places: The Globalization of Mining.

Roger accumulated a number of aliases during his writing career, notably Digby Knight and Mogador. Friends in India loved to call him Rajah Moody. Over the last two decades, he usually wrote under the banner of Nostromo Research, named for the character in Joseph Conrad's novel of the same name.

Roger has had a formative influence on many people in many places and is credited with having brought people together into activist groups, taught people about mining, even being the catalyst for marriages.

It is also true to say that Roger could be extraordinarily difficult to work with, and sometimes adopted contrarian positions almost as a way of testing people's commitment to their own views (even at times their own sanity!). Nonetheless, his massive influence in the creation of networks of activists against mining injustice across the world, and his personal influence on so many of us, is a tribute to his dedication to the cause.

May all his efforts to hold mining companies to account for their abuses, and to defend the rights of indigenous and other land-based peoples, continue to bear fruit in our collective action for justice and the healing of the planet.

Tributes have been received from researchers and activists around the world.

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