Death of Roger Moody, one of the founders of London Mining Network

London Mining Network | June 20, 2022

With deep sadness we announce the death of our friend and co-worker Roger Moody, journalist, mining researcher and activist, a leading figure in Partizans (People Against Rio TInto Zinc ANd Subsidiaries), the Minewatch Collective, Mines and Communities and London Mining Network. He was crucial to the process of building global alliances in the struggle to hold multinational mining companies accountable for the social and ecological consequences of their activities.

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 at some time in the mid 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 at one stage was editor of Peace News. He had immense respect for animals and early in life became a vegetarian. He was vegan before it became fashionable.

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.

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

Roger had a fine mind, with the ability to recall and cross-reference individual facts from his vast amount of knowledge.

At the suggestion of Indigenous activists in 1978, those involved in CIMRA set up Partizans to work against RTZ (Rio Tinto Zinc, 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, when the chairman abruptly cut short the AGM before indigenous representatives had had a chance to be heard, activists stormed the stage and took control to give them a platform.

Partizans became a worldwide network of activists and in 1990 gave birth to the London-based Minewatch Collective, which conducted research into the damage caused by many mining companies 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 a 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 what appeared at the time to be a stroke (though Roger, characteristically, refused medical assistance or diagnosis) left him unable to maintain his former level of activity or complete some of the projects that he had hoped to carry out.

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 to 1992), Into the Unknown Regions (about submarine tailings disposal), The Risks We Run (about political risk insurance for mining), and Rocks and Hard Places: The Globalization of Mining.

Roger accumulated a number of aliases during his writing career, notably Digby Knight, Mogador and Elsie (from the initials of the Mines and Communities website’s ‘London Calling’ column). Friends in India loved to call him Rajah Mudi. 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.

Roger was also a great lover of music and a competent pianist. He regarded Beethoven as one of the greatest human beings who ever lived.

It is also true to say that Roger could be difficult to work with, and sometimes adopted contrarian positions almost as a way of testing people’s commitment to their own views. 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. The vast affection in which he is held is clear from the comments below.

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.