Mining Firms, Fearful of Prosecution, Taking Social Responsibility More Seriously
Burma Ivanhoe Mines Ltd.
CPP: $32 million 
Burma is ruled by a repressive military junta. The government, which is accused of committing egregious human rights violations, is the subject of international sanctions. In 1990, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi handily won Burma’s first multi-party elections in 30 years. The junta refused to relinquish control and has detained Aung San Suu Kyi for years. In 1991 she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Since 1996, Ivanhoe has invested over $90 million in a 50-50 joint venture with the ruling junta to develop the Monywa mine. The company reports that it consulted with the Canadian government before initiating business with the military regime.
Asia Pacific Resources Ltd. (Asia Pacific was acquired by SMRT Holdings, a New Brunswick company, in 2006)
Critics are concerned that the Udon Thani mine will generate significant salt pollution, destroying farmland and water sources, affecting the source of livelihood for 20,000 people. Even the company’s environmental assessment, which has been criticized by Thai academics, politicians and environmentalists, predicts that land in the concession area will sink as much as 70 cm. The Asia Times reports that leaders of the Udon Thani Conservation Group, who question the project, have received death threats from representatives of companies that were promised contracts for the mine by Asia Pacific.
Dundee Precious Metals
CPP: $11 million 
Dundee Precious Metals hopes to construct the Ada Tepe gold mine in the East Rhodopi mountains, near the town of Krumovgrad. A substantial majority of local residents, concerned about the mine’s impact on agriculture, tourism and historic monuments, oppose the project. In 2005, the Municipal Council of Krumovgrad passed a resolution rejecting the project on environmental grounds. Nearly 10,000 people, representing close to 90% of eligible voters, endorsed the resolution by signing the document. In July 2006, Bulgaria’s Supreme Administrative Court blocked a complaint brought by the company against the Environment Ministry for its failure to issue a decision regarding the company’s environmental impact assessment.
Placer Dome Inc. (Placer Dome was acquired by Barrick Gold Corp. in 2006)
EDC: US$1.36 million loan 
ADB: US$40 million loan 
CPP: $351 million (Barrick) 
The Marcopper mines are environmental disasters. Placer Dome’s partnership with repressive dictator Ferdinand Marcos enabled the company to mine within a protected area and to use Calancan Bay, the source of livelihood for 12 fishing villages, as a toxic dumping ground for 16 years. Both the Mogpog and Boac Rivers have been literally overrun with toxic waste. Two children died when they were buried in the Mogpog mine waste spill. Studies conducted by the United Nations, government agencies and academics show that communities, who continue to rely on these rivers and on Calancan Bay, are exposed to unsafe levels of environmental toxins. Placer Dome denies responsibility for these environmental disasters and sold its stake in the project in 1997. The Province of Marinduque is currently suing Placer Dome and Barrick in the US, seeking damages for the environmental harm caused by the Marcopper mines.
United States of America
Placer Dome (Placer Dome was acquired by Barrick Gold Corp. in 2006)
CPP: $351 million (Barrick)
The Cortez gold mine is located in the ancestral territory of the Western Shoshone indigenous people. The Shoshone argue that the mine, which was constructed without their free, prior and informed consent, violates their treaty rights. In 2006, the United Nations called on the U.S. government to immediately cease the transfer of Shoshone land to multinational extractive companies, a practice that the UN argued could cause irreparable harm to indigenous communities.
The 1998 failure of the tailings dam at the Los Frailes mine wreaked widespread environmental havoc. The toxic mine wastes that were released caused a massive fish kill, damaged thousands of acres of farmland, threatened a United Nations World Heritage Site and eliminated 5,000 local jobs. The Government of Spain spent $275 million cleaning up the waste. The company is challenging a high court decision awarding the government $74 million in compensation and damages.
Gabriel Resources Ltd.
CPP: $8 million
The proposed Rosia Montana mine has generated opposition across Europe. Over 1,000 scholars have voiced their objection to the mine, due to the area’s great archeological significance. The site includes historic Roman temples. The Minister of the Environment in neighbouring Hungary has called the project a serious threat and advocates for it to be abandoned. Mine development would require the relocation of 2,000 people, at least half of whom refuse to move. Environmental concerns include the clear cutting of forests and the contamination of the water table.
When Manhattan Minerals proposed an open pit gold mine in the town of Tambogrande, local residents came together and stopped the project. The San Lorenzo valley is a lush oasis in Peru’s barren desert coast. The area was transformed into an important agricultural centre with the installation of a World Bank-financed irrigation system. Area residents were concerned that the environmental risks associated with gold mining would threaten their thriving agricultural economy. The municipality held a popular referendum on the proposed project – the first referendum of its kind in the world. The vote, which was monitored by international observers, registered virtually unanimous opposition to the mine. The Tambogrande referendum, which played a vital part in halting the project, has since been replicated by other communities threatened by mining projects.
IFC: owns 6% of the operating company
CPP: $38 million
Two villages were displaced in order to make way for the Sadiola mine. The vast majority of relocated agriculturalists and pastoralists who did not possess title to their lands have seen their livelihoods diminish. Replacement lands are less fertile and some are located far from villages. Water resources are scarce. Natural areas used by locals have been degraded through deforestation caused by the mine. Mine workers live in poor conditions and locals report a rise in prostitution, alcoholism, drug use and the spread of HIV/AIDS since the arrival of gold mining.