Don Mario Gold Mine

Orvana Minerals Corp.
IFC: issued loans to and held equity in COMSUR,[1] a Bolivian company that was an Orvana shareholder until 2005[2]

The Don Mario mine is located in the heart of the Chiquitano Dry Forest.[3] This rare, globally significant ecosystem supports the headwaters of the Pantanal wetlands and is home to numerous endemic species.[4]  The Pantanal is one of the world’s largest freshwater ecosystems, recognized by UNESCO and the Ramsar Convention.[5]  The area is also of great cultural, economic and social importance to the Chiquitano indigenous people.[6]  In a complaint filed with the World Bank’s Compliance Advisor Ombudsman, an indigenous organization argued that the mine violates the rights of over 7000 indigenous communities.[7] Among other shortcomings, the ombudsman found that indigenous people were not adequately consulted by the project proponents.[8]

Sadiola Gold Mine

IFC: owns 6% of the operating company
CPP: $38 million[1]

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.[2]

Goro Nickel Mine

Kanaky-New Caledonia
Inco Ltd.
CPP: $130 million[1]

Home to the world’s greatest barrier reef system, largest lagoon, and unique plant and animal species, Kanaky-New Caledonia is a biodiversity hotspot.[2] This biological treasure-trove may be irrevocably damaged if mining giant Inco moves ahead with plans for a massive open pit mine. Arguing that they were not consulted, native Kanaks oppose further construction - citing the project’s potential social and environmental impacts.[3] The Kanaks’ concerns are credible - in 2006, erosion controls employed by the company failed, contaminating an important marine protected area.[4] In June 2006, an administrative tribunal responded to a complaint by the Kanak organization, Rheebu Nuu, by canceling Goro’s mining license, arguing that the project’s potential environmental impacts had not been adequately studied.[5] The company is appealing the decision,[6] but has proceeded with mine development, relying on a separate construction permit.[7]

Dikulushi Copper and Silver Mine

Democratic Republic of Congo

Anvil Mining Ltd.
MIGA: US$13.3 million political risk insurance[1]
CPP: $4 million[2]

Brutal conflict, fuelled by the country’s extraordinary mineral wealth, officially ended in 2003 with the establishment of a transitional government. While a fragile peace has held since then, tensions remain high and the government lacks control over large tracts of the country.[3] The Dikulushi mine began production in 2002. Two years later, Anvil provided logistical support to the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) to suppress a rebel uprising. The company supplied the FARDC with planes, vehicles, personnel and food.[4] According to a UN mission, the FARDC utilized these resources to carry out a number of human rights abuses, including alleged summary executions.[5] 

Rosia Montana Gold and Silver Mine


Gabriel Resources Ltd.

CPP: $8 million[1]

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.[2] The Minister of the Environment in neighbouring Hungary has called the project a serious threat and advocates for it to be abandoned.[3] Mine development would require the relocation of 2,000 people, at least half of whom refuse to move.[4] Environmental concerns include the clear cutting of forests and the contamination of the water table.[5] 

Kumtor Gold Mine

Cameco Corp.
US$50 million political risk insurance [1]
US$40 million loan [2]
US$40 million loan [3]
US$45 million political risk insurance [4]
$35 million [5]

In May 1998, a company truck spilt a load of sodium cyanide, a chemical used to extract gold, into the Barskoun River, raising the cyanide concentration in the water to 50,000 times the permissible level.[6] In the days following the spill, hundreds, possibly thousands of local residents sought medical attention and several deaths were reported. Thousands were evacuated from the spill area.[7] A study published by Natural Resources Canada [8] concluded that few, if any, significant environmental impacts were generated by the spill - conclusions that were questioned by an independent hydrogeologist.[9]

Marlin Gold and Silver Mine

Glamis Gold Ltd.
IFC: US$45 million loan
CPP: $63 million[1]

Marlin, which became operational in 2005, is the first major mining investment in Guatemala in 20 years[2] and is an important test case. In January 2005, the break-up of a 40-day protest by the army resulted in one death.[3] Later that year, indigenous Sipacapan communities affected by the mine overwhelmingly rejected mineral development in a popular referendum.[4] In response to a community complaint, the World Bank’s Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) investigated the project. While the CAO found that some community concerns, particularly those involving impacts to local water supplies, were unwarranted, the CAO identified some serious shortcomings with project assessment and management. For example, the CAO described the lack of a clear policy on human rights as a “significant oversight” on the part of both Glamis and the IFC.[5]

Gross Rosebel Gold Mine

Cambior Inc.
EDC: $100(+) million political risk insurance[1]
CPP: $14 million[2]

The Aucaner (or N’djuka) Maroon community of Nieuw Koffiekamp is located in the heart of the Gross Rosebel mining concession. Relocated in the 1960s to make way for a hydroelectric dam, Nieuw Koffiekamp now faces a second relocation which, according to a human rights expert, “would be tantamount to [its] cultural and social death.”[3] Maroon authorities were not consulted about the project, and groups within the community vociferously oppose relocation.[4]  Suriname lacks legislation that requires mine proponents to undertake environmental impact assessments and is the only country in the Western Hemisphere that does not recognize the rights of indigenous or tribal populations.[5] Critics argue that the country’s draft Mining Act discriminates against these populations and a UN human rights body has called on the Government of Suriname to rectify this problem.[6] 

Cortez Gold Mine

United States of America
Placer Dome (Placer Dome was acquired by Barrick Gold Corp. in 2006)
CPP: $351 million (Barrick)[1]

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.[2] 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.[3]

Cerro San Pedro Gold and Silver Mine

Metallica Resources Inc.

When Metallica arrived in Cerro de San Pedro in 1995 to build an open pit mine, local residents, human rights organizations and environmental groups formed the Broad Opposition Front (FAO) to halt the operation that they say would destroy their 400-year old town.  The company’s own environmental impact assessment reveals that if built, the mine would require the relocation of the community and would cause “significant adverse” impact to the area’s only aquifer.[1] The latter is of particular concern.  Water is extremely scarce in the State of San Luis Potosi and the National Water Commission of Mexico reports that it is already being exploited at an unsustainable rate.[2]  Local residents, whose property has been adversely affected by Metallica’s exploration activities, have sued the Government of Mexico over its decision to issue the company a permit.[3]