Mining Firms, Fearful of Prosecution, Taking Social Responsibility More Seriously
Overseas accountability remains issue - Activities by canadian mining firms.
Greater transparency of foreign operations emerges as key point at roundtable
Friday, November 17, 2006
Cross-country roundtables concerning the corporate responsibility of Canadian mining companies operating in developing countries could well translate into "greater transparency" of their foreign operations, key participants said yesterday.
Canadian mining companies must respect human rights
No digging up dirt at mine conference
Closed-Door sessions are norm; Industry's behaviour in 3rd World discussed
A government-sponsored roundtable concerning corporate responsibility of Canadian mining companies operating in developing countries was subject to media restrictions yesterday, even as industry and watchdog groups urged "transparency and truth."
Reporters could enter sessions open to the public during which seven-minute presentations were made by interested parties, but were "not welcome to report what is seen or heard," a Foreign Affairs spokesperson said yesterday as the Montreal roundtable opened.
Press Conference: Regulating the Activities of Canadian Mining Companies
- José De Echave, CooperAcción, Peru
- Thomas Akabzaa, Coordinator, Africa Initiative on Mining, Environment and Society, Ghana
- Jacques Saramin Boengkih, Director, Agence Kanak de développement, New Caledonia
Monday, November 13 at 12:45
Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), Amphitheatre SH-2800 200 Sherbrooke Street West
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.