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]

Los Frailes Lead and Zinc Mine

Boliden Ltd.

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,[1] threatened a United Nations World Heritage Site[2] and eliminated 5,000 local jobs.[3] The Government of Spain spent $275 million cleaning up the waste.[4] The company is challenging a high court decision awarding the government $74 million in compensation and damages.[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] 

Tambogrande Gold and Silver Mine

Manhattan Minerals

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[1] threatened by mining projects.[2] 

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]

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]  

Marcopper Copper Mines

The Philippines
Placer Dome Inc. (Placer Dome was acquired by Barrick Gold Corp. in 2006)
US$1.36 million loan [1]
US$40 million loan [2]
$351 million (Barrick) [3]

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.[4] Both the Mogpog and Boac Rivers have been literally overrun with toxic waste.[5] Two children died when they were buried in the Mogpog mine waste spill.[6] 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.[7] Placer Dome denies responsibility for these environmental disasters [8] 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.[9

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]


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