28-29 November, Oslo
Human rights related articles, news and letters.
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.
Glamis Gold Ltd.
IFC: US$45 million loan
CPP: $63 million
Marlin, which became operational in 2005, is the first major mining investment in Guatemala in 20 years and is an important test case. In January 2005, the break-up of a 40-day protest by the army resulted in one death. Later that year, indigenous Sipacapan communities affected by the mine overwhelmingly rejected mineral development in a popular referendum. 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.
Conquistador Mines Ltd.
The town of Simiti, in northern Colombia, is the site of a gold mine whose ownership is a matter of dispute. The mine is claimed by both the Higuera-Palacios family and the 35,000 poor miners who have worked the deposit for 30 years. In 1997, at roughly the same time that Conquistador, through its subsidiary Corona Goldfields, expressed interest in the Simiti mine, paramilitaries began to appear in the area. They killed at least 19 people in towns around Simiti, beheaded one miner, and tortured and killed the Vice-President of a local miners association. Fearing for their lives, thousands of people fled the area. According to Francisco Ramirez, President of the Colombian Mine Workers Union, the death squads’ purpose was to displace small-scale miners in order to make way for foreign capital. Conquistador has since abandoned the project.
The Don Mario mine is located in the heart of the Chiquitano Dry Forest. This rare, globally significant ecosystem supports the headwaters of the Pantanal wetlands and is home to numerous endemic species. The Pantanal is one of the world’s largest freshwater ecosystems, recognized by UNESCO and the Ramsar Convention. The area is also of great cultural, economic and social importance to the Chiquitano indigenous people. 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. Among other shortcomings, the ombudsman found that indigenous people were not adequately consulted by the project proponents.
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.” Maroon authorities were not consulted about the project, and groups within the community vociferously oppose relocation. 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. 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.
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