The Economist is reporting on a Canadian government initiative to promote the interests of its mining companies abroad if they will agree to take part in a dispute resolution process with local communities. It’s not clear what this process would look like; we would urge community involvement in creating the process.
But it’s clear that, in the reputation-management department, the government has a tough road ahead. In addition to ERI’s own release about Barrick, I compiled the following list of Canadian mining companies involved in abusive and/or polluting projects around the world – off the top of my head:
· NevSun Resources, sued just last week for alleged slave labor in Eritrea
· Goldcorp, allegedly involved in abuses against local indigenous groups and pollution in Guatemala
· Glamis Gold, which sued the US government over California and federal environmental regulations (and lost) (now part of Goldcorp)
· Anvil mining, sued (unsuccessfully) in Canada over alleged involvement in a massacre in the DR Congo
· Pacific Rim mining, which has sued El Salvador over that country’s refusal to grant environmental permits
· HudBay Minerals, sued in Canada over alleged involvement by its security guards in gang rapes and a killing in Guatemala
There’s a reason that’s there’s an entire organization devoted to monitoring the actions of Canadian mining companies – our fantastic partner, MiningWatch Canada – and that the Inter-American Human Rights Commission recently devoted a hearing to the same topic. It’s not a pretty record. Let’s hope the new government initiative, along with efforts for legal accountability, can start to turn this around.