The Stockholder Proposal was introduced by SumOfUs.org, a global advocacy organization concerned about Newmont’s significant security and human rights violations in Peru.
“Shareholders need to know the full extent of reputational and material risks posed by Newmont’s human rights violations,” said Angus Wong, Campaign Manager at SumOfUs.org. “The company has suffered significant costs from its failure to investigate human rights violations and comply with its stated commitments. A thorough and independent investigation of Newmont’s human rights track record is needed.”
Last September, a year-long investigation commissioned and funded by Newmont found that the company ignored human rights standards, “prioritized eviction and litigation over dialogue,” and violated its own standards in its land dispute with Peruvian subsistence farmer Máxima Acuña de Chaupe and her family.
“Surely Newmont’s shareholders do not want to invest in human rights abuses and the trampling of community rights,” said Payal Sampat, Mining Program Director at Earthworks. “The company must stop squandering its shareholders’ investments on hiring security forces and filing lawsuits to harass indigenous communities and poor farmers.”
Newmont’s proposed Conga mine in Northern Peru has drawn massive community opposition, and the project was suspended in late 2011. Last year, Newmont stated in its 10K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it did “not anticipate being able to develop the project in the foreseeable future.” However, it has continued to maintain a 24-hour security presence around the Chaupe farmstead, and to undertake expensive legal actions against Máxima Acuña de Chaupe and her family.
”Although Newmont purports to implement the United Nations Global Compact, the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights and principles from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, numerous allegations of excessive force against unarmed protestors, unlawful surveillance of environmental defenders, and harassment and intimidation of landowners indicate otherwise,” said Marco Simons, Americas Regional Program Director at EarthRights International.
The Stockholder Proposal Regarding Human Rights Risk Assessment (Proposal No. 5) calls on Newmont to conduct a human rights risk assessment and disclose its process for comprehensively identifying and analyzing potential and actual human rights risks of its operations and supply chain.
Shareholder risk from human rights violations could impact decision-making and valuation of the company and their assets. Human rights practices and reputation affect a company’s ability to gain social license to operate, annually identified by industry consultants as one of the mining industry’s greatest business risks.
As Newmont’s Proxy Statement explains (pg. 50 and 51), their executives continue to receive enormous bonuses based in part on their sustainability record and other performance indicators that could be impacted by human rights abuses and risk.
Newmont’s one-page rebuttal to the Stockholder Proposal cites discrete tasks undertaken by the company to evaluate specific risks, inadvertently highlighting the need for comprehensive supply chain review. Newmont cited an independent report they commissioned from the non-profit organization RESOLVE as a reason further evaluation was not needed. However, they failed to mention that RESOLVE’s report found that Newmont’s Peruvian subsidiary ignored human rights standards, “prioritized eviction and litigation over dialogue,” and violated its own standards in its land dispute with Ms. Chaupe.