MAC: Mines and Communities

The shine keeps coming off Canada's gold miners

Published by MAC on 2010-03-24
Source: Canadiab Press, Toronto Star

The world's premier gold mining company is about to list shares in its Tanzanian gold mines on the London Stock Exchange.

But, last week, three workers died at one of these mines - Bulyanhulu - when crushed by a rock fall.

Ironically the disaster occurred at the very site where a predecessor company had been accused of complicity in the burial alive of scores of artisanal workers in 1996. See:

Shortly before this "incident", Barrick (among other miners) was indicted by human rights demonstrators who invaded the annual Prospectors and Developers Association Conference (PDAC) in Canada.

The PDAC has been vociferously resisting passage of a corporate accoutability act of parliament, whose reasonable demands are outlined in a recent article by Catherine Coumans of MiningWatch Canada.

Barrick Gold says three workers killed in mine collapse in Tanzania

BY Kristine Owram

The Canadian Press 

17 March 2010

TORONTO - A unit of Canadian mining giant Barrick Gold Corp. has suspended operations at a mine in Tanzania after three workers were killed in a cave-in, one week before shares in the spin-off company are expected to begin trading on the London Stock Exchange.

African Barrick Gold said the workers died when part of the Bulyanhulu mine collapsed on Tuesday. The mine employs 1,445 workers and is a major employer in the central east African country.

The company is investigating the cause of the collapse, and will keep the area of the rock fall closed until the "incident has been investigated, the cause understood and any appropriate action taken," Barrick said.

Operations at the mine will be suspended for a period of mourning on Thursday. Dickson Kadelema, Vedastus Wilfred Tandise and Joel M. Nicholas were killed.

The mine collapse is the second piece of bad news for Barrick in under a week. On Sunday, more than 300 employees of the company's Pueblo Viejo joint-venture project in the Dominican Republic were hospitalized with food poisoning after eating food provided during an overnight shift at the mine.

However, analysts say it's unlikely the incidents will have much impact on Barrick's reputation, operations or the planned initial public offering of shares in African Barrick Gold, scheduled for March 24.

"It's unfortunate, but underground mining is fraught with risk and companies and individuals can take precautions, but accidents do happen. So will it affect the IPO? Unlikely,'' said John Ing, a gold analyst and president of Toronto-based investment dealer Maison Placements.

Ing added that Barrick is known as "a very good operator'' with a good safety record. The most recent fatality at the Bulyanhulu mine was in 2006, and last year the mine's safety record earned it a national award from the Tanzania Occupational Safety and Health Authority. According to the company's website, employees at the mine received 156,000 hours of health and safety training in 2008.

Barrick's stock price was unaffected by the incident, falling five cents to $40.59 in afternoon trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

"It's a very unfortunate accident, but Barrick has such a diversified asset base with production coming globally that halting one operation for a short period of time really doesn't have much of an impact (on the stock price),'' said Haytham Hodaly, an analyst with Salman Partners.

The Tanzanian mine is one of four involved in a spinoff of Barrick's African operations into a new publicly traded company. Barrick will continue to own 75 per cent of the new company, with the other 25 per cent sold to investors through the IPO.

Assets of African Barrick Gold will include the Bulyanhulu, Buzwagi, North Mara and Tulawaka mines in Tanzania as well as a number of exploration properties and projects. As of the end of 2009, the proposed new company had total reserves of 16.8 million ounces of gold and was expected to produce between 800,000 and 850,000 ounces in 2010.

Besides its African assets, Barrick owns and operates gold mines in Canada, the U.S., Peru, Argentina, Chile, Australia and Papua New Guinea.

In its most recent quarter, Barrick reported net income of US$215 million or 22 cents per share. This included a $241-million charge related to the elimination of its gold hedges, and reversed a year-earlier net loss of $468 million or 54 cents per share. The year-ago results included a $773-million writedown of the value of some of the company's smaller mines.

The company's sales increased to $2.358 billion in the quarter, up nearly 13 per cent from $2.094 billion a year earlier.

Mining Convention Crashed

Vigil held for those killed for opposing mining companies

by Tim Groves

11 March 2010

On March 9th, 25 protesters held a vigil for community leaders in Latin America killed by mining companies, across the street from one of the largest mining conferences in the world, the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) convention. They held up photos of several Central American activist who were killed for their role in opposing Canadian mining companies. At the End of the vigil they marched through the convention centre chanting anti-mining slogans.

"We are gathered here to try to speak for the people who don't have a voice inside this convention" said Rosa Noyola, from the Latin American Solidarity Network. She then proceed to name community leaders who had been killed for opposing mining projects, and named the companies she felt were responsible for their deaths. "we are extremely worried for the lives of the leaders and communities that are victims of the policy of complicity and demand an investigation into these murders and a stop to these atrocities."

Large photos of murdered community leaders from El Salvador, Mexico and Guatemala were held up by the activists. During speeches they spoke out against Canadian mining companies including Blackfire, Pacific Rim, and Barrick Gold.

"Over 70% of mining companies are based out of Canada. This indicates that our government has made Canada a place of impunity as they are unwilling to hold these companies accountable for their actions." said Susan Caxaj, a member of Community Solidarity Response Toronto, the group that organized the event.

"Today, Gold Corp is scheduled to give a talk on ensuring free prior and informed consent for local communities. What kind of world do we live in where a company like Gold Corp provides counsel to other mining companies on how to protect the human rights of local communities? We are talking about a company who has repeatedly shown that they have little respect for local communities' human rights - particularly, their right to say no."

The PDAC convention was held in the Metro Toronto Convention Center, the same venue that will hold the G20 summit next June. The convention had thousands of attendees. Those who saw the vigil mostly look baffled. Their opinions of it were mixed. "Its horrible when anyone is killed, mining has a bad report with people around the world" said one. Another was less supportive "I don't think it has killed half as many people as the Iraq war"

One member of the vigil had been holding up signs across from the convention center since the convention began on Friday March 5th. He said that on Sunday March 7th he was "Joined by 40 flag-waving members of USW Local 6500, Sudbury, on strike against Vale Inco."

Vigil held on the 9th lasted for one and a half hours. When it was over, most of the participants marched into the convention center chanting "Canadian Mining Blood on Your Hands!" When they realized that they were not being stopped by security they rode up three flights of escalators and made their way from the South Building of the convention center on Bremner St. to the North Building on Front St. Passing several hundred conference attendees as they marched. After reaching Front Street the small but vocal group dispersed.

Make the Canadian mining industry more accountable

Catherine Coumans Research Co-ordinator, MiningWatch Canada

Toronto Star

22 March 2010

The Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada's (PDAC) annual convention is one of the largest gatherings of mining interests in the world.

Much to the disappointment of those who are concerned about the impact of Canadian mining operations in developing countries, this year's convention became a high-profile venue for launching a full-blown campaign against a bill aimed at improving the performance of Canadian mining, oil and gas operations operating internationally.

The PDAC campaign, complete with buttons, flyers and signs condemning the bill, urged convention participants to register their opposition with Ottawa. What is most unfortunate about this attack on a private member's bill supported by a large cross-section of development, environmental and faith groups is that it is characterized by misleading and inaccurate information about the intent, scope and power of the bill.

Bill C-300, the Corporate Accountability of Mining, Oil and Gas Corporations in Developing Countries Act, proposes that Canadian extractive companies operating in developing countries adhere to environmental and human rights standards; incorporating those standards that have already been endorsed by PDAC, the Mining Association of Canada and the Government of Canada in its 2009 policy document called "Building the Canadian Advantage: A Corporate Social Responsibility Strategy for the Canadian International Extractive Sector."

Bill C-300 would apply only to those Canadian extractive companies that rely on taxpayer-funded financial support - for example, through Export Development Canada - or political promotion - for example, through Canadian embassies. If complaints were brought against these companies, they would be subject to investigation by the minister of foreign affairs and the minister of international trade. The ministers would have the right to decline to investigate complaints they deemed to be frivolous, vexations or made in bad faith. Companies found to be in violation of the proposed standards would lose their eligibility for some government services until they returned to compliance.

Rather than regulation, such as that provided by Bill C-300, the extractive industry associations advocate voluntary corporate social responsibility measures. They argue that mining companies operating in developing countries should be left alone to do the right thing at their own behest.

But while voluntary adherence to high standards of operations is necessary, it is not sufficient, any more than we can expect all drivers to adhere voluntarily to the rules of road. Regulations - and consequences for lack of compliance - exist to make sure laggards are not allowed to cause serious harm to society.

Recent testimony on Bill C-300 before the parliamentary standing committee on foreign affairs and international development provides evidence that Canadian mining companies which are not living up to high standards in their operations are causing very serious environmental damage and social harm in Latin America, Africa and the Asia-Pacific region.

PDAC, the Mining Association of Canada and the Government of Canada have all publicly acknowledged that Canadian mining companies are operating in many countries in which regulatory capacity and legal systems are inadequate to hold multinationals to account for environmental and human rights violations. What this means is that residents who may be harmed by the operations of Canadian mining companies do not have effective regulatory or legal protection in their own countries. Nor is there an international regulatory system or international legal system to which they can turn.

The United Nations has recently appointed a special representative, John Ruggie, to examine this very dilemma. Ruggie has noted that "governance gaps provide the permissive environment for wrongful acts by companies of all kinds without adequate sanctioning or reparation." Ruggie points to the very solution that is being proposed by Bill C-300. He finds that "there is increasing encouragement at the international level, including from the (United Nations) treaty bodies, for home states to take regulatory action to prevent abuse by their companies overseas."

Ultimately, Bill C-300 is about government accountability - the accountability of the Canadian government to Canadian taxpayers and citizens with respect to the financial resources used by the Government of Canada to provide Canadian extractive companies financial and political support when they operate overseas. This was clearly understood by the 137 Members of Parliament who voted in favour of Bill C-300 at second reading in the House of Commons on April 22 last year.

It is also clear that even if the Canadian mining lobby ultimately manages to scuttle Bill C-300, other responsible governments will increasingly pass judgment on the operations of Canadian mining companies operating in developing countries. The Norwegian government, for example, regularly evaluates the holdings of its pension fund and divests from companies that do not meet its human rights and environmental standards.

In 2009 the Norwegian government pension fund dropped its shares in Canada's Barrick Gold as a result of its findings of "serious environmental damage" at Barrick's operations at the Porgera mine in Papua New Guinea.PNG to attend largest mining conference

PNG Government to attend mining forum

Postcourier - Editorial

25 February 2010

PNG over the years has always taken out a booth at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada convention and used that as a shop to display our potential.

The Metro Toronto Convention Centre in Toronto Canada, will be a "global mining village" come March 7-10.

The occasion is the prestigious annual global mining convention which is hosted by the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC).

This event is the premier event on the calendar of the world of mining and exploration, and industry suppliers.

The "who's who" of the multi -million-dollar business of mining and exploration will converge on this venue, to put on the world stage, mineral and exploration opportunities available in their countries and multinational companies.

The convention will feature:
* Exchange forum, offering up-to-the minute information on the activities and investment potential of the hottest exploration and development companies
* More than 350 trade show exhibits showcasing non mining companies and governments from around the globe
* More than 550 resource companies exhibiting in the investors exchange
* Dynamic luncheon speakers
* Superb social program offering the industry's best networking opportunities and more
Among those who are expected to attend are analysts, brokers, consultants, exploration managers, financiers, geoscientists and government representatives.

PNG will be one of many countries that will wave out to the market, its mineral potential at this event, which normally attracts representatives of more than 120 countries, 20,000 attendees and over 1000 exhibitors annually.

The PNG delegation is expected to be led by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Mining Dr Puka Temu.

The PNG delegation will comprise members of Parliament, representatives from the Mineral Resources Authority, Department of Mineral Policy and Geohazards Management and a few other government agencies.

Members of the PNG mining industry who will participate at the event include the PNG Chamber of Mines and Petroleum, Marengo Mining Ltd, Woodlark Mining, Allied Gold, Highlands Pacific, Titan Mines, Papuan Precious Metals, Vangold and Niugini Gold.

PNG is attending with a lot of optimism and excitement about the opportunities that will be available in terms of promoting PNG as the preferred destination for mineral exploration and mining, and ultimately attracting more mineral investment into PNG.

The country has a huge mineral resource base that will be marketed. Coupled with our positive investment climate, market prices and the international demand for minerals, the timing is just right for the country to be out there promoting and marketing our potential.

On the same note, the PNG delegation will promote and encourage the concept of responsible and sustainable mining.

This is a very important aspect of the Mineral Resources Authority's operations, as the government agency tasked with the regulation and promotion of the PNG mining industry.

The concept is in line with the authority's mission statement which is to: "Effectively promote a healthy and sustainable mineral industry, and provide a regulatory environment which maximises mining opportunities to ensure optimum benefits for the people of PNG."

PNG over the years has always taken out a booth at the PDAC convention and used that as a shop to display our potential. This year, the PNG delegation has secured a dedicated conference room to provide a platform from which both the government and industry participants will have the opportunity to showcase themselves and to provide an update on their various programs. This provides a venue for our officials to interact directly with potential investors on a one-to-one basis. The Minister for Mining is expected to provide the keynote address at this forum.

The global mining community will be watching PNG closely at this year's convention with the expectation that the PNG Government will be releasing newly acquired valuable geological data. The acquisition of these data was made possible through the European Union Sysmin project airborne geophysical surveys.

The surveys covering the PNG Highlands and the Owen Stanley Ranges were conducted over the last three years. Datasets such as geochemistry, magnetic and radiometric will be promoted and made available in the form of both digital data archives and paper maps.

The data sets contain extremely valuable information on the mineral occurrence, potential and prospects of the entire PNG Highlands region.

Similarly, there is anticipation for news by the PNG Government on the progress of the approval and granting process of a mining licence for the world's first offshore mining to Nautilus Minerals Limited.

If Nautilus acquires the mining licence, the project is expected to take PNG's mining sector to a whole new level given the project's unique operating environment, and the innovative technological capability, to prove the feasibility of mining on the seafloor at depths in excess of two kilometres.

As we have seen in the recent past, the PNG economy has been substantially riding on the back of high mineral commodity prices which has worked out in our favour in terms of revenue generation and ultimately economic growth.

Despite economic indicators, showing low economic growth up to the September quarter of 2009, the mining sector still contributed 61 per cent of the total merchandise exports for that quarter.

The Government realises that in order to achieve continued growth, it has to attract more mineral investment into the country through participation in events such as the PDAC 2010 convention in Toronto.

The National Government through the MRA and the PNG Chamber of Mines and Petroleum have, over the years, been aggressively promoting responsible and sustainable mining at international forums. In fact, PNG is one of only a few countries in the world that has adopted this "government-industry" partnership model of presentation at the PDAC.

The obvious benefit has been that investors have both the policy/regulator with whom they can consult as well as hear from our industry participants the actual challenges of doing business in an operating environment that is not only geographically and socially challenging but at the same time rewarding by way of securing world class mineral tenements that have proven their worth as some of the largest mining operations in the world.


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