MAC: Mines and Communities

Global gold supremo faces its critics

Published by MAC on 2011-05-02
Source: Statement, PostCourier (2011-04-27)

Indigenous representatives from Porgera, Papua New Guinea,  traveled to Canada last week to speak at Barrick Gold's annual general meeting (AGM). 

They were joined by other shareholders who protested at operations by the world's leading gold company elsewhere around the world.

African Barrick - the company now listed in London and spun off by Barrick (but with the Canadian parent holding the majority of shares)- had its own AGM last week too, although  no protestors got inside the meeting.

Barry Sergeant of Mineweb  (21 April 2011) had an interesting insight into the escalating costs for Barrick of its huge Pascua Lama enterprise, bordering Chile and Argentina, and its planned 75% owned Cerro Casale mine , 120 km north of Pascua Lama:

"Earlier this year Barrick indicated that at the Cerro Casale copper-gold project, a review of additional permitting requirements has led to a "changed operating environment in Chile"; along with Barrick's experience at the in-build Pascua-Lama mine (gold-copper), a review of Cerro Casale's capital cost has been initiated.

"Early indications, said Barrick, suggested that the capital cost may be higher by about 20-25% from the previous estimate of USD 4.2bn (100% basis; Barrick owns 75%), which was based on the feasibility study completed in 2009, "and reflects the impact of a stronger Chilean peso, higher labor, commodity and other input costs". At the Pascua-Lama project straddling Chile and Argentina, Barrick states that pre-production capital is expected to increase by 10-20% to USD ".

With Barrick now about to shell out US$7.6 bn to acquire Zambian copper miner, Equinox, the call on its cash reserves is going to be greater. See: Why did Barrick jump in, and Minmetals jump out?

Thus, the prospect of having to raise even more capital for Pascua Lama  might force that particular project to be postponed even further.

ESPAÑOL

Open Letter to Barrick Gold Shareholders

Latin American Observatory of Environmental Conflicts (OLCA)
Coordinator Anti-Pascua Lama Santiago
Northern Chile Environmental Network
Huasco Valley Defense Council

Valle del Huasco, Santiago, Toronto

April the 27th, 2011

Protest poster for Barrick AGM 2011
Protest poster for Barrick AGM 2011  Source: Protest Barrick

Today, during Barrick's annual general meeting, communities in Argentina and Chile protest the binational Pascua Lama project in the streets of Buenos Aires, Santiago, San Juan and Vallenar.

We represent and support communities that have resisted the binational Pascua Lama project in the Andean cordillera for more than ten years. Since project construction began in 2009, the Huasco Valley community in Chile has become increasingly convinced that contrary to company promises, the project will bring only death and destruction:

1. Barrick fined: Chilean authorities determine that Barrick is non-compliant with a formal commitment to protect glaciers and fine the company for its misconduct.

2. Drought: The Huasco Valley, located on the edge of a desert, depends on glaciers for its water resources. Communities link the loss of a local river to the destruction of glaciers.

3. Pollution: Pascua Lama will double the quantity of cyanide imported into Chile. Barrick's El Indio mine caused irreparable pollution of local waters with aresenic and mercury. Agricultural producers in Huasco fear that their valley will suffer a similar fate.

4. Worker deaths: 16 workers have died, on just the Chilean side, since Barrick began its operations. The most recent death was only recognized by Barrick when local pressure made the news impossible to contain.

5. Untenable tax agreement: Under pressure from Peter Munk and Aaron Regent, the presidents of Chile and Argentina finalized a tax agreement for the project in just one week. Negotiations had languished for more than three years. However, Argentina has failed to fulfil institutional commitments made under the agreement, which are opposed by its citizens.

6. Multi-million dollar public relations campaign: In March 2011, Barrick initiated a nationwide publicity campaign on TV, newspapers and radio to promote its "responsible mining." Campaign inaccuracies and omissions hid the true impacts of the Pacua Lama operations.

If Barrick truly seeks to act responsibly, it should halt actions, such as those described above, that threaten nature and human rights. Pascua Lama is not welcome on our land. Corruption promoted by Barrick is prejudicial to democracy. Damage caused by the company's operations, with your complicity, severely compromises the lives of thousands of people. Pascua Lama is not viable.


Impacted communities confront Barrick Gold on human rights abuses

By Sakura Saunders

http://ramumine.wordpress.com

28 April 2011

Indigenous representatives from Porgera, Papua New Guinea traveled to Canada this week to speak at Barrick Gold's annual general meeting (AGM). This year marks the fourth year that the Porgerans have visited Barrick Gold's AGM, each time raising serious human rights and food security issues. While they were not able to address shareholders inside the meeting for the first time in 4 years, they addressed the more than 200 people who rallied outside to protest about the company.

Jethro Tulin, Akali Tange Association a member of the Porgera Alliance said, "Since 2008 we have stood here at Barrick shareholder meetings and told them about the abuses our people suffer at the hands of Barrick's security forces - beatings, shootings, rapes and gang rapes."

"At past AGM meetings, the board has assured the shareholders that our words were not true. But now, the world knows that there are serious abuses occurring at your Porgera Mine in PNG."

In 2011, due to pressure from an investigation by Human Rights Watch, Barrick finally allowed for an investigation of their security regarding the allegations of gang rapes. Five Barrick employees were fired, while eight former employees were implicated in the abuse.

Barrick founder and Chairman, Peter Munk, was later quoted in the Globe and Mail saying "gang rape is a cultural habit" in the countries like Papua New Guinea, angering the Porgeran community and prompting the country's Mining Minister, John Pundari, to demand a public apology.

Instead of an apology, Barrick Gold's Australia-Pacific President, Gary Halverson stated that Munk's comments were taken out of context, lamenting that "only a small portion of this conversation was included" in the Globe and Mail article. The Porgera Alliance has since called for accountability in addition to backing the Mining Minister's call for an apology.

Similarly, a Amnesty International report released in 2010 showed evidence of at least 130 structures adjacent to Barrick's Porgera mine were burned down, many of which were houses, while villagers were beaten, harassed, and detained.

Barrick housed the police who carried out these fiery evictions, and according to Mark Ekepa of the Porgera Landowners Association, they continue to support these same police.

"Barrick is continuing to house, feed and provide fuel to Mobile Units of the Papua New Guinea state who are responsible for burning down local landowners' houses in 2009, and who continue to carry out beatings, rapes and house burnings around the mine."

Ekepa and Tulin traveled again to Canada this year to bring attention to these issues and call for the relocation of all the indigenous landowners who live in the Special Mine Area as well as the end to the practice of dumping toxic waste directly into their 800 km-long river system.

Background:

PNG Mining Minister Responds to Munk's Statement about Gang Rape, Porgera Alliance demands Accountability: http://www.porgeraalliance.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Munk-Respond-Pundari.pdf

Porgera Alliance Letter to Peter Munk regarding his statement: "Gang Rape is a Cultural Habit": http://www.porgeraalliance.net/2011/03/letter-to-peter-munk-regarding-his-statement-gang-rape-is-a-cultural-habit/

Barrick says chief's comments taken out of context http://www.postcourier.com.pg/20110328/news15.htm


CONFRONT BARRICK GOLD: mobilise in support of impacted communities

RSVP via Facebook

April 19th, 2011

Once a year, the board of Directors of the world's most powerful gold miner converge in downtown Toronto. Join us and representatives from mining-impacted communities to... CONFRONT BARRICK GOLD!

WHEN: Wednesday 27 April 2011 @ 10.30AM
WHERE: Metro Toronto Convention Centre, 255 Front Street West, Toronto

JOIN THE RESISTANCE TO END CORPORATE IMPUNITY!

WHO IS BARRICK GOLD? Barrick Gold is the world's largest gold mining company, founded and chaired by Peter Munk. With a former Prime Minister on their board and former executives sitting on the board of the Canadian Pension Plan, Barrick enjoys government funding and diplomatic support.

WHY PROTEST BARRICK?

Barrick Gold takes advantage of inadequate and poorly enforced regulatory controls to rob Indigenous Peoples and communities of their land and livelihoods, destroying sensitive ecosystems, supporting brutal military and security operations, and suing anyone who dares to report on it. Impacted communities are coming to Toronto to confront Barrick, sharing their own undeniable perspectives and shedding light on the ongoing corporate impunity.

MAKE THE TRANSFORMATION AWAY FROM GOLD EXTRACTION!

WHY? With the majority of gold used for jewelry or to store wealth and the majority of gold extraction destruction on Indigenous lands around the world. It is time to question humans ongoing obsession with gold. HOW? Through reduction, recycling and reuse of gold there can be a halt on new and expanding gold mining explorations and operations around the world.

More info: http://protestbarrick.net/

JOIN US on our social networks:
http://facebook.com/protestbarrick
http://twitter.com/stopbarrick
http://youtube/waysofseeing

SUPPORTED BY:
http://protestbarrick.net
http://porgeraalliance.net
http://savelakecowal.org
http://munkoutofuoft.wordpress
http://foei.org
http://leat.or.tz
http://foe.org.au
http://macec4marinduque.multiply.com
http://lrcksk.org
http://solidarityresponse.net
http://ejtoronto.wordpress.com
http://cupe.on.ca/doc.php?subject_id=253


FRIENDS OF THE EARTH INTERNATIONAL JOINS PROTESTS AGAINST BARRICK GOLD: ‘Barrick Gold Clean Up Your Act! Right to Life Over Gold Profits'

http://munkoutofuoft.wordpress.com

27 April 2011

Today, during the annual general meeting (AGM) of mining company Barrick Gold in Toronto (Canada), Friends of the Earth International is supporting a loud call from communities around the world for a halt to gold mining and Barrick Gold's destructive practices. Campaigners are present at the meeting and join a protest rally outside the meeting venue. Barrick Gold, the largest gold miner in the world, has been the subject of many documented studies of human rights abuses and environmental devastation globally, including in the Philippines, Tanzania and Australia.

Friends of the Earth International calls in to question the necessity of the Canadian-owned corporation's gold mining operations. With the vast majority of gold used for jewellery, Barrick's gold mines on average use more water[1] than the entire bottle water industry in Canada[2], and this water is polluted with mining waste products such as cyanide, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, selenium, and sulphides.

Romel de Vera, coordinator of Friends of the Earth International's program on Resisting Mining, Oil and Gas,said, "All this waste, pollution and impacts on communities lives and livelihoods is in exchange for a product that has very few practical applications. With environmental costs almost entirely unaccounted for, the processing costs are all that stand in the way for companies to realise huge profits at the expense of those living next to the mines."

Last year, the Norwegian Pension fund divested $230 million from Barrick for ethical reasons[3], especially related to their mine in Papua New Guinea. And when Swiss Research firm Covalace compiled both quantitative and qualitative data spanning seven years and 581 companies they listed Barrick as the 12 least ethical company in the world[4].

Heri Ayubu, from Lawyers Environmental Action Team/Friends of the Earth Tanzania said: " There have been two reports[5,6] confirming lasting negative effects of a toxic spill from Barrick Gold's North Mara operation in Tanzania that occurred in May 2010. Villagers alleged that up to 40 people and from 700 to 1,000 herds of livestock died from the contaminated water and the nearby community are still experiencing health problems to date. Despite this Barrick has taken no action and is still endangering peoples' right to life."

Natalie Lowrey, from Friends of the Earth Australia who is inside Barrick Gold's Annual General Meeting in Toronto, Canada and joining the rally outside said: "In Australia, Barrick has desecrated an ecologically and culturally significant site on Wiradjuri lands[7]with an open-pit mine in the bed of Lake Cowal within a flood plain.

Wiradjuri Traditional Owners have been fighting Barrick in the courts for 10 years on the desecration of sacred sites at Lake Cowal and on the protection of Wiradjuri Native Title Rights."

Friends of the Earth is joining ProtestBarrick.net with Barrick Gold impacted communities from Tanzania, Philippines and Papua New Guinea on a two week speaking tour in Canada from 27 April until 15 May.

Actions protesting Barrick Gold are also taking place in Latin America.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Romel de Vera, Friends of the Earth International, Tel: +63 906 305 7097 (Philippines)

Natalie Lowrey, Friends of the Earth Australia, +1 647 838 8455 (Canada)

Heri Ayubu, Lawyers Environmental Action Team-Friends of the Earth Tanzania, +255 656 322 271 (Tanzanian office)

NOTES

[1]. Of the 23 mines that Barrick provides water usage data for, the average water consumption totals 3.6 billion litres/year for 2009.
Barrick Gold website. http://www.barrick.com/CorporateResponsibility/Reporting/PerformanceTables/Environment/default.aspx

[2]. In 2006, Canada consumed 2.15 billion litres of bottled water http://www4.agr.gc.ca/AAFC-AAC/display-afficher.do?id=1171644581795&lang=eng

[3]. Norwegian Government website http://www.regjeringen.no/en/dep/fin/press-center/Press-releases/2009/mining-company-excluded-from-thegovernm.html?id=543107

[4]. Huffington Post The 12 Least Ethical Companies In The World: Covalence's Ranking", http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/01/28/the-leastethicalcompani_n_440073.html

[5], Bitala, Manfre, Charles Kweyunga, and Mkabwa LK Manoko, "Levels of Heavy Metals and Cyanide in Soil, Sediment and Water from the Vicinity of North Mara Gold Mine in Tarime District, Tanzania" June 2009 http://www.protestbarrick.net/downloads/North%20Mara%20Pollution%20Report.pdf

[6]. Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Investigation of trace metal concentrations in soil, sediments and waters in the vicinity of Geita Gold Mine and North Mara Gold Mine in North West Tanzania, 2009 http://www.protestbarrick.net/downloads/FinalTanzania-2.pdf

[7] Barrick Gold's mine in Lake Cowal, the ‘Sacred Heartland of the Wiradjuri Nation', http://bit.ly/lakecowalaerial 19 April 2011


Letter to Peter Munk regarding his statement: "Gang Rape is a Cultural Habit"

Porgera Alliance

21 March 2011

The President
Barrick Gold Corporation
Toronto, CANADA

Attention: Peter Munk

Subject: Gang Rape A "Cultural Habit"?

We write to seek clarification of the terminology you used in the Globe and Mail saying that Gang Rape is a ‘Cultural Habit' in Papua New Guinea, and we urge you to prove with facts and evidence of your statement.

The indigenous population of Papua New Guinea is one of the most heterogeneous in the world having diverse culture. Papua New Guinea has several thousand separate communities, divided by language, customs, and tradition etc. Some 800 languages spoken in PNG reflect the diversity.

Porgera is an ancestral domain where indigenous people interact to sustain life and lived in good peace and harmony by solving problems and conflicts the customary way. Young women were kept pure to deserve a bride price while young man undergoes cultural initiation to mark strength for future challenges. We promote preserving our culture as a source of pride and prestige for our future generation.

Your Barrick Gold Corporation extracting gold in Porgera in the Enga Province of Papua New Guinea is bringing wealth and luxury for your betterment alone at the expense of deaths, rapes and beatings of local indigenous people in the pretext of development. Your mining impacts have brought pain, disunity, poverty and cultural conflict induced by your way of operation.

You are aware that our plea for justice and relief was expressed broadly and was even presented annually by us at your AGM in Toronto since 2008, where you were present.

Rape is not tolerable in Porgera/Enga and PNG. It is subject to a high traditional penalty of compensation or the offender may be imprisoned for a maximum term of life through a court of law.

A gang rape is a new phenomenon to us since your mine arrived and is only practiced by criminals as in western cultures. The practice of gang rapes in the mine at Porgera is reflecting your criminal paramilitary type goon guard security operation system.

You have just violated the rule of law and our customary practices by introducing gang rape through the Porgera Joint Venture mining in Porgera in Papua New Guinea and you must know that gang rape is against our culture and is a serious offence with the highest penalty in the court of law in Papua New Guinea.

We anticipate receiving a favorable response from you soon.

Yours truly,

Mark Tony Ekepa
Chairman - Porgera Alliance & Porgera Landowners Association


Barrick says chief's comments taken out of context

PostCourier (PNG)

28 March 2011

MINING Minister John Pundari is angry over comments by Chairman of Barrick Gold Peter Munk that "gang rape is a cultural habit" in the Porgera gold mine area which had been attracting international attention particularly among the NGOs in Canada.

But Barrick Gold which owns majority shares and is also the operator said at the weekend that the Canadian newspaper 'Globe and Mail' which reported the issue had taken Mr Munk's comments out of context and reported only a small portion of the whole interview.
Mr Pundari said the comments were unwelcomed and insensitive.

It was reported in the Post-Courier on Tuesday January 18. that police had began arresting terminated employees of Barrick at the Porgera Mine who were implicated in alleged sexual assaults against women.

"Barrick conducted its investigations and subsequently invited the Chief Ombudsmen and the Police Commissioner to conduct their own investigations into these allegations of human rights abuse and the Police chief was very vocal and firm with the issue and those involved," Mr Pundari said.

Mr Munk, the founder of Barrick commented in Globe and Mail in defence of his company by stating that firstly, it would be impossible to police the behaviour of 5,500 employees and secondly, that it was so particular in countries "where gang rape is a cultural habit."

Mr Pundari said Mr Munk comments that this was a cultural habit was totally insensitive and disrespectful to the country that Barrick operated in.

Barrick Gold's Australia-Pacific President, Gary Halverson, said at the weekend that the recent comments attributed to Mr Munk did not fully represent his complete view on the subject of human rights and the Porgera Joint Venture.

Mr Halverson said that Mr Munk strongly condemned the allegations of rape as unacceptable to Barrick, and expressed his desire to see anyone guilty of such a crime brought to justice.

"During the interview with the Globe and Mail Mr Munk repeatedly condemned human rights abuses, but regrettably, only a small portion of this conversation was included in the resulting article.

"I can reassure the people of Papua New Guinea that everyone at Barrick, from the chairman to our frontline employees, condemns human rights abuses in the strongest possible terms. Such behavior is completely incompatible with our values, and our commitment to responsible mining with respect for human rights and human dignity."

"We fully acknowledge that such abuses are as unacceptable to the peoples of Papua New Guinea as they are to us, and we recognise the deep respect with which women are held within traditional PNG society."

"Furthermore, we have publicly applauded the response of PNG authorities to these matters, and our officers in PNG continue to work closely with police and others in their work in this regard."

Mr Halverson said that the company continued to advance and implement a wide range of measures to ensure human rights compliance at the Porgera Joint Venture.

"To help address this problem, Barrick and the Porgera Joint Venture are funding research and expanding services for victims of violence through the creation of an independent Women's Welfare Liaison Officer based in the Porgera community."

"We are also evaluating further initiatives aimed at tackling violence against women in the country," he said.

"Everywhere in the world where Barrick Gold operates, we remain fully committed to a zero tolerance policy when it comes to human rights abuses," Mr Halverson said.

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