AUSTRALIAPublished by MAC on 2007-00-02
Peter Munk, Chair of Barrick Gold Admits Liability for The Desecration Of Lake Cowal Sacred Site, Australia (*)
MEDIA RELEASE, Toronto
2nd MAY 2007
By Natalie Lowrey
National Liaison Officer
Friends of the Earth Australia
At today's Barrick Gold AGM held at the Convention Centre in Toronto, Neville 'Chappy' Williams, traditional owner of Lake Cowal and Western Shoshone delegates from Nevada successfully questioned the Barrick Gold Board of Directors during the live webcast. Shareholders were amazed and concerned the interveners had traveled so far to raise their objections.
Peter Munk tried to explain why Barrick Gold shares continued their disappointing' decline in value whilst the mining industry is "drowning in liquidity" as he put it.
Peter Munk blamed Barrick Gold's demise on NGOs who pressure governments to require too many permits before mining can commence. He cited 500 permits before the controversial Pascua Lama could begin construction in a glacier area on the border of Chile and Argentina.
The Western Shoshone delegate, granddaughter of the late Mary Dann articulated her intense opposition to Barrick's plan to mine her Peoples' sacred mountain.
Next Neville 'Chappy' Williams too the microphone and passionately put his case and personally served a Notice to Quit on Peter Munk and the Board of Dirctors. He stated: "On April 07, Barrick's mines manager, Bill Shallvey, refused to be served this document. As an elder of the Wiradjuri Nation I serve this document on Barrick Gold o behalf of the Mooka and Kalara united families within the Wiradjuri Nation."
The Notice to Cease Illegal Occupation of Lake Cowal includes: "Under Wiradjuri custom, tradition and Law/Lore you have received your three warnings. You must now respect the unceded sovereignty of the Wiradjuri Nation and cease all operations; restore the landscape; remove all equipment and replace all artifacts to their GPS'd positions." We reserve our right to take further action as necessary."
After the AGM Neville 'Chappy' Williams approached Peter Munk and stressed that Barrick Gold is desecrating the sacred site of Lake Cowal. Peter Munk tried to say he had so many employees he didn't really know what Barrick Gold was doing.
Eleanor Gilbert, challenged this by saying: "But the buck stops with you Mr Munk. Ultimately you are the one responsible." Peter Munk agreed. Neville Williams continued by detailing the desecration and stressed his right to religious freedom under section 116 of the Australian Constitution. As Peter Munk moved away he turned to Neville Williams and with a haunted look in his eyes said: "I'm so sorry." Media from Quebec and Chile recorded Peter Munk's admission of liability. Later a shareholder approached Neville Williams saying: "I've got shares in Barrick. I'm thinking now whether I should sell my shares in Barrick Gold."
In a peaceful demonstration outside the AGM supporters were handing out the Alternative Annual Report for Barrick Gold [www.protestbarrick.net] when two were roughly arrested for trespassing whilst they stood on the sidewalk.
[* MAC Editorial note: From this media release, it does not seem that the chair of Barrick Gold has admitted "liability for the desecration of Lake Cowal sacred site" in any legal sense.]