MAC: Mines and Communities

Dirty Digger Awards 2003

Published by MAC on 2001-04-23



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Winners of the Dirty Digger Awards 2003
(Alternatives to the Mining Journal Awards for Outstanding Achievement


The Mining Journal presented its Outstanding Achievement Awards at a Black-Tie dinner during the London 'Mines and Money' Congress on the evening of December 3rd 2003. The venue was the Excel Exhibition Centre.

There are hundreds of thousands of past or present victims of corporate mining aggression and abuses of human rights. These community members and workers found this self-congratulatory exercise very hard to swallow - especially when many officially nominated for Mines & Money "gongs" at the awards were among the worst offenders.

London activists, backed by community representatives, therefore used this occasion to present their own 'Dirty Digger' Awards.

The nominees for the alternative prizes can be viewed here, where possible replicating the Mining Journal's own nominations. The Winners are listed below...

You can view press releases (as Word documents) produced here:-

Press release one (pre-release)
Press release two (winners announced)
Press release three (after the awards)


Winner of the Omai "Clobber The Communities!" Award
[The official Mines & Money nominees are countries where new mining investment is proving particularly attractive The Dirty Diggers counter-nominations (named after the famous 1995 tailings spill), are for countries where communities have suffered (or will suffer) profoundly from the impacts of new mineral investment.]

Tanzania - Now the golden exploration hope for the industry in Africa and a natural for the Mines & Money Award. However, there are continued battles between small-scale miners, communities and the industry (not least Barrick Gold which is putting up the money for this Mines & Money Award). Citizens standing up for community rights have been harassed and arrested. View the award certificate


Winner of Dastardly Deal of the Year   
[Mines & Money has nominated four companies for its "Deal of the Year" Award, sponsored by Ernst & Young, the British auditors who have themselves recently been accused of brokering dubious financial deals. Two of them are gold deals in the former USSR: Highland Gold's flotation in Russia and Oxus Gold's project financing in Uzbekistan.]

Norilsk acquisition of Stillwater – This audacious deal allowed Norilsk - a company still shrouded in secrecy - to confirm its position as the world's biggest palladium producer. Though praised by Mines & Money for its "sound business logic", Norilsk also operates the world's single most polluting mine and smelter complex. Its continued destruction of community health is both unrivalled and unforgivable. View the award certificate


Winner of the Grasberg Award For Unacceptable Resource Appropriation  
[Mines & Money is making an "Exploration Project" Award. Nominees include: Alto Chicama, Peru, operated by Barrick Gold; LionOre's Maggie Hays nickel-sulphide project in Western Australia; and Nickel Rim South, Falconbridge's new exploration play in Canada. The award is named after the Freeport-Rio Tinto Grasberg mine in West Papua.]

TVI in Canatuan (not nominated by Mines & Money) – TVI have been trying for ten years to break down community opposition to their opening a gold mine in the southern Philippines, with a sustained policy of intimidation, isolation, and divide and rule applied to the local community. View the award certificate

Winner of the Goni Lozada Award For Unsustainable Development
[The Dirty Diggers nominations mirror Mines & Money's category for the "Sustainable Development Award" (sic), laughably sponsored by Barclays Capital, one of the biggest banks which have financed unacceptable mining. That the Mining Journal could come up with only four nominations in the most important single category of its awards speaks volumes for the industry's lack of concern for sustainable development. Nor do its nominations in any way address the needs and demands of small-scale miners and women involved in, or affected by, mining. This award is named in honour of Rio Tinto's friend, the now ex-President of Bolivia.]

Rio Tinto campaign – The Mining Journal claims Rio Tinto has. "… led the mining industry effort to put environment issues at the top of the agenda, not least through Sir Robert Wilson's chairmanship of the ICMM (International Council on Mining and Metals)". Yet the British company financed the expansion of the Grasberg mine in West Papua where at least nine miners died on October 9th when a pit wall suddenly collapsed. Rio Tinto has refused to withdraw from the Poboya protected forest in Indonesia, and its Kennecott smelter is, according to the US Environment Protection Agency, by far the worst toxic polluter in the whole of the country. View the award certificate

Winner of the Emperor's New Clothes Award 
[The Mines & Money official category is the "Innovation Award". Here the Mines and Money board has listed seven new technologies, only one of which seems specifically tailored to reducing pollution. The Dirty Diggers alternative prize is proposed for the three main corporate advocates of what is arguably the most threatening practice recently introduced by the industry to the Asia Pacific region.]

Newmont, Rio Tinto & Placer Dome – There is no competition in this category as the Dirty Diggers prize must go jointly to these companies for their continued use, and advocacy of, Submarine Tailings Disposal (STD or DSTP) in the Asia-Pacific. Despite woeful past experience elsewhere, the lack of scientific data, the numerous warnings of marine biologists and recent practical failures in the technology, these companies continue to pour millions of tonnes of toxic mine wastes into the ocean, smothering vital organisms on the seabed. View the award certificate

Winner of the Machiavelli Award For Corporate Deception  
[Mines & Money prefers to call this its "Communication Award". The nominees include - yet again - Rio Tinto for its "exceptional dialogue with the local community" at its Diavik mine in northern Canada; Outokumpu for its "consistent level of information, normally (sic) refreshingly honest, to stakeholders" and Peter Hambro Mining. It has been difficult to make specific nominations in the Dirty Digger alternative category since many mining companies are notorious for their lack of transparency. The following nominations are therefore illustrative, rather than exhaustive.]

BHPBilliton (not nominated by Mines & Money) - BHPBilliton is chaired by Don Argus. In its latest annual shareholders meetings, held in October and November 2003, Argus was re-dubbed "Don't Answer" for his failure to respond to questions about the company's intentions at its Gag Island nickel prospect (see above), and BHPBilliton's apparent intentions to do away with collective trade union bargaining. View the award certificate


Winner of the Death Roll Award
[Mines and Money prefers to call this its "Lifetime Achievement" Award. Although it attracted the greatest number of official nominations, none have so far been published.]

Jim-Bob Moffet and Robert Wilson (not to our knowledge nominated by Mines & Money) - The respective heads of Freeport and Rio Tinto during the period when the two companies stole the world's richest mineral deposit at Grasberg from the indigenous people of West Papua. They were complicit in numerous human rights abuses, paid millions of dollars directly to the Indonesian army, and have criminally failed to protect their workforce from operational disaster - notably at Lake Wanagon in 2000 and this October at the Grasberg mine itself. View the award certificate


Winner of the Dirty Digger Special Award For Mining's Biggest Renegade(s)
[Mines and Money is to make a "Special Award", sponsored by the Mining Journal and to be announced during the Mines & Money conference on December 3rd.]

Robert Friedland - Known all over the world as "Toxic Bob", Friedland is by far the most roguish of all mining entrepreneurs. He is, inter alia, responsible for the worst environmental mining disaster in recent US history (at Summerville Colorado) and - through his Ivanhoe Mining company - is the greatest exploiter of Burma's mineral resources, in the service of the SLORC regime. View the award certificate




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