MAC: Mines and Communities

Canadians Targeted for Controversial Tibet Investments

Published by MAC on 2006-09-09

Canadians Targeted for Controversial Tibet Investments


9th September 2006

Tibetan Rights Groups Oppose Canadian Mining Operations in Tibet

Vancouver – On the eve of a gathering of national and international corporate leaders in Vancouver, who will be addressed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Students for a Free Tibet and Canada Tibet Committee are calling on Canadian companies and their investors to steer clear of high risk business ventures in occupied Tibet or face increased public and political pressure. In particular, Tibetan rights activists are concerned about six junior Canadian mining companies engaged in exploratory drilling and mine operations in Tibet.[1]

"Vancouver-based Hunter Dickinson claims to pride itself on ethical business investments and yet continues to aggressively promote plans to exploit gold resources in occupied Tibet without first ensuring the basic rights of local communities are respected", said Kate Woznow, National Coordinator of Students for a Free Tibet Canada. "Under Chinese rule, Tibetans have no voice to determine the use of their own natural resources and face arrest and imprisonment for speaking out against government supported projects."

In the coming weeks, Tibetans and supporters will be increasing public pressure on the mining companies, similar to the actions taken against Canada's Bombardier, Power Corporation and Nortel for their involvement in the China-Tibet railway. Former Canadian Ambassador to China, Howard Balloch, has also come under fire for his investment in a $1000/night luxury train service which is scheduled to start operations along the China-Tibet line in 2007.[2]

"We have seen a national outcry against Bombardier's role in building China's Tibet railway, and now Canadians are appalled to learn that a former high level public servant stands to profit from this devastating project," said Ray Yee, Vice-President of Canada Tibet Committee Vancouver. "The current involvement of Canadian companies in occupied Tibet undermines Canada's commitment to corporate social responsibility and international human rights law."

Earlier this year, an international coalition of Tibet Support Groups circulated questionnaires to the Canadian mining companies to gauge how they would ensure local Tibetans had freely consented to a mine operation in their community. The responses have uniformly shown that the proposed resource extraction projects fail to meet the standard of free, prior and informed consent. Other junior mining companies, SinoGold and Orchid Capital, have previously unsuccessfully tried to establish mines in Tibet to their cost and that of their investors.

"We have given the companies an opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to ethical investment in Tibet and they have failed to do so," said Tsering Lama, Board member of Students for a Free Tibet. "Now it is time for action. Tibetans continue to be denied their internationally recognized right to determine the use of their own natural resources and we will not stand for Canadian companies profiting from our mineral wealth."

1] Canadian companies invested in Tibet are Hunter Dickinson's wholly owned subsidiary Continental Minterals (Vancouver), Inter-Citic Minerals Inc (Toronto), Eldorado Gold Corp (Vancouver), GobiMin Inc (Toronto), Dynasty Gold Corp (Vancouver) and TVI Pacific Inc (Alberta).

[2] Howard Balloch is a major investor in a joint venture between RailPartners Inc and the Chinese Ministry of Railways to operate the luxury train service. 53 designer rail cars are being built by Bombardier's joint venture in China for the project.

Contact: Kate Woznow, Students for a Free Tibet Canada (Vancouver) 778-322-3071

Tsering Lama, Students for a Free Tibet Canada (Vancouver) 604-341-4669
Ray Yee, Canada Tibet Committee (Vancouver) 604-736-5215 (office) 604-240-5215 (cell)

Luisa Durante, Canada Tibet Committee 514-487-0665 (office)

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