MAC: Mines and Communities

Amnesty International Holds Ivanhoe Mines Accountable

Published by MAC on 2005-05-10
Source: Courier Information Services ()


Courier Information Services

10th May 2005

VANCOUVER -- Amnesty International Canada will seek support for a shareholder proposal relating to Ivanhoe Mine's investment in military-ruled Myanmar at the company's Annual General Meeting in Vancouver on Friday.

A letter sent to 50 of the company's largest shareholders on April 21 by Fiona Koza of the Business and Human Rights Section of AI Canada has drawn attention to the refusal by the company's Board of Directors to circulate a proposal calling on Ivanhoe to account for management practices protecting human rights at a mine near Monywa that Ivanhoe operates in partnership with Myanmar's military regime.

The proposal, sent to the company earlier this year by company shareholder Joie Warnock, requested Ivanhoe to prepare a report outlining security arrangements the company has with the government and the military in Myanmar. It also called on Ivanhoe to detail for investors the corporation's policies that preclude it from benefiting from forced labour that is widely used on public projects throughout Myanmar.

In a reply to Warnock, company secretary Beverly Bartlett denied that Ivanhoe had any direct or indirect security arrangements with the Myanmar government and military or that it was benefiting in any way from forced labour. All that was needed to be known about the company's respect for human rights was fully disclosed on Ivanhoe's website, Bartlett wrote.

The company was under no obligation to publish Warnock's proposal, Bartlett said, since it was clear that it had been submitted for the purpose of promoting political, racial, religious, social and similar causes and that it was designed to secure publicity.

In support of Warnock, Amnesty Canada's Koza wrote to Ivanhoe shareholders that her proposal underscored the liabilities many companies face when operating in countries with appalling human rights records such as Myanmar. The company itself had admitted that the copper mine that Ivanhoe operates in joint venture with the Myanmar government had been forced to temporarily close down operations in March 2006, after the company's bank and insurance broker cut off relationships with the joint venture.

According to the annual report issued by the company the breach occurred as a result of U.S. economic sanctions against Myanmar.

Koza said that Amnesty itself had raised "deep concerns" with Ivanhoe about doing business in Myanmar on several occasions without ever receiving an adequate response from the company.

Amnesty members and supporters, as well as friends from other organizations, are planning to be on hand in front of the Terminal City Club in downtown Vancouver on Friday morning as the Ivanhoe AGM gets underway.

Inside, Ivanhoe company president John Macken is expected to explain to shareholders the company's decision to sell off half its stake in the Myanmar copper mine to a South Korean mining consortium. In its annual report Ivanhoe management predicted that production of copper cathode at the Monywa mine would be less than half of the record 34,400 tonnes produced in 2005. It blamed the cutback on the military government's refusal to issue import permits for mining equipment and heavy duty trucks needed to expand operations in one of the pits at the Monywa mine.

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