MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Cambior: Globalization's Public Enemy Number One

Published by MAC on 2003-07-15

Cambior: Globalization's Public Enemy Number One

PIRA Communications

5 July 2003 - For Immediate Release

Cambior: Globalization's Public Enemy Number One - 2.9 million ounces of gold and not a penny of profit?

Ripping a page from Enron's accounting manual, Cambior's financial practices give Hollywood accounting a good name, said U.S. lawyer Dennison Smith today at Montréal's court house.

According to Norman McLean (Cambior's Director of Operations at Guyana's Omai Gold Mine) after total gold production of 2.9 million ounces valued at nearly $US 1 billion, Omai has never paid a cent of corporate taxes in Guyana because it has failed to turn a profit. This despite Cambior's bravado that Omai is "its most important gold producing property" representing 56% of the company's total gold production. Cambior has never stated that the mine, almost at the end of its life, is a financial basket case. "Either Cambior shareholders are being misled or Guyana is metaphorically losing its virginity," said Smith. "Cambior is the poster boy for everything that's abhorrent with globalization."

It's not the first time that Cambior has been marginally forthright with shareholders. In May, Cambior stated that "Omai has a rigorous and extensive water monitoring program which demonstrates full compliance with environmental regulations in Guyana based on Canadian and American standards." But according to U.S. EPA standards "there shall be no discharge of process wastewater to navigable waters from mills which extract gold by use of the cyanidation process." Additionally, all 15 gold producing states require zero discharge, 13 require tailings pond liners and 11 require residual cyanide destruction. Standards Cambior fails.

"For investors the natural inclination is to accept management at its word. That's why 23,000 Guyanese today challenge Cambior to unseal the documents that are filed behind these walls," said Smith. "If Cambior has been forthright with shareholders, if it has followed the letter of applicable securities regulations, they have nothing to fear from these documents."

A $US 1 billion class action suit was recently filed for damages resulting from a 1995 cyanide spill at Omai and on-going mining operations. Class representatives are: Guyana Member of Parliament Judith David and residents Richard Bowens and Lil Mattie. Defendants include: Omai, Cambior, Golder & Associates, Knight & Piesold, Golden Star Resources, JP Morgan Canada, the Royal Bank and National Bank. "Residents purposely chose the judicial process over civil disobedience. But without a fair process Cambior risks making itself the target of legitimate civil disobedience that will delay and frustrate the company's future development plans in the region."

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