MAC: Mines and Communities

Canadian Roundup

Published by MAC on 2006-05-07

Canadian Roundup

7th May 2006

The North South institute in Canada has produced a gritty report providing an in-depth description of one Canadian First Nation's experiences of negotiating with multi-national mining companies and government (see attachment). Building on a diverse range of interviews with community members, the case study highlights key lessons and advice for other communities considering entering into these types of negotiations. It also provides analysis on whether the experience of Canada's first diamond mine - BHP Billiton's Ekati - is indeed a model for others to consider, as Canadian government officials often claim. The case study enters the debate on free, prior and informed consent (FPIC), and whether impact benefit agreements can be regarded as implanting the precept.

The report grew out of a request by communities in West Suriname who will be affected by proposed bauxite-mining related activities by BHP Billiton and Alcoa. It supplemented information shared first-hand by two members of Lutsel K'e Dene First Nation who shared their experience directly in Suriname in May, 2005.

A training video has been produced to complement the written text.

Contact: Viviane Weitzner,
Senior Researcher,
The North-South Institute
55 Murray, Suite 200,
Ottawa, ON K1N 5M3 Canada
Tel: (613) 241-3535 x 248
Fax: (613) 241-7435

De Beers Risks Losing Social License to Operate in Canada

IDEX Online Staff Reporter

2nd May 2006

Tensions between De Beers and the Muskrat Dam First Nation are strained after the community found an ongoing drill program underway at their traditional goose hunting area. Chief Vernon Morris, of the Muskrat Dam First Nation, is demanding that De Beers end the drill program and begin negotiations with the community to redress the disruption to the hunt.

Chief Morris has also written to the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines demanding that the province assume their legal obligations under the treaty to protect the First Nations' right to hunt. Currently, according to the Mining Act, De Beers can stake and explore mine claims without consulting the First Nations.

"We will continue to see a peaceful resolution of this issue," said Chief Morris. "However, we will use every avenue, including the courts, to protect our traditional way of life and our land from the impact of De Beers' activities. De Beers is threatening our identity as aboriginal people."

The annual spring goose hunt, which takes place in the area north of Bearskin Lake, Ontario, usually returns 200 geese for community use. Said Chief Morris, "The activities of procuring the geese are a source of cultural value and social well-being, particularly for the elders."

Last October, the Muskrat Dam First Nation was one of a number of Far North communities that declared a moratorium on mining exploration and development on their traditional lands.

The latest dispute is just one in a series of battles between First Nations over mining in Ontario's far north. Last week, junior mining company Platinex applied for a court injunction over a dispute with Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninumug Platinex are seeking to create a "treaty rights free zone" in order to pursue their drilling program.



26th April 2006

Occupational and Environmental Epidemiologist
Professor of Public Health Sciences
University of Alberta

Professor Emeritus of Medicine
University of British Columbia

Many of us are aware of asbestos remediation programs in schools, offices and public buildings. These programs are designed to safely remove asbestos, formerly used in the construction of buildings, because of its proven link to cancer and lung disease.

The inconvenience associated with remediation efforts is regarded as necessary to protect people's health, especially the health of younger people. Exposure today can result in cancers and lung diseases several decades later. This inconvenience to Canadians pales, however, in contrast to the hardship experienced by people who buy chrysotile asbestos from us and thereby continue to risk illness and premature death.

As a beacon of civilization, should Canada be concerned with such matters? How immoral it is that Canadians are involved in pushing a product, no longer considered safe in Canada, to countries less advanced in protecting public health!

Clearly, we should be disgusted that our federal Government is complicit in concealing the harm from asbestos in exporting it. Given that the asbestos fiber type from Quebec, known as chrysotile, poses a cancer risk to humans, we certainly should not be permitting its extraction and worldwide distribution. Yet, our Government is directly engaged in mining, marketing and exporting chrysotile asbestos products abroad, to countries without our institutionalized awareness of the harms caused by asbestos.

The province of Quebec, rich in asbestos reserves, remains the world's fourth largest producer of chrysotile asbestos. Quebec's political influence with the federal Government is exploited by chrysotile stakeholders for economic advantage. Stakeholders promote the product through deception, aided and abetted by academics, paid handsomely to downplay the health hazards, both locally and abroad. Spurred on by the interests of asbestos shareholders, the pro-asbestos propaganda ignores both the social and health consequences of chrysotile asbestos.

Last month, a chrysotile asbestos marketing and promotion exercise took place in Indonesia. There, the asbestos lobby, supported by its pet scientists, argued ad nauseum at an "International Scientific Symposium" that the new-and-improved, name-sanitized "chrysotile" is safe for use in Indonesia. This exercise was sanctioned by the Canadian Government. Canada provided its logo, embassy, and our tax dollars to perpetuate a lie about a toxic product we will not use here, but that we export, harming the health and well-being of people abroad.

The Government of Canada produced a colorful program announcement. Speakers included Mr. Clement Godbout, Chairman of the International Chrysotile Institute (the new asbestos-free name of the Quebec-based Asbestos Institute), some Canadian Government mines official (from Quebec), a representative of the Russian asbestos industry, Dr. Ericson Bagatin, who works closely with the Brazilian asbestos lobby, an Indonesian asbestos industry person, and perennial asbestos industry-paid consultants, Drs. David Bernstein and John Hoskins. The program was rounded off by selected Indonesian bureaucrats.

In an impressive-looking invitation, issued under the auspices of the Canadian Embassy, anyone who had any questions or conscience at the end of this affair was welcomed to a networking cocktail party.

Notably absent was Dr. Zulmiar Yanri, Head of the Occupational Safety and Health Center for Indonesia. Also missing was Dr. Douglas Henderson, an Australian pathologist whose appointment and expertise were instrumental in the decision to dismiss Canada's case against the French asbestos ban at the World Trade Organization a few years ago. The problem was that Yanri had wanted to bring Henderson's objectivity to this otherwise biased event. And, when her suggestion was rejected by the sponsors, she expressed her solidarity to the cause of public health by not attending.

This is but one example of pro-asbestos bias operating at the highest levels of our Government; there are many more examples from India and Brazil, Mexico and Chile. With increasing global concern regarding asbestos, the Government of Canada has become a pariah for its active support of this hazardous industry.

Since the French Government maintained its national ban on asbestos, the scientific evidence of the danger from low intensity exposure to asbestoshas been reinforced. Indeed, there is every reason to link chrysotile asbestos exposure to a variety of lung cancers and other lung disease risks.

Government of Canada support for the Quebec asbestos industry has deep roots. The simple reality is that the federal Government supports the Quebec asbestos mining industry presumably for political gains.Concerned scientists and citizens need to unify to shut down an industry that has caused death and destruction at home and abroad. We need to acknowledge that, by selling chrysotile asbestos, Canada is engaged in a duplicitous act based on a double standard: chrysotile asbestos is not safe enough for Canadian use, yet it is safe enough for Indonesians and others outside of our borders!

By not condemning our Government's support of the chrysotile asbestos industry, Canadians become complicit in both harming and killing innocent victims abroad. Canada must join the dozens of countries in Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa that have banned asbestos.

In May, our Government is supporting yet another feel-good international conference on chrysotile asbestos, this time in Montreal. When will its collaboration with the asbestos industry cease?

GOLD MINING - Eldorado starts up Kisladag mine

Daily News Sunday

30th April 2006

TURKEY - ELDORADO GOLD CORP. of Vancouver has announced the start-up of its Kisladag heap leach gold project in Turkey. There are 1.0 million tonnes of oxide ore on the leach pad now, and the company expects to increase that to 5.5 million tonnes by the end of the year. The mine expects to produce 120,000 oz of gold for the remainder of 2006, and double that amount in 2007.

The Kisladag deposit has 135.0 million tonnes of proven and probable reserves grading 1.16 g/t Au, or 5.1 million oz of contained gold. Eldorado's capital costs were US$83.4 million to create a 240,000-oz/year producer. Cash operating costs are estimated to be US$181/oz. The project will be built in two phases. Phase 1, getting the property into production, is complete. Phase 2 will get underway during the second year of operation, expanding the crushing circuit to the final design capacity of 10.0 million tonnes/year.

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