MAC: Mines and Communities

Anglo American AGM: protests from Alaska and Colombia

Published by MAC on 2009-04-20
Source: London Mining Network & other sources (2009-04-17)

London Mining Network & other sources


London Mining Network

A delegation of native leaders and commercial salmon fishermen from Bristol Bay, Alaska, travelled to London to attend the Anglo American annual general meeting (AGM) on 15 April. The company owns roughly 70% of the highly controversial Pebble Mine Project. The mine, if it were approved and constructed, would be the largest copper and gold mine in North America. But the delegation asserted the local community’s commitment to never letting the project move forward. Read the report at http://riotintoagm2009.wordpress.com/friends-in-london-and-elswhere/ and the delegation’s own website at http://ak2uk.com/index.html, where you can see a preview of the film Red Gold.

Andy Higginbottom of the Colombia Solidarity Campaign raised the issue of community removals around the Cerrejon Coal mine in Colombia, 33% owned by Anglo American.

Andy said:

“I have two questions regarding the ongoing situation of several communities negatively affected by the El Cerrejon mine complex in La Guajira, north Colombia.

“We recognise that at last, after the Third Party Review, Cerrejon’s management has begun to engage with the Tabaco community, but point out that the original break up of the community, and the ejection of people from their homes, took place over seven years ago, and that the people concerned are still in poverty and not resettled. Will you proceed directly to implement the process so that it is felt on the ground? I say this in the context of noting that El Cerrejon has earnt over $10 billion for its owners over the intervening period.

“Secondly, will Cerrejon management engage fully and in a respectful, equitable and non-divisive manner with the communities of Remedios, Chancleta, Roche, Patilla, and the Wayuu indigenous community in Tamaquitos? The last seven years have been a catalogue of failure to deal with the substance of the communities’ concerns. Will Cerrejon now engage directly and promptly with all the communities in a respectful and inclusive manner so that they may in fact, and not just as a matter of rhetoric, have some chance of sustainable development?”

Sir Mark Moody-Stuart replied:

“We have been accustomed for some years with the presence of Richard Solly from your Campaign. Mr Solly normally provides his questions a week in advance. Mr Solly accuses us of the most terrible things and when we check we find out something quite other.

“However, as a result of this continued presence we appointed an independent commission into Tabaco. As we said, before we became shareholders there were unsatisfactory things in that case. There is a complex Colombian legal process that we had to go through. Now as a result of the independent panel we have a way forward.

“We have treated the communities with respect and we will treat them with respect.”

Andy Higginbottom asked:

“Is it then a coincidence then that you only began to move seriously on our concerns last year when an OECD complaint was raised against your partners at Cerrejon? Their own response to that complaint, referring to the Remedios community, makes it clear that the first time the Cerrejon management had engaged in dialogue with the community was in May last year.”

Sir Mark Moody-Stuart replied:

“It was only when we met with the people at Remedios that we realised they do not want to be moved. The OECD complaint was raised by one individual. And in my view it is entirely spurious.”

Andy reports that there were other questions from three individual shareholders concerned at the lack of adequate dividend, despite Anglo American’s $10 billion profit in 2008. There was a detailed business question on the platinum mines in South Africa. Moody-Stuart welcomed this last with the comment that he was “very pleased we have some questions at this meeting not on Colombia and the Philippines, but on genuine business issues.”

The native leaders from Alaska were introduced by US organisation Earthworks. They had met the previous day with Sir Mark Moody Stuart and Anglo American’s CEO Cynthia Carroll and were treated with courtesy.

Richard Solly, Co-ordinator of London Mining Network, commented:

“It is not the case that the OECD complaint concerning Cerrejon Coal was raised by only one individual. Australian lawyer Ralph Bleechmore brought a complaint against BHP Billiton to the Australian National Contact Point of the OECD because of its involvement in the Cerrejon mine, and for the same reason the Swiss organisation Arbeitsgruppe Schweiz-Kolumbien brought a complaint against Xstrata to the Swiss OECD National Contact Point. Neither National Contact Point appears to share the view that the complaints were spurious, as they accepted them as warranting consideration. The complaints process has not yet been closed.

“As for accusing Anglo American of terrible things, I have only ever brought to Anglo American AGMs the concerns expressed by the communities with which Colombia Solidarity Campaign has been working in the area of the Cerrejon mine and by Colombian trade unions and other organisations working in support of those communities. Sir Mark Moody-Stuart understandably views matters from a different perspective than those communities and their supporters. He is able eloquently to explain the company’s perspective to shareholders. It seems only right and proper that communities affected by, and dissatisfied with, the company’s operations, should have their concerns aired at the company’s AGMs.”



Six UK jewellers pledge not to buy Pebble gold

Reuters

14 April 2009

LONDON - Six UK jewellers have joined a U.S. pledge not to buy gold from the Pebble mine planned by a group including Anglo American, which campaigners claim threatens the environmental health of Alaska's Bristol Bay.

The six, which include Beaverbrooks and Aurum Holdings -- the parent company of Mappin & Webb, Watches of Switzerland, and Goldsmiths -- said they had lent their weight to the campaign at the invitation of local Alaskans.

"We at Beaverbrooks support the protection of Alaska's Bristol Bay watershed from large scale mining," Mark Adelstone, managing director of Beaverbrooks the Jewellers, said in an emailed statement.

"We need to be mindful and respectful of the Bristol Bay salmon fishery and the communities that depend on it.

"We feel that the precious metals that we sell need to be mined responsibly and in environmentally friendly ways, and if this means looking to other places to source gold, then so be it," he said.

Eight U.S. retailers including Tiffany & Co endorsed a pledge not to source gold mined at Pebble last year, the statement said.

The campaigners say the Bristol Bay watershed supports the world's most productive wild sockeye salmon fishery, which is critical to the state's economy and to the livelihoods of many Alaskan native communities.

Anglo American and Vancouver-based Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd are proposing to build a huge copper, gold and molybdenum mine -- the Pebble project -- on state land in the Bristol Bay region.

Anglo American told Reuters: "As for Pebble, it is too soon to say what the project design will be.

"But the reality is that it will have to take into account the environmental sensitivities of the region and satisfy the authorities and local communities that the proper protections can be put in place, before the project is permitted." (Reporting by Jan Harvey; Editing by James Jukwey)


Catching the imagination

Everett Leroy Thompson: Opinion - Times online

15 April 2009

I am visiting England for the first time, not for leisure but for the purpose of protecting the way of life in my homeland of southwestern Alaska. Bristol Bay has the world's largest wild salmon run on the planet and Anglo American, the London mining group, wants to excavate the world's second- largest open-pit gold mine there.

I try to imagine the River Thames 900 years ago, heaving with wild salmon, some up to 10lb, the fishermen on the banks complaining not of the poor catch but of their nets being so full they are tearing. Imagine all those salmon, returning to their individual streams to spawn, much like I have seen every summer since I can remember in Bristol Bay.

Britain is one of Alaska's leading importers of canned Bristol Bay wild salmon. Maybe there is an ingrained memory that makes the British hungry for it.

The people of Bristol Bay would be devastated if our salmon were over-fished, unable to reach their spawning grounds due to dams, or if the water was not suitable. The Pebble mine would obliterate miles of watershed and generate acid drainage and other pollution hazardous to salmon.

History has proven that salmon are susceptible to human disturbance. The wild salmon of Europe, the eastern United States, and now the western United States are, if not depleted, then at record low numbers. In northern Alaska, specifically around the Nome area and the Yukon River, where once salmon were plentiful, there are depleted runs. Mining has added to the impact.

The Bristol Bay watershed is no place for North America's largest open-pit gold mine. Bristol Bay wild salmon provide for thousands of people, both residents and non-residents. The whole area benefits from this reliable and sustainable resource, renewing and nourishing not only us but every living thing in the region. This has been a healthy cycle for thousands of years and will continue to be healthy and provide for all - if we take care of it.

We are making a plea to Anglo American that the risk is too high to develop an enormous mine in such pristine habitat. We want no part of it. We are in London to express our resistance to Anglo's plans for our backyard and to express that we do not want the Pebble mine, or any other, disrupting our way of life.

I hope our visit catches the attention of Anglo American, leaders of the United States and our Alaska state government, jewellers, environmentalists, human rights groups and fishermen and women. We will not stand by.

We are the stewards of our own traditional lands. We must ensure we have a healthy environment for all.

The author, from Naknek, Alaska, is a commercial fisherman and co-owner of Naknek Family Fisheries


Anglo should back off Pebble if it damages fisheries – Moody-Stuart

By: Martin Creamer - Miningweekly

15 April 2009

JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Mining major Anglo American should not build the proposed copper-gold Pebble mine if it could not be built in a way that avoided damage to Alaska’s fisheries, wildlife and livelihoods, Anglo chairperson Sir Mark Moody-Stuart said on Wednesday.

Moody-Stuart’s comments to the annual general meeting (AGM) followed the arrival of an Alaskan delegation in London to protest the Bristol Bay Pebble project, which had the potential to become a large openpit operation.

UK jewellers Goldsmiths, Beaverbrooks, Mappin & Webb, Watches of Switzerland, Fifi Bijoux and April Doubleday also backed the Alaskans in pledging not to accept “dirty gold” from Pebble, should a mine eventuate.

Moody-Stuart last month visited Alaska to meet the team responsible for the Pebble project, planned in joint venture with the TSX-listed Northern Dynasty Minerals of Canada, which has a five-year, $5-million commitment to the local community.

“The project has been controversial,” Moody-Stuart told the AGM.

He found the project close to three streams located in the headwaters of the extensive Bristol Bay watershed, which was well known for its rich salmon fishery.

“I understand the fears and passions which have been stirred and recognise the cultural and commercial importance of the salmon, but I believe that many of these fears are based on the false assumption that this is a choice between mining and fishing.

“I am confident that the two can coexist. We have made it clear that the project will work on the basis of world-class scientific and engineering skills and that we will use inclusive and innovative stakeholder engagement.

“Our bottom line is that, if the project cannot be built in a way that avoids damage to Alaska’s fisheries and wildlife or to the livelihoods of Alaskan communities, it should not be built.

“It is on that basis that we will continue to evaluate the project in compliance with the prescribed regulatory processes in Alaska. But, we will do so with a mindset that goes well beyond compliance,” he promised.

Resource Media reported that Bristol Bay watershed supported the world’s most productive wild sockeye salmon fishery, which was critical to the State’s economy and to the livelihoods of many Alaska native communities.

 

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