Barrick at the barricades
The world's biggest gold mining company, Barrick, this month started extracting the yellow stuff from its controversial Buzwagi Mine in Tanzania's Kahama District. after a deal which human rights lawyer, Tundu Lissu, has described as "scandalous."
Last week, a major spill of toxic sludge was reported from Barrick's North Mara mine in Tanzania, into rivers which are a source of water for more than two and a half thousand households.
On 7th May 2009, Barrick Gold announced that its Pascua Lama project, bordering Chile and Argentina, is now close to construction. However, two key permits from the Chilean National Authority of Water (DGA) remain pending, and many other challenges are still being made. In pursuit of a final go-ahead for the mine, Barrick has faced accusations of political bribery, attempting to divide communities, and of violating peoples' Indigenous rights. On this score, the Diaguita Agricultural Community Los Huascoaltinos has appealed for direct intervention by the Inter American Commission on Human Rights.
In April 2009, over 300 houses, belonging to local landowners near the Barrick's Porgera gold mine in Papua New Guinea, were torched by police, allegedly to remove people carrying out "illegal" mining and other "criminal activities." Amnesty International condemned the action, while MiningWatch Canada sent an Urgent Appeal to several United Nations Special Rapporteurs. Although, to date, Barrick's part in this brutal action remains unclear, the mine's joint venture mining company has provided support to similar police actions in the past.
Two days later, Indigenous leaders from Papua New Guinea and Chile were in Canada at Barrick's shareholders' meeting. Ethical Funds - a "socially responsible" Canadian mutual fund - had sponsored a resolution, asking the company to commission an independent review of the company's practices at its Cortez Hill mine in Nevada, United States. The resolution drew around 20 percent of support from those voting at the meeting.
Comment by Luis Claps
* Links to several groups, currently in struggle against Barrick Gold, are listed at the end of this posting.
Controversial Buzwagi mine starts pouring gold
6th May 2009
Dar es Salaam - THE world's biggest gold mining company, Canada's Barrick Gold Corporation, has started formally producing gold from its controversial Buzwagi Mine in Kahama District, Shinyanga Region.
The company announced in a statement that the new mine is expected to produce about 200,000 ounces of gold this year, at total cash costs of between $320 and $335 per ounce. The mine will help lower Barrick's overall costs, which are expected to come in at between $450 and $475 per ounce this year, the statement said. ''For any mining company, a new mine entering production is always an exciting time - particularly for the development team,'' Barrick Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Aaron Regent said in the statement.
He added: ''This team constructed Buzwagi on time and in line with its budget of about $400m. They also successfully managed to do this with an outstanding safety record.''
The announcement marks the fruition of a still-highly controversial contract agreement signed between the government and Barrick Gold Corp's subsidiary company Pangea Minerals Limited in 2007. The controversy is based on the fact that the contract was signed in apparently hush-hush circumstances, and right in the middle of a then ongoing critical government review of existing contracts in the country's mining sector.
There have been complaints from members of parliament and other local activists, that the contract gives Barrick Gold too much leeway in matters of taxation and contributions to national and local government development. It has been noted that the controversial agreement legally binds the government to maintain the same taxes and fiscal laws applicable to the company at the time, for the entire duration of the mine.
This translates to a minimum of 25 years, and a maximum that by the terms of the pact is more or less indefinite.
The agreement was signed in questionable circumstances in London on February 17, 2007, by then energy and minerals minister Nazir Karamagi on behalf of the government, and Barrick Gold Tanzania Limited Executive General Manager (Operations) Gareth Taylor, representing Pangea Minerals Ltd.
Karamagi was in early 2008 forced to resign from President Jakaya Kikwete's cabinet after being implicated in the Richmond power generation corruption scandal.
The Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) is understood to have been investigating the much-questioned circumstances behind the Buzwagi deal, and it remains unclear what stage that investigation has reached.
Among the interesting clauses in the agreement is Article 4.1.3, which specifies that Pangea Minerals Ltd will make a fixed contribution of $125,000 by December 31 of each calendar 'year of production' to the state-run national economic empowerment fund.
The document defines a 'year of production' as the time when production from the mine reaches a ''minimum of 20,000 ounces of gold contained in ore or concentrate, as the case may be, during the applicable calendar year.''
According to various legal experts, this effectively means that for each year the gold mine management declares production to be less than the stated 20,000 ounces, the government will get no contribution for its empowerment fund.
One Dar es Salaam-based lawyer, Tundu Lissu from the Lawyers Environment Action Team (LEAT), who is well-known for having done extensive researches into the country's mining industry, described the Buzwagi deal as "scandalous" and of little benefit to the national economy.
Estimates show that the Buzwagi area has proven and probable gold reserves of around 2.64 million ounces.
Major emergency at Barrick's North Mara mine
13th May 2009
It is reported that there has been a major spill of toxic sludge from Barrick's Mara mining operation into River Thigithe that flows into the Mara River. This happened Monday the 11th of May and nearby residents have reported that there are dead fish and all kinds of other dead water life along the river.The entire community is in a huge uproar and panic. People are very scared in the whole area. There is a need for journalists to go and report on this story , and for scientific investigation of this spill to know what the poisons are and how widely they are spread.
Meanwhile people are organizing to take samples of the water and the fish for testing.
ARGENTINA - CHILE
Barrick Buying Off Governments to Open the Way for Pascua Lama
Communication of the Coordination Against Pascua Lama
30th April 2009
Santiago, Chile - We denounce the interference of the transnational mining company Barrick Gold in the internal decisions of the republics of Argentina and Chile, after high executives of the Canadian mining company held two highest-level meetings to pressure the presidents of both countries, with the sole objective of moving ahead the much-resisted binational Pascua Lama project.
This was made clear in the pressure that the mining executives felt to provide explanations before Barrick's annual shareholders meeting in Toronto, as for nine years now the company has had to explain the reasons for delays in the construction of their star project. It was almost ten years ago that environmental "approval" was given to Pascua Lama, and there is yet to be an ounce of gold extracted. For Barrick, a gold mining giant, something is going wrong on the high reaches of the Chile-Argentina border.
As was reported by the media, the meeting between Chile's President Bachelet and Barrick Gold was held behind closed doors and without press declarations in the Chilean capitol building on Saturday April 25. The President met with the Executive Director of the Canadian transnational, Aaron Regent, the Associate Director of the company, José Antonio Urrutia, accompanied by the Chilean Minister of Mining, Santiago González.
The same thing happened on April 15, in neighboring Argentina, where the very founder and current President of Barrick, Peter Munk, held a meeting, also behind closed doors and without press notice, with Argentine President Christina Fernández Kirchner, in the Argentine capitol, accompanied by some of Barrick's most steadfast Argentine supporters, the Governor of San Juan, José Luis Gioja and Minister of Mining Jorge Mayoral, along with Aaron Regent. Munk has slowed his work with Barrick this year, but according to mining press, he will not leave Barrick until construction at Pascua Lama is announced. Pascua Lama has been the jewel in Barrick's crown - however recently it has looked more like their bad karma. This is why Munk wants so badly to announce the long-awaited beginning of construction these days.
For the ninth year running, Munk had to explain to the shareholders meeting on April 29 that the governments of Chile and Argentina were close to agreement over tax issues, but the company was still awaiting final word of agreement before being able to announce construction of the project - a project which will threaten the life of the Huasco Valley in Atacama. He made vague statements so as to not alarm shareholders and lower stock values, while keeping expectations up for great future profits.
A business meeting of this type - held behind closed doors, unannounced -- is hard to believe, in the face of the new transparency laws of Chile. We call this scandalous that high executives of Barrick Gold had the possibility to meet with the President of Chile, while the community organizations opposing the project over the last ten years, have only been able to manage a meeting the Minister of Environment, Ana Lya Uriarte, who did not even have the respect to have read the very documents produced by her government and the mining company - documents which show the destruction of the millennium-old glaciers, product of the mining company actions in the region. The same happened in the opposite sense when Chilean congresspersons faced a vote to form an investigative commission about Pascua Lama - they simply decided to withdraw the voting and ignored the issue. This has happened five times in the national Congress of Chile. The President has not had the courage to meet the communities of the Huasco Valley in her offices, as a citizen's government should do.
The only participation, as far as we can tell, is a private company meeting illegitimately with the State of Chile, and therefore, with all Chilean citizens. Perhaps our President believes that the Director of Barrick Gold is a "Chilean Miner" as the mining industry has promoted to make us believe that this transnational corporation is actually Chilean. However, the only company which truly supports Chile is the state-run Codelco - the others pay almost zero taxes and leave contamination, death, prostitution and alcoholism where they appear. Is this Responsible Mining?
The president of Barrick, Peter Munk, got his ex-partner Adnan Kasshoggi -- an arms dealer -- from prison. Today Munk is questioned around the world for leading a company which has trampled human rights wherever it operates. This is why Norway, after a rigorous debate, divested Barrick Gold from the national pension fund because of the ethical and human rights violations that Barrick is accused of carrying out in Papa New Guinea -- contaminating rivers with heavy metals without evaluating water quality, and leaving the population susceptible to serious diseases. And this at the same time that Chile receives Barrick in their presidential palace?
It is wrong that Bachelet has not met with the communities who are resisting these policies of handing over our own lands. The President could have asked about the fifteen workers who have already died in works at Pascua Lama since 1994. She could have asked information about the conditions in which over 180 workers, who were promised good jobs and instead forced to "voluntarily" quit once the CONAMA gave approval to Barrick's mining project. She could have also asked why the only "restricted" border crossing along the Argentina-Chile border just happens to be in the zone of the mining project.
Finally, we denounce that it is not a coincidence that Munk has come to Chile and Argentina to try and sort out the mess that is Pascua Lama, right at the moment that Sebastián Bowen assumes as Chief Coordinator of the presidential campaign of Eduardo Frei of the Concertation (DC) party. While Frei was President of Chile, he signed in 1997, along with Argentina's Carlos Menem, the Treaty of Mining Integration and Cooperation, a legal instrument which enabled mining projects along the border, projects such as Pascua Lama. This past November, Bowen appeared with Barrick executives to sign the so-called "Atacama Compromise" which is already dreadful for the Huasco Valley community.
We must also mention that in his Policy Committee, Frei also has Belisario Velasco, father of the founders of Extend Communications, a consulting company which provides strategic planning for Barrick in Chile. Would it be possible to imagine that the meeting there were not payoffs promised to the presidential campaigns in exchange for the green light for the most resisted mining project in recent memory called Pascua Lama?
Barrick's Pascua Lama project denounced as illegal
7th May 2009
Legal experts and community leaders point to illegal approval process and lack of social licence.
Barrick Gold Corporation announced today that its Pascua Lama project, situated on the border of Chile and Argentina, is proceeding to construction. Community leaders and legal experts from Chile and Argentina - currently in Canada as part of an international delegation - responded to Barrick's announcement today by denouncing this project as illegal and lacking social licence to operate.
Nancy Yáñez, lawyer and Co-director of the Citizen Observatory of Chile, says, "The execution of Pascua Lama mining project is illegal because it violates human rights guaranteed by the international and national system of law. In the particular case of the Diaguita Agricultural Community Los Huascoaltinos, the Pascua Lama project is executed against the will of this indigenous community, who has turned to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to ensure the protection of their rights. The resolution of this case is still pending."
Sergio Campusano, President of the Diaguita Agricultural Community Los Huascoaltinos, in Chile, is emphatic: "The Chilean State has failed to ensure the respect of our ancient rights over the lands where Pascua Lama is located in Chile. We were intentionally not considered in the assessment process of the project because we oppose to mega mining in our lands. There has been no respect for our right to self determination."
In Argentina, local communities has have also manifested their rejection to the development of this project. As Javier Rodríguez Pardo, member of the Union of Citizen Assemblies of Argentina says, "Barrick Gold in Argentina and Chile does not have the social licence to exploit the mining reserves of Pascua Lama. The communities in Argentina affected by the eventual Pascua lama project do not support this activity and are now demanding a binding referendum in the affected territories."
In March 2007, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) issued a formal recommendation to Canada to better regulate and monitor its mining corporations abroad when they are operating on indigenous lands. Canada is a signatory in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Convention on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination, and the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and is thus bound to observe international human rights. The Government of Canada cannot wait to enact and specific bill to oblige Canadian companies to accomplish the international standards on Human Rights.
Not so fast, Chile tells Barrick Gold
14th May 2009
Santiago - Chile's environment minister said here Thursday that Canada-based Barrick Gold Corp. must seek approval from water authorities before beginning work on a new mine straddling the Chilean-Argentine border.
"Before starting construction they must comply with some requirements, consisting of a series of authorizations, and they have one pending with the General Directorate of Water," Ana Lya Uriarte told reporters in Santiago.
Her comments came a week after Barrick announced it was ready to begin building the Pascua Lama mine, which is forecast to produce an average of between 750,000 and 800,000 ounces of gold and 35 million ounces of silver annually.
The world's biggest gold miner said the construction would cost as much as $3 billion and that production at the mine could start by the beginning of 2013.
Uriarte said that while Barrick agreed in 2006 to the Environment Ministry's conditions for approving the project, the company has yet to obtain all the necessary permits.
The mine, located more than 5,000 meters (16,400 feet) above sea level, is expected to create 5,500 jobs in the construction phase and 1,600 permanent positions.
Pascua Lama has provoked protests by Chilean environmentalists, who say the project will dangerously deplete scarce water resources in the area.
Uriarte, however, said the government is moving to establish rules and oversight to ensure that the water supply is preserved.
"The challenge that Chile faces in regard to the realization of projects of the magnitude of Pascua Lama and others is to have an integrated system of supervision," she said.
Glaciers near Pascua Lama will not be at risk from the project, the minister vowed. "The only reason that would justify intervening (with the glaciers) would be a motive of national interest, such as the supply of water for the population," Uriarte said.
MEDIA RELEASE: Indigenous Leaders confront Barrick Gold
29th April 2009
Indigenous leaders from Papua New Guinea and Chile traveled to Canada to attend the April 29 shareholders' meeting of Barrick Gold. Here, they will confront Barrick about human rights abuses and environmental degradation on their lands.
Complaints include killings, rapes and arbitrary detentions of local village people in the Papua New Guinea highlands by Barrick security guards. For Barrick's Pascua Lama project on the border of Chile and Argentina, Barrick failed to consult the Diaguita Huascoaltinos Indigenous community, who hold title to the land of that proposed mine, as well as other areas that Barrick is exploring.
"Barrick Gold says that they want to help the poor, but we don't want their helping hand, we want their hands off our mountains," says Sergio Campusano, president of the Diaguita Huascoaltino Indigenous and Agricultural community who are struggling against Barrick Gold's Pascua Lama mine and other exploration in the area. Barrick recognized Campusano as the legitimate leader of the Huascoaltino community until he asked Barrick to leave the area. Now the corporation is promoting Diaguita from other areas as legitimate leaders who will provide consent to the project.
In 2006, Sergio's community lodged a complaint against the State of Chile for the Pascua Lama project in the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
According to Jethro Tulin, Executive Officer of the Akali Tange Association, a human rights organization in Papua New Guinea, "Barrick's Porgera Mine is a textbook case of what can go wrong when large-scale mining confronts indigenous peoples, ignoring the impacts of its projects and resorting to goon squads when people rebel against it. This outrages the conscience of local Indigenous communities, especially when the mine is right next to our homes; my people are exposed to dangerous chemicals like cyanide and mercury; some of our people drown in the tailings and waste during floods; and fishing stocks, flora and fauna are depleted down the river systems, leading to indigenous food sources being threatened."
As Mr. Tulin traveled to Canada to attend Barrick's AGM, the Papua New Guinea government sent 200 heavily armed troops to the Porgera area. This effective State of Emergency in Porgera was motivated by situation reports presented by Barrick (PNG) Limited, according to Laigap Porgera Member of Parliament Phillip Kikala. Reports and photos received from Porgera landowners this week testify that these troops have burnt down 80 houses in one village bordering the mine site and are now targeting houses in other nearby villages.
"Barrick Gold and the Government of Papua New Guinea must immediately start to address the catastrophic problem in Porgera pro-actively rather than over reacting with high level security installations and branding it as a law and order problem. Calling a State of Emergency is not the right method to fix these extensive and irreversible damages, the ordinary people are already victims of what as gone wrong."
Last year the Norwegian Pension Fund divested $230 million CAD from Barrick Gold for ethical concerns related to the Porgera Mine.
PAPUA NEW GUINEA
Porgera up in flames
By SIMON ERORO, Post Courier
30th April 2009
More than 300 houses belonging to local landowners near the Porgera gold mine in Enga Province, have been torched allegedly by policemen called out to restore law and order in the district.
Yesterday, chairman of the Porgera Landowners Association Mark Ekepa arrived in Port Moresby with a delegation to meet the Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare and withdraw their support. Police Commissioner Gari Baki when contacted yesterday said he was not aware of the torching and was yet to be briefed by the Operation Ipili commander.
Assistant Commissioner Raphael Huafolo said communication breakdown between Porgera and Port Moresby had caused difficulties in getting updates from the commander.
Lagaip-Porgera MP Philip Kikala said yesterday he pushed for the SOE after requests from landowners to clamp down on lawlessness in the area.Mr Kikala said police had their commander where control and command was supposed to come from. He will meet the landowners today.
Barrick Gold could not be reached yesterday for comments.
Mr Ekepa said because the SOE was not serving its purpose they will call for the withdrawal of personnel and investigations to be conducted into the matter. He claimed police had burned 309 homes since Operation Ipili started. He claimed the policemen were not sent in to protect the landowners and the villagers from lawlessness, tribal fighting, crime and illegal mining.
"This houses burnt are not homes of illegal settlers, these houses belong to the second and third generation landowners who were not thought of by the National Government and Barrick Gold in their relocation plan in 1989," Mr Ekepa said. Many of those left homeless were three of the seven landowner clans - Tieni Wuape, Tieni Waigolo and Tieni Lakima - in Porgera. The delegation claimed in a joint statement that the SOE was targeting innocent people and not the trouble makers.
They called on Mr Kikala, Mr Baki, Barrick Gold and the National Government to explain police action. Mr Ekepa said: "There is no co-ordination between local police, village court officials, landowner association, district officials and village leaders in the area and there is no command and control in the SOE."
Papua New Guinea: Forced Evictions and destruction of property by Police in Porgera must end
Amnesty International Public Statement
AI Index: ASA 34/001/2009
11th May 2009
Amnesty International calls for immediate action to protect more than 1,000 people who have been left homeless after police officials in Papua New Guinea forcibly evicted them by burning down their homes.
On 27 April 2009 police officials burned down 50 houses within the Porgera mining area, owned and operated by Canadian-based Barrick Gold Corporation. More than 200 police had been sent to the area as part of an operation to deal with the law and order situation in Porgera District, Enga Province. The police alleged that people living in these homes were squatters responsible for illegal mining and other criminal activities. A further 300 houses of villagers living near the mine are also reported to have been burnt down as part of the same operations.
According to reports received by Amnesty International, these evictions were carried out in breach of international law, without giving prior and adequate notice, and without consultation with those affected. The families have not been provided with any alternative accommodation.
Papua New Guinea is under an obligation under international human rights standards to only carry out evictions as a last resort, and to explore all feasible alternatives to evictions to avoid or minimise the use of force. Forced evictions are recognised as a gross violation of human rights and should never be used as a punitive measure.
Moreover the company operating the mine and governments should abide by internationally recognised Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights that give clear guidance to both companies and governments about the use of security. Both the company responsible for the mine, Barrick, and the PNG government need to act on these standards and ensure the protection of people's human rights.
There are fears that more homes may be destroyed as Internal Security Minister Sani Rambi has reportedly attempted to extend the police deployment in the province for a longer period.
Amnesty International urges:
* The Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary to immediately stop the forced eviction of people in the Porgera Valley and the destruction of their properties.
* The Papua New Guinea government to carry out a full and independent investigation into the forced evictions and the manner in which they were carried out and bring those responsible to justice. The authorities also need to ensure that all victims of the forced evictions receive adequate reparation, including adequate alternative accommodation and compensation.
* The PNG government to immediately ensure that all victims of forced evictions are provided with emergency relief including shelter, food, water and access to medical assistance.
* The PNG government and Barrick Gold Corporation to prioritise the needs of villagers within the mine area and work to ensure a fair process for relocation with appropriate and adequate compensation.
The Canadian Government, which recently became engaged in the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights, to insist that Barrick Gold Corporation implement those principles and assist the company to do so.
* Barrick Gold Corporation to apply the principles set out in the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights.
Forced evictions are evictions that are carried out without adequate notice or consultation with those affected, without legal safeguards and without assurances of adequate alternative accommodation. They are defined by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as "the permanent or temporary removal against their will of individuals, families and/or communities from the homes and/or land which they occupy, without the provision of, and access to, appropriate forms of legal or other protection. As a party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and other international human rights treaties which prohibit forced eviction and related human rights violations, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Papua New Guinea has an obligation to stop forced evictions and to protect the population from forced evictions.
Barrick Gold Corporation and Porgera
Barrick Gold Corporation is a Canadian mining company and the largest producer of gold in the world, with 27 mines in operation. Through its subsidiary, Barrick operates the Porgera gold mine in Papua New Guinea and owns 95% of the mine, which in 2008 produced 627,000 ounces of gold (gold prices averaged US$871 per ounce in 2008). Barrick took over the Porgera mine in 2006 through the acquisition of the prior operator, Placer Dome.
There are a number of villages within the mine area, which covers some 2,350 hectares of land. The Porgera Landowners Association, which represents the approximately 10,000 indigenous residents living within the mine area, has called for a fair relocation process for the residents.
Many locals look for gold in the tailings, waste rock piles, or the open pit of the mine. Locals claim that they practiced alluvial gold mining before the mine operation began, that it was a legal and important source of income, and that they continue to mine due to poverty and lack of land for subsistence farming. The locals' gold mining is considered illegal by Barrick, as it occurs within the company's Special Mine Lease area. This tension has been the source of conflict at the mine site. Since commencing operation in 1990, the mine has been associated with several violent deaths. The mine has also been heavily criticised for the impacts of its environmental practices. On 30 January 2009, the Norwegian Government Pension Fund excluded Barrick from its investment portfolio for "causing severe environmental damages as a direct result of its operations".
The Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights
The governments of the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Norway, companies in the extractive and energy sectors ("Companies"), and non-governmental organizations ("NGOs"), all with an interest in human rights and corporate social responsibility, developed these principles to guide companies in maintaining the safety and security of their operations within an operating framework that ensures respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Since March 2009, the Canadian government has committed to promoting implementation of the Principles as part of the government's strategy for the Canadian extractive sector operating outside of Canada.
The Principles state that:
Companies should use their influence to promote the following principles with public security: (b) force should be used only when strictly necessary and to an extent proportional to the threat; and (c) the rights of individuals should not be violated
In cases where physical force is used by public security, such incidents should be reported to the appropriate authorities and to the Company. Where force is used, medical aid should be provided to injured persons, including to offenders.
For more information please call Amnesty International's press office in London, UK, on +44 20 7413 5566 or email: email@example.com
International Secretariat, Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London WC1X 0DW, UK
MiningWatch Appeals to U.N. over Human Rights Abuses Related to Barrick Mine in Papua New Guinea
3rd May 2009
MiningWatch Canada has sent an Urgent Appeal to several United Nations Special Rapporteurs regarding human rights abuses near Barrick Gold's Porgera Joint Venture (PJV) mine in Papua New Guinea.
On April 18, 2009, more than 200 troops including four mobile units, an air tactical unit, and intelligence officials from the PNG Defence Force were deployed in Porgera in an operation named "Operation Ipili 09." On April 27 MiningWatch began to receive reports and pictures of house burnings in villages of indigenous Ipili landowners located within the PJV Special Mine Lease area. Local news services indicate that more than 300 houses have been burned down. MiningWatch has also received reports that landowners who resisted the burning of their houses were beaten and arrested.
These actions violate the right to housing and the right to security of the person, as well as rights of indigenous peoples. MiningWatch is further concerned about the possibility of violence leading to death, as there has been a history of killings of landowners by security forces associated with the Porgera Joint Venture mine. The possible role of the Porgera Joint Venture's security forces in "Operation Ipili 09" is of central concern as there is a confidential agreement dating back to 2005 between the government of Papua New Guinea and the Porgera Joint Venture mine that sets out terms and responsibilities for security at the mine.
"It is known that the PJV mine has provided support to state police actions related to security at the mine site in the past," says MiningWatch spokesperson Catherine Coumans. "It is important for Canadians to know what, if any, involvement Barrick's security forces had in the house burnings and whether Barrick provided logistical or other forms of support to the operation."
Barrick has not made any public statements with regard to the burning of houses or the alleged abuses in its Special Mine Lease area.
"We call on Barrick to clearly and publicly condemn the burning of houses in the Porgera Joint Venture's Special Mine Lease area by military and police associated with 'Operation Ipili '09'." says Coumans.
For more information contact;
Catherine Coumans: firstname.lastname@example.org
Attached: MiningWatch Canada's Urgent Appeal to the United Nations
BACKGROUND: Issues Related to Barrick's Porgera Joint Venture Mine in Papua New Guinea
Barrick Gold holds off scrutiny drive
By Dennis Myers
Reno News & Review
14th May 2009
A shareholder resolution calling Barrick Gold to account drew about 20 percent support of shares voted at the corporation's annual meeting in Toronto.
Ethical Funds, a "socially responsible" Canadian mutual fund, sponsored the resolution asking Barrick Gold's board of directors to commission an independent review of the company's practices at the Cortez Hill mine in Nevada.
Last year, Ethical sent two analysts to Nevada to inspect the Barrick site and hear Western Shoshone complaints about the corporation's practices, particularly treatment of Mt. Tenabo, a sacred Shoshone site. On Jan. 30, Barrick was expelled from the Norwegian government's state pension plan on grounds that "investing in the company entails an unacceptable risk of the [pension plan] contributing to serious environmental damage."
Ethical sponsored the shareholder resolution after Barrick rejected Ethical's request for an assessment of the impact of Barrick's conduct on Western Shoshone rights. Also supporting greater corporate accountability of Barrick are consumer groups Shareholder Association for Research and Education (SHARE), Global Aware and CorpWatch.
A statement posted on Barrick's website reads, "The allegation that Barrick is operating on lands owned by the Western Shoshone without community consent is deliberately misleading. Under U.S. law, the company owns the land and mineral rights at the Cortez site. Some members of the Western Shoshone community have pursued land claims against the United States government with respect to federal lands. Those claims have been determined to be without merit by the United States Supreme Court. CorpWatch's claim that mining activities at Cortez are ‘being pushed forward' without consultation with the Western Shoshone is simply not true."
Barrick operates at 27 mine sites around the world. Like most mining corporations operating in Nevada, it is a Canadian company.
When a similar request for a site evaluation was made of Newmont Gold, which also operates in Nevada, it agreed, and the review was mostly favorable to the company.
Porgera Alliance (Papua New Guinea)
The Porgera Alliance is a network of groups in the Engan Province of Papua New Guinea, organized to demand accountability from Barrick Gold, the world's largest gold miner.
No a Pascua Lama (Spanish, Chile)
News and up dates from resistance to the Pascua Lama project
Agua Vale Más que el Oro (Chile)
"We are the Pastoral "Salvaguarda de la Creación" (salvation of the creation), of the valley of the river Huasco, northern Chile. Because we value God's creation which is necessary for the life of men, we have been examining the efforts of Barrick Gold and others who want to extract gold from our Chilean mountains."
Latin American Observatory of Mining Conflicts (Spanish, Chile)
The site serves as a portal to groups researching and organizing around mining issues, particulary involving Barrick Gold. It contains news articles, testimonies, and backgrounders about Barrick's operations worldwide.
Western Shoshone Defense Project
Fighting to protect sacred Mt. Tenabo from Barrick's huge $6.4 billion gold mine proposal.
Save Lake Cowal (Australia)
Lake Cowal is ‘the Sacred Heartland of the Wiradjuri Nation'. It is the largest inland lake in NSW and is a wetland of national and international significance, situated 45 km north-east of West Wyalong in the central western NSW region of the Murray-Darling Basin.