Updates

Reaching out to media @ PDAC

 

Journalists from major Canadian and international media outlets will be descending on the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada’s (PDAC) convention in Toronto March 4-7. Some of these outlets, like BNN and the Globe and Mail, are even official media partners. We’re tired of seeing PDAC coverage that repeats industry PR without mentioning the experiences of impacted communities.

At PDAC 2018 we’ll be sharing a brief with journalists (see below) that summarizes some of the most egregious human rights abuses, environmental destruction and economic damage done by major convention sponsors, including Barrick Gold, Goldcorp and Rio Tinto, as well as other Canadian mining companies like HudBay Minerals and Nevsun. Media outlets covering PDAC need to tell these stories too!

 

 

 

 

March 4, 2018

What’s Hidden at the PDAC Convention?
The “Oscars” of the global mining industry – the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada’s (PDAC) annual convention – is happening in Toronto from March 4th-7th. The PDAC convention is the world’s largest mineral industry gathering, bringing together geologists, mining engineers, CEOs, financiers, and government representatives. This industry gathers yearly to make deals and give out awards without the presence or input of most impacted communities and without mention of the numerous harms perpetuated by mining corporations. Responsible news outlets and journalists should not be replicating industry press releases without acknowledging these well-documented abuses.

 

For example, PDAC’s 2018 Environmental and Social Responsibility Award is going to Golden Star Resources, a company linked to the criminalization of artisanal miners, the shooting of 7 people, the intimidation of community members, and cyanide spills in Ghana.[1], [2], [3] The Canadian mining industry as a whole has a reputation for bad behaviour; a leaked report commissioned by PDAC found that Canadian companies have played a large role in resource conflicts globally.[4] The PDAC convention is promoted as a space to identify and celebrate best practices, but this rhetoric is largely misleading given the industry’s troubling track record.

 

Environmental violations

 

Many companies present in the Investors Exchange have been involved in extensive environmental devastation. Barrick Gold and Goldcorp were featured speakers on a water management panel as part of 2017’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Series. However, the history of water contamination by these Platinum Sponsors tells a different story.

  • In January 2018, the Chilean government ordered the permanent closure of surface facilities at Barrick Gold’s Pascua Lama mine due to severe water concerns, including damage to glaciers.[5],[6] Barrick Gold also faced fines in Argentina over three cyanide spills in 18 months, including a 2015 spill of 1 million litres into waterways used for drinking water.[7]
  • Goldcorp faced persistent accusations around water contamination and usage at its now closed San Martin mine in Honduras. Children developed severe health impacts associated with exposure to heavy metals, and riverbeds dried up. Following a report by international NGOs, the Honduran government filed criminal charges in 2010 against mine officials for failing to act on high levels of acidity and heavy metals in nearby water bodies.[8], [9]

 

 

Human rights abuses

 

While PDAC’s CSR event series “aims to facilitate multi-stakeholder dialogue and peer learning on key issues related to responsible exploration and mining,” these conversations clearly have not led to accountability in the mining industry. Prominent PDAC members have been accused of and even sued for their role in serious human rights violations including murder, sexual assault and exploitative labour practices.

  • HudBay Minerals is currently being sued in Ontario for negligence over human rights abuses at its former subsidiary in Guatemala. This precedent-setting case concerns the murder of Adolfo Ich, the shooting of German Chub and the gang rape of 11 women.[10], [11]
  • Nevsun Resources is being sued in BC courts over the alleged use of forced labour and cruel treatment during the construction of their Bisha mine in Eritrea. Nevus tried unsuccessfully to have the trial moved to Eritrea.[12], [13]

 

Economic damage

 

The mining industry regularly touts the economic benefits of mining, yet many companies avoid paying their fair share and some have even launched litigation against countries for denying them permits.

  • Turquoise Hill Resources, the Canadian subsidiary of Rio Tinto, allegedly used tax havens and financial schemes to avoid paying $559 million USD in Canadian taxes and $230 million USD to the Mongolian government.[14] Similarly, Eldorado Gold allegedly avoided paying $2.3 million owed to cash-strapped Greece.[15]
  • OceanaGold, a 2018 convention sponsor, sued El Salvador in 2009 for $250 million after the government would not issue a mining permit. In 2016, an investment dispute tribunal dismissed OceanaGold’s case and ordered the company to pay El Salvador $8 million.[16] Other Canadian companies, such as Infinito Gold, continue to sue governments, challenging their democratic processes and causing financial strain.[17]

 

The Media’s Role

 

The environmental harms, human rights abuses, and economic damage listed above are sadly too common within the mining industry and some of PDAC’s most prominent members are the worst offenders. We encourage media outlets and journalists to:

o   Seek out and highlight the voices of impacted communities to tell the whole story;

o   Acknowledge any fines, charges, and allegations that have been made against companies that you mention in your writing about the PDAC convention;

o   Report on the political and financial support provided by the Canadian government to Canadian mining companies; and

o   Question the claims made by PDAC and its representatives during the convention.

 

Mining Injustice Solidarity Network

[email protected] | mininginjustice.org

Media Contact: Jen Mills (647) 990-7897

 

  1. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/27649434_Strained_Relations_A_Critical_Analysis_of_the_Mining_Conflict_in_Prestea_Ghana
  2. https://miningwatch.ca/blog/2005/8/25/canadian-mining-companies-destroy-environment-and-community-resources-ghana
  3. https://intercontinentalcry.org/stop-prestea-mine-expansion-in-ghana/
  4. https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2010/10/19/canadian_mining_firms_worst_for_environment_rights_report.html
  5. https://steelguru.com/mining/chile-s-regulator-orders-permanent-closure-of-barrick-s-pascua-lama-mine/500425
  6. http://www.mining.com/chiles-regulator-orders-permanent-closure-barricks-pascua-lama-mine/
  7. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-barrick-gold-mine-argentina-exclusive/exclusive-barrick-faces-sanctions-for-argentina-cyanide-spills-judge-says-idUSKBN1841BK
  8. https://cafod.org.uk/News/Campaigning-news/Goldcorp-pollution
  9. http://micla.ca/conflicts/san-martin-3/
  10. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/dec/13/guatemala-canada-indigenous-right-canadian-mining-company
  11. http://www.chocversushudbay.com/
  12. http://business.financialpost.com/pmn/business-pmn/nevsun-resources-loses-b-c-appeal-to-move-human-rights-lawsuit-to-Eritrea
  13. https://business-humanrights.org/en/nevsun-lawsuit-re-bisha-mine-eritrea
  14. https://www.thestar.com/news/world/2018/01/31/the-canadian-company-behind-this-mongolian-mine-has-avoided-half-a-billion-dollars-in-taxes-report-alleges.html
  15. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/international-business/eldorado-gold-faces-accusations-of-tax-avoidance-in-greece/article23694042/
  16. https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2016/oct/14/el-salvador-world-bank-tribunal-dismisses-oceanagold-mining-firm-250m-claim
  17. http://www.ticotimes.net/2016/01/21/canadian-mining-company-reorganizes-seek-damages-costa-rica

 

Untold in the Underground: an unconventional treasure hunt @ PDAC

Unearth Canada’s shameful industry secrets in Toronto’s most unconventional treasure hunt!

Drop by the starting point anytime between 1-4pm to get your top-secret mission. Then, go underground into the nearby convention centre to dig up some truths. There’s no cost to enter the game, and there’s a small “liquid gold” prize, from Turnview Farm Honey, for those who RSVP ahead!

When: Sunday, March 4th anytime between 1-4pm.

Where: Meet at Hoops Sports Bar (125 Bremner Blvd); treasure hunt at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre

Read More

#DisruptPDAC: using social media to mess with the CDN mining industry’s PR

Help us throw a wrench in the PR machine of one of Canada’s most powerful — and deadly — industries in the weeks leading up to their biggest gathering!

Every year we’re there at PDAC in person, not letting them get away with their corporate charade. But this year we want to take it a step further and burst their social media bubble as well. Help us help people see through the Canadian mining industry’s PR campaign by participating in The #DisruptPDAC Challenge!

Read More

Weeeee’re baaaa-aaaack!

MISN is officially no longer on hiatus from external organizing! We got a lot done during this time that will make our activism stronger and more sustainable. Keep an eye out for what we have planned for the coming months! 😁❤️

To our community, in Toronto and elsewhere:

We’re writing to let you know that MISN will be going on a hiatus from external organizing for a little while. Everything is okay, there’s nothing wrong! We’ve just experienced some shifts in the membership of our core collective recently that has been making our capacity feel a little lower than usual. We will still be busy over the next couple of months… but as an act of care to ourselves and in service of long-term sustainable organizing, we will be focusing our energy on developing new models for investing in new mining justice activists, recruiting and onboarding new core collective members, and generally building our power and capacity. We think this is a very good and exciting thing!

We’re trying to be as open about this as possible for two major reasons:

#1: We’re not going to be around that much this fall or available to support the global mining justice movement/Toronto-based organizing as much as usual. We won’t be planning any actions/events, taking on new relationships with mining-impacted communities, or agreeing to many requests to speak/present/educate/table/co-host/etc. But we haven’t gone away! We’re just focusing inwardly right now.

#2: We want to model the fact that taking breaks is okay. Resting is okay! Saying “I’m tired” is okay. We’re in this for the long haul, folks, and we want you to be too. Capitalism and colonialism aren’t going to abolish themselves, and so we need our collective strength, which can only be maintained through mutual aid, solidarity, friendship, rest, perspective, and whatever else nourishes our spirits.

To anybody who’s been thinking of joining MISN for a while: now is a REALLY good time to get in touch with us about that. We will be holding a new member’s orientation later in the fall, but please email us about this anytime, especially if you are an experienced organizer. We are a small but mighty feminist-minded, anti-capitalist, anti-colonial collective that strongly values thoughtfulness, creativity, humour, and liking the people we organize with. We’d love to have you join us as we work to build our numbers, energy, and capacity!

See you in January 2018, friends!

Love, the MISN collective <3

p.s. And to you, if you work for the mining industry and are reading this: do not interpret this as a sign of weakness. We will be back soon… bigger, better, bolder, and more ready than ever to f*ck you up. Get ready.