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., ,  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. 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.
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., 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.
- 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., 
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., 
- 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., 
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. Similarly, Eldorado Gold allegedly avoided paying $2.3 million owed to cash-strapped Greece.
- 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. Other Canadian companies, such as Infinito Gold, continue to sue governments, challenging their democratic processes and causing financial strain.
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