Toronto: Join the protest against gold mining giant, Barrick Gold,Canada’s shame

Please join Students Against Climate Change members at an informative non-violent vigil / protest against Barrick Gold, the world largest gold mining company.

Our special guest is Sakura Saunder from Corpwatch (see her article on Barrick below).

The last time there was a Barrick information picket – at the Metro Convention Centre – Sakura and another person were violently assaulted by the police without provocation. They were simply handing out information to Barrick shareholders at the AGM and refused to move from the sidewalk. They were taken down violently and the man was strip-searched. They were never charged, just assaulted. The police here seem to be very protective of Barrick — it could be that they are paid to take sides, as in Latin America — so numbers are important as a protection against further violations of our right of peaceful assembly under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Protest date and time:
Friday, August 24, 2007, 4:30 p.m. for about one or two hours.

Protest location: 161 Bay Street, BCE Place / Canada Trust tower, just north of Bay & Front, on the sidewalk.

What we’ll be doing: handing out literature, talking to people about what Barrick Gold is doing.

Why we are protesting:

Barrick, a Canadian multinational, has left a legacy of death, pain, toxic pollution and environmental devastation around the world. The latest victims are indigenous people and poor farmers living near the Pascua Lama mine on the Chilean / Argentian border. Barrick’s ruthless mining practices are destroying a glacier there. This and the millions of litres of water they use from local rivers for their operations endangers the water supply for 70,000 Chilean farmers and villagers.

Additionally, poisonous cyanide is used which leaches into local water supplies, causing birth defects, illness and death. Typical mines do not last more than 15 years; after they’re gone they leave heavy metals in the ground, poisoning the local people and environment for decades afterwards.

Global resistance

Protests against Barrick’s abuses are worldwide, in Africa, Latin American, North America and Australia. This is a small effort by students at University of Toronto to in solidarity with the courageous farmers and indigenous people who have decided to risk beatings and arrest by police sent by corrupt state officials and militia hired by Barrick to protect their interests. Some of these militia have fired on and murdered protesters.

Barrick is a Canadian company and Canada should have a role to play in mitigating this human rights / environmental disaster. Politicians in Ottawa are aware of this travesty of justice but have not acted decisively against it:

“Canada does not yet have laws to ensure that the activities of Canadian mining companies in developing countries conform to human rights standards, including the rights of workers and of indigenous peoples.” – Canada’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade. June 2005

“Canadian mining companies are taking advantage of [inadequate and poorly enforced regulatory controls] to expand into all corners of the globe, manipulating, slandering, abusing, and even killing those who dare to oppose them, displacing Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities alike, supporting repressive governments and taking advantage of weak ones, and contaminating and destroying sensitive ecosystems.” – Jamie Kneen, MiningWatch Canada.


November 2006

What we can do: urge the Canadian government to investigate the actions of these companies, as was recommended by a United Nations panel in 2002 in relation to the atrocities in the Congo caused by mining activities there.

Barrick operates there as well. See http://www.dominionpaper.ca/articles/1195

Here is a list of the politicians involved in the House of Commons Standing Committing of Foreign Affairs and International Trade:

http://cmte.parl.gc.ca/cmte/CommitteeList.aspx?Lang=1&PARLSES=381&JNT=0&SELID=e18_&COM=8979

E-mails to this groups could include the following statement, “Do not absolve yourselves of personal moral responsibility in this matter by deferring the issue to the Standing Committee on International Trade.” And here is the membership for the Standing Committee on International Trade:

http://cmte.parl.gc.ca/cmte/CommitteeList.aspx?Lang=1&PARLSES=391&JNT=0&SELID=e18_&COM=10801

Their actual emails can be accessed through this list and clicking on the appropriate names:

http://www.parl.gc.ca/information/about/people/house/mpscur.asp

This protest / vigil is being organizing by Students Against Climate Change

(see http://studentsagainstclimatechange.blogspot.com/)

For information on the protest, contact Paul York at 416-922-0035.

If there are problems with these links let me know. Thanks! 🙂

______________

The Curse of Gold

by Sakura Saunders on February 28th, 2007 for http://corpwatch.com

This week’s CorpWatch feature highlights the plight of indigenous people in Papua New Guinea, where landowners feel that they are cheated out of their resources, livelihoods, and just compensation by the world’s largest gold producer, Barrick Gold.

Papua New Guinea represents a case study in how resource extraction just might be the worst possible way to develop a country, especially where 85 percent of the population depends on the environment for their subsistence livelihood. Here, the pollution caused by open-pit mining and cyanide leaching creates an especially vulnerable situation for the indigenous people. In our recent feature, we attached testimonies from the landowners, mine workers, women, and human right activists who are affected by the mine.

A principal landowner, Nelson Akiko, describes his disillusionment with the mine:

“We depend on our land. You depend on money. Money is not need, it is only a want, but it is need in western society. I live on land, which is my stomach. I grow food from this land and then I survive. But now, where can I get food?”

Also, the fact that mineral deposits, including oil, copper, and gold, account for two-thirds of PNG’s export earnings leaves them susceptible to the Dutch Disease, or the phenomenon wherein resource exports raise the exchange rate for a country’s currency, thereby making their labor less desirable. While this only accounts for a tiny part of the negative consequences of mining, it does illustrate that even within an economic paradigm, mining carries negative consequences for ‘development’, especially open pit mines because they require less human labor. Large mineral exports also make countries more susceptible to corruption because of the negotiating power held with government gatekeepers.

This is similar to Mali, where gold makes up 65 percent of its exports, dwarfing its former economic bedrock cotton. Some 64 mining companies have active mining and exploration projects in this landlocked African country, but despite a surge in gold prices, Mali’s development indicators have stagnated. A recent Oxfam report ‘Hidden treasure: in search of Mali’s gold mining revenues’, concluded that:

“There is not sufficient disclosure in an understandable form for citizens or civic groups to determine whether they are indeed benefiting as they should according to current law in Mali.”

The fact that gold is a largely useless metal (that is already hoarded and unused in large quantities) makes the destruction caused by it’s extraction all the more tragic. According the No Dirty Gold Campaign, 80% of the gold is used by the jewelry industry. On average, the production of one gold wedding ring produces 20 tons of waste.

Unfortunately, Papua New Guinea is not an isolated example of how gold mines can destroy communities. Mining Watch Canada summed their view of the mining industry in Canada, where 60% of the world’s mining companies reside:

Metal prices are booming, and Canadian mining companies are taking advantage of the same prejudicial conditions to expand into all corners of the globe, manipulating, slandering, abusing, and even killing those who dare to oppose them, displacing Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities alike, supporting repressive governments and taking advantage of weak ones, and contaminating and destroying sensitive ecosystems.

CorpWatch has been tracking Barrick elsewhere in the world, most recently at its Pascua Lama project in Argentina.

Barrick’s plans to “relocate” three glaciers – 816,000 cubic meters of ice – by means of bulldozers and controlled blasting, is seen by mine-opponents as symbolic of the company’s utter insensitivity to the environment. As headwaters for a water basin in an arid region receiving very little rainfall, many opponents are gravely concerned for the ice. They say the mechanical action involved in moving the glaciers will irreversibly melt much of it, jeopardizing a delicate ecological balance further downstream.

While Barrick originally planned to “relocate” three glaciers to another area, since being denied their original plan, the project now aims to build an open-pit mine next to the glaciers. However, most alarmingly, since construction has started on the mine, the glaciers have been depleted an estimated 50-70 percent, according to Chilean General Office of Waters (DGA). Barrick attempted to blame global warming for the melting, but those claims have been disproven.

In the U.S., Western Shoshone lands now account for the majority of gold produced within the United States and almost 10 percent of world production.

The scale of development is unprecedented and will leave a legacy of environmental impacts for centuries into the future.

___________

Excerpts from the CorpWatch report on Barrick

Barrick’s Dirty Secrets: Communities Respond to Gold Mining’s Impacts

Worldwide

Canadian-owned Barrick Gold, the world’s largest gold producer, is
exploring, building and operating huge, open-pit gold mines on nearly every continent on the planet.

On average, gold mining today produces 70 tons of waste for every ounce of gold, while also consuming and polluting massive amounts of water. An estimated 50 percent of these mining operations occur on native lands.

For many Indigenous peoples, who often rely on their environment for food and necessities, mining threatens not only their livelihood, but also their spirituality and traditional way of life.

These new “modern mining” projects leave thousand-year legacies of acid mine drainage, destruction of ecosystems, disease, and regional climate change.

Riches in the form of gold, silver and copper are exported to first world shareholders, leaving behind poverty, dependency and pollution.

A new CorpWatch report details the operations of Barrick gold in nine different countries, focusing on the efforts on the part of the communities to seek justice from this powerful multinational.

In the report, you will discover:

* individual profiles on Barrick’s operations in Chile, Argentina, Peru,

Tanzania, Papua New Guinea, the U.S., Australia, the Philippines, and Canada.

* how Barrick’s Valedero and Pascua Lama projects got placed in a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve;

* a roundup of mine security and police repression in Peru;

how “illegal” miners have had their lives threatened and taken away in Tanzania and Papua New Guinea;

* how Barrick threatens indigenous spiritual grounds of the Wiradjuri in Australia and the Western Shoshone in the U.S.

* how Barrick threatens the water sources in water scarce areas in Chile, Argentina, Australia, and Nevada. In New South Wales, Australia, Barrick’s mine is licensed to use 17 million liters on water per day. Meanwhile, that region is experiencing their worst drought in the last hundred years.

profiles of on-going community struggles against Barrick around the world

<http://www.corpwatch.org/downloads/Barrick_final_sml.pdf>

Download “Barrick’s Dirty Secrets: Communities Worldwide Respond to Gold

Mining’s Impacts” <http://www.corpwatch.org/downloads/Barrick_final_sml.pdf>

Download Spanish version of report

<http://www.corpwatch.org/downloads/Barrick_en_espanol.pdf>

Contact: Sakura Saunders, sakura@corpwatch.org, 510-271-8080

On May 2nd, as part of an “International Day of Action” against Barrick, protests will take place in six different countries as well as in Toronto, Canada, where Barrick is based. On the same day, Canada’s second largest gold mining company, GoldCorp, will be protested at their annual meeting in Vancouver.

For more information about these actions, go to protestbarrick.net

<http://protestbarrick.net>

In light of these facts, we [Corpwatch] recommend that Barrick meet with affected communities and negotiate in full faith with them, recognizing their rights to the land, and accepting local jurisdiction over environmental and human rights conflicts and abuses.

Barrick should also compensate victims of past abuses for which it is responsible. We also recommend that the Canadian government create measures to hold corporations accountable. In particular, we recommend that Canada:

• establish standards and reporting obligations for Canadian companies;

• references international human rights standards and provides for the creation of human rights guidelines for the application of these standards;

• incorporates these standards into binding legislation so that compliance is mandatory;

• includes provisions for withholding government services from companies in cases of serious non-compliance; and

• creates an ombudsperson’s office of independent international experts to receive complaints regarding the operations of Canadian companies worldwide and to assess corporate compliance with the standards.

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2 Responses to Toronto: Join the protest against gold mining giant, Barrick Gold,Canada’s shame

  1. Stephen Karr says:

    Barrick Gold is actually one of the companies that is targetted by Amnesty International in this year’s Share Power campaign.

    http://www.amnesty.ca/sharepower/index.php

    A shareholder resolution expressing concern about Pascua Lama is being presented at Barrick’s AGM.

    Write a letter to Peter Munk, CEO of Barrick, about Pascua Lama; and a letter to the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board about their proxy vote at the Barrick AGM.

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