CALGARY – Canadian mining company Nevsun Resources is defending its operations in Eritrea following a damning report by the United Nations that accused the miner of using forced labour in the North African country.
Nevsun released an updated independent human rights report this week that found no evidence of forced labour or human rights violations at its 60-per-cent-owned Bisha mine in Eritrea, where thousands of people are fleeing on perilous treks to Europe.
The report by LKL International Consulting is in contrast to June’s UN report, which said Nevsun used forced labour at the Bisha mine after the company was required to hire government-owned contractors that included Segen Construction.
The UN commissioners spoke with former Segen workers who said they were forced to work at the mine while in the compulsory national service. “Even though Segen tried to conceal their status, the majority of Segen’s ‘workers’ were in fact conscripts performing their national service,” wrote the commissioners. Read the rest of this entry »
UNITED NATIONS – Illicit trafficking of diamonds from Central African Republic into neighboring Cameroon is helping finance the continuation of a nearly three-year conflict, an expert panel that monitors U.N. sanctions said in a confidential report.
Central African Republic (CAR) descended into chaos in March 2013 when predominantly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power, triggering reprisals by “anti-balaka” Christian militias who drove tens of thousands of Muslims from the south in a de facto partition of the landlocked country.
Although rival armed groups agreed to a peace accord in May, the conflict has continued at a lower intensity, and a transitional government has been unable to assert its authority over all of the vast, mineral-rich territory.
The export of diamonds from CAR was banned in May 2013 by the Kimberley Process, which represents 81 countries, including the United States, the European Union, Russia, China and all major diamond-producing nations. The group was formed to prevent so-called blood diamonds from funding conflicts. Read the rest of this entry »
BOGOTA, Sept 1 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A boom in illegal gold mining in Colombia and Peru is fuelling human trafficking and forced labor in and around mines but there have been few convictions for the crime, researchers say.
In Peru, the world’s fifth biggest gold producer and exporter, sexual exploitation and forced labour in some mining areas is a growing concern, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) says.
“Human trafficking in both illegal mining areas and small-scale mining is an increasing problem in Peru,” said Jeremy MacGillivray, IOM’s project development officer in Peru.
Poor, uneducated and unemployed women and girls are vulnerable to recruiters’ false promises of work as cooks, cleaners and waitresses in mining towns but are often forced into commercial sex work.
“Around mines, small towns sprout up providing services for miners, including restaurants, bars and brothels, where many of the victims of sexual exploitation are. Read the rest of this entry »
Projects that would bring much-needed jobs could also ruin irreplaceable freshwater resources
ELY, Minn. — It’s the kind of July day that Minnesotans fantasize about in the dead of winter. Puffball clouds float in a blue sky and daisies sprout under stately pines lining Spruce Road, the main artery of an old logging network deep in the Superior National Forest about 15 miles southeast of Ely.
Paul Schurke is bumping down a dirt road in a Dodge Ram pickup truck. He owns Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge with his wife, Susan, and is famous in these parts as the explorer who co-led the first dogsled expedition to the North Pole without re-supply in 1986.
The dirt track ends before it reaches the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, the roadless, motorless, cellphone-towerless 1.1-million-acre ecosystem where nearly 250,000 visitors from around the globe annually pilgrimage to paddle a connected chain of more than 1,000 pristine lakes.
Every night they break camp on a forested shoreline to hear the cool northern breeze whisper through the pines and loons project their mournful calls over vast stretches of open water. Occasionally an emerald display of Northern Lights flickers in a sky entirely free of light pollution. Read the rest of this entry »
Relations between Vancouver-based Eldorado and the leftist Greek government have been testy
Shares of Eldorado Gold slid in Wednesday trading following reports that the Greek government is temporarily halting production at the company’s operations in northern Greece.
Reuters quoted Greek Energy Minister Panos Skourletis as saying Eldorado had “violated some terms.” He provided no elaboration.
“We are recalling the technical studies, which will result in the halting of operations at Skouries and part of operations in Olympiada,” Skourletis said, referring to two of the company’s mine sites.
According to the Associated Press, documents released by the ministry say the violations concern a project to build a copper and gold processing plant, including not carrying out certain tests on the flash smelting process proposed for use. According to the decision, the suspension will be lifted if the company resubmits the necessary documentation and meets the requirements within a year. Read the rest of this entry »
Push to amend environmental laws comes after court decision overturning approval for Adani mine
CANBERRA, Australia—Australia’s conservative government plans to amend environmental laws to prevent green groups from challenging mining projects in which they have no direct involvement.
Opening another front in a long-running battle with the environmental movement, Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane told Parliament on Tuesday that “there is a strategy to destroy jobs” and that activists were blocking resource projects “regardless of the economic impact on the community.”
The push to amend environmental laws comes after a court earlier this month overturned approval for Indian conglomerate Adani Group to build one of the world’s biggest new coal mines on scrubland near the Great Barrier Reef.
Environmental groups went to court to try to stop the Carmichael coal mine project amid concerns the mine and associated infrastructure in the Galilee Basin of tropical Queensland state could endanger a rare lizard known as the yakka skink and another vulnerable species, the ornamental snake. Read the rest of this entry »
After taking over a major mine, a U.S. company has been met with violence
Muzo, Columbia – The chopper touched down on the hillside helipad and Charles Burgess, a cigar-chomping former U.S. government employee, stepped out to survey the full sweep of his Andean domain.
Since before the conquistadors, men have dug for emeralds in the soil of this steep-walled jungle valley. The gemstone bounty found here fueled the empire of Victor Carranza, the feared billionaire “emerald czar” who vanquished his rivals in bloody battles that left some 6,000 dead.
Now all that Burgess could see — from the green peaks where the vultures circled to the valley floor where grimy campesinos shoveled dirt in the black river — belongs to his American mining company, which has taken control of the world’s largest and most valuable emerald mine.
“Beautiful, isn’t it?” Burgess said. By purchasing Carranza’s share of the mine two years ago, the Houston-based company, Minería Texas Colombia, known as MTC, is now the only foreign mining company in the treacherous world of Colombia’s emerald trade — once responsible for about two-thirds of the world supply. Read the rest of this entry »
Adam Cernea Clark is a writer on sustainable development issues and an environmental attorney.
Two weeks ago, a little-known Canadian gold mining company that has developed or operated exactly zero mines over 17 years announced to its investors that it had initiated international arbitration proceedings against the government of Romania for failing to permit what would be the largest open-pit gold and silver mine in Europe.
Claiming this right under Romania’s bilateral investment treaties (BITs) with Canada and the U.K. (the company consists of ten separate entities in half a dozen countries), Gabriel Resources opined that the Romanian government had unlawfully deprived them of their right to develop the project and extract the full value of their investment.
Using some 40 tons per day, Gabriel subsidiary Roşia Montana Gold Corporation’s project would have created a massive pool of cyanide over priceless archaeological gold mining sites dating back to the Roman Empire and possibly earlier. It would have destroyed the village of Roşia Montana and two adjacent villages, as well as four mountains in this remote corner of the Carpathians.
Almost two years ago, the project triggered historic street protests of tens of thousands of people around Romanian cities. Read the rest of this entry »
Bill Shorten has challenged Tony Abbott to propose “sensible” reforms to environmental laws, rather than “attacking the court system” for overturning the proposed Queensland Carmichael mega coalmine.
The Opposition Leader today accused Mr Abbott of “second-guessing our judges” by proposing a new environmental standard that “near enough is good enough”.
“If there’s a problem with the way the law is formed then we go back and debate it in parliament, but Mr Abbott seems to be creating a new test for environmental protection in this country that near enough is good enough – well it’s not,” Mr Shorten said.
“If Mr Abbott doesn’t like the law … he can always sit down with Labor and talk about sensible amendments which may need to be made … rather than just attacking the court system.”
Mr Abbott today touted the environmental benefits of Australian coal, describing it as “invariably … much better for the environment than the alternative”. Read the rest of this entry »
The suffering of communities in Zambia’s copper mining region highlights the need to create a global regulatory regime
The appalling suffering of villagers living close to the mining town of Chingola, in Zambia’s copperbelt region, whose water supplies have been dangerously polluted by leaks of sulphuric acid and other toxic chemicals, is both avoidable and unacceptable. As we report today, the Chingola pollution and associated environmental damage has led to serious health problems for those affected, such as potential organ failure, cancers and permanent disabilities, as well as failed crops, loss of earnings and livelihoods.
This continuing toll on life and well-being is wholly avoidable, in part because the problems associated with Vedanta Resources’ giant mine at Chingola have been common knowledge for some years.
A scientist whistleblower familiar with company activities claimed operating and maintenance standards were consistently poor from 2005, when the Vedanta-owned subsidiary, KCM, bought the plant. “There have been heavy spillages and massive leakages. Acid has been leaking all over the place… No effort has been made to correct this scenario,” the whistleblower said. Read the rest of this entry »
Inside the world’s oldest gem market in Pakistan, home to terrorist financiers and drug smugglers
“Twenty-thousand dollars.” That’s how much Jalil says the blood-red ruby he is holding is worth. “It’s not my best,” says the 47-year-old gem trader. “My best pieces I only show to people holding a bag of cash.” A hush descends over the small group of men huddled around a lamp in Jalil’s shop.
The ruby, three near-flawless carats, glimmers with a surreal clarity. Other gemstones lie scattered on crisp white sheets of paper—sapphires from Kashmir, emeralds from Afghanistan’s Panjshir Valley, citrine and aquamarine—making the dark, windowless office feel like a cave of treasures. Read the rest of this entry »
The UN Human Rights Committee is shaming Canada for its human rights record, which hasn’t improved much in the last decade.
On Thursday, the committee released its first review of Canada in 10 years — and the first ever under Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The findings claim that the government has failed on a host of issues ranging from missing and murdered Aboriginal women, its treatment of refugees, to its overly broad anti-terror legislation, Bill C-51.
The seven-page report comes after more than 26 human rights organizations submitted their concerns about Canada and provided testimony in front of the 18-person committee in Geneva earlier this month. The committee calls on the federal government to launch a national inquiry into the missing and murdered women, while making note of “persisting inequalities between men and women” in Canada, and asking the government to consider overturning Bill C-51.
The report is quick to point out that Canada has failed to create a way for its recommendations to be carried out at all. “The Committee regrets the lack of an appropriate mechanism in the State party to implement views of the committee,” it says. Read the rest of this entry »
If you thought Shenhua and Adani had raised hackles with their plans to develop new coal mines in controversial parts of Australia, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
In a move likely to enrage environmental campaigners, BHP Billiton quietly flagged on Wednesday that it would soon start production of coal at the Haju mine in Indonesian Borneo. Haju will initially produce about 1 million tonnes of coal a year, which is pretty small compared to the coal mines BHP already operates in Queensland.
But Haju could be the start of a much larger coal project for BHP in Indonesian Borneo known as IndoMet, which is believed to have potential to produce around 5 million tonnes of coal per year, if it is ever fully developed.
That remains a big “if” given the depressed prices for coal, but Wednesday’s confirmation that first production will begin within 12 months will be a blow to environmental campaigners who have lobbied BHP and its joint venture partner Adaro Energy for the best part of a decade to abandon the project. Read the rest of this entry »
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday (July 17th) sent a message to the organizers and participants of a Vatican meeting that is looking at the often highly negative impact of mining operations on local communities. Organized by the Pontifical Council for Justice and peace, the 3-day meeting is being attended by representatives from communities impacted by mining operations across the world.
In his message sent to the Council’s President, Cardinal Peter Turkson, the Pope spoke of the cry for justice coming from these communities for their lost lands, the violence, threats, corruption, the trampled human rights, the dire working conditions, and sometimes the slavery and human trafficking as well as the pollution of water, air and soil.
The Pope urged the entire mining sector to carry out a radical paradigm shift to improve the situation in many countries. He said all parties needed to adopt a behaviour that is inspired by the fact that we make up one human family and engage in a sincere and respectful dialogue to deal with this crisis.
A press conference was held in the Vatican earlier on Friday to illustrate the theme of this meeting on the impact of mining operations which is “United with God listen to the cry.” Read the rest of this entry »
System used to treat water from tailings after the mine closes is unreliable and untested: report
A Sisson mine cost review commissioned by the provincial government goes a step beyond looking at the numbers, pointing out that the system proposed to treat tailings water after the open-pit mine shuts down is “known to fail.”
Engineering firm Amec Foster Wheeler was hired by the Department of Energy and Mines to review the costs for water treatment and restoring the tungsten and molybdenum mine after it closes.
But the company’s report, which was obtained by CBC News through the Right to Information Act, also said “there are some concerns regarding design of the post-closure water treatment process.”
“Curtain systems in pit lakes have been known to fail, especially in freeze-thaw,” the report from April 2015 said. “Therefore the idea of a floating baffle curtain wall may not be feasible.” Read the rest of this entry »