The non-governmental Citizen Participation Forum for Justice and Human Rights (FOCO) accused the Canadian mining company Barrick Gold of violating in Argentina environmental and human health guidelines set by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD.
The mineral extraction industry is extremely economically profitable but also brings with it problems that are both extensive and profound.
The process of mining involves a great deal of environmental destruction. Land needs to be cleared, the ground excavated and minerals extracted with toxic chemicals. It involves the building of processing sites as well as that of energy and transportation infrastructure linked to the mining sites. Furthermore, with more and more major mineral ores being depleted, extraction creates an increasingly large amount of waste; according to MiningWatch Canada, 'as little as 0.02% of the rock may be valuable - the remainder is waste'.
As a consequence of the environmental damage brought on by mining projects, human communities are also greatly affected. The waste produced and contaminating the surroundings contributes to diseases and a deterioration of agricultural land, creating highly difficult, if not impossible, living conditions. Furthermore, communities are frequently resettled by authorities, sometimes consensually but often forcibly, in order for the mining to begin.
The use of armed violence both by army personnel and private security companies in order to displace and/or repress communities is a recurring phenomenon. Indigenous people, living in the areas which tend to be attractive for mining exploration, are among the most severely affected, especially because they are a marginalized group with little political or economic power (see also: Indigenous people and globalization).
Despite these problems, which furthermore include highly perilous working conditions within mines, new mining projects are constantly being launched when minerals could instead be recycled and reused. Unfortunately, 'The ability of most communities and organizations to respond effectively to mining pressures and threats has been limited. The difficult technical aspects of mine design and operations, the lack of independent expertise combined with the massive political pressure associated with the multi-million dollar promises that accompany mine developments create overwhelming demands on conservation groups and aboriginal and local governments. Interventions and negotiations are costly and often divisive, with limited likelihood of satisfaction for local interests' (MiningWatch Canada).
Nevertheless, mining does not only constitute mega-projects; there is also a substantial amount of small-scale mines run by mining cooperatives, for example, as well as so-called 'artisanal miners' who work outside the regimen of the big mining companies. However, these groups, especially artisanal miners, sometimes suffer reprisals by companies claiming that they are exploiting company property. Artisanal miners have few possibilities to defend their activities as there is often no existing legislation to regulate them. This also tends to disadvantage them in terms of working conditions as these are not monitored - nor do the miners themselves usually have the knowledge necessary to adequately regulate safety within the mines and dispose of the waste produced.
MiningWatch Canada addresses the urgent need for a co-ordinated public interest response to the threats to public health, water and air quality, fish and wildlife habitat and community interests posed by irresponsible mineral policies and practices in Canada and around the world.
The MPI is an Australian based, not-for-profit non-government organisation specializing in research, capacity building, advocacy and campaigning to prevent environmentally and socially destructive mining, minerals and energy projects and to protect and enhance the natural environment.
A small delegation of the National Coordinating Committee of Communities Affected by Mining in Peru (CONACAMI) was present at the sixth edition of the World Social Forum and spoke about their experiences in Peru and the situation in Latin America.
global witness exposes the corrupt exploitation of natural resources and international trade systems, to drive campaigns that end impunity, resource-linked conflict, and human rights and environmental abuses.
The EITI is a coalition of governments, companies, civil society groups, investors and international organizations. EITI supports improved governance in resource-rich countries through the verification and full publication of company payments and government revenues from oil, gas and mining.
CPA campaigns against large-scale mining in the Philippines in order to secure the rights and livelihoods of affected communities, the protection of the environment, and the sustainable use of resources.
The World Rainforest Movement is an international network of citizens' groups of North and South involved in efforts to defend the world's rainforests. The organization devotes a section of its website to the subject of mining.
Global Policy Forum aims to monitor policy making at the United Nations, promote accountability of global decisions, educate and mobilize for global citizen participation, and advocate on vital issues of international peace and justice. The organization's website includes a section on minerals in conflict.
Development programmes and efforts on behalf of workers and childrens rights in small-scale mining communities must pay attention to gender. The hazards and risks of the work of women and girls must be granted the same recognition as those of men and boys. The studies have shown that the problem of double burden, dangerous work exists; it is time now to give it double attention. 2007, pdf format.
The benefits and risks of extractive industries are often measured broadly at the community level, but fail to distinguish the different impact on men and women. Evidence suggests that a gender bias exists in the distribution of risks and benefits in extractive industries projects: benefits accrue to men in the form of employment and compensation, while the costs, such as family/social disruption, and environmental degradation, fall most heavily on women.
The papers within this report provide practical examples of situations where women have not automatically and equally benefited from economic development and large-scale mining projects. In fact, the presenters at the forum on which the report is based spoke strongly about their own experiences in which women and children had consistently suffered the most from the negative impacts of mining projects. November 2002. (pdf)
Overburdened is a comprehensive literature review on women, mining, and health. Evidence regarding the impact of mining, mineral extraction, and processing on the health of women and their communities is presented. The purpose of the review is to provide information to help heal and protect women, their families, and their communities from the adverse health impacts of mineral extraction. May 2004. (pdf)
Today, Sorowako in Sulawesi, Indonesia, to its disenfranchised population, is a place of hardship, where homes, lands and livelihoods have been taken away. Lack of access to land and overcrowding, due to immigration of people seeking jobs at the mining operation of Inco, a Canadian-owned mining company, have led to approximately 1,000 shanties on Lake Matano's waters. May 2007.
The exploitation of mineral resources provides developing countries with considerable opportunities for economic development - but it also involves trade-offs with respect to the environment and the surrounding communities. Countries, communities and companies face tough questions about opportunities and risks as they develop steps to ensure responsible approaches toward mineral resource development.
This independent study was compiled as a contribution to the World Bank's Extractive Industries Review (EIR). The EIR process has been criticised by many indigenous peoples and non-governmental organisations for being unduly controlled by the World Bank. The study considers what an institution like the World Bank, which is meant to promote poverty alleviation and sustainable development, can do to ensure that the rights of indigenous peoples are not compromised by oil, gas and mining development. May 2003. (pdf)
This paper has been prepared as a case study on the Indigenous People of Papua New Guinea, and how they have been affected by activities of extractive industries through funding provided by the World Bank Group (WBG). April 2003. (pdf)
A leaked internal audit assessing the World Bank's involvement in a controversial Canadian gold mine in Guatemala has exposed glaring deficiencies in the due diligence undertaken by the Bank prior to approving a $45 million loan for the mine. August 2005.
In its quest to help mining companies maximize profits in African countries, the World Bank Group has been helping write mining codes with minimal environmentally sustainable frameworks and of little socio-economic benefit to African countries. November 2004.
Canadian mining corporations are at the lead of colonizing forces in present day Mexico. Important changes to the Mexican Constitution in anticipation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) resulted in the facilitation of land privatization and the entry of foreign corporations. April 2007.
Goldcorp is the third largest gold producer in North America, with properties in Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, the U.S. and Australia. Goldcorp's fully owned subsidiary Montana Exploradora is leading the pack of companies cashing in on the mining boom that has swept across Guatemala since the mining code was changed to favour foreign direct investment in 1997. February 2007.
Ecuador's recently passed minding mandate annulled 88 percent of the country's mining concessions. Mining companies active in Ecuador are using all of their political and economic muscle to make sure these regulations don't seriously affect their privileges, nor of those of their fellow transnationals working in other impoverished, but natural-resource-rich nations. May 2008.
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is the third largest country in Africa and is rich in natural resources. A government commission's plan to revisit mining contracts between the state and private companies is a response to years of domestic and international pressure. Hopefully, once the review is completed, the international companies involved will be willing to re-negotiate contracts in a way that is more beneficial to the Congolese state and its citizens. July 2007.
In 2005, the National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL) entered
into a Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) with Mittal Steel to exploit Liberia's extensive reserves of iron ore. Consequently, the country has ceded important sovereign powers and economic rights over a strategic nonrenewable resource to a foreign multinational - almost creating a state within a state. October 2006.
Mali and Ghana are Africa's second and third largest gold-producing countries, but with most of the income leaving the country they remain entrenched in poverty. To counter this, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and Oxfam America have launched a new mining code to put in place region-wide social, environmental and business practice standards across the gold-mining industry. April 2008.
In spite of being the third largest producer of gold in Africa, Mali remains one of the poorest countries in the world, thanks to reforms to the mining code that favour the foreign investor. July 2005.
Despite the considerable historical accomplishments of the world's coal mining unions,
serious obstacles and challenges remain. Finding meaningful solutions to today's problems related to workers' safety, privatization and issues of climate change, and building global solidarity are formidable tasks. December 2007.
This report outlines the immense challenges facing the mining sector in India: how to ensure ecological security together with inclusive development. Includes detailed maps, data tables and in-depth case studies of mineral-rich states. August 2008.
This report is a working document intended to be used as expert guidance and to catalyze further debate and discussion among stakeholders interested in improving mining standards. As such, it aims to provide a well-researched and thoughtful analysis of the key issues that should be addressed when defining 'responsible mining'. October 2005.
Based on a series of visits to working diamond mines, interviews with diggers, mine owners, traders, exporters, government officials and NGOs, the report describes the current state of the diamond industry in West Africa, providing both an overview of the sub-region and detailed analysis of each country. It identifies possible ways of using diamonds as a tool for development rather than a fuel for conflict. June 2006.
This is a set of tools for companies concerned about improving their impact on host countries to begin thinking more creatively about understanding and minimizing conflict risk, and actively contributing to peace. March 2005.
Many Australian communities have reported human rights violations, environmental degradation and poverty as a result of mining operations yet have no official outlet for their grievances or the means to seek redress. Oxfam Australia attempts to address this accountability gap though its Mining Ombudsman project.
In November 2007, War on Want released a report, 'Fanning the Flames: The role of British mining companies in conflict and the violation of human rights'. The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited the companies referred to in the report to respond to the concerns raised.
The Devil's Miner is a documentary film telling the story of 14 year-old Basilio Vargas and his 12 year-old brother Bernardino, as they work in the Bolivian silver mines of Cerro Rico. (Link to the film's website)
Patagoniabolivia is a journalism project initiated by Dawn Paley and Frederic Dubois
which took place between September 2004 and March 2005. It documents and contributes to the struggles for human dignity of miners in the Southern Cone region of the Americas. (pdf)
Canadian mining companies are fast becoming Canada's international calling card. They're everywhere - in South America, Mexico, Africa, Asia, and Australia. Nearly two in every three mining projects around the world - more than 3,000 - are run by Canadian corporations. This might be a point of pride if it weren't for the allegations that keep cropping up in connection with Canadian mining activity, suggesting that if we're not thugs ourselves, we countenance violence for commercial gain. February 2010.
For years now, mining companies have gotten rich supplying the raw materials that have fueled consumer booms from China and India to Brazil. Now they are embarking on another round of deals that promises a new class of juggernauts. The resulting megaminers would have great influence over the cost of raw materials like iron ore, copper and uranium - and, by extension, the price of consumer electronics, cars and new apartment blocks. December 2007.
This report was launched at a press conference in Luxembourg to coincide with the company's annual shareholder meeting. It contains nine case studies detailing ArcelorMittal's legacy of pollution, environmental damage, health impacts and poor worker safety. May 2008.
This report presents a new and independent picture of the environmental impacts of the Freeport mine, a Freeport McMoRan and Rio Tinto joint venture, which although one of the largest mines in the world, operates under a shroud of secrecy in the remote Papua province in Indonesia. May 2006.
The purpose of this report is to compare and contrast the rhetoric of corporate social
responsibility of Anglo American, the world's second largest mining company, with the reality of its actual practices. August 2007. (pdf)
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. This 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. May 2007.
This is a preliminary essay gathering together disparate data on those institutions
(commercial and private) which aim to profit from mineral extraction. It does not include state-owned investors, purportedly publicly-accountable bodies (government
agencies for overseas development and the granting of export credits and political risk
insurance) nor multilateral development banks. May 2008. (pdf)
Tebtebba (Indigenous Peoples' International Centre for Policy Research and Education) is an indigenous peoples' organization born out of the need for heightened advocacy to have the rights of indigenous peoples recognized, respected and protected worldwide.
This report contains an overview of the Mining, Minerals and Sustainable Development (MMSD) project's analysis and engagement on the relationship between indigenous peoples and the mining and minerals sector. It also addresses the status of indigenous peoples in relation to mining and minerals under international and national legal systems, and assess the overall issues, challenges and dynamics associated with encounters between indigenous peoples and the mining and minerals sector. 2003.
The main focus of this study is on how the Saramaka and Lokono peoples in Suriname view the substantive and procedural aspects of the right to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) in relation to mining activities which may affect their traditional knowledge and their various relationships with their traditional territories and the biological diversity therein. 2007. (pdf)
Allied community groups have achieved a hard-won victory: a ban on uranium mining, milling, and processing on the vast Navajo lands in Arizona and New Mexico, USA. A nuclear industry, with the help of the US federal government, has exploited the uranium reservation since the 1940s spreading contamination into Navajo's lands and waters. June 2005.
This report points out the interconnectedness of severe human rights abuses in violent conflict with certain corporate practices, drawing on examples from Africa, Asia and Latin America, and shows that voluntary initiatives alone are not enough to ensure that companies, particularly in the extractive sector, act as per the law or best practices. January 2007.
The objective of this memorandum is to draw attention to the serious implications behind the tendency of mining companies in areas of Africa characterised by the state's weakness, delegitimisation or disintegration, to rely on private security companies. February 2000. (pdf)
According to the organization Mines and Communities, infringements on civil liberties and violations of human rights of environmental activists in the Philippines are part of the offensive being waged by mining TNCs and the Philippine government on people who actively oppose the large mining projects of transnational corporations and the National Mining Revitalization Program of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. April 2008.
Concerns about killings by security guards at the Porgera Joint Venture (PJV) mine in Papua New Guinea, as well as about serious public health, environmental and socio-cultural impacts of the mine have continued since Barrick's purchase of the mine two years ago. May 2008.
Investigation by The New York Times has revealed a level of contacts and financial support to the Indonesian military not fully disclosed by Freeport, despite years of requests by shareholders concerned about potential violations of American laws and the company's relations with a military whose human rights record is so blighted that the United States, until recently, severed ties for a dozen years.
A growing number of slick new corporate security operations around the world link former intelligence officers, standing armies, and death squad veterans. In unholy alliance, they go into battle for new bosses: the mineral industries, which range from multinational corporations to small oil and mining entrepreneurs. 1997.
The international labour community is taking action against the murder of Reinaldo Hernandez Gonzalez, a miner and member of the Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores Mineros, Metalurgicos y Similares de la Republica Mexicana (SNTMMSRM) who was fatally shot by hired thugs working for Grupo Mexico. August 2007.
The expansion of existing as well as the development of new mining operations and the related deployment of the military and police to the mining areas has led to serious human rights violations in many mining communities in Ghana. Underlying these violations is the conflict over access to and control over natural resources like land and water between local communities and multinational mining companies. May 2008. (pdf)
Rather than bringing prosperity to the people of northeastern Congo, gold has been a curse to those who have the misfortune to live there. This report documents human rights abuses linked to efforts to control two key gold mining areas, Mongbwalu and Durba, both bordering Uganda. June 2005.
Cassiterite from conflict areas in eastern DRC is being purchased by foreign companies and ending up on the international market. There are no international mechanisms in place to regulate this trade, therefore allowing various armed factions, many with appalling human rights records, unfettered access to world markets, in order to generate funds. June 2005. (pdf)
US mining company Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. controls a gigantic mine in Indonesia which contains the largest gold reserves and the second largest copper reserves in the world. The Grasberg mine in Freeport's mining operations has been guarded since the 1970s by the Indonesian military, which has been fighting during this time to suppress a rebellion for Papuan independence. The Indonesian military has a history of atrocities against civilians and is known to have been involved in corruption and illegal business activities, as have the police. July 2007.
ASM Asia Pacific Learning Forum works to promote knowledge about ASM in the region, especially as it applies to poor people's livelihoods, best practices in environmental care, in policies that work for people as well as for the environment, in creating new approaches that are inclusive, and to promote fellowship and cooperation among those persons and groups interested in poverty eradication and sustainable development.
The Sustainable Artisanal Mining Project aims to contribute to the development of responsible mining in Mongolia by working with all stakeholders to ensure that artisanal miners are recognized as responsible members of a key economic sub-sector contributing to sustainable rural development.
Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS) has worked with small-scale mining related problems since 1999 in Tanzania, Kyrgyztan, Mongolia and the Philippines. The main focus of GEUS' work has been to teach and train small-scale miners in recycling mercury instead of releasing the metal to the environment.
ARM is an independent, global-scale effort, and pioneer initiative, created as an international and multi-institutional organization to bring credibility, transparency and legitimacy to the development of a framework for responsible artisanal and small-scale mining.
The MRF Small-Scale Mining is a subsection of the Mineral Resources Forum (MRF) that focuses specifically on issues in relation to artisanal and small-scale mining. These issues may be in relation to environmental, health and safety; women and children's participation; organizational, technical and financial constraints; and regulatory and legal normalization.
Small non-cooperative private mines like the one in Lomerio, Bolivia, have been mostly left out of the equation. The relatively tiny amount of minerals being extracted, lack of competition with state mines, and remote nature of these mines means they have avoided attention - and regulation. March 2007.
This site is designed to raise awareness of the Voluntary Principles, which have been developed to guide companies in balancing the needs for safety while respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The 'International Cyanide Management Code For The Manufacture, Transport and Use of Cyanide In The Production of Gold' is a voluntary industry program for the gold mining industry that was developed by a multi-stakeholder Steering Committee under the guidance of the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) and the then- International Council on Metals and the Environment (ICME).