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. [see more]
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.
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Wednesday, February 10 2010
Canadian mining companies, behaving badly
(Source: AfricaFiles)
Friday, July 10 2009
Declaration on indigenous peoples and extractive industries
(Source: ESCR-net)

Civil society organizations

Argentina: Canadian mining company accused of violating OECD guidelines

MiningWatch Canada

Mineral Policy Institute (MPI)

Mines and Communities (MAC)


global witness

Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI)

mines, minerals & PEOPLE (mm&P)

Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA)

Friends of the Earth International

World Rainforest Movement

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

Global Policy Forum

Mining and women

Girls in mining (International Labour Organization - ILO)

Extractive industries and gender (World Bank)

Tunnel vision: Mining, women and communities (Oxfam Australia)

Overburdened: Understanding the impacts of mineral extraction on women's health in mining communities (MiningWatch Canada)

A woman in a mine's world (The Dominion)

Mining and the World Bank

Mining information from the World Bank

Extracting promises: Indigenous people, extractive industries and the World Bank (Bankwatch)

A case study on indigenous people, extractive industries and the World Bank (Forest Peoples Programme)

Leaked review slams World Bank over Canadian mine (MAC)

African mining codes a race to the bottom (Third World Network)

Mining and the nation state

Made in Canada violence: Mining in Mexico (Upside Down World)

Turning down a goldmine (The Dominion)

Reflections on Ecuador's mining mandate (Upside Down World)

Digging for dirt in the DRC? (CorpWatch)

The Mineral Development Agreement between the Government of Liberia and Mittal Steel Holdings (global witness)

Move to help poor countries benefit more from gold-mining (Africa Files)

Mining reforms in Mali leave the country poorer (Third World Network)

Miners' working conditions

Coal mining and trade (International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions)

'Responsible mining'

Rich lands poor people: is sustainable mining possible in India? (Centre for Science and Environment)

Framework for responsible mining

The use of diamonds as a tool for peacebuilding and development (International Alert)

Conflict-sensitive business practice: Guidance for extractive industries (International Alert)

Related resources

The mining ombudsman project (Oxfam Australia)

Company responses to War on Want report (Business & Human Rights)

The Mining News (TMN)

World Information Service on Energy Uranium Project

The Devil's Miner

Mining to Survive

Mining companies

Canadian mining companies, behaving badly (AfricaFiles)

Public money, private gain: GoldCorp in the Americas (Rights Action)

Mining firms bulk up, echoing big oil mergers (CorpWatch)

In the wake of ArcelorMittal - the global steel giant's local impacts (Bankwatch)

The environmental impacts of Freeport-Rio Tinto's copper and gold mining operation in Papua (WALHI - Friends of the Earth Indonesia)

Anglo American: The alternative report (War on Want)

Barrick's dirty secrets: Communities respond to gold mining's impacts worldwide (CorpWatch)

From oney to metals: The good campaigners' guide to questionable funders (MAC)

Extracting transparency: The need for an international financial reporting standard for the extractive industries (global witness)

Mining and indigenous people

Declaration on indigenous peoples and extractive industries (ESCR-net)


Finding common ground: Indigenous peoples and their association with the mining sector (IIED)

Free, prior and informed consent: Two cases from Suriname (Forest Peoples Programme)

Native community wins battle against uranium mining in Arizona, USA (Third World Network)

Mining and armed violence

Best intentions cannot go far enough (International Alert)

The dangers of privatizing risk management of investments in Africa (MiningWatch Canada)

Anti-mining and environmental activists endangered (DIOPIM Committee On Mining Issues)

Barrick Gold's Porgera mine in Papua New Guinea linked to grave human rights abuses, environmental impacts (MiningWatch Canada)

Freeport McMoran lawsuits (Business & Human Rights)

Mercenary armies and mineral wealth (Third World Traveler)

Grupo Mexico linked to murder of miner (International Metalworkers' Federation)

Human rights violations in the context of large-scale mining operations (FoodFirst Information & Action Network)

The curse of gold (Human Rights Watch)

Tin: The explosive trade of cassiterite in eastern DRC (global witness)

Paying for protection: The Freeport mine and the Indonesian security forces (global witness)

Environmental impacts of mining

In search of not-so-toxic mining (Tierramerica)

South Africa: Paying the price for mining (IRIN Africa)

Artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM)

Sierra Leone: Artisanal diamond cooperatives - success or failure? (AfricaFiles)

Gems and the environment: Balancing benefits and costs

Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (ASM) Asia-Pacific Learning Forum

Sustainable Artisanal Mining Project

Small-scale mining

Artisanal and small scale mining in Africa: A reality-check (UN)

Association for Responsible Mining (ARM)

Mineral Resources Forum (UNCTAD)

Nationalization and neglect: Unregulated mining in rural Bolivia (Upside Down World)

Corporate initiatives

The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM)

Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights

International Cyanide Management Code

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