“Will Today’s Deal Bring Tomorrow’s Disaster?” Mining Companies Denounced for Human Rights Abuses and Environmental Disasters
TORONTO, ON - It was only five weeks ago that the world watched in horror when an upstream tailings dam burst in Brumadinho, Brazil, killing at least 186 people and causing immeasurable harm. What happened to the mining company responsible for this predicted and preventable disaster? Vale has taken centre stage as a patron sponsor of the world’s premier mineral exploration and mining convention, beginning today in Toronto.
“In addition to the 186 people killed, 122 are still missing and presumed dead near Vale’s mine in Brazil. Clean up has barely begun and yet the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) is welcoming Vale with open arms. It’s business as usual at this convention,” says Caren Weisbart of the Toronto-based Mining Injustice Solidarity Network (MISN).
“All PDAC’s sponsors have well documented track records of corruption, impunity, and serious human rights and environmental abuses – from Vale to Barrick Gold, Goldcorp, HudBay Minerals, SNC-Lavalin, and others,” continues Weisbart. “At PDAC, these companies are given platforms to exert their influence and clean up their image while the voices of those most negatively impacted by their projects are ignored.”
Earlier this afternoon, activists organized with the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network descended upon the convention to denounce Vale’s crimes and PDAC’s complicity. They dangled a banner overlooking the main Trade Show exposition showroom and held space for 18 minutes to represent the over 180 people killed when the dam burst in Brumadinho. Throughout the day, MISN also staged various other interventions to call out the violent track record of not just Vale, but the global extractive industry as a whole, nearly 60% of which is financed on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
“More mining companies are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange than any other investor exchange in the world, largely due to the lax regulations, weak reporting requirements and tax incentives provided to mining companies by the Ontario and Federal governments,” says Kirsten Francescone of MiningWatch Canada. TMX Group Limited, which owns and operates the Toronto Stock Exchange, joins Vale as a PDAC Patron Sponsor. “Canadians are now well aware of the kinds of activities our companies engage in at home and abroad. These companies need to be held accountable.”
Civil lawsuits have made headlines as survivors seek justice in Canadian courts for abuses committed at Canadian-owned extractive projects in Eritrea, Guatemala, and Ecuador. “Companies implicated in these lawsuits - including Nevsun Resources, HudBay Minerals, and now, Pan American Silver since acquiring Tahoe Resources and its conflict-ridden Escobal mine – raised the necessary capital on the TSX that made those abuses possible,” says Kate Klein, another MISN organizer. “But the violence described in these lawsuits represents only a small fraction of the level of violence carried out on a global level by Canadian companies – financed by the Toronto Stock Exchange and sustained by PDAC.”
- Caren Weisbart, Mining Injustice Solidarity Network - caren.weisbart[at]gmail.com, 647-466-6643
- Kate Klein, Mining Injustice Solidarity Network - ke.klein5[at]gmail.com, 647-465-0265
- Kirsten Francescone, MiningWatch Canada - kirsten[at]miningwatch.ca, 437-345-9881
The Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada’s (PDAC) annual conference draws some 25,000 people to Toronto each year, attracting the biggest players in the global mining industry. Over the span of four days, representatives from junior and senior mining companies, financial institutions, construction and contracting companies, geoscientists and engineers, corporate lawyers, foreign and Canadian government officials, and a slew of other people positioned to benefit from mineral exploration and exploitation will advance industry trends, attend workshops, and take advantage of key networking opportunities.
The Mining Injustice Solidarity Network (MISN) is a Toronto-based volunteer group that works closely with communities impacted by Canadian extractive industries globally in order to support their self-determination, educate the Canadian public, and bring companies to justice. For more information: www.mininginjustice.org