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Regulators, investors, and communities are increasingly aware of the potential environmental and social harm associated with open-pit mining projects. Local-level conflict is now commonly associated with proposed and operating mines as community members struggle to protect economic and social values of importance to them, to assert the right to refuse a mine, or to advance claims on mining companies for damages. In response, mining companies seek partnerships to help them secure a so-called social licence to operate and manage risk to reputation.
In fall 2010, Alternatives North hired Dr. Joan Kuyek to do a study. Giant Mine in Yellowknife has 237,000 tonnes of arsenic trioxide to take care of. There is a plan to freeze this arsenic, so it can’t leak out and hurt the people and the land. For the Environmental Assessment of this plan, Alternatives North asked for a study of how contaminants are managed in other places.
This case study contends that Barrick Gold's Porgera Joint Venture Mine in Papua New Guinea is environmentally unsustainable and is severely undermining current food security, access to clean water, sustainable livelihood, and health, as well as the long-term development potential, of indigenous Ipili landowners living in the mine lease area. The mine is also eroding the sustainable development of surrounding Ipili and downstream communities. The mine is further implicated in serious human rights abuses.
[Update, April 4, 2011: CSR Counsellor Marketa Evans has responded to our brief, occasioning a further response from MiningWatch expanding on some of the key issues.] The Office of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Counsellor’s mandate from the Government of Canada and its review process are similar to those of the Canadian National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines and replicate many of the shortcomings of that voluntary non-judicial grievance mechanism. This brief outlines some of the main concerns.
Presentation: Canada is an important player in the global mining industry with important mineral holdings in Latin America. But the lack of an appropriate legislative and regulatory framework to hold our companies accountable for their operations abroad, means we are putting corporate rights over human rights. This presentation gives the example of Goldcorp's Marlin mine in Guatemala, with reference also to HudBay's Fénix nickel project.
Canada moves to support mining investment in Panama in the face of mounting human rights abuse by the Panamanian government and concerted opposition from Indigenous peoples, affected communities, and environmental groups. "The agreement as negotiated presents a very real risk of entrenching an ineffective and possibly irresponsible regulatory regime by protecting investments from tougher environmental or fiscal measures."
Canada’s economy is suffering right now. Did environmental assessment cause the recession? No, it did not. Will environmental assessment considerably delay economic recovery? No, it will not. It should, however, help us to transform the recovery into one that is based on more sustainable development alternatives.
The creation of large volumes of waste, including solids, liquid effluents, and air emissions, is a fact of life for mining and mineral processing operations. Depending on the minerals’ natural geology and how they are processed these wastes can often be hazardous to the environment and human health. Solid wastes including waste rock and tailings are, by volume, the most significant waste generated by mining and mineral processing. Solid wastes are typically in the tens to hundreds of millions of tons of waste for a single mine. A rough estimate of Canadian production is 2 million tonnes a
On October 8, 2009, Catherine Coumans, Ph.D. appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development to testify on Bill C-300 - An Act respecting Corporate Accountability for the Activities of Mining, Oil or Gas in Developing Countries. Here is her presentation.
Published by the Canary Research Institute for Mining, Environment, and Health , this Community-Centred Health Assessment Toolkit will help members of mining-affected communities conduct their own assessment of the health of their community and guide them in taking steps towards supporting and improving the conditions for health in their communities. The Toolkit is designed to be used by aboriginal and non-aboriginal communities where there is mining exploration or development or closed or abandoned mines. It can also be used by individuals, support groups, or institutions (academic, health) from outside the community that may be invited to help guide community members through parts, or all, of the health assessment and project planning process.
This report, researched by MiningWatch Canada, CENSAT-Agua Viva , and Inter Pares , looks at four case studies of Canadian extractive industry investment projects in Colombia, analyzing their associated potential human rights risks. Referring to principles developed by the UN Special Representative on Human Rights and Transnational Corporations , the report identifies issues and circumstances that clearly indicate that transparent and independent human rights impact assessments are necessary to avoid significant potential risk to human rights in existing and proposed extractive projects. Available from Inter Pares on request or download the PDF . Also available in French and coming soon in Spanish.
Joint news release with Northwatch: A major new report highlights serious impacts on the Canadian boreal forest from all phases of mining activity, from exploration to closure. Two respected mining industry watchdogs – Northwatch and MiningWatch Canada – say they published The Boreal Below (an all-new and expanded version of a widely circulated 2001 report) in response to growing demand from communities across Canada for information and analysis to help understand the impacts of mining on their lives and livelihoods. It provides a carefully-documented analysis of the social, environmental, and cultural impacts of mining from prospecting to mine closure, as well as an overview of the current situation by province and territory.
Communities dealing with the impact from mining activities (whether at the claim-staking, exploration, development, operating, closure, or restoration/rehabilitation stage) find themselves confronted by a legal entity they may not understand, making demands that are contrary to the desires of the community, and giving reason for its behaviour that they do not know how to counteract.
MiningWatch Presentation to Montreal Roundtable Whether they bother with the Cyanide Code or the UN Global Compact or the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, or contract high-priced public relations consultants, or buy support from naïve NGOs and corrupt local officials, or actively divide communities, or rely on good old-fashioned intimidation, it is clear that most mining companies – from the largest global players to the smallest exploration juniors – are willing to do whatever they can get away with to reward their shareholders with juicy returns.
In 2006 independent hydrogological consultant Robert E. Moran undertook an assessment of Gabriel Resources' EIA report for its Rosia Montana project in Romania on behalf of Alburnus Maior and funded by Staples Trust, U.K. and the Open Society Foundation, Romania.
Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) is the biggest environmental threat from mining in British Columbia. Water resources are particularly affected. This report introduces issues, profiles key sites, and identifies outstanding concerns. Published by BC Wild and Environmental Mining Council of BC.
Across Canada, those seeking to protect biodiversity and those seeking mineral wealth have often ended up looking up the same valleys. Mineral development - from exploration to mine closure - poses some unique challenges and concern. This discussion paper lays out some of the primary issues and concerns related to mining in protected areas from a biodiversity-protection perspective. It provides an overview for those concerned about mining and environment conflicts, and raises questions about future directions. Prepared by the Environmental Mining Council of British Columbia for the World
More Precious Than Gold: Mineral Development and the Protection of Biological Diversity in Canada
In 2004 MiningWatch Canada partnered with the Labrador West Status of Women Council and the Femmes francophones de l’Ouest du Labrador on a joint effort to explore community women’s own perceptions of the effects on their health from living in a mining town. The final report for this project, in both official languages, was launched in Wabush/Labrador City on February 15, 2005. The results provide insight into specific areas of concern for women regarding their health, but clearly also point to potential impacts from mining on community health that need to be better understood. There is a
Anneli Tolvanen traveled to the mining communities of Bonanaza and La Libertad in August, 2001, interviewing men, women, and youth, community members, small scale miners, local officials, and mining company representatives. We are pleased to present the final document, with many wonderful photographs, as well as the interviews themselves.
"We Cannot Just Speak About Things That Are Pretty" - The Legacy of Greenstone Resources in Nicaragua
The Victor project should be delayed until Attawapiskat First Nation and the communities in the Mushkekowuk Council region have created the capacity, land use planning and education to benefit from the profits from the mine over generations. Regulatory Authorities (RAs) and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency have a responsibility to find that there are "significant environmental effects" from the project and to address the impacts of these environmental effects on the lives of the First Nations people who depend on the environment affected by the mine. The need for an independent

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