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Thursday, 11 March 2010

Are Canada mining firms the worst abusers?

Yes, argues this latest piece from East African. Though Chinese firms are usually portrayed as having poor mining standards, across the continent Canadian firms dominate mining activities leaving trails of human rights abuses :

Their behaviour is so bad that in some places, according to the Toronto Star, the word "Canada" is so reviled that travelling Canadians mask their citizenship by wearing, of all things, American flags on their caps and backpacks. The Canadian government has struggled for a decade with how to hold mining firms accountable for their actions overseas. So far its attempts have proved inadequate.

It has disregarded repeated calls for an independent investigation into the 1996 Bulyanhulu gold mine incident. In 2001, eyewitness accounts, family testimony, photos and police videotape uncovered by the Lawyer's Environmental Action Team (LEAT) of Tanzania corroborated long-standing allegations that employees of the Canadian-owned Kahama Mining Corporation Ltd (KMCL) in conjunction with the Tanzanian police, buried over 50 artisanal miners by bulldozing over the entrances to the shafts in which they worked at the Bulyanhulu gold mine in 1996.

In 2002 it ignored a United Nations report called on it to investigate the actions of seven Canadian companies accused of illegally exploiting resources from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Two years later, 73 people were killed by the Congolese military, which used vehicles, supplies, pilots and drivers from a Canadian-Australian mining company to transport them to the site of the massacre. According to MiningWatch's Jamie Kneen, Anvil Mining had been forced to shut down production at their Dikulushi Mine when a so-called "rebellion" took place in a nearby village; a rebellion of "10 to 12" villagers that had nothing to do with mining. Congolese Armed Forces (FARDC), of the DRC government, provided with trucks and logistics by Anvil, proceeded to seize the town and then went door-to-door "raping and pillaging."

As recent revelations from Uganda demonstrate, these companies are not above signing secret agreements or dumping toxic waste into rivers as they did in Tanzania. Denis Tougas, director of the L'Entraide missionnaire (L'EMI) in Montréal, notes that "it's a safe bet that Canada's image as a moderate country and disinterested development partner in Africa is now thoroughly outdated."

1 comment:

  1. Going by the threats from First Quantum Minerals to the Zambian govt over the issue of increased taxation; I think Canadian mining companies have indeed gone rogue. I think their behaviour has a lot to do with their lack of international experience. They only discovered recently that there is a whole world out there beside North America. They seem to play to text book prejudices that Multinationals have to bully natives to get their way. Unfortunately for them the natives of the 2000's are more educated and exposed than those of the 60's, 70's etc.

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