Barrick Gold year in Review: One Company, 9 Countries, Countless abuses
April 26th, 2010
This year, Barrick's proposed mine in the Dominican Republic has seen a sharp rise in resistance. Just one week after reports that the Environment Minister Jaime David Fernandez Mirabal wanted a revision of the Government’s contract with Barrick Gold, the Spanish language press reported an explosion at Barrick's operation, resulting in the poisoning and hospitalization of more than 400 workers. The English language press subsequently reported that the sicknesses were due to food poisoning. However, a report submitted by DR's Academy of Sciences and the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo concluded that the illnesses weren’t from bacterial infection, noting that neither the symptoms nor the treatment were congruent with the workers’ complaints.
Since then, up to 3,000 Dominicans marched in Cotuí in the central province of
Sánchez Ramírez to protest against the Pueblo Viejo gold mine on April 3. After that, a group of about 50 youth trekked 150 kilometers from the capitol to Cotuí and hundreds marched against Barrick on April 17. Now, May 2 marks another enormous mobilization against this company.
In Papua New Guinea, Barrick housed police who – based on situation reports from Barrick Gold – burnt down
an entire hillside of houses adjacent to their Porgera Mine. Barrick
initially denied these allegations, remarking that it was their
understanding that 50 temporary shacks were tore down. But, a follow-up Amnesty report showed evidence of at least 130 permanent houses burnt down, while villagers were beaten, harassed, and detained.
In Balochistan, Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani announced January 5 the termination of a mining contract for Barrick Gold's Reko Diq project, following a unanimous decision by the Pakistani province’s cabinet. According to the Minister, "They (Barrick and Chile’s Antofagasta, co-owners of the mine project) only have an exploration license, which does not cover extraction," adding that his government would not allow any agreement which undermined people's rights.
Immediately, US ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson made a statement warning that "multinational corporations will not invest in a country where deals are canceled." Canada’s international trade ministry followed suit, pressing Pakistani officials to “fulfill their obligations under a 2006 Pakistani-Canadian-Chilean agreement potentially worth billions of dollars,” according to the Vancouver Sun.
Balochistan, the province in Pakistan bordering Iran and Afghanistan, has been struggling for its independence from Pakistan since 1948. More than 8,000 Baloch have been disappeared since 2004, and 26* prominent leaders have been assassinated.
And finally, in Canada, Barrick is using SLAPPs -- Strategic Lawsuits against Public Participation –
against two small presses, one in Quebec, one based in Vancouver, that
have published or announced an intention to publish books that damage Barrick's image. The latest SLAPP, directed at Talonbooks of Vancouver, halted a book before it even hit the press.
The book, entitled Imperial Canada Inc.: Legal Haven of Choice for the World's Mining Industries, edited by Alain Deneault, was canceled because its small publisher could not afford to engage in a legal battle, regardless of the merits of the case.
Meanwhile, Barrick engaged in numerous high level events promoting their version of Corporate Social Responsbility and its chairman, Peter Munk, recently donated $35 million to the University of Toronto to create the Munk School of Global Affairs, which aims to prepare students to become global leaders and foster "a deep understanding of the broader architecture and the forces that shape the global system."