|For Immediate Release: April 30th, 2014|
Protesters to Barrick Gold shareholders: "We don't need gold, stop the unnecessary suffering": AGM Protest brings needed truth to corporate meeting
Over 100 people participated in a protest against Barrick Gold outside the company's annual general meeting this year. This annual protest highlights the realities and demands of communities living next to Barrick's mines around the world.
"Year after year, our demand is the same. Compensate the victims of your abuse and resettle our communities away from this toxic and dangerous area," says Jethro Tulin of the Porgera Alliance. "We have engaged in lengthy negotiations with the company, but Barrick refuses to take responsibility and invest in long term solutions to the human rights crisis in Porgera."
Despite an OECD complaint filed in March 2011, the urgent need for the resettlement of the people still living inside the Special Mining Lease area of the Porgera mine in Papua New Guinea (PNG) has not been addressed. Instead Barrick and the Canadian National Contact Point have passed these responsibilities off to the PNG national government.
"All of this suffering is for a metal that we don't even need to mine. According to the World Gold Council, less than 11% of gold is used for anything other than jewellery or investment, and we get more than three times that amount from recycled sources," says Sakura Saunders, editor of protestbarrick.net, who has been organizing these protests for 7 years. "I have been to Barrick's mines in Tanzania, Papua New Guinea, Chile, Australia and the United States, and I have found that Barrick is completely dishonest in how they represent the reality at these sites. Now with Barrick being sued for fraud, maybe people will start to understand that dishonesty is part of their company culture."
Barrick's share value has dropped over 60% over the last two years. The class action claim, which was filed in Ontario courts last week, claims that investors lost billions of dollars because Barrick made misrepresentations and failed to disclose important information – in Barrick's possession – regarding cost estimates, time frame, and environmental compliance at Barrick's flagship Pascua Lama project, on the border of Argentina and Northern Chile.
"The real injustice is that communities which are impacted by Barrick cannot seek compensation in Canadian courts," says Dan Hammond, a Western student who went on a Solidarity Delegation to the Dominican Republic in February. "When I met with communities living next to the Pueblo Viejo mine, I was shocked by how desperate the situation was. These communities need to be resettled and compensated for the devastating impacts on their health and loss of livelihoods."
The Open For Justice campaign seeks legislated access to Canadian courts for people who have been seriously harmed by the international operations of Canadian companies. This would allow non-Canadian citizens to access Canadian courts to sue for abuses that occurred abroad, and is an important step towards creating accountability within the Canadian international extractive sector.