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A Right to Life Case Studies

A Right to Life Case Studies

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Published by Natalie Lowrey

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Published by: Natalie Lowrey on Apr 29, 2011
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a right to life
not gold prots
case studies of barrick impacted communities
Barrick Gold has been the subject of many documented studies of human rights abuses and environmental devastation, fromNGO’s such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to university studies and even the Norwegian Government.Last year, the Norwegian Pension fund divested
$230 million from Barrick for ethical reasons, especially related to their minein Papua New Guinea. And when Swiss Research rm Covalace compiled both quantitative and qualitative data spanningseven years and 581 companies they listed
Barrick as the 12 least ethical company in the world.
papua new guinea
rapes, evictions and killings
In the central highland of Papua New Guinea lies some of thehighest grade gold in the world, the deposit is owned by the largestgold miner in the world Canadian owned Barrick Gold. It is alsoone of the most controversial mines in the world with allegationsof rapes, beatings and killings of community members by PorgeraJoint Venture (PJV) security forces.In 2009, Barrick housed police who – acting on situation reports
 from Barrick Gold – burnt down an entire hillside of housesadjacent to their Porgera Mine. Barrick initially denied theseallegations, remarking
that it was their understanding that 50temporary shacks were tore down. But, a follow-up Amnestyreport
, released in January 2010 showed evidence of at least 130permanent structures burnt down, many of which were homes,while villagers were beaten, harassed, and detained. Additionally,earlier this year Human Rights Watch released a report
detailinggang rapes by Barrick’s security guards at the Porgera Mine.Mining abuses at the Porgera Mine have a long history. Earlyin 2006 Barrick Gold Corp. took over the mine when it acquiredPlacer Dome who had admitted to 8 killings of communitymembers by PJV security guards and police
. There have beenfurther allegations of killings by PJV security forces in 2007, 2008,2009 and 2010.As a result of the killings the Papua New Guinea (PNG) government
established an investigation in 2006, the government’s ndings
have not been publicly released.
On December 2, 2007, MiningWatch Canada led a complaint
with the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary, or 
Arbitrary Executions regarding killings of residents of Porgera byPJV’s private security guards (tolerated by the government), PNGPolice, and Mobile Unit Police at the Porgera Mine.Jethro Tulin from the Akali Tange Association and members of the Porgera Land Owners Association (PLOA) have traveled toBarrick Gold’s annual shareholder meeting in Canada in 2008,2009 and 2010 to complain of human rights abuses at the handsof Barrick’s Security, such as gang rapes, only to have theseallegation repeatedly denied by Barrick Gold. In 2011, due to
the Human Rights Watch report, Barrick nally allowed for an
investigation of their security regarding the allegations of gang
rapes. Five Barrick employees were red, while eight former 
employees were implicated in the abuse.
1. Norwegian Government website http://www.regjeringen.no/en/dep/n/press-center/Press
2. Hufngton Post “The 12 Least Ethical Companies In The World: Covalence’s Ranking”, http://www.hufngtonpost.com/2010/01/28/the-least-ethical-compani_n_440073.html3. Post Courier “MP calls for SoE in Porgeraby HARLYNE JOKU. http://www.postcourier.com.
4. Northern Miner , “Barrick To Build Pascua-Lama: WOES CONTINUE AT PORGERA IN PAPUA
NEW GUINEAby Trish Saywell. 5/18/09 http://www.northernminer.com/issuesV2/VerifyLogin.aspx
5. Amnesty International “Undermining Rights: Forced Evictions and Police Brutality around thePorgera Gold Mine, Papua New Guinea” http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/ASA34/001/2010/
6. Human Rights Watch, “Gold’s Costly Dividend: Human Rights Impacts of Papua New Guinea”
Porgera Gold Mine1/2/2011
7. “Canadian Firm Admits to Killings at PNG Gold Mine” by Bob Burton. Nov. 18, 2005. http://www.
8. “PNG goldmine acts over allegations of torture and rape” by Lindsay Murdoch. Feb 10, 2011
 jethro tulin
 “ ... the challenges and the struggles we face as indigenous peoples who see all the resources that these multinational comein to extract are far more than we can tell by just talking here.I stand here and can say that Barrick’s behaviour in my place,Porgera, Enga Province in Papua New Guinea is bad but if you are physically there at the site it is even worse, your eyes could not believe this.... what they say and what they portray themselves here in North America is that where they go and where they do businessthey leave good and treat the communities well before they 
extract the resources ... but what we nd with their behaviour in
my country, my place is opposite of what they say ... We are asmall community and we have been surprised a lot and even if information does come out from us the people with the money,these corporates of extractive industries they control the media,they control the government and they control people who areobstacles to their extractive process.
I am still ghting the struggle against Barrick today, we will never 
give up until these kind of people, criminals in corporate boxes,are held accountable for what they are doing against us.” 
Excerpt from a presentation by Jethro Tulin, Poregra Alliance, at the Mining (In)Justice conference, Toronto, Canada, May 2010
battle in court and on country
Australia’s Lake Cowal, “the Sacred Heartland of the WiradjuriNation,” is the largest inland lake in New South Wales. A wetlandof national and international signicance, the lake also provides
habitat for many threatened species and birds listed under theInternational Convention on Wetlands (the Ramsar Convention).Barrick’s Cowal Gold Project is an opencut pit that lies within highwater level on the lake’s western edge, essentially half the pit sitsin the lake bed. The lake is ephemeral and was in a dry cycle whenthe mine originally started operating in 2006, however, in startingin later 2010 heavy rains have bought water back into the lake.Floods are a reality in this region, Barrick’s mine poses a seriousthreat to the environment if toxics from its operation leach into thegroundwater and river systems that Lake Cowal is connected to.
As well as ecologically signicant site, Lake Cowal is alsoculturally signicant for Wiradjuri people. Traditional Owners
oppose the mine and charge that Barrick and its predecessorsignored demands to protect cultural objects.
Barrick desecratedsacred ground when it cleared the way for the mine and laidwater pipes and an electricity transmission line. The companyalso felled dozens of river red gum trees that had shelteredWiradjuri people from the elements for hundreds of years, andheld generations worth of historic markings. Wiradjuri sacreditems and places have been damaged or destroyed includingtens of thousands of stone artifacts, ancient ceremonial areas,marked trees, and traditional camp and tool-making sites.Artifacts hold individual meaning, but piecemeal artifact collectioncompromises the integrity of the site and the larger landscape
of spiritual signicance. Independent archaeologists have dated
some local Wiradjuri sites to between 2,000 and 4,000 years old- contemporaries of the Egyptian pyramids. Given Lake Cowal’sancient origins, more archaeological work will likely reveal a mucholder heritage. Barrick has reportedly collected more than 10,000artifacts from the mine area.Since 2001, Wiradjuri Traditional Owners, represented by NevilleChappy Williams, have focused on the validity of consents issuedby the NSW Government permitting Barrick to destory all culturalheritage sites at Lake Cowal and on the protection of WiradjuriNative Title Rights. These challenges have been partiallysuccessful with injunctions delaying approvals for the mine whichlead to a complete overhaul of how consent to destroy Aboriginalcultural heritahe are issued. The battle in court continues withrecent appeals against the expansion of the mine.
1. “Legislative Council Hansard, Wednesday, 29 October 2003, Corrected Copy” http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/parlment/hanstrans.nsf/v3ByKey/LC20031029
This is a ght for justice, Barrick Gold Corporation is destroying our culture. We have been in the courts now for 10 years, it has been a desperate, never ending uphill ght but we are not giving up and we are not going away.’ ‘They are destroying our culture so we stand rmly in the ground to assert our inherit right to occupy and enjoy our land. Aboriginal sovereignty has never been ceded, we have a right under 116 of the constitution to practice our religion.’ ‘We are never going to give up, we are never going away, we will ght to the bitter end to protect and preserve our ancient cultural heritage – that is Lake Cowal.
Wiradjuri Traditional Owner from the Lake Cowal area, Neville Chappy Williams at the smoking ceremony
people and livestock threatened
In May 2009 toxic waste from your gold mine located in NorthMara, Tanzania, spilled into River Thigithe. Local villagers allegedthat up to 40 people and from 700 to 1,000 herds of livestock diedfrom the contaminated water. Community are still experiencinghealth problems to date. But the African Barrick Gold denied thatthe spillage led to the deaths of villagers.
Barrick’s spokesperson said recently that there are no moreproblems with the river 
, yet villagers living in Tarime district claimthey are still experiencing health-related illnesses from the water.There are also reports that a number of people have been killedby security forces belonging to the company.
Though the mine is described by Barrick as operating at zerodischarge, meaning no water is released back into the surroundingenvironment, villagers have long complained that the mine hasnegative effects.Relations between the company and people in surroundingvillages are not the best, stemming both from dissatisfaction withthe levels of compensation paid to those displaced by the minewhen it was established in 2003 and from the belief that the minehas negatively impacted the environment.According to independent journalist, Jessie Boylan who visitedthe North Mara community December 2009 in large sections, thegrass had completely died, and plants and some vegetation hadoff-coloured stalks. The stream running from the mine site hadgreen growth covering it; there was no sign of insects, tadpolesor frogs, and some crystallised plants stuck out of the water, asif frozen or covered by salt; according to her account no other streams in the area looked like this.
Local community believe the contamination has caused sh,
crops and animals in the surrounding area to perish. Many localshave also complained of health problems such as skin irritationsand stomach pains as a result of drinking and bathing in the water.There have been two reports
conrming lasting negative effects
of a toxic spill in Tanzania that occurred last May. The latest
neville ‘chappy’ williams

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