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Glencore Xstrata: cases and controversies

In Bolivia, the pollution of water and air threatens the health and livelihood
of local communities. In Argentina, three legal proceedings are being
brought against Glencore Xstrata for environmental pollution and
the infringement of laws. At the same time, 200 people who protested
publicly against the company are facing charges. In Colombia, the
company is facing nine disciplinary proceedings before the National
Authority of nvironmental !icenses"
In the Philippines, 5,000 members of the indigenous community of the Blaan
have seen their right to free, prior and informed consent violated ! a right
guaranteed by the "# $eclaration on the %ights of Indigenous Peoples. In
many places, resistance to &lencore 'stratas business activities by local
communities is common. (owever, those who )ght bac* are often
intimidated, threatened or criminali+ed. ,re-uently, .tate police forces are
employed to suppress demonstrations.
In #eru in $%&$, three people died and '( were wounded in the
course of the crac)*down of protests against the Xstrata +intaya
mine"
Peru – Sanctions against mining company Glencore Xstrata are
ratifed in Peru
/n 01 2uly 2001, the %egional 3anagement of 4abour and Promotion of
5mployment of the (igh Andean Provinces of the %egional &overnment of
6usco rati)ed the sanctions imposed on the mining company Antapaccay, a
subsidiary of Glencore Xstrata 7'strata 8intaya ..A.9, in 5spinar, 6usco.
8hrough %esolution #:00;<2001<&%<6".6/=$%8P5</>8P5PAA, the company
incurred sanctions following the dismissal of ,( wor)ers soon after
they founded an independent trade union, the .indicato de
8raba?adores ,uncionarios de la 6ompa@ia 3inera Antapaccay ! 7Public
Aor*ersB "nion of Antapaccay 3ining 6ompany9.
+he -esolution of &' .uly $%&' declared that Xstrata +intaya /"A"
had not complied with its obligations relating to trade union
freedom or the use of direct or indirect means to hinder a0liation to
trade unions or trade union organisations"
1ith the rati2cation of the -esolution, the mining company will be
2ned for &,,,34 soles 5around 6 ,,(%%7 because of infractions to the
wor)ers8 social and labour rights" 8he submission presented by the
deputy lawyer from the mining company was declared inadmissible by the
%egional 3anagement of 4abour and Promotion of 5mployment of the (igh
Andean Provinces of the %egional &overnment of 6usco. 8he ?udiciary from
PerC have yet to ratify, which would give the %esolution legal eDect. 8he
.indicato has declared that the process is being delayed in light of the length
of time it is ta*ing for them to act.
Peru is one of the largest producer of silver and copper in the world and the
5th largest producer of gold. 8he government has granted mining licences
for huge areas of the national territory eEtending to 15F of the territory of
6a?amarca province and 20F of the territory of 6usco province. 8hese
pro?ects have brought the authorities and mining companies into conGict
with indigenous and campesino communities who eEist on the basis of
subsistence farming and whose way of life and well<being have been
undermined.
Xstrata: the sad reality
/n closer eEamination of 'stratas actions, another picture emerges. 8o ta*e
one eEample, the Xstrata 9cArthur -iver mine in Australia, local
communities feel that the company has not listened to them and
their concerns over environmental damage, despite one group being
able to claim traditional land ownership" 8he 6,35 "nion there has
raised concerns about breaches of /56$ guidelines by 'strata while
operating in their territories, and claims that 'strata has been very
obstructive to tal*s with the union and other organisations over these issues.
In Colombia, also, Xstrata has been involved in disputes over
attempts to cut bac) wor)er rights such as pay, health and
pensions. As far bac* as 200H, representatives from Xstrata unions
across the world met and announced the forming of an International
/olidarity :und, due to their belief that Xstrata was having a
negative impact on wor)ers and communities across the world, and
failing to act according to the high labour and environmental
standards the company claims on its website
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In November $%&$, there was a demonstration outside Xstrata;s
AG9 in protest against alleged human rights infringements and
pollution of the environment in #eru and Colombia" Protestors were
?oined by the governor of Perus 5spinar province in the Andes, who was in
the process of bringing charges against the company of environmental
pollution and endangering the health of local people. 'strata gave the
governor and representatives of the protesting #&/s seats at the A&3, and
allowed the governor to deliver his message that his province would
no longer allow Xstrata to operate if they continued to pollute the
environment and show lac) of respect for local people;s rights"
'strata 65/ 3i*e $avis answered that the company adhered to all the
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regulations in the area, including setting themselves higher standards for
environmental protection than local regulations called for ! and that their
involvement brought investment to the area, improving the lives of the local
population
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8he local population, including governor /scar 3ollohuanca, say that when
8intaya was sold to 'strata 7in 200I9 the company promised to follow the
/Efam<mediated agreement signed in 200J by then<owners B(P<Billiton.
(owever, under 'strata the stipulated three percent of 8intayas pro)ts,
worth millions, have been paid into the 8intaya ,oundation, a non<pro)t
organi+ation founded and controlled by the company itself. 8he governor
claims this arm of the company is using its resources to create a patronage
networ* across the province, and it certainly does not seem to have been
able to ma*e a signi)cant dent in 5spinars I1F poverty rate. ,urthermore,
'strata has always claimed that 8intaya was fully compliant with Peruvian
environmental regulations, but an independent study in 2000 found heavy
metal contamination above even Perus limits for human consumption in 2;
of 50 water sources, and heavy metal contamination above the 6anadian
limit ! Peru, as it turns out, does not have soil contamination regulations ! in
all 2K soil test locations.
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In the #hilippines, at the 8ampa*an copper and gold pro?ect in .outh
6otabato on the island of 3indanao ! a L5.; billion investment in potentially
the largest copper and gold prospect in .outheast Asia ! 'stratas part<
owned local pro?ect partner .agittarius 3ines Inc 7.3I9 was recently granted
an 5nvironmental 6ompliance 6erti)cate 75669 by the Philippines national
government. 8his follows a 2000 ban on open<pit mining by the provincial
government of .outh 6otabato, which was put in place shortly after 'stratas
)rst application for an 566 for the 8ampa*an pro?ect
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same pro?ect that 'strata itself argued against in 200H, when attempting to
buy out a sta*e in .3I held by another company, on the grounds that the
pro?ect was Ma public target for various armed terrorist organisations.
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8he proposed mine has been opposed by local people on 3indanao for two
decades, and besides the provincial governments ban on open<pit mining,
the indigenous Blaan community in the area 7of whom J0,000 would be
displaced by the pro?ect9 has declared a state of tribal war against the
company. 4ocal environmental activists eEpected in ,ebruary this year that
the granting of the 566 would result in even more intensi)ed militari+ation in
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the surrounding area, already seeing violence and human rights violations, in
an attempt to dissuade people from opposing the pro?ect
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8his is not a diNcult forecast to ma*e. In a congressional en-uiry into the
eEisting militari+ation and violence in the area, the mayor of Oiblawan,
3arivic $iamante, gave testimony that in three towns covered by the mining
permit, namely Oiblawan, 8ampacan and 6olumbio, military and paramilitary
groups were being given funds for their allowance and operations by
.agittarius 3ines Inc. .he eEplained that a memorandum of agreement
signed in 2uly 200I by the three towns, and .3I, was the basis of the
deployment of 020 paramilitaries in the area, along with the creation of the
military<led 8as* ,orce OI8A6/. 8he Philippine Army identi)ed 02H security
threats against .3I from 200K to 2002, which they see as ?ustifying their
presence in the area to provide security for the company. In turn, the
company provides money for operations, for gasoline, and for the allowance
of the community<based 6A,&" paramilitaries deployed in the area.
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It is this same 8as* ,orce OI8A6/ which has been implicated in a spate of
*illings in the area. In /ctober 2002, an indigenous Blaan woman, 2uvy
6apeon, and her two children, aged K and 0J, were gunned down. (er
husband $aguil 6apeon was *nown to be leading a Blaan struggle to defend
their ancestral lands against .3I development, and a reward was posted by
3ayor $iamante for the capture of $aguil 6apeon, who, 3ayor $iamante
eEplained to the congressional en-uiry, is considered a bandit. .urvivors and
witnesses of the attac* were -uestioned, and the public hearing found
serious faults with the way that the attac* was investigated by the military
and the police.
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In 2anuary 200J, $aguil 6apeons brother Oitari died in
hospital after suDering a gunshot wound during an alleged attac* on
government forces. Aitnesses, however, claim that the military strafed the
house where Oitari was staying, and he was unarmed during the incident and
unable to )ght bac*.
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In August 2002, BBlaan chieftain Anting ,reay 7I09, and
his 0I year old son Pictor, were murdered, allegedly by members of 8as*
,orce OI8A6/.
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8he %oman 6atholic $iocese of 3arbel has since given
shelter to many Blaan people, mostly women and children, who have Ged
their homes from fear at the increasing military activity in their area ! in mid<
2anuary, )ve additional truc*loads of soldiers were brought in to the area by
night.
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Xstrata +intaya, subsidiary of the Anglo*/wiss commodities giant
Glencore Xstrata, has been 2ned </=>',%%% for polluting
pastureland around its copper mine in spinar, Cusco.
Xstrata +intaya was found responsible for elevated levels of copper
in the soil in an area of pasture covering some &%%%m$" +he
company had also failed to report the incident to ?:A and to
provide a report on an investigation" @cessive levels of copper can
harm biodiversity and poison livestoc)"
'strata 8intaya argued that the copper was naturally occurring and not the
result of pollution, but /5,A concluded that the metal had spread from water
being pumped through a channel by the miner. 8he tribunal found that the
levels of copper had reached nearly 0H00F of the naturally occurring
concentration in the area and more than J000F of the maEimum set by
international standards.
8he dialogue between the company and local communities, established after
fatal clashes in 2002 over the mines social funding and alleged
environmental impact, is due to conclude in 3arch.