Category Archives: Human rights

Porgera Mine – A World Class Disaster

The Porgera gold mine has made people slaves on their own land, forced to scrape in the polluted mine tailings to try and earn the money to buy food and basic essentials. The owners of Barrick Gold and Zijin Mining should hang their heads in shame…

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Dam collapses at Siberian gold mine, killing at least 15 people

The miners’ camp near Krasnoyarsk after the dam collapsed. Photograph: Russian Emergencies Ministry/Emergencies Ministry/TASS

Investigation launched into safety regime at alluvial mine in remote Krasnoyarsk region

Reuters | The Observer | 19 October 2019

At least 15 gold miners were killed when a dam collapsed, flooding a mining encampment in a remote part of Siberia, officials have said.

Heavy rains weakened the dam and water broke through, sweeping away several cabins where the miners lived, about 100 miles south of the city of Krasnoyarsk.

President Vladimir Putin ordered all necessary measures to be taken to help those affected, identify the cause of the disaster and prevent any impact on a nearby residential area, Interfax quoted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying.

Russia is one of the world’s top gold producers, most of it coming from large professional industrial mines. However, alluvial mining, where the gold is in a stream bed rather than an underground seam, still contributes some of the country’s output.

Alluvial (or artisanal) gold mining in Russia is usually small-scale, but is still conducted by officially registered firms, which are supposed to abide by health and safety rules.

Krasnoyarsk officials said water released by the dam partially flooded two dormitories of the rotational camp in which 74 people lived, adding that 13 people were still missing.

A Russian investigative committee said it had launched a criminal investigation into violation of safety rules at the gold mining spot, while local authorities said the collapsed dam was not registered by official bodies.

Interfax said the miners were part of the Siberian privately held company Sibzoloto, which unites several artisanal mining teams.

Sibzoloto was not immediately available for comment. The company produced about three tonnes of gold in 2018, Sergei Kashuba, the head of Russia’s Gold Industrialists’ Union, a non-government producers’ lobby group, said. Sibzoloto is not a member of the union, he added.

Russia produced 314 tonnes of gold in 2018.

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Madang people suffering from Ramu mine spill

A spill into the bay earlier this year turned the sea red. Photo: Facebook/ Elisha Wesley Mizeu

Luwi James | Post Courier | 18 October 2019

It is confirmed that sea waters in Madang is contaminated and poisoned by highly toxic slurry spill from the Basamuk refinery in Raicoast few months ago.

The independent Swiss specialist Dr Mojon who was engaged by the Madang provincial administration has confirmed this in his findings.

This will have a negative impact on the lives of people.
Madang provincial government has already warned the people not use or consume fish from the sea and this is likely to continue on for an indefinite period of time depending on the assessment and solution of this problem.

People living by the sea and on the islands like Karkar, Krangket, Manam,Bagbag, Long Island and other smaller islands have already started feeling the effect.
 The sea is their life and poisoning it is simply starving them to death.

The microsocio-economic cycle and protein supplement of these people has been completely snapped.

This issue also affects tuna production in Madang. Currently, the company is canning fish which are in stock and may stop canning, awaiting the purification of the sea from the poison. People are also afraid to buy canned fish sold in stores and supermarkets.

The deep sea tailing project (DSTP) has been challenged in court by landowners of Basamuk and MCC. The court issued the direction to have constructive measure and a proper regulation system in place to closely monitor the facility but this has never been done which has resulted in the spill and poisoning of sea water.

The people of Raicoast and those on the islands are experiencing all kinds of illnesses.
 Vegetation near the shores are turning yellow and drying up. Dead fish are filling the sea shores. People have been attributing these matters to black magic and sorcery but now they have come to realise that toxic waste from the mine has been the cause of these problems.

The department of environment, conservation and climate change and developer MCC are rebutting the report of the scientist is ridiculous. They are showing their lack of concern for the damage done and how to solve this issue amicably.

The Madang provincial administration must be applauded for undertaking this issue seriously and that the mine has to stop until all investigations are done and proper measures are in place to guarantee the safety of our people.

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Expert Says Basamuk Spill ‘A Catastrophe’

Elias Nanau | Post Courier | October 10, 2019

An expert engaged by the Madang Provincial Government to investigate possible environmental and health issues associated with the operation of the Ramu Nickel Mine says it’s a “catastrophe.”

Dr Alex Mojon who has done environment impact and assessment studies in Africa, Europe, Asia including China for over 30 years was with Madang Governor Peter Yama yesterday when he made the statement.

A report is expected to be published in less than a week, with two investigations already being carried out by Dr. Mojon collaborating with other scientists. One was carried out before the slurry spill occurred and another recently after the spill of an estimated 200,000 cubic metres of waste turning the sea red.

Mr Yama said his government decided to engage what he described as “impartial experts” because he alleged that the office of the Conservation and Environment Protection Authority (CEPA) has been compromised and the veracity of their report has to be tested.

“The company has a strong influence on the report,” he said.

Mr Yama was irate and stressed that fishery lives were being affected as far as the borders of Morobe and the Karkar, Long and Bagabag islands northwest of Basamuk.

“One or two people have died,” he said, despite assertions to the contrary by a local health worker in the area and supported by the miner MCC.

“One of my ward councilors of Astrolabe Bay is at the intensive care unit.”

He said he became ill after eating contaminated fish,” Yama said.

Dr Mojen believes evidence strongly point at contamination being the cause of a number of medical conditions.

This included deformity in babies born around the vicinity, saying his investigations focused on the Kurumbukari mine and tracked the pipeline to Basamuk Deep Sea Tailing Disposal set up less than 500 meters from the sea, he interviewed villagers and flew to areas as far as Karkar.

“I was shocked,” he said. “We found it to be a catastrophe. There is evidence that Ramu Nickel Mine is not managing waste well.”

According to him, the samples were tested at a laboratory in Munich, Italy.

An irate Mr Yama said yesterday he would protest by not attending Parliament sessions and he will demand Prime Minister James Marape to intervene.

“We can’t gamble with the lives of the people,” he said firmly.

He said based on financial reports, the Mine has made K27 billion since its operations and the Madang Provincial Government received only K5 million.

Mr Yama said the Kurumbukari mine is on tax holiday.

According to Mr Yama, Lomai and Attorney has been engaged to act swiftly based on additional credible evidence before it to file a lawsuit on environmental issues and an Australian QC is likely to be involved.

Mr Yama’ stance yesterday was; “We will go for the closure of the mine.”

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Filed under Environmental impact, Financial returns, Human rights, Papua New Guinea

Jeopardising environment through mining impacts lives: Barker

The National aka The Loggers Times | October 8, 2019

PAPUA New Guinea is largely a rural-based society and jeopardising the environment would have a severe impact on the lives of the majority, Institute of National Affairs executive director Paul Barker says.

Barker expressed this concern in Port Moresby last Tuesday in light of the widespread reports of fish and sharks being found dead in the seas of Madang after the slurry spill incident at Ramu nickel mine’s Basamuk refinery on Aug 24.

“Mining invariably has environmental impacts and some countries like Costa Rica have chosen not to permit mining,” Barker said.

“But most, including PNG, allow some under controlled and supervised conditions.

“Clearly, if the potential impact is going to be excessive, or the benefits inadequate, the government and local communities need to be prepared to reject mining operations, or specific practices. Those may include practices related to waste management, including riverine or offshore waste disposal.”

Barker said technology approval on the use of tailings dams, standards, engineering tests, monitoring and oversight and accident planning was critical, with clear requirements for capacity and delineation of responsibilities.

“Unfortunately, in the case of the recent Basamuk leakage, the oversight, management and public awareness systems have so far shown themselves to be deficient,” he said.

“PNG is largely a rural-based society.

“Most people live in rural areas and depend on the health of their land and land use, or rivers and clean marine habitats.

“Jeopardising these environments has a severe impact on the often challenging lives rural people.”

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Canadian Mining Company Torex Gold Resources Inc; Archetype of Violence in Guerrero

REMA | October 4, 2019

Since 2010, in the heart of the municipality of Cocula in the state of Guerrero, Mexico, Canadian mining company Torex Gold Resources Inc. has been operating through its subsidiary Minera Media Luna S.A. de C.V.. Its Limón-Guajes project is an open pit and underground gold and silver mine. Since the company’s arrival, it has been one of the spoiled favourites of diverse political operators in the state of Guerrero, especially the governors of the day, as well as having received repeat visits from the Canadian diplomatic mission in Mexico. This has allowed Mr. Fred Stanford, Torex Gold Director, President and CEO, to move freely with complete impunity, despite hundreds of harms committed by the company and its violent operators, particularly in the communities of Nuevo Balsas, La Fundición, Real de Limón and Atzcala.

Since which time the company has been in the area, its operations have been shut down various times as a result of actions taken by mine opponents and workers. On each occasion, some sort of violence has been perpetrated against them by workers affiliated with the Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM by its initials in Spanish, a “protection union” that does not legitimately represent workers) and organized crime, which has for years operated openly in the area in favour of the company, controlling who comes and goes, offering jobs and suppressing the population at its whim. The list of harms that have taken place is just as long as the impunity that operates in the country, starting with the people who were displaced from the community La Fundición who had to flee the country or move to other states to avoid being assassinated. The appearance of false land titles used to dispossess the original owners of their land and the forced relocation of around 170 families from La Fundición and Real del Limón. The mine has also contaminated water supplies, which has permanently affected the economic activity and health of fishers in the community of Nuevo Balsas. The University of Guerrero distorted the information about the contamination as if the company had no role, which is hardly surprising given that the university has received funds for years from Torex Gold, as well as from Goldcorp when it was still operating [the Los Filos mine] in Carrizalillo, Guerrero.

In addition, there have been multiple cases of extorsion, people being picked up and either threatened or disappeared, and kidnappings. We recall what took place to the three brothers Victor, Miguel and Modesto Rebolledo Salinas, members of the community Real del Limón who were picked up shortly after their other brother, Eligio Rebolledo Salinas, was shot and seriously injured. Another pair of brothers were assassinated, Victor and Marcelino Sahuanitla Peña, who had been workers opposed to being exploited by the company and the CTM. The most remarkable aspect of their assassination is that it took place in sight of so-called “military officials” assigned to patrol #0827327, which several days prior had installed a security checkpoint in the area. The checkpoint was in response to a 600-strong worker strike that shut down mine operations as part of their struggle for the freedom of association, freedom of union representation and freedom to collective negotiations as fundamental rights. Shortly later, another leader in this worker struggle was murdered, Mr. Quintin Salgado Salgado. This cleanup that the company and its assassins undertook to get rid of people struggling for their rights also included – of course – individual and mass dismissals of workers. Meanwhile, others have continued to be persecuted in a grotesque manner, considering the disappearance of opponents such as Oscar Hernández Romero on September 23 of this year. Since this time, over a hundred people have gone looking for him in different parts of Cocula. His disappearance is retaliation for the legal action that 200 workers who were unjustifiably dismissed have taken against the company. Now, the pseudo-community police, made up of assassins who operate in favour of the company, have decided to shut down their search, issuing death threats against the friends who are looking for their leader.

Below we share a brief outline of the recurring harms that have taken place in connection with the violent Canadian mining company Torex Gold Resources Inc. We do so in order to shed light on a story that has not been told and that has been little analyzed, except perhaps by the publication Diario El Sur in Acapulco.

Since the [2017] closure of the company’s operations as a result of the 600-strong worker strike demanding that the company refuse to recognize the collective agreement with the CTM union any longer, there have been a series of violent events gradually taking place, making an increasingly notorious case. In response, there were attempts at a solidarity visits by diverse actors, who were also detained by groups of assassins on their way to the area. High ranked state representatives also appeared, along with Canadian diplomats, the state and municipal police, the gendarmerie and the army, as well as representatives of the National Union of Mine, Metal, Steel and Allied Workers of the Mexican Republic (STMMSRM by its initials in Spanish), led by now Senator Gómez Urrutia who, using the influence that he has in Canada, brought the United Steelworkers (USW) into the fray. The USW urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to intervene with Mexican authorities to stop the repression against the worker strike. The Canadian union also issued a press release denouncing that the subsidiary of Torex Gold Resources had struck an alliance with the CTM union to associate all of its workers to that union without their consent, stating that this is a “corrupt practice” that is illegal both in Canada and the U.S. Support from these unions soon led to a case before the Federal Board for Conciliation and Arbitration where at least two public hearings took place to determine the date when a vote would be held to select a union, which clearly pointed toward the creation of a section under the STMMSRM.

In the press, a date for the vote was announced to finally determine the change in union. However, one day prior to the date set by the Federal Board of Conciliation and Arbitration, the company widely distributed a communiqué in which it expressed its pleasure at an internal agreement that had been reached by the parties, with which the strike was lifted and – with the stroke of a pen – the conflict, the assassinations, the kidnappings and the cases of extorsion were all forgotten. Nothing further was known of the national or international support that mine opponents had received from the STMMSRM and the USW. The repressive Mr. Fred Stanford, President and CEO of Torex Gold Resources Inc., heaped exuberant praise on himself, lauding his good business sense. But it was all a lie because the testimonies of the opponents state that it was organized crime acting in favour of the company who suddenly ended the strike with their arrival and threat to kill everyone if the strike did not stop. All the support for the workers was withdrawn without a word from the national and international unions, the state and municipal governments, the Federal Board of Conciliation and Arbitration, the Canadian diplomats, or the state and federal armed forces. Meanwhile, Mr. Stanford was widely celebrating “the great agreement” that had been reached.

This summary helps to explain that the violent reality that the communities in the municipality of Cocula and surrounding municipalities live with has not changed one bit. The federal government continues to be absent in the area, despite the effect created by the case of the young men from Ayotzinapa. As a result, impunity continues to be at the centre of corporate power that has every political operator in the state suppressed, submissive and bought out. Mining “progress and development”, as REMA has documented and denounced ad nauseum, is – to put it lightly – an atrocity. 

REMA expresses our solidarity with the struggle of the men and women who are living with systemic violence throughout the area known as the “Guerrero Gold Belt”. We know that this is a struggle that you are fighting in complete solitude because, for some time, the state has been fully in the pockets of organized crime and the mining companies. In this context, we recognize the tremendous efforts you are making to hold your heads high and continue to fight for life.

When will the simulation and impunity end?

If the Fourth Transformation fails to get clarity about this root issue, everything that is said in the daily morning press conferences will be totally irrelevant

We demand the appearance with life of Oscar Hernández Romer 

For Territories Free of Mining 

Mexican Network of Mining Affected People

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Filed under Corruption, Environmental impact, Human rights

Report On Basamuk Spill Still To Be Released By Minister

Gorethy Kenneth | Post Courier | October 4, 2019

The final report on the Basamuk Bay chemical spill in Madang Province on August 23 will be released by the Environment and Conservation Minister Geoffery Kama, who is away overseas.

The PNG government put forward four recommendations which was detailed and discussed in a heated meeting between the Madang provincial government, Ramu Nico and the Conservation and Environment Protection Authority in Port Moresby yesterday.

Madang provincial administrator Joseph Kunda, represented the Madang team, met with the CEPA team and the Ramu mine executives in Port Moresby.

CEPA did an initial water quality assessment of the raw slurry spill impact area and released the report which would officially be handed to the minister for release in the coming Parliament session.

In the initial assessment, there were four recommendations:

  • Detail investigations of the heavy metals in the slurry components within the Basamuk Bay;
  • Shoreline/benthic sediments and fish tissue sampling and investigations to ascertain heavy metals in the sediments;
  • Socio-economic investigation to establish local community perceptions on the spill, their fishing and usual micro-economic activities within Astrolabe Bay; and
  • An independent investigation to be done forthwith to capture all residual impacts of the August 23 spill within the Basamuk Bay.

The Madang provincial administration team had travelled to meet with CEPA as a matter of urgency for the government to reveal what the cause of dead fish in Madang was, hence the ban on sale of fish.

But CEPA advised yesterday that there was still the need for an independent investigation.
And a full final report to be released later.

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