Tag Archives: mine workers

World class Canada mining firm accused of slavery abroad can be sued at home, supreme court rules

Trucks ferry excavated gold, copper and zinc ore from the main mining pit at the Bisha Mining Share Company in Eritrea. Photograph: Thomas Mukoya/Reuters

Case brought by three Eritreans against Nevsun Resources can continue as companies operating overseas face new legal risk

AFP | 28 February 2020 

A Vancouver-based mining company can be sued in Canada for alleged human rights abuses overseas including allegations of modern slavery, Canada’s supreme court has ruled.

The decision means three Eritreans who filed a civil suit against Nevsun Resources in British Columbia can continue their case in a lower court.

It also creates new legal risks for Canadian firms operating abroad – notably in the resources and clothing sectors – as companies previously could only be held liable in foreign jurisdictions in which alleged abuses occurred.

The plaintiffs claimed they and more than 1,000 others had been conscripted through Eritrea’s military service into forced labour to construct Nevsun’s Bisha gold, copper and zinc mine in the east African nation between 2008 and 2012, and subjected to violent, cruel and inhuman treatment.

In court documents they alleged being forced to work 12 hours a day, six days a week, being beaten with sticks, and being bound and left to bake under the hot sun.

The trio later escaped Eritrea and became refugees.

Nevsun argued that the case should be thrown out on the basis of the act of state doctrine, which precludes domestic courts from assessing acts of foreign governments. But that was rejected by a majority of the justices on the top bench.

The supreme court also held that international human rights law – notably fundamental tenets called “peremptory norms” that are so important they are considered universal – may be applied to this case.

“Violations of peremptory norms are serious violations of rights that are important to everyone, everywhere. They need to be strongly discouraged,” the court said in a statement.

In 2017, the supreme court declined to hear a similar case involving a group of Guatemalans suing Vancouver-based Tahoe Resources for alleged abuses at the company’s mine in Guatemala.

The men sought redress for what they say were injuries suffered during the violent suppression of their protest against the company’s Escobal silver and gold mine south-east of Guatemala City.

They argued in court filings – and a lower court agreed – that they were unlikely to obtain justice in Guatemala, and therefore brought the civil case to Canada, where Tahoe has its headquarters.

The company apologized in July 2019 for the rights violations as part an out-of-court settlement with demonstrators who had been shot and wounded while protesting.

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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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Barrick Shareholders Call On Authorities To Address Violent Crime

Mining company looks to State to resolve the completely foreseeable social problems it has created…

Post Courier | October 7, 2019

The shareholders of Barrick (Niugini) Limited, operator of the Porgera Mine in Enga Province, have expressed their sadness at the passing of a mine employee who was fatally injured in a shooting incident at the mine on the night of September 29.

They are now calling on the authorities to address criminal behaviour in Porgera.

President and chief executive officer of Barrick Gold Mark Bristow, and chairman of Zijin mining, Chen Jinghe, made the following comments:

“We are deeply saddened by the news of the passing of Samuel Marefa, an asset protection officer at the Porgera mine who sustained a serious gun-shot injury during that night.

“Samuel was evacuated by air to Port Moresby for urgent surgical treatment and he had been in critical condition for several days.

“We received the tragic news last night that following a series of complex surgical procedures he could not hold on.

“Samuel passed away as a consequence of his injuries from the shooting.

“Our company is deeply saddened by his passing, and our thoughts are with Samuel’s wife and family at this difficult time.

“Barrick (Niugini) limited management has been consulting with State authorities since the incident and we have made it clear that we consider it unacceptable that criminals can routinely intrude into operational areas of the mine and behave in this way with impunity.

“The impact of this unlawful and violent behaviour is significant, both in terms of loss of life and serious injury, including to law-abiding mine employees simply trying to earn their living at work, and in terms of the law and order situation in Porgera generally.

“We call on State and provincial authorities to urgently and thoroughly investigate the assault on Mr Marefa, bring the murderers to justice, and to address the rising incidence of violence and lawlessness in the Porgera Valley, which makes it difficult for residents to carry out ordinary activities and lead normal lives.”

Mr Bristow and Mr Chen noted that the company stood ready to work cooperatively with the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary and other authorities in responding to this latest incidence of violence and to finding long-term solutions to the critical state of law and order in the Porgera valley.

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Federation Backs Ban On Fly-In Fly-Out

Post Courier | July 9, 2019

The Resource Owners Federation of Papua New Guinea has commended Minister for Immigration and Border Security Petrus Thomas on the proposed ban of the controversial fly-in fly-out (FIFO) system of employment by the extractive and other industries.

Federation president Jonathan Paraia said the practice has seen the loss of billions of kina in disposable income and other benefits over many decades to foreign countries.

He claimed that it was first introduced by the Ok Tedi, Porgera and Lihir mines which has not only seen the loss of disposable incomes of the employees but has also denied the project areas of social, economic and infrastructure development which could have improved the life styles of the citizens of those areas and the country.

“The resource owners of this country have persistently complained about the FIFO system to successive governments for decades through media publicities and others but no action was ever taken by any government to ban the system, for reasons only they can explain. It is their deliberate negligence that has seen the loss of billions of kina to the country,” said Paraia.

He said the federation has not yet identified any country in the region that allows foreign employees to work in their countries on a FIFO basis. Instead, the foreign workers are required to live in the countries of employment with their families for the duration of their employment contracts.

“This requirement ensures that the country and its communities in which the foreign employees work bene t from the disposal incomes of those workers.

“For example, some Papua New Guineans work and live in Australia, New Zealand, Cananda, Africa and other countries, but they do not fly in and fly out from Papua New Guinea on a regular basis,” he said.

The federation expects that the proposed policy, if adopted, will see a significant development of quality infrastructure in housing, health, education and commercial facilities, to service non y-in y-out communities of employees who will now live and spend their disposable incomes within the country boosting its economy.

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Bauxite workers in Solomon Islands left unpaid

Radio New Zealand | 7 March 2019 

A bauxite company in Solomon Islands is accused of failing to pay its workers for more than a month.

Bintan Mining Solomon Islands is operating the mine which supplied bauxite to the ship leaking oil off Rennell island.

Workers have told the Island Sun newspaper that they have not received their salaries for the last month and are unable to feed their families.

The workers are from several provinces but also from abroad, including Indonesia and China.

One worker said he was considering stopping operations on his land until the company paid the outstanding salaries.

“I think the incident (oil leak) has nothing to do with our salaries because the company should have a separate budget to continue pay workers’ salaries,” he said.

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Terrifying moment of Brazil dam collapse caught on camera

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Maru Supports Morobe’s Stand On No ‘Fly In Fly Out’

Ummm… “The best resource project that I have seen in my lifetime is the Bougainville copper mining project”.

Post Courier | January 18, 2019

National Planning Richard Maru has come out publicly to support the stance taken by the Morobe provincial government to oppose ‘fly in fly out’ arrangement for workers of the Wafi-Golpu project.

This is the first time a very senior member of Government has come out on the issue that has been a critical mainstay of discussions and forums by landowners and leaders alike in the Morobe province.

Minister Maru said if there was one thing that his government was taking away from mineral development, it was learning from previous Governments mistakes to not getting the best deal for the country.

“In this new deals that we want to put together for this country, under the new mining agreement for Wafi Golpu and Freida and even the second LNG project we are going to make sure that Papua New Guinea benefits more than any other resource projects in the past.

“I want place on record, this morning (yesterday) that I support the position taken by the Governor of Morobe and the people of Morobe that there will be no fly in fly out in the Wafi Golpu project.

“As planning minister we are already planning for a township at Nadzap and long term employees for Wafi-Golpu as far as I am concerned must live in Morobe and the income they generate must be used in Papua New Guinea, spent in Papua New Guinea, so we get back GST and the money must re-circulate within our economy,” Minister Maru said yesterday.

He said the situation where all resources are being depleted, all the monies end up in other countries all contribute to current issues being such as foreign currency shortages.

“As planning minister I do not support that, I want to see maximum benefit, families living here better, schools being built with the support of the resource companies, better towns being built.

“I want to say this and I make no apology to anyone. The best resource project that I have seen in my lifetime is the Bougainville copper mining project.

“They not only built a copper mine, they built a town, the best hospital, a supermarket, they provided international schools and all the families who were there and the benefits trickled around Bougainville.”

He said the model of BCL is need in the country.

“This is what will help to keep up the maximum revenue flows within this country and make sure that our country and this people will benefit of the wealth of our resources.”

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Goldmine tragedy in Fiji

An aerial view of the Vatukoula Gold Mine outside Tavua.

An aerial view of the Vatukoula Gold Mine outside Tavua. Picture: VGML

Repeka Nasiko | Fiji Times | 3 January, 2019

A 47-year-old Chinese national died instantly after rocks fell on his head at a Vatukoula Gold Mine Ltd shaft last weekend.

Police Intelligence and Investigation chief ACP Vakacegu Toduadua said the accident occurred at the mining company’s Dolphin Shaft early Saturday, December 29, 2018.

“A rock fell on the head of a 47-year-old Chinese national who died instantly at the scene while a second 48-year-old Chinese national received injuries,” he said.

“Both were taken to Lautoka Hospital. “A post-mortem (examination) of the deceased has been completed and we have yet to receive the report from the Mineral Resources Department mine inspectors to ascertain the negligence part of the management.”

Meanwhile, Mineral Resources Department acting director Apete Soro said their officials were alerted of the fatal accident last Saturday.

“The ministry through the Mineral Resources Department was informed around 1:15 am of the accident which occurred an hour earlier,” he said.

“A team from the department, which included the manager of the mining division who is a mine engineer and his assistant, were mobilised to Vatukoula the same night and confirmed upon arrival that one male fatality and another male was admitted to Tavua Hospital.

“The latter was later transferred to Lautoka Hospital, but has since been discharged.”

He said an investigation by the department was in progress.

“The team are currently undertaking preliminary investigation which will then lead to the Board of Inquiry under the discretion of the Director of Mines.”

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Vatukoula Gold Mines To Recruit 200 More Workers

Vatukoula Gold Mines Limited.

Charles Chambers | Fiji Sun | November 20, 2018

Vatukoula Gold Mines Limited (“VGML”) is looking to recruit 200 more employees to fill the  vacant positions for their underground operations.

The mining company is working with Western provincial administrators based in Ba and Rakiraki on a village-based recruitment programme.

The intent of the project is to encourage young men from rural areas of Fiji to take up employment as underground miners at Vatukoula Gold Mines while maintaining their links to their communities.

These links will be maintained by means of:

  • A roster which will enable two weeks off every six weeks.
  • Transport will be facilitated to the employee’s community and return to Vatukoula on conclusion of their two week community break.
  • As part of their application and selection process, each applicant will be encouraged and required to commit to a specific project in their home community e.g. building a residence, a farming venture, communal building project etc.

Criteria

Young men who meet the criteria for employment will be offered free shared accommodation, inclusive of all services (electricity, water) and the services of a cook but contributing to the cost of their meals out of their wages.

Land for planting of root and vegetable crops will be made available and the opportunity to lower their food purchase  costs by supplying from their home villages and being compensated out of their food budget.

VGML will also provide the services of a Community Relations Officer (“CRO”) as a mentor for all participants in the scheme.

The present CRO is the former head teacher of the Vatukoula Primary School, Serupepeli Koroitubuna.

Recruitment

The CRO will liaise with relevant Government agencies to facilitate the employee’s project wherever possible and will also provide guidance in financial literacy and extracurricular activities designed to grow the employee’s life skills.

To date the company has recruited 12 young men from the villages of Balevuto and Toge from rural Ba and Namauimada and Naboutolu in Ra.

The new employees undergo four weeks of surface induction which involves safety, how to handle themselves in different situations and first aid to name a few.

They are then taken underground for a further six months training under strict supervision.

VGML Corporate Services manager Dini Laufenboeck said the feedback had been very encouraging but that the mines would strictly monitor conditions going forward.

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Former Mine Staff Make Call-Out

Mount Kare mine workers have been abandoned

Post Courier | June 25 2018

Former employees of Summit Development Limited (SDL) are calling on the company to settle their outstanding payments.

Kenneth Cornelius, a former employee representing those affected, said they were laid off in 2014 when the company’s license was cancelled and were eventually terminated without proper settlement. The prolonged delay in settling the outstanding debts due to license refusal and lengthy court processes had extremely affected their families and beneficiaries.

“We, the representatives of former national hire employees, contractors and consultants of Summit Development, a subsidiary of Indochine Mining Limited (IDC) in Australia, have been very silent and patient for more than three years when Summit Development Ltd pursued its license renewal and their judicial review court case in relation to the cancellation of their exploration license 1093,” Mr Cornelius said.

“Without even settling our outstanding debts, our employment contracts with SDL were unmercifully terminated on March 2016. Upon issuing our termination notices, we were only assured by the company management that our outstanding debts and bills will be settled in full once the exploration license EL 1093 is renewed.

“As members of the Mt Kare Project technical team, we have successfully delivered very important achievements for the project, especially the land investigation study, land investigation report, customary land surveys, pre-feasibility studies and land mediation,” Mr Cornelius said.

He said the exploration license renewal was not a condition of their employment contracts with SDL and should not be given as an excuse for not settling them. Around 120 employees, consultants and services providers are affected.

“The National Court Judge Leka Nablu had handed down her final judgment ruling in favour of the former mining minister and State on April 27, 2018, which is not to renew SDL license. Thus we strongly demand that Indochine mining company management voluntarily settle us before they can pursue their judicial review appeal at the Supreme Court,” he said.

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