Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Stephen Leahy, " Mexicans Protest Canadian Mining Company," IPS.

[The Canadian government does not regulate Canadian companies operating abroad. Canadian companies are expected to follow a voluntary code of corporate social responsibilty. -jlt]

"Sixteen tonnes of sodium cyanide are being used daily, and there is a great risk it could seep into the aquifer."


TORONTO, Jun 28 (Tierramérica) - Residents and activists from the central Mexican state of San Luis Potosí travelled to Toronto to tell the shareholders of a Canadian mining company that their investments are at risk because the billion-dollar Cerro San Pedro gold and silver mine is illegal and environmentally unsafe.

The trip ended Jun. 17 with delegation member Armando Barreiro, a national lawmaker, being roughed up by Toronto police after he had made his presentation before the annual shareholders meeting of Metallica Resources Inc., owner of the open pit mine.

[...]

The local people are not opposed to underground or shaft mining, as has been done for hundreds of years. What they overwhelmingly oppose is a huge open pit mine with millions of tonnes of ore being treated in the open with large amounts of cyanide.

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2 comments:

Joan said...

Hi,
This information is not accurate, about canadian companies not having to follow through environmental standards when operating abroad. Any Canadian company that wants to be part of the Toronto Stocks Exchange MUST follow certain environmental and corporate responsibility guidelines.

Jim Terral said...

Hi Joan,

It would be interesting to learn more about environmental and corporate responsibility requirements for companies listed on the TSE, and what, if anything, that has to do with the Canadian government?

During March 2005 (38th Parliament, 1st Session), the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade reported that "mining activities in some developing countries have had adverse effects on local communities, especially where regulations governing the mining sector and its impact on the economic and social wellbeing of employees and local residents, as well as on the environment, are weak or non-existent, or where they are not enforced. To address problems related to corporate activities in developing countries, a number of organizations have developed and implemented voluntary norms for corporate social responsibility, including the United Nations Global Compact and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, both of which are supported by the Government of Canada."

Note, in particular, "voluntary norms" that are "supported" by the Canadian government. Supporting voluntary norms is not the same as regulation, and indeed the Standing Committee recommended that the Canadian National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises "to respond to complaints promptly, to undertake proper investigations, and to recommend appropriate measures against companies found to be acting in violation of the OECD Guidelines." That would be regulation by the Govenment of Canada. To the best of my knowledge, there has been no action on that recommendation.

Of special concern in the Metallica case is that Canadian mining activities in Mexico also come under NAFTA. The testimony of at least this part of the local population is that their concerns have not been adequately addressed.

If the TSE has a role to play here, what have they said about this mine?