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MiningWatch Canada et al vs. Barrick Gold Corporation

Case overview

Date filed 1 March 2011
Current status Agreement
Issue Human rights violations at Barrick’s Porgera JV Mine in PNG
Summary of the case The complaint, filed by MiningWatch Canada and two local organizations, and supported by RAID and ERI, alleges that Canadian mining company Barrick Gold Corporation has violated the Guidelines at its operations at the Porgera Joint Venture (PJV) gold mine in the Porgera valley, a remote region in the Enga Province in the highlands of Papua New Guinea (PNG). Barrick has co-owned (95%) and operated the mine since 2006. The other 5% is owned by Mineral Resources Enga (MRE).

The complainants contend that Barrick/PJV has violated sustainable development and environmental provisions of the Guidelines and abused the human rights of the local community in a number ways.

Over the past two decades, there have been consistent and widespread allegations of human rights abuses committed by PJV security personnel in and around the mine site, including killings and beatings of local Ipili men and beatings and rapes, including gang rape, of Ipili women.
Additionally, the complainants assert that the living conditions of people within the PJV mines Special Mine Lease Area are incompatible with human health and safety standards and the Guidelines provision on sustainable development.

Moreover, in 2009 troops from the PNG Defense Force forcefully evicted local landowners near the Porgera gold mine by burning down houses to allegedly restore law and order in the district. There has never been an investigation of these gross violations of human rights, but the troops remain housed at the mine site and are supplied with food and fuel by the mine.
In addition, the complaint states the PJV mine disposes approximately 6.05 million tons of tailings and 12.5 million tons of suspended sediment from erodible waste dumps annually into the downstream Porgera, Lagaip, and Strickland river systems, thereby polluting the river and endangering public health and safety of communities along the shores.

The complainants further allege that Barrick/PJV has violated the Guidelines with regard to good governance, promoting employee awareness of and compliance with company policies, and disclosure of information.
Developments/Outcome The NCP accepted the case and offered to facilitate mediation at meetings to be held in Australia and to be led by an external mediator. Before the first mediation meeting, Barrick engaged in consultations to create a nonjudicial project-level grievance process to handle claims from women who had been raped by PJV security guards. Although the issue of rape by security guards was raised in the Guidelines complaint, Barrick did not consult with the complainants or their advisors when establishing the grievance mechanism.

At the time of the first meeting in November 2012, Barricks complaints procedure for rape victims was in place. Based on information obtained outside the mediation, the complainants were deeply concerned about potential harm being done by the grievance procedure, particularly as Barrick requested the rape victims sign legal waivers if they accepted an individual remedy package.

Mindful of the Mediation Agreement that had been signed, and following consultation with the mediator, MiningWatch Canada and the two advisors Rights and Accountability in Development (RAID) and EarthRights International (ERI) issued a press release in January 2013, explicitly excluding confidential information. Nonetheless, removal of the press release and related documents was a condition that Barrick placed on their continuation in the mediation process.

Furthermore, even though ERI had not posted any materials to its web site, and ERI and RAID were advisors to all of the complainants, Barrick insisted they be removed from the process. In order to assure continuation of the process for the local complainants, MiningWatch Canada, ERI, and RAID withdrew from the process after the first face-to-face mediation.

Mediation between the local complainants and Barrick ended in April 2013 after two face-to-face meetings. During these meetings, the Parties addressed a number of issues which resulted in a confidential “Agreed Action Items” list, which was subsequently finalized and dated 24 May, 2013.  This agreed action list covered multiple topics, including a grievance mechanism, remedial framework for violence against women, resettlement issues, amongst others. However, some of the Parties felt there were outstanding matters which were not addressed by the mediation process despite the attempts of the mediator, as not all Parties were willing to discuss all issues during the dialogue. The mediator provided the NCP with his final report in June. The Canadian NCP published a final statement on 14 January 2014.
Relevant OECD Guidelines
Case keywords Health and safety, Extractives / mining sector, Forced evictions and resettlement, Harassment, Seeking/ accepting exemptions, Human rights, Political involvement, Environment, Disclosure of information

NCP Information

NCP name National Contact Point Canada
NCP address
NCP website http://www.ncp-pcn.gc.ca/
Other NCPs involved

Complainants

NGO

Company Information

Company responsible Barrick Gold Corporation
Company address Brookfield Place
TD Canada Trust Tower Bay Street 161 Suite 3700
Toronto
Canada
Company website
Company in violation Barrick Gold Corporation
Country of operations Papua New Guinea
Other companies involved

Timeline of developments

Date Actor Action Description Document
16 January 2014 National Contact Point Canada statement Final statement NCP Canada. download pdf (64Kb)  
19 March 2013 Mining Watch Canada letter Mining Watch Canada sends a letter to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights expressing its concern on the remedy package offered by Barrick. Mining Watch Canada asks the high commissioner to join them in asking Barrick to remove the requirement that women sign away their rights to pursue future legal action if they accept a remedy package for the harm they have endured. download pdf (180Kb)  
30 January 2013 Mining Watch Canada press release Mining Watch Canada, Rights & Accountability in Development and EarthRights International issue a press release about Barrick Gold's remedy program offered for victims of rape by employees of its Porgera Joint Venture (PJV) mine. download pdf (37Kb)  
1 November 2011 Mining Watch Canada meeting Parties agreed to engage in mediation  
1 March 2011 Mining Watch Canada file Mining Watch Canada, Porgera SML Landowners Association and Akali Tange Association filed a complaint against Barrick Gold Corporation at the Canadian NCP. download pdf (282Kb)  

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