The complaint alleges that Barrick Gold Corporation has violated Guidelines provisions on disclosure, environment and general policies at the companys Veladero and Pascua Lama gold mines in the Argentine San Juan province.
The complaint alleges that Barrick has systematically polluted groundwater, air, soil, and glaciers and has caused a loss of biodiversity around the mines.
The complainants also highlight the companys negative impact on the local populations health and the deteriorating regional economy resulting from the destruction of natural landscapes and restrictions on access to land and water resources.
Moreover, the case alleges that Barrick has violated the right to information, has been improperly involved in local political decision-making, and has used violence against social and environmental organisations.
The complainants call on Barrick to actively engage and consult with affected communities, conduct an interdisciplinary environmental analysis, and initiate medical studies to investigate negative impacts on the local peoples health.
Relevant OECD Guidelines
After not hearing back from the NCP for more than a month, FOCO wrote to the NCP on 22 July 2011 requesting information about the status of their case. On 2 August 2011, the NCP met with the complainants and requested additional documentation of the alleged violations and more details regarding the parallel legal proceedings against Barrick. On 6 October 2011, FOCO provided additional information and asked the NCP to move quickly to finalise the initial assessment and forward the complaint to the company.
On 2 November 2011, the NCP asked the complainants to specify whether the complaint is primarily directed against the parent company, against Barricks Argentine subsidiaries, or both.
In December 2011, FOCO clarified its complaint is against Barrick Exploraciones Argentinas S.A. and Exploraciones Mineras S.A and submitted additional information.
More administrative delays ensued, partly due to multiple changes in the NCPs personnel.Following repeated requests by the complainants, the NCP finally invited the complainants to an “informal” meeting on 10 August 2012.
After more delays, the NCP decided to accept the case in May 2013, but was unable to move forward quickly.
In October 2015 Barrick eventually indicated its willingness to enter into mediation. In November the complainants responded they would also be keen to enter into mediation, provided that the key issues raised in the complaint would be part of the discussions. Unfortunately, after that, the process stalled again for almost a year.
Talks finally resumed in the second half of 2016 when new members of the NCP took office, and continued through 2017. However, in March 2018 it became clear that the parties were not able to reach an agreement on the issues dealt with in the complaint as well as the related procedure. The complainants allege that the NCP was stalling the issue on purpose, causing more and more organisations that took part in the complaint procedure to withdraw from it. Frustrated by the lack of adequate handling of the case and the refusal to properly follow the Procedural Guidance set out by the OECD, FOCO withdrew its complaint on 9 April 2018. They feel that the entire process was a waste of time, energy and resources. On 27 September 2018, the NCP issued its final statement.