Rally calls for environmental responsibility of mining companies
For nearly two hours, a large crowd of community leaders blocked Front Street in downtown Toronto to protest the negative impact on workers and the environment of the operations of major mining companies around the world.
Representatives of communities affected by mining projects in Colombia, the Philippines, Nunavut and the ‘Ring of Fire’ region of northern Ontario protest outside the annual conference of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada on Monday. , a major event that attracts over 1,000 exhibitors, 2,500 investors and 23,000 attendees.
The Mining Injustice Solidarity Network, organizers of the rally, explained that the Ring of Fire is a proposed project covering a 5,000 square kilometer area in northern Ontario that is believed to contain huge amounts of chromite, nickel and copper. , among other essential minerals needed for the production of electric vehicles and other “green” technologies.
In April, Noront Resources’ stake in the project was sold to Wyloo Metals, which some say has a history of violating Indigenous rights in Australia. Two Ontario First Nations in the region reached agreements with the province, while in December, the Neskantaga First Nation sued the Ontario government for failing to adequately consult First Nations about the project. . The Ring of Fire mining project could damage the region’s peatlands, which store more than 30 billion tonnes of carbon, protest organizers have said.
Chief Wayne Moonias of Neskantaga First Nation and Aliqa Kanangnak Illauq of Clyde River, Nunavut blamed mining operations for contaminating rivers in their communities and not having access to clean drinking water.
“These mining industries are coming to us and hurting our children’s future, in the name of money,” Kanangnak Illauq said, pointing to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, which hosts thousands of mining producers and investors during the three-day conference.
Chief Moonias said his community has not had clean water for 27 years. “My 24 years. my daughter has never had clean water,” Moonias said. “These are the things we have to deal with as a community. And they want to build a road through our territory without consultation, without accommodation, without our consent. That’s why we are here. We want to be heard.
Accompanied by drums and dancers, community leaders spoke out against the Prospectors and Developers Association conference, the world’s largest mining expo, which they called the “colonial villain convention.” the greenest in the world »
On behalf of Anakbayan, an organization of Filipino youth and students in Canada, Myka Jaymalin said that Canada is home to 75% of the world’s mining companies. She alleged that Canadian mining companies “have been known for corruption and human rights abuses, especially in parts of the mining regions, such as the Philippines.”
Protesters speak at the Toronto Mining Conference. Isabel Inclan video.
She alleged that between 2001 and 2019, at least 300 conservationists were killed in the Philippines, “most of them our indigenous leaders”. In an interview with Canadian New MediaKirsten Francescone, Latin America program coordinator at Mining Watch Canada, explained that while Canadian mining companies claim their operations are sustainable, tackling the climate crisis and not harmful to the environment, that’s not the reality.
“What we see on the ground in Latin America, just like here in Canada, are Canadian companies perpetuating systems of colonial and imperialist domination,” she alleged. “They engage in practices that destroy the environment. They commit crimes against the environment and human rights.
After attending Ecuador Day as part of the PDAC convention, Francescone said that while indigenous peoples in the Ecuadorian Amazon have consistently condemned mining operations in the region, parts of the South American country were sold to mining companies as an “auction”.
A similar situation is occurring in Colombia with “several Canadian mining companies engaging in violent practices,” she added. “Canadian mining companies were trying to mine in the Paramo region, which is an environmentally sensitive area that has been overwhelmingly rejected by communities and organizations and still faces threats.”
One of the PDAC exhibitors, Christopher Haldane of GCM Mining, a Canadian company that operates gold mines in Colombia, assured NCM that his Canadian company is doing well in terms of sustainability. “We do a lot with water treatment and education, and small mining. All we do is make sure that whatever we take out, we don’t leave an environment in a worse state than what we found,” he said, adding that they take the environmental part “very seriously” and they have first class operations in Colombia.
But organizers said that in Latin America alone, disputes with Canadian companies resulted in more than 400 injuries and 44 reported deaths between 2000 and 2015. Four UN bodies and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights have called on Canada to keep its corporate actors accountable.
In January 2018, the Government of Canada created the Canadian Ombudsman for Responsible Business (CORE) to investigate human rights abuses by Canadian companies operating abroad in the oil and gas, mines and clothing.
But for Francescone, CORE is “just another attempt for the Canadian government to show or appear internationally that it cares about human rights, but in reality, it’s just a worthless piece of paper. It is an office that is not independent of Global Affairs and that allows Canadian companies to continue to operate with impunity abroad.
She stressed the urgency of implementing “binding legislation that can hold companies criminally responsible for the environmental and human rights crimes they commit.” She called for an independent ombudsman who has the power to investigate, compel witnesses, indict companies for their crimes. So far we have nothing. And we need much stronger legislation in Canada to be able to control operations overseas.
Mining Injustice Solidarity Network says PDAC sponsor Teck Resources faced the biggest ever fine under Canada’s Fisheries Act last year for massive selenium pollution of southern rivers -eastern British Columbia.
The first day of the PDAC conference continued smoothly, with maps on display of exploration and mining territories for gold, silver and other minerals.
Isabel Inclan is a reporter for the Local Journalism Initiative for Canadian New Media. The LJI program is funded by the Government of Canada.
The post Rally calls for environmental responsibility of mining companies appeared first on New Canadian Media.