Sunday, June 04, 2006

Cold Gold

The Canadian ethical investment fund Jantzi recommends Goldcorp as a socially responsible Goldminer. However considering how bad the mining industry, especially Gold miners, are in Canada that is not saying much.

Barrick Gold Canada's biggest Gold miner, owned by long time Conservative backer Peter Munk, is in trouble in Chile where it wants to melt glaciers for water for its gold mining operations.
Barrick says Pascua Lama on track

CorpWatch: Barrick Gold Strikes Opposition in South America

Barrick Gold, a powerful multinational already notorious for its dealings in North America, Australia and Africa, plans to extract an estimated 500,000 kilograms of gold (along with silver, copper and mercury) from the site over a 20 year period. Before doing so, however, the company will relocate significant parts of the Toro 1, Toro 2 and Esperanza, three giant Andean glaciers. Barrick hopes to transfer the three glaciers to an area with similar surface characteristics and elevation by merging the three into the larger Guanaco glacier.

The anticipated environmental impact, coupled with the removal of a major source of water for surrounding communities, has local Chileans up in arms. But Barrick Gold appears un-phased by the opposition. After all, Pascua Lama is one of the largest foreign investments in Chile in recent years, totaling US$1.5 billion.


Presidential Candidates Voice Doubts About The Project

Battle over gold under glaciers is far from over
Canadian company vows not to move ice, but some Chileans still concerned

SANTIAGO, Chile - As the world’s largest gold mining company, Barrick Gold Corp. of Canada is used to thinking big.

So perhaps it wasn’t all that shocking that the company planned to relocate three huge ice fields — Barrick hates to call them glaciers — to dig for gold high up on the spine of the Andes mountains.

Oceana, Greenpeace and other environmental groups have raised an outcry over the proposed open pit mine, and Barrick countered with a multimillion-dollar lobbying campaign seeking Chile’s approval for the $1.5 billion Pascua Lama project.

Cyanide concerns
And even if the glaciers are preserved, some Chileans fear the open pit mine will contaminate their water or make their rivers run dry. Antonia Fortt, an environmental engineer with Oceana, said “the fears about cyanide are justified because this chemical is used to separate the gold from the sterile material, rock and dust, it comes mixed with.”

Barrick counters that the project has been designed to ensure the continued flow of unpolluted water into the valley. The cyanide will be kept in a closed, lined area, and after it’s used to extract the gold, it will be collected and destroyed, spokesman Vince Borg said from Toronto.

As with other Canadian Gold mining companies, cyanide is a major source of environmental toxins that the population around mines are exposed to. And the record of Canadian miners is not good when it comes to cyanide leaks. The closed lined cyanide ponds have had disastorous leaks. Like the Cambior mining disaster in the South American country of Guyana.

Mining spill? What mining spill?

Head of panel that probed Cambior cyanide accident can't recall committee's findings

And Barrick which now owns Placer Mines, faces law suits over cyanide spillage in a number of countries. So their assurances to the Chileans should be taken with huge doses of salt.

Protesters vow to continue gold mine protest

Environmentalists are continuing to picket a New South Wales gold mine over the use of cyanide, which they claim will permanently poison the local water supply.

The Lake Cowal open pit mine, in the state's central west, began processing recently but operations were shut down yesterday and a delivery of cyanide has reportedly been delayed.

Eight protesters have been charged with trespassing but Graham Dunstan from Cyanide Watch says the protest will continue until the mine is closed.

"This mining company has been granted water leases by the NSW Government to pump up 3,650 megalitres a year for this cyanide operation," he said.

"They leave this water behind permanently poisoned. Now in a time of drought giving people the equivalent of a Dubbo's water supply each year is profligate."

The company running the mine, Barrick Gold, says it has all the environmental approvals but is not commenting today.

Philippines Orders Cleanup of Mines Before Rains

MANILA - The Philippines said on Tuesday it had ordered owners of two mining areas in the country to clean up and improve their infrastructures before the start of the rainy season.

The province of Marinduque served a lawsuit in the United States last October against Placer Dome, Canada's second-largest gold miner which previously owned 40 percent of Marcopper.

The government of Marinduque is seeking compensation for damage caused when tonnes of mine waste from a copper mill owned by Marcopper spilt in to the Boac River, 150 km (94 miles) south of Manila in March 1996.

Besides environmental disasters Barrick Gold like other corporations goes where angels fear to tread. And its board of directors is a who's who of the ruling class in North America.

Behind the numbers: Untold Suffering in the Congo

Several multinational mining companies have rarely if ever been mentioned in any human rights report. One is Barrick Gold, who operates in the town of Watsa, northwest of the town of Bunia, located in the most violent corner of the Congo. The Ugandan People's Defense Force (UPDF) controlled the mines intermittently during the war. Officials in Bunia claim that Barrick executives flew into the region, with UPDF and RPF (Rwanda Patriotic Front) escorts, to survey and inspect their mining interests (6).

George H.W. Bush served as a paid advisor for Barrick Gold. Barrick directors include: Brian Mulroney, former PM of Canada; Edward Neys, former U.S. ambassador to Canada and chairman of the private PR firm Burston-Marsteller; former U.S. Senator Howard Baker; J. Trevor Eyton, a member of the Canadian Senate; and Vernon Jordan, one of Bill Clinton's lawyers (7).

Barrick Gold is one of the client companies of Andrew Young's Goodworks International lobbying firm. Andrew Young is the former Mayor of Atlanta, and a key organizer of the U.S.-Uganda Friendship Council. Young was chosen by President Clinton to chair the Southern Africa Enterprise Development Fund in October 1994. Goodworks' clients-or business partners in some cases-include Coke, Chevron-Texaco, Monsanto, and the governments of Angola and Nigeria (note weapons transfers from Nigeria cited below).

Young is a director of Cox Communications and Archers Daniels Midland-the "supermarket to the world" and National Public Radio sponsor whose directors include Brian Mulroney (Barrick) and G. Allen Andreas, a member of the European Advisory Board of The Carlyle Group.

Barrick Gold's mining partners have included Adastra Mining - formerly named America Mineral Fields (AMFI, AMX, other names), formerly based in Hope, Arkansas, Bill Clinton's hometown. Adastra had close ties with Lazare Kaplan International Inc., the largest diamond brokerage firm in the U.S., whose president, Maurice Tempelsman, has been an advisor on African Affairs to the U.S. Government and has been the U.S. Honorary Consul General of the Congo since 1977

And of course Munk is pals with the Bush family.


In retaliation for the investigative story about the finances of the George W. Bush campaign, Barrick Gold Mining of Canada has sued my paper, the Observer of London, for libel. The company, which hired the elder Bush after his leaving the White House, is charging the newspaper with libel for quoting an Amnesty International report, which alleged that 50 miners might
have been buried alive in Tanzania by a company now owned by Barrick.

The company has also demanded the Observer and its parent, Guardian Newspapers, force me to remove the article from my US website, a frightening extension of Britain's punitive libel laws into the World Wide Web. The company has also issued legal threats against Tanzanian human rights lawyer Tundu Lissu, one of the Observer's independent sources and an investigator of the mine-site allegations.

The attack by Barrick and its controversial Chairman, Peter Munk, one of the wealthiest men in Canada, who boasts of his propensity to sue, also aims to gag my reporting on his company's purchase of rights to a gold mine in Nevada -- containing $10 billion in gold -- for a payment of under $10,000 to the US Treasury.

My Observer story, ''Best Democracy Money Can Buy,'' looked into the activities of several corporations linked to the Bushes. It was in that article I first disclosed that over 50,000 Florida voters, most of them Black, were wrongly tagged as 'felons,' and targeted for removal from the voter rolls. My follow-up reports in, The Nation, and the Washington Post as well as on BBC-TV's Newsnight provided the basis for the US Civil Rights Commission finding of massive, wrongful voter disenfranchisement in Florida.

As a pal of Brian Mulroney's, Munk took advantage of the Conservatives FTA and NAFTA deals when he bought Barrick in 1983.

In return he placed Mulroney on the Board of Barrick international in 1995, along with George Bush senior, and other assorted American free trade politicians who make the board a truly global giant in this age of globalization.

Munk himself is no stranger to controversy either in his business dealings or in the world of post holocaust politics.Munk counters accusations against Swiss
For a white wash biography of Munk see: Golden Phoenix: The Biography of Peter Munk

Despite being an engineer, Munk's rise came from a career in business. He is Chairman and founder of Barrick Gold, the world's largest gold mining corporation. Munk was founder, chairman and CEO of Trizec Corporation, the precursor to the real estate multinational TrizecHahn Corporation, where he remains Chairman.

In 1958, he founded Clairtone of Canada with business partner David Gilmour. This company manufactured high-end console stereos and later televisions, which were recognizable icons of their day. The most famous Clairtone designs were the "Project G" series which was seen in the film The Graduate. Later, he founded and was chairman and CEO of Southern Pacific Hotel Corporation, the largest hotel and restaurant chain in Australasia in the 1970s.

Nor are all his business practices above board. He benefited from generous state capitalism in Canada to become the wealthy businessman he is today. You know like all the other self made millionaires, thanks to taxpayer investments.

As far back as the mid-1960s Mr. Munk was angling for the top spot.
His first major business,Clairtone Sound Corp., was a stylish high-end
hi-fi maker that angled $23-million if taxpayer money out of the
government of Nova Scotia before going down in flames.
Peter Munk: The golden king at last

Of course like other socially irresponsible corporations Barrick uses its profits for effective PR in Canada.Barrick Gold's Peter Munk Gives $33.6 Mln to Toronto Hospital Of course such generosity comes with strings, the fact that this is tax write off for Munk thanks to his pals in the new Conservative government.

But the real story is that Barrick is the worlds largest Gold Monopoly and its play to take over Gold Miner #2 Placer Dome has made it just that.

Mr. Munk said Barrick's recent $10-billion (U.S.) acquisition of Placer Dome Inc., which made it the number one producer, was necessary to make Barrick a global player. “Do not fool yourselves. there is a new world out there and woe to those in the mining industry who do not recognize that,” he said. “Today you are dealing in a world of global giants.”

The takeover of Placer Dome made Barrick the largest Gold Miner in South Africa however that too has not been without its disasters for workers and the community.

Barrick's South Deep Output May Halve After Accident

South Africa's gold lies in narrow seams and is mined from a network of tunnels deep below the surface, placing miners at risk from earthquakes and gas explosions. In 2004, 110 miners were killed and 2,861 injured in the country's gold mines by falling rocks, machines and fires, according to the mines ministry.

In 1995, 105 workers plunged more than 2 kilometers to their deaths at the Vaal Reefs mine after a cable supporting a cage, used by miners to travel down shafts, was severed by a runaway ore train.

South Deep's reserves of 29.2 million ounces, a measure of gold that can be profitably mined, would be worth about $20.5 billion dollars at the current gold price of $702.8 an ounce. It's the world's largest mainly gold deposit and is slated to be in production for more than 72 years.


A container, used to hoist rock from underground, and a 6.7-kilometer (4.2 miles) steel rope, together weighing about 99 metric tons, ``bulleted down the shaft'' during routine maintenance, Gordon Thompson, South Deep's manager, said in an interview from the mine.

But with Gold at record prices and climbing this has meant bigger profits which does not translate into more social responsibility rather it means there is less risk aversion. Africa expected to chip in close to million Barrick ounces

Barrick reported a net income of $224 million (2-cents per share) for the first quarter of this year, a threefold increase over the previous year's first-quarter net earnings of $66 million or 12-cents per share. During the first quarter of 2006, Barrick completed its $10 billion acquisition of fellow Canadian gold miner Placer Dome. Wilkins said he expected the integration process between the two companies to be completed at the end of June.
Equity gold production for the first quarter was reported at 1.96 million ounces at total cash costs of $283/ounce (compared to $241/oz in 2005), while copper production was 72 million pounds at a total average cash cost of 77-cents per pound. The company expects to produce 8.6 million to 8.9 million ounces of gold this year at total cash costs of $275-$290/oz, and 350 million pounds of copper at total cash costs ranging from 75-80 cents/lb.
Barrick also expects to receive $1.6 billion in cash this month from Goldcorp for Placer Dome's former Canadian assets and an interest in the Pueblo Viejo project in the Dominican Republic.

Barricks investment in Chile is part of Munks long time interest in the country and defense of its former Dictator and privateer Augusto Pinochet. Barricks investments in Chile benefited from the Dictators free trade regime, as he did from Mulroney's free trade deals.

Pinochet supporters come forward, arguing that the coup was necessary to save Chile's economy. Peter Munk, head of the Canadian mining firm Barrick Gold, praises Pinochet. Time Magazine has Munk saying: "Maybe I'm less sensitive to these issues because I see that what people need first is economic security, and only when they have that can they afford to focus on human rights." It's not clear whether Munk's reference to people needing economic security is a reference to the people of Chile or the security of his own investments. Margaret Thatcher, stalwart Pinochet friend and apologist, elevates the former strongman to the pantheon of champions of democracy, calling to mind Phil Ochs' line, "The name for their profits is democracy." Apparently, saving the economy from the reformist depredations of socialists and Marxists is democracy distilled. It can't happen here

And Latin American dictators are not the only pals Barrick has. When faced with the new populist governments in Latin America, once again economic security trumps human rights, and Barrick feels comfortable with dining at the tables of dictators.

Barrick leery of Latin left

Mr. Wilkins contrasted South America's growing economic nationalism with the welcome he recently received in Pakistan, where Barrick has a $20-million joint-venture exploration project. Mr. Wilkins was welcomed by President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz. Both pledged full support for Barrick's investment, he said.

“President Musharraf said to us, ‘We are aware of foreign investors who are making 50, 70, 80 per cent profits in our country and we applaud that',” Mr. Wilkins recalled. “I'm not sure we'd get that reaction in Canada.”

He said Barrick is pursuing the venture and noted that it is part of a geological belt that runs through Turkey, Iran and Pakistan. “We'll be looking to take advantage if we can...We are very interested.”

For an excellent review of Canadian Mining Companies and their poor international reputation see Oxfams: "Dirty Metals: Mining Communities and the Environment"

This campaign by Oxfam is having a major impact on the Gold Mining community. U.S. Goldsmiths Demand Ethically Mined Gold

For peoples news on mining in general see: Mines & Communities Website

For an excellent source of fair and balanced commercial news on mining see:

And as for Barrick's plan to open up
Pascua Lama there is still an ongoing protest you can join.

Barrick Gold - Pascua Lama- Chile

In the Valle de San Felix, the purest water in Chile runs from 2 rivers, fed
by 2 glaciers. Water is a most precious resource, and wars will be fought
for it. Indigenous farmers use the water, there is no unemployment, and they
provide the second largest source of income for the area. Under the glaciers
has been found a huge deposit of gold, silver and other minerals. To get at
these, it would be necessary to break, and destroy the glaciers - something
never conceived of in the history of the world - and to make 2 huge holes,
each as big as a whole mountain, one for extraction and one for the mine's
rubbish tip.

The project is called PASCUA LAMA. The company is called Barrick Gold. The
operation is planned by a multi-national company, one of whose members is
George Bush Senior. The Chilean Government has approved the project to start
this year, 2006. The only reason it hasn't started yet is because the
farmers have got a temporary stay of execution. If they destroy the
glaciers, they will not just destroy the source of especially pure water,
but they will permanently contaminate the 2 rivers so they will never again
be fit for human or animal consumption because of the use of cyanide and
sulphuric acid in the extraction process. Every last gram of gold will go
abroad to the multinational company and not one will be left with the people
whose land it is. They will only be left with the poisoned water and the
resulting illnesses.

The farmers have been fighting a long time for their land, but have been
forbidden to make a TV appeal by a ban from the Ministry of the Interior.

Their only hope now of putting brakes on this project is to get help from
international justice. The world must know what is happening in Chile. The
only place to start changing the world is from here.

We ask you to circulate this message amongst your friends in the following
way. Please copy this text, paste it into a new email adding your signature
and send it to everyone in your address book. Please will the 100th person
to receive and sign the petition send it to <> to be
forwarded to the Chilean government.

No to Pascua Lama Open-cast mine in the Andean Cordillera on the
Chilean-Argentine frontier.

We ask the Chilean Government not to authorize the Pascua Lama project to
protect the whole of 3 glaciers, the purity of the water of the San Felix
Valley and El Transito, the quality of the agricultural land of the region
of Atacama, the quality of life of the Diaguita people and of the whole
population of the region.

Signature, City, Country

Email to: Sam Lanfranco

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1 comment:

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