Campaigners welcome Blackrock’s divestment from Nevsun following campaign over alleged use of forced labour in Eritrea; Nevsun denies use of forced labour

Freedom United and Eritrea Focus have launched a campaign to urge Nevsun's biggest shareholders to divest from the company due to alleged use of forced labour in its Eritrean mines. BlackRock Fund Managers have divested from Nevsun while M & G investments has said it will continue to engage with the management of Nevsun to ensure it continues to improve human rights and employment standards. Nevsun denies  use of forced labour in its mines. 

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21 May 2018

Campaign urging Nevsun's shareholders to divest due to alleged use of forced labour, includes company's comments

Author: Freedom United (USA)

"Help stop profits from slavery in Eritrea"

Nevsun chose to set up mining operations near Asmara, Eritrea in 2008 in order to mine copper, zinc and gold – despite the widespread concern of human rights abuses perpetrated by the government against its own people. In fact, just recently a UN commission found that the government is guilty of committing “systematic, widespread, and gross human rights violations.” Nevsun is one of the only international businesses operating in Eritrea, paying the government billions of dollars.

There have been repeated allegations of the use of forced conscript labor, propped up by intimidation, abuse and torture since construction began at the mine. Nevsun has either denied the existence of forced labor, or denied responsibility for it – whilst continuing to profit and even expand Bisha’s operations without truly addressing it. The Supreme Court of British Columbia, Canada, has granted the right to take Nevsun to trial over potential abuses in Eritrea – a landmark ruling. Right now, as the case against Nevsun will go ahead, we can also take action and ensure that big business does not profit from slavery.

Call on Nevsun’s biggest shareholders to withdraw their investment, and support the fight to end profiting from slavery in Eritrea. 

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21 May 2018

Campaigners thank BlackRock Fund Managers for divesting from Nevsun following their campaign on Nevsun's alleged use of forced labour in its Eritrean mine

Author: Freedom United & Eritrea Focus, in Freedom United

"Human rights abuses at Bisha Mine, Eritrea, owned by Nevsun Resources Ltd"

One year ago a coalition of organisations wrote to you expressing their concerns about Blackrock’s investments in Nevsun Resources Ltd, specifically the use of forced conscript labor in Eritrea. The letter along with its annexes, set out in detail the allegations since heard in a Canadian court. The signatories, MiningWatch Canada, SumOfUs and, now rebranded Freedom United, called on BlackRock to reconsider its position as a major shareholder and withdraw investments in Nevsun Resources Ltd. This call is supported by over a quarter million petition signatures now collected.

We write… to thank you for your action in divesting from Nevsun Resources Ltd. and to ask if you would like to make a statement which we could pass on to our supporters when we write to update them later this month. Despite the time that has elapsed, we have not located any reference to BlackRock’s divestment from Nevsun, so would be interested to learn more about this decision.

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21 May 2018

M & G Investments' response to call to divest from Nevsun

Author: M & G Investments

"Statement on Nevsun"

M&G Investments holds 12% of the shares of Nevsun, a Canadian-listed mining company.

Campaign groups including Freedom United and Eritrea Focus have called on shareholders in Nevsun to divest in protest at its alleged use of forced labour through the national service programme of Eritrea during the construction of its Bisha mine between 2008 and 2009.

As a responsible investor and signatory to the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), M&G takes the issue of forced labour very seriously. We raised concerns with Nevsun when we first became aware of these allegations several years ago and engaged ISS Ethix, an independent human and labour rights research group, to advise us on the issue. Based on our dialogue with the company and ISS Ethix, we understand that while Nevsun still disputes the historic allegations (which feature in an ongoing lawsuit we are monitoring closely), the company has been proactive and thorough in implementing the recommendations of independent human rights audits undertaken in 2014 and 2015.

In our view, the company has made considerable progress in establishing high standards of safety, working conditions, transparency, and employee and contractor engagement. In addition, in considering this very complex case we remain mindful that the Bisha mine is an important contributor to its local community and economy, in a developing nation in great need of investment.

We will continue to engage with the management of Nevsun to ensure it continues to improve human rights and employment standards, and to monitor its progress with the help of two independent research groups: ISS Ethix and MSCI ESG Research. We have had a constructive meeting with Freedom United and Eritrea First, as well as interacting with other groups and non-governmental organisations to understand their concerns on this issue and represent these to Nevsun’s management.

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