Report argues mining industry is profiting from COVID-19 while putting workers, communities & defenders at risk; including co responses

A report published by a coalition of civil society organisations (Earthworks, Institute for Policy Studies - Global Economy Program, London Mining Network, MiningWatch Canada, Terra Justa, War on Want, and Yes to Life No to Mining) analyses through a series of case studies key trends in the mining sector's response to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

The report finds that:

  • Mining companies are ignoring the real threats of the pandemic and continuing to operate
  • Governments around the world are taking extraordinary measures to shut down legitimate protests and promote the mining sector
  • Mining companies are using the pandemic as an opportunity to hide themselves as public-minded actors despite poor human rights and environmental track record
  • Mining companies and governments are using the crisis to secure regulatory change that favours the industry at the expense of people and planet

The report was followed with a statement signed by over 300 organisations condemning the mining industry's behaviour during the pandemic.

The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited companies mentioned in the report to respond.

This story includes responses from:

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2 July 2020

Response from Vale

Автор: Vale

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Vale has been carrying out a series of actions aimed at preventing and mitigating the effects caused by COVID-19. One of the most important actions is to strictly follow the WHO protocol - conducting mass testing...Mass testing provides transparency as to the number of people who have had contact with the virus and helps companies and public authorities to define the most effective actions against the pandemic and care for the people who were infected by the virus...The tests carried out by Vale, in Itabira, Brazil, as well as in other locations, began and were completed according to the program established by Vale...Vale operates in an activity considered essential and will continue to do mass testing of its employees, being consistent with its policy of preventing and fighting the coronavirus...Vale works with a minimum number of employees and collaborators in order to safely maintain only essential activities. In addition to adopting 'home office' early on, since March 16, the company has put in place a series of actions to protect the health and safety of its employees and contractors, such as keeping workers 60 years and over or with risk factors at home, scheduling shifts and constant disinfection of the environments, the mandatory use of masks in the units...

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The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Codelco to respond. The company did not respond.

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23 June 2020

Enami did not respond

The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Enami to respond. The company did not respond.

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The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Los Andes Copper to respond. The company did not respond.

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Автор: Anglo American

...This document addresses matters raised in relation to Anglo American's operations in Brazil and Peru, as well as our overall approach to human rights and response to COVID-19...Our approach to Covid-19 is structured in three concurrent phases: Prevent – Respond – Recover...each operation has designed and is implementing a context- specific Community Response Plan (CRP) to support host communities...In the Voices from the Ground Report a claim is made that we continued to operate at our Minas Rio mine in Conceição do Mato Dentro...The municipal decree issued by Conceição do Mato Dentro's City Hall prohibits the operation of shopping centres, shops, nightclubs, cinemas, clubs, gyms, among other economic activities, but does not cite mining activities...We have implemented extensive prevention measures, are rolling out a testing programme for all our workforce and maintaining regular contact with local authorities...In December 2017, the National Police of Peru (NPP) and Anglo American Peru signed an agreement to cooperate...In August 2019, Anglo American Peru signed an addendum for further cooperation. As expressly required by us, an appendix was added to this agreement stating that, prior to deployment to site, police personnel shall be informed about our adherence to the VPs, as well as company-specific ethical behaviour guidelines through the Group's Code of Conduct...

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Автор: Imperial Oil

There is nothing more important to us than the safety and health of our workforce and our communities. This remains Imperial’s priority as we continue to take actions to prevent further spread of COVID-19. There have not been any new cases associated with our Kearl operation since mid-May and the outbreak designation by Alberta Health Services has now ended... We will continue to adhere to strict preventative measures and safeguards at site...As part of these efforts, we made COVID-19 testing available to all employees and contractors onsite at Kearl regardless of whether they are showing any symptoms.

... We recognize there are questions about the workers at Kearl who travel to and from other provinces. For privacy reasons, we do not disclose these workers locations. We do continue to remind workers to follow all public health guidance and do their part to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. In April, we changed our shift rotation to ensure workers returning to their home provinces can follow self-isolation requirements where required.

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Автор: Lundin Gold

We take very seriously our commitments to respect human rights in all of our activities... [A] number of aspects have been incorrectly reported in the press and in the publication you reference, “Voices from the Ground: How the Global Mining Industry is Profiting from the COVID-19 Pandemic”. An important point to correct is that FDN is wholly-owned and managed by Lundin Gold. While Newcrest is a major shareholder in Lundin Gold, it is not a joint operator of the mine as is implied in the publication. 

... Though the cited report notes an incident occurring on 17 May 2020, in fact it occurred during the evening of 16 May 2020. It is not disputed that the mayor of the city of Zamora, together with a group of 15-20 supporters, blocked the main road and thus prevented the convoys from passing. Subsequently, it is our understanding that:

  • The police officers present spoke with the group to inform them of the national government’s jurisdiction over the strategic sectors and the requirement to allow safe passage for associated vehicles.
  • The group refused to leave the road.
  • The police then started to clear the roadblocks, at which time a scuffle ensued and several protesters assaulted the police. As a result, three of the protesters were arrested.

Lundin Gold is committed to the well-being of all our employees, contractors and local communities. The above-noted protocols are based upon international best practice and the requirements of the Ecuadorian government and exist to ensure that the transport of material through communities does not present a risk of Covid-19 infection.

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Автор: Newcrest Mining

Newcrest strongly denies the allegations made in the report about Newcrest’s involvement in public health, environmental and human rights abuses and notes that there are a number of substantial factual inaccuracies in the report which should be corrected... Newcrest respects the Human Rights of all stakeholders... We seek to prevent or mitigate any negative impacts of our activities, and maximise our positive impacts, including in relation to Human Rights, and to ensure that our operations do not contribute to conflict. Our Human Rights Policy sets out our commitment to human rights in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights...

[F]ollowing are our comments in relation to correcting the factual inaccuracies in the report:

  • Newcrest does not operate or own the Fruta del Norte operation in Ecuador. Fruta del Norte is 100 per cent owned, managed and operated by Lundin GoldInc. Newcrest is a shareholder in Lundin Gold Inc.
  • Newcrest does not own or manage the Cascabel project in Ecuador. Newcrest is a shareholder in SolGold Plc, which is the majority owner of the Cascabel project.
  • Newcrest divested its 89.89% interest in the Bonikro mine in Côte d’Ivoire on 28 March 2018.
  • Newcrest has previously addressed in detail the claims relating to the Lihir Gold operation in Papua New Guinea. Our letter to the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre’s Regional Representative for Australia, New Zealand & Pacific [is available here].

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Автор: Alamos Gold

...The removal of protestors is inextricably linked to a series of government decisions made to combat the aggressive spread of COVID-19 between April and June 2020. Alamos Gold was not privy to such government decisions. Further, we had no involvement or notice of any subsequent related government action, including specifically at our project site. As you are no doubt aware, there has been civil society protest with respect to this project, all of which has been undertaken peacefully and without violence. Our observation is that this was no different...We have received significant support from local communities after ongoing multi-year consultation on the project...we would like to reiterate our request to esablish a joint monitorign committee with government and non-government experts which is based on the principle of transparency...We would welcome dialogue with the civil society actors that have brought forth complaints that our contribution to the global fight against the spread of COVID-19, including in the communities in which we operate, should somehow be viewed in negative light because it may "embellish" our reputation...

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