Saturday, February 24, 2007

Canadian Mining Giant Goldcorp and Corporate Social Responsibility

Dangerous levels of lead and arsenic have been found in the blood of Honduran villagers living downstream from a controversial gold and silver mine owned by Canada's Goldcorp Inc., the world's third largest gold mining firm.


Nearly 60 percent of the mining and exploration companies in the world are Canadian. They generate more than 40 billion dollars annually, representing about four percent of Canada's gross domestic product (GDP).

"Canadians are appalled when they find out what some Canadian companies are up to in the South," but few Canadians know what is going on at mine projects in South America or elsewhere due to limited media coverage, says Karyn Keenan, programme officer with the Halifax Initiative, a coalition of Canadian environmental and human rights NGOs.

But little by little, media attention has grown, especially recently, when people from Latin America affected by mines appeared in 2006 at a series of public forums about the corporate social responsibility of Canada's mining, oil and gas sectors.


An official report on regulating the sector's out-of-country operations will go before the Canadian government shortly. The report is "unprecedented in Canadian history," says Keenan, because it represents a consensus between NGOs, mining industry and government officials.

"Industry doesn't want strong, binding Canadian laws on their operations overseas, but there are some who know they need to do more than publish codes of ethics on their websites," she added.

Although the content of the report remains secret, it is expected to recommend that an independent dispute mechanism and ombudsman office be established to investigate complaints and conduct audits of Canadian mining, oil and gas operations abroad.

Whether the current conservative Canadian government will act on the report's recommendations remains to be seen.

Excerpted from IPS News


Psychols said...

Somehow I doubt that the CPC will overcome its preoccupation with property rights and impose additional regulation on the overseas operations of Canadian companies. After all, they are loathe to regulate the operations of foreign oil companies in our own province.

Red Jenny said...

Yeah, I'm certainly not holding my breath!