Monthly Archives: September 2016

Argentina: Jachal residents march to demand closure and remediation of the Veladero gold mine

Barrick’s open pit mine temporarily closed after another cyanide spill confirmed

Source: San Juan Hoy, Reuters, Argentina Independent (2016-09-26)

Jáchal residents are marching 155 Km to San Juan capital, in Northern Argentina, to demand the closure and remediation of the Veladero gold mine, and a prohibition on megamining in the province.

Authorities suspended operations at Barrick Gold’s Veladero mine after the company confirmed another cyanide spill on site, occurred on 8th September, days before the first anniversary of the country’s worst ever mining leak, also perpetrated by Barrick at the Veladero mine.

The investigation into last year’s spill confirmed that at least three rivers were contaminated, and also discovered that three other spills had occurred without public knowledge.

So far nine Barrick employees have been prosecuted, but local residents and environmental groups say the full extent of the damage has been covered up by the company with support from the provincial government.

Photos and video reporting of the march available here: https://www.facebook.com/Asamblea-J%C3%A1chal-No-Se-Toca-1406789662959369/

SOURCE: http://www.minesandcommunities.org/article.php?a=13519

Tanzania: Govt Looks for Mining Sector to Spur Growth

23 SEPTEMBER 2016

By Maureen Odunga

Tanzania aspires to see the mining sector contributes up to 10 percent to the economy through value addition and beneficiation so as to spur growth and development.

The Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Energy and Minerals, Prof James Mdoe made the remarks in Dar es Salaam yesterday, citing that the country is one among Africa’s mineral -rich countries endowed with a range of minerals.

“The current contribution of the mineral sector to our GDP is about 3.5 percent which is still very low, the aim is to see the sector contributing up to 10 percent,” said Prof Mdoe during the First Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC) Seminar on Sustainable Development of Mineral Resources for the Mining Sector of the country.

This can only be possible if mineral commodities prices indicate a consistent upward trend and likewise the global economy recovers, so as to allow exploration and mining companies to access finances from financial institutions.

“Tanzania is prepared to provide conducive environment for investment in the mineral sector and enhance its contribution to the country’s economy,” he said. He called on local and foreign potential investors to consider establishing beneficiation value addition facilities in the country.

Capacity building is of utmost importance in the exploitation of mineral resources sustainably, noting that Japan obtained the required technology, skills and experience which can be shared to Tanzania.

The Manager for Geographical Information System and Geo- Scientific Data Processing with the Geological Survey of Tanzania, Mr Terence Ngole said experts from Japan and Tanzania had gathered to discuss on issues of mine pollution control and mineral exploration.

JOGMEC Seminar on Environmental Conservation on Mine Sites and Exploration in Tanzania is the first to be held in the country, therefore participants will be able to share updated information on the areas.

“The platform is going to welcome on further collaboration between Japan and Tanzania considering that the country bares a lot of minerals of which some have not gained economic exploration,” noted Mr Ngole.

Tanzania will be able to benefit from transfer of skills, knowledge as well as investors through the various studies on the mining sector.

SOURCE: http://allafrica.com/stories/201609230643.html

Kenya: Govt Sets Aside Sh3 Billion to Map Out All Mineral Sites in Kenya

21st September 2016

By Elisha Otieno

The national government will spend Sh3 billion to map out mineral sites in the country, Mining Cabinet Secretary Dan Kazungu has said.

Speaking during a tour of gold-mining sites in Migori County, Mr Kazungu said the exercise will help the country identify all the minerals within its borders.

“The process will begin immediately because the cash was factored in the current financial year,” said Mr Kazungu.

“This exercise will enable us to discover all the minerals within our borders.

“Mining is set to become the bedrock for Kenya’s planned industrialisation programme,” the minister said.

The CS revealed that the money will be spent during phase one of the project.

“We are going to start with Migori, Homa Bay, Siaya, Kakamega, Busia and in other neighbouring counties where huge deposits of minerals are still lying undiscovered,” he said.

The minister, who was accompanied by Migori Governor Okoth Obado, said engineers will also survey all the mining sites in the country with a view to making them safer.

“We will also introduce modern mining equipment especially to the artisanal miners to avert deaths that usually occur in the tunnels.

“We will also assist them in selling their gold in order not to be exploited by greedy middlemen,” added Mr Kazungu.

He said the national government, in collaboration with other partners, will train miners on safety.

“We will also carry out an assessment on environmental degradation with regard to mining activities. Protection of environment is our first priority,” said Mr Kazungu.

SOURCE: http://allafrica.com/stories/201609210957.html

Angola: Diamond Barons Destroy Food Crops

ANALYSIS
By Rafael Marques De Morais

Several hundred Angolan peasants and their families reportedly face the prospect of a state-sponsored famine in the northeastern diamond region of Lunda Norte thanks to the decision to destroy villages, homes and crops to expand mining operations.

The Angolan diamond mining conglomerate, Sociedade Mineira do Cuango (SMC) is accused of ordering the systematic destruction of hundreds of food crop plantations in the Cafunfo area (Cuango municipality), with the local MPLA administration ordering the compulsory removal of the villagers and destruction of their homes, cash crops and vegetable gardens.

Villagers complain that compensation for their destroyed harvests is wholly inadequate, amounting to 60,000 kwanzas (about US $115) in the informal exchange rate) and some empty water barrels.

“The peasant may have planted crops in an area of between one and four hectares, but each only gets a maximum of 60,000 kwanzas sum, regardless of the size of the area cultivated,” says one of the administrative officials involved in the process.

Data collected by Maka Angola from the Cuango municipality shows that in the past year, SMC has ordered the destruction of 402 plantations. And the Cuango Municipality Agricultural Office has a further 123 plantations on its list for clearance in the coming days. In this instance, the proposed clearance involves the demolition of the entire village of Muamuxico, along with several neighboring homesteads.

“The destruction orders come from Mike Weir, the SMC Operations Director, but he is merely complying with orders from the SMC board of directors in Luanda,” a local official revealed to Maka Angola, on condition of anonymity.

Our source said the order is sent to the Municipal Administrator, Angélica Umba Chassanga, who then instructs the official in charge of Agriculture, João Eugénio to go out and pay the flat-rate compensation to those affected. “People can’t argue with João Eugénio because he is always accompanied by heavily-armed police, who threaten them if they protest.”

Diamond mining in the Lundas has brought little but violence and misery to local communities. The precarious way of life of these communities, dependent on subsistence agriculture in an area that lacks any other form of employment, has seen many people, young and old, take part in ‘garimpo’, the local term for unregulated diamond prospecting. If they are caught by the private security firms employed by the diamond mining company, the maverick prospectors are subjected to violent punishments, including beatings and killings.

The Muamuxico village chief says “it was José Eduardo dos Santos’s government who told people around here that everyone should dedicate themselves to growing crops to put an end to famine in the region. They ordered our sons to stop prospecting for diamonds and become farmers instead.”

“Now that same government is authorizing the SMC to destroy our crops,” complains Soba [traditional authority] Muamuxico. “The man is a hypocrite. His government has only respect for diamonds not for peoples’ lives. We have to continue growing food – until they come and kill us”, he adds.

“When the diamonds run out, these companies will disappear, leaving only piles of dirt or holes in the ground behind them,” says the Soba who is organizing a protest march against the demolition of villages and destruction of crops. He says people are ready to stand up and die.

Razing the village of Muamuxico

“SMC forbade us to take water from the rivers, even though our village lies between the Xacanga and Kamaconde streams” says Paulino Mwatxingungo, Soba Muamuxico’s deputy.

“The company informed us that it will destroy our homes and take over the village. The Soba tried to speak to the (Municipal) administrator about this, to say that if the villagers are forced to leave they should be relocated along with their homes and the trees they planted. Otherwise they prefer to die there, where they were born and have always lived.”

“The diamonds they find here in the Lundas have brought no benefits to the people. Muamuxico doesn’t even have a health post or a school. Between them the government and these mining companies just ruin us and steal from us,” says Mwatxingungo.

From the villagers’ point of view, the land is theirs, regardless of any compensation offered for it. Their village has 74 homes and is home to some 620 people who have planted 87 fields of crops around it, including 50 mango trees, 30 avocado trees and 90 palm trees along with other tree species around their kitchen gardens (where they grow their own food). All of this is slated for destruction.

“The administrator [Angélica Umba Chassanga] tried to convince the soba that it is normal for entire communities to be evicted and that she had witnessed operations to remove communities in her own village in Nzagi.” They disagree.

For the soba and his villagers alike, their crops are their only means of subsistence. “My home and everything I have to support my family comes from my crops”, says Soba Muamuxico. He says the government has never given him anything but party banners and a hat, failing to deliver on their promises of a uniform and the wages due to a local chief.

Other peasants in the region have similar complaints: Paulina Xacole, aged 45 anos, was recently informed by SMC envoys that her plantation, alongside the Txameia creek, would be destroyed in the near future.

“The company bosses and the government must want us all to die of hunger,” she says. Paulina says she will not accept money or empty vessels for her land. “The land is everything to me, it is my husband. Everything I need comes from my land, even the schoolbooks for my children to study. I cultivate and sell yams, millet, peanuts, sweet potatoes, cabbages, bananas and a whole lot more.”

Luzia Joel, aged 38, says SMC already ordered the destruction of her crop fields on along the banks of Txameia creek, where she grew mainly yams. “I didn’t get anything. When they destroy all that remains of my crops, I’ll have nothing left to grow. God only knows what will happen to me.”

In the past three months, Maka Angola has also received details of the destruction of a further 98 crop plantations along the banks of the Pone and Lué rivers as well as Kamilengo, Kamalowa and Sachi creeks.

SMC has no comment

Maka Angola contacted the office of the SMC director of Mining Operations to convey these complaints but was unable to obtain any response to a single question. A telephone conversation with a subordinate of deputy director Firmino Valeriano, resulted in a blanket refusal to respond to questions, even if put in writing.

SMC is a consortium of three companies: the Angolan state-owned national diamond company, Endiama (41%), ITM Mining (38%) and Lumanhe (21%).

Partners in ITM Mining include the Mozambican national, Renato Herculano Teixeira (President), a British national, Andrew John Smith (Vice-President) and Angolan national, Sérgio Eduardo Monteiro da Costa (Director).

Lumanhe is owned in equal shares by a number of serving Ministers and Generals: Minister of State and Military Chief of Staff of the Presidency, General Manuel Hélder Vieira Dias, known as ‘Kopelipa’, Inspector General of the Angolan Armed Forces Chief of the General Staff, General Carlos Hendrick Vaal da Silva, the Head of Military Training and Preparation, General Adriano Makevela Mackenzie, MPLA member of parliament General Armando da Cruz Neto, and Generals João Baptista de Matos, Luís Pereira Faceira and António Emílio Faceira.

All have made considerable multi-million dollar fortunes from their involvement.

*Jordan Muacabinza, from Cuango, contributed to this report

SOURCE: http://allafrica.com/stories/201609200608.html

Africa: Is the UN All Talk or Do They Really Care About Human Rights?

15th September 2016
By Samantha Cole

Today is exactly one year since public reports of the UN 2015 Geneva “criticism” of Canadian Mining Companies.

On September 15, 2015, online media reports exposed the UN Human Rights Committee discussions in Geneva, Switzerland in which there was much focus on the activities of mining companies from Canada.

In the usual non-committal manner in which the UN does everything, the Human Rights Committee “addressed a series of concerns” about the problems caused by Canadian mining companies who operate mines around the world.

Was that was the best they could do?

Only to address concerns?

Women are being raped, men are being killed, village homes are being destroyed, environments are being poisoned, in certain areas in the world, these Canadian mining companies are causing devastation and misery beyond description and the most these UN officials were able to come up with, was that they “addressed a series of concerns”.

In an article published by “The Diplomat” on September 15, 2015, reported:

– Barrick Gold, were allegedly involved in a mass rape of 137 local women aged between 14 and 80 in Papua New Guinea.

– Acacia Mining (Barrick’s daughter mining company in Africa) were liable, “through complicity, for killing and injuring of locals at the North Mara mine by police guarding the mine…”

– Violence at the North Mara project was allegedly perpetrated by mine security and local police.

– Likewise, allegations of extreme violence, killings, and the mass rape targeting local women in Papua New Guinea, where Barrick Gold has managed the Porgera mine.

– Barrick Gold’s (practices) was also called out by the local alliance Justice Foundation for Porgera for the “catastrophically changed” subsistence and livelihoods of landowners in Papua New Guinea.

It is undisputed that the Canadian Government has ignored the complaints about mining companies operating overseas. The Government is perfectly aware of the public scandals of mining companies involving illegal activities such as corruption, bribery and fraud,not to mention murder, violence, rape, environmental disasters, etc – but they take no notice.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) have a special unit to investigate Canadian companies operating overseas who are reported to be involved in corruption or fraud or other illegal activities. The RCMP will bring these Canadian mining giants such as Barrick Gold to account for their corruption and fraud activities overseas.

Similarly, in the UK, the Serious Fraud Unit (SFO) have been very successful in the past year cracking down on British companies who are guilty of corruption, fraud and other such crimes in Africa.

Acacia Mining, Barrick’s daughter company, has had a shocking run over the past 14 months in Tanzania since Bloomberg first published the story of the US$ 115 million case that Acacia are facing from the local mining company, Bismark Hotels (Mining) Limited for financial damages arising from Acacia losing Bismark’s mining concession. In this case, allegedly, Acacia is also involved in a very serious case of possible corruption and fraud involving at least one or more officials in the Ministry of Energy and Minerals.

If that was not enough this year, they have also been found guilty of tax evasion to the tune of US$ 41 million. And, the headaches continued with the public lambasting of their company in the Tanzanian Parliament.

There is more (like 255 legal cases against them) but let’s not labour the point… .

Needless to say, our friends in the UN Human Rights Committee have not taken any notice of the crimes and illegal activities by Barrick Gold and Acacia Mining:

In 2015:

Chile, Dominican Republic, Philippines, USA, England, Papua N Guinea, Canada, Tanzania, Argentina.

In 2016:

Dominican Republic, Tanzania; Argentina; USA, Papua N Guinea.

All around the world, these two mining companies are causing havoc, distress and misery.

Human Rights Watch published this report last year:

http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/ToxicWastes/RightToInformation/HRW.pdf

The report states clearly that Barrick Gold are known for problems involving human rights and hazardous substances and wastes. In addition, the report exposes “Barrick Gold had also not been transparent…” and “sexual violence”.

Will someone in the UN Human Rights Committee stand up, ONE YEAR later, and have the courage to say to Barrick Gold and Acacia Mining, who together making up the biggest gold miners in the world, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

In Swahili, we say TUMECHOKA!!

Are you, in the UN, all talk or do you really care?

SOURCE: http://allafrica.com/stories/201609160541.html

ICC widens remit to include environmental destruction cases

In change of focus, Hague court will prosecute government and individuals for environmental crimes such as landgrabs

John Vidal and Owen Bowcott
Thursday 15 September 2016 17.46 BST Last modified on Thursday 15 September 2016 23.13 BST

Environmental destruction and landgrabs could lead to governments and individuals being prosecuted for crimes against humanity by the international criminal court following a decision to expand its remit.

The UN-backed court, which sits in The Hague, has mostly ruled on cases of genocide and war crimes since it was set up in 2002. It has been criticised for its reluctance to investigate major environmental and cultural crimes, which often happen in peacetime.

In a change of focus, the ICC said on Thursday it would also prioritise crimes that result in the “destruction of the environment”, “exploitation of natural resources” and the “illegal dispossession” of land. It also included an explicit reference to land-grabbing.

The court, which is funded by governments and is regarded as the court of last resort, said it would now take many crimes that have been traditionally under-prosecuted into consideration.

The ICC is not formally extending its jurisdiction, but the court said it would assess existing offences, such as crimes against humanity, in a broader context.

The ICC’s policy paper on case selection and prioritisation declares: “The office [of the prosecutor] will give particular consideration to prosecuting Rome statute crimes that are committed by means of, or that result in, inter alia, the destruction of the environment, the illegal exploitation of natural resources or the illegal dispossession of land.”

Land-grabbing has become increasingly common worldwide, with national and local governments allocating private companies tens of millions of hectares of land in the past 10 years.

The anti-corruption campaigners Global Witness say this has led to many forced evictions, the cultural genocide of indigenous peoples, malnutrition and environmental destruction.

“Land-grabbing is no less harmful than war in terms of negative impacts on civilians”, said Alice Harrison, an adviser at Global Witness. “Today’s announcement should send a warning shot to company executives and investors that the environment is no longer their playground.

“The terrible impacts of land-grabbing and environmental destruction have been acknowledged at the highest level of criminal justice, and private sector actors could now be put on trial for their role in illegally seizing land, flattening rainforests or poisoning water sources.”

International lawyers said broadening the priority cases to include land-grabbing would recognise that mass human rights violations committed during peacetime and in the name of profit could be just as serious as traditional war crimes.

“It will not make land-grabbing per se a crime, but mass forcible evictions that results from land-grabbing may end up being tried as a crime against humanity,” said Richard Rogers, a partner in the international criminal law firm Global Diligence.

Rogers has lodged a case with the ICC on behalf of 10 Cambodians alleging that the country’s ruling elite, including its government and military, has perpetuated mass rights violations since 2002 in pursuit of wealth and power by grabbing land and forcibly evicting up to 350,000 people.

“Cambodia is a perfect example for this new ICC focus. It fits in to the new criteria,” he said.

He predicted it could have a bearing on the way business is done in certain countries. “Companies who want to invest in [some] places risk being complicit in crimes against humanity. Tackling land-grabbing will also help address some of the causes of climate change, since deforestation is very often a result of land-grabbing.”

The new ICC focus could also open the door to prosecutions over climate change, Rogers said, because a large percentage of CO2 emissions had been caused by deforestation as a result of illegal land-grabbing.

The ICC can take action if the crime happens in any of the 139 countries that have signed up to the Rome statute, if the perpetrator originates from one of these countries, or if the UN security council refers a case to it. Crimes must have taken place after the Rome statue came into force on 1 July 2002.

Reinhold Gallmetzer, a member of the ICC working group who drew up the policy document, said: “We are exercising our jurisdiction by looking at the broader context in which crimes are committed. We are extending the focus to include Rome statute crimes already in our jurisdiction.

“Forcible transfer [of people] can already be a crime against humanity, so if it is committed by land-grabbing – whether as a result or a precursor – it can be included.”

The ICC paper also lists other crimes, such as arms trafficking, human trafficking, terrorism and financial crimes, in which it intends to provide more help to individual states to carry out national prosecutions.

SOURCE: https://www.theguardian.com/global/2016/sep/15/hague-court-widens-remit-to-include-environmental-destruction-cases

Philippines: President notes “Mining – My way or the environmental highway”

Published by Mines and Communities on 2016-09-03
Source: Inquirer, Reuters, Guardian, Philippine Star, GMA (2016-09-03)

The startling saga of the new Philippine President, and his environmental appointee, continues (see – Philippines: President tells miners country does not need them). And at the moment it continues on a similar trajectory. The President was recently quoted as saying “I am fighting a monster. Believe me, I will destroy their clutches on our nation.” As a recent headline put it: “Philippine President warns mining sector: My way or the environmental highway”.

In perhaps one of the most telling moves, the new Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has offered to immediately return specific lands to indigenous peoples from Mindanao (Lumads), which have been encroached upon by large-scale mining and logging companies. The new DENR Secretary, Gina Lopez, has also said she will inspect permits of mining companies cited by the Lumad leaders in an ongoing mining audit, and will shut them down if it is proven they are operating within ancestral domains (presumably without correct consent).

It is the mining audit which has become the focus of current mining struggles in the country, with all operating mines up for audit and the results expected imminently. Apparently the world’s nickel markets are waiting with bated breath (as are many mining companies and communities). Ms Lopez has said that any company that does not pass the audit will be shut down immediately, and the President added that if any executive resists they face arrest.

As the audit continues mines are still being suspended for violating their environmental licences; these include one mining nickel, one mining chromite and an iron ore miner. Small-scale gold miners are also in the sights of the newly crusading DENR, as is OceanaGold which has allegedly been shown a ’cause order’ explaining the many complaints against the company (see: Philippines mining – the case against Didipio).

Gina Lopez has also noted that the Tampakan project should not have been given environmental clearance, and has said the black sand mining industry is the next to come under scrutiny.

NGOs and community leaders have been praising these actions, but have also brought pressure to bear on what they see as key issues, particularly calling for a cleansing of the ranks of DENR officials. Ms Lopez appears to have rejected – at least some of – these calls. Some civil society groups have joined the audits, whereas others have been calling for independent, people’s audits in case of ‘greenwashing’.

In response, the mining industry seems to be countering with a number of different strategies. These include: stressing that all is well despite the recent news, agreeing with the core of current government demands, noting they are already ‘responsible’; asking for meetings to clear up misunderstandings; slamming the ‘demolition campaign’ against the industry; shuttering mines and laying off workers; challenging the legality of the government’s actions; and in the case of some investors terminating their agreements. Ms Lopez has countered that the DENR is committed to aid displaced workers from recent suspensions.

Against this background debates continue on the legal framework underpinning mining in the country. One commentator recently called the 1995 Mining Act ‘treasonous’ for what it gives away to foreign investors, and Ms Lopez seems to agree it is unfit for purpose. At least one DENR official has questioned whether the previous president’s Executive Order (EO79) is still needed, and the proposed Alternative Mining Bill have been re-filed in Congress.

With all this excitement around Philippine mining it is almost possible to miss the news that the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHR) has sent 47 “carbon majors” including Shell, BP, Chevron, BHP Billiton and Anglo American, a 60-page document accusing them of breaching people’s fundamental rights to “life, food, water, sanitation, adequate housing, and to self determination” over their greenhouse gas emissions. This is an unprecedented first move in a likely investigation of the companies. Like so many recent developments around mining in the Philippines, it will be fascinating to see where everything ends up.

SOURCE: http://www.minesandcommunities.org/article.php?a=13494

Ombudsman finds the IFC failed to comply with its investment standards in Eco Oro Minerals in Colombia

News Release
1 September 2016, 2.55pm EDT

The office of the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman found that the International Finance Corporation cannot guarantee that the Angostura mine will not have impacts on the environment.

(Washington/Ottawa/Bogotá/Ámsterdam) The office of the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) has issued its final report on the complaint brought against the International Finance Corporation’s (IFC) investment in Eco Oro Minerals’ Angostura mine in the high-altitude wetlands – known as páramos – of Santurbán, Colombia. The office warned that the corporation has not met all the standards required of its investments, including an assessment of potential impacts on biodiversity.

The investigation was triggered by a complaint filed by the Comité por la Defensa del Agua y el Páramo de Santurbán (Committee for the Defense of Water and the Paramo de Santurban), with the support of the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), the Center for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO), the Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA) and MiningWatch Canada.

“The biodiversity of Santurbán is critical to ensuring our water supply. Therefore, any threat to its biodiversity affects the water resources of the entire metropolitan area of Bucaramanga,” said Alix Mancilla of the Santurbán Committee.

The report also states that the IFC failed to assess the impacts of the entire mining project, and instead only concentrated on the impacts of the exploration stage, despite the fact that it justified its investment based on the supposed benefits the eventual mine would bring. The Ombudsman found that the “potential to comply with IFC’s environmental and social standards was uncertain and potentially challenging” during the extraction phase.

In its conclusion, the Ombudsman points out that “one of the stated purposes of the IFC’s investment was to develop the studies necessary to determine whether the project could comply with IFC’s [performance standards].” However, the company did not complete the required studies, including an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment, a biodiversity baseline study, and critical habitat assessments. Despite repeated lack of compliance by the client, the Ombudsman found that the “IFC has not pursued a remedy, but has made subsequent investments in the company.”

“If the purpose of IFC’s investment was to determine the viability of the project, there is no justification for the lack of studies – studies that are required to make an investment decision. You cannot greenlight a project in such a critical region for the population of Bucaramanga without assessing its actual consequences,” declared Carla Garcia Zendejas of CIEL.

The IFC’s response to the Ombudsman’s report did not acknowledge any wrongdoing or make commitments to address its findings. Instead, the IFC merely reiterated its justification for investing in the project, claiming that the eventual mine will bring employment and revenue. The response is silent regarding its client’s intent to file an investment dispute under the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement.

“It is very serious that despite failures in the risk assessment, the IFC has continued to invest in the Angostura mining project,” added Kris Genovese from SOMO. “It is disappointing, but not surprising, that the IFC has failed once again to respond to the findings of a CAO investigation.”

AIDA attorney Carlos Lozano Acosta explained that “the project is illegal; that’s why its license was denied in 2011, and why the Constitutional Court ratified the prohibition of mining in páramos. It worries us that the IFC invested in a company whose project, from the beginning, was not viable, and who would file an international lawsuit against Colombia, one of the member states of the World Bank.”

The report reveals that the IFC has an explicit policy of investing in junior mining companies with limited capacity to manage environmental and social issues, in countries where the regulatory framework is weak or not enforced.

“It is time for the IFC to withdraw its investment in Eco Oro and stop investing in junior mining companies, as has been done in Colombia and elsewhere, knowing the serious social and environmental damage this entails and the context of impunity in which these companies are operating,” stated Jen Moore of MiningWatch.

“As communities affected by the mine, we will continue challenging the project in court, and we will use all legal means at our disposal to stop it, as we have done so far,” affirmed Elizabeth Martinez from the Santurban Committee.

Currently, Colombia’s Constitutional Court is considering a legal action filed by the Santurbán Committee with support from AIDA, concerning the lack of citizen participation in the demarcation of the wetland. A decision is expected soon.

The IFC is the private-sector lending arm of the World Bank Group. The CAO is an independent accountability mechanism that receives complaints from people who may be affected by IFC investment projects.

Contacts:

– Miguel Ramos Comité por la Defensa del Agua y el Páramo de Santurbán +57 3118806350, comiteparamosanturban@gmail.com
– Carlos Lozano Acosta AIDA +57 300 56 40 282. clozano@aida-americas.org
– Carla García Zendejas CIEL +1 202 374 2550 cgarcia@ciel.org
– Jennifer Moore MiningWatch Canada, +001 613 569 3439, jen@miningwatch.ca
– Kris Genovese SOMO, +31 65 277 3272, K.Genovese@somo.nl

The CAO’s report and communiqué, including the IFC’s response can be found here:

CAO Communiqué

CAO Report

Response by the IFC

Related

News Organizations condemn Eco Oro Minerals’ warning that it could sue Colombia over water protection measures 14.03.2016
News IFC Boosts Investment in Contested Canadian Mining Project in Colombia Despite Ongoing Investigation 12.05.2015
News The Colombian Ministry of the Environment should ensure that there will be no large-scale mining in the páramo of Santurbán 22.12.2014
News Organizations Alert World Bank to Risks of Colombian Mining Investment 16.10.2014
News Colombia’s Ministry of Environment unveils the demarcation of the Santurbán Páramo without specifying details of the measurements 07.04.2014

SOURCE: http://miningwatch.ca/news/2016/9/1/ombudsman-finds-ifc-failed-comply-its-investment-standards-eco-oro-minerals-colombia