CANADA, A MINING SUPERPOWER
Canada is a superpower in the global mining industry, with 60% of the world’s mining companies based in Canada, generating $50 billion a year for Canadians.
Some of these mining companies have been implicated in major human rights violations and environmental degradation in countries of the Global South. Their practices include:
- Developing mines without adequate consultation and in violation of the rights of Indigenous peoples
- Doing irreparable environmental damage
- Engaging in corrupt practices and intimidation tactics
- Contributing directly or indirectly to violence
- Plundering resources without adequate compensation
TESTIMONIALS: VOICES FOR JUSTICE
The Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace has initiated a campaign to make Canadian mining companies more accountable. The goal of the campaign is the creation of an independent mining ombudsman to receive and investigate complaints and assess compliance with corporate accountability standards.
To help raise awareness in Canada, Development and Peace has collected testimonials from communities in Honduras, Madagascar, Peru, and the Philippines. What these voices for justice tell us is that the revenues from mining are not leading to long-term development for their communities, and, in many cases, communities are facing gross injustices.
The arrival of a Canadian mine in Moramanga, Madagascar brought with it a wave of hope for the community. The mine, they imagined, would contribute to the development of the community, reduce the unemployment rate, especially amongst youth, and improve the quality of life of the residents. Their optimism, however, was quickly replaced by disenchantment and apprehension.
“Since the arrival of the mine, I have not seen any improvements in the quality of life of my children or my grandchildren. On the contrary, we are becoming more impoverished by the day because the mining company forbids us from expanding our fields.” – Village Chief Mr. Rakotoarimanana
In 1996, the island of Marinduque in the Philippines was the site of one of the worst environmental disasters in the country, when the dam of a Canadian-owned mine collapsed, launching 1.6 million cubic metres of toxic chemicals and heavy sediment into the Boac River. The river has never been rehabilitated.
“Before the mine, we were worry-free. But now, the river is polluted and we are very afraid of flooding. I really don’t want to live a life full of fear every time it rains.” – Eliza Hernandez who lives near the contaminated Boac River
“I am concerned by the open-pit mines that are being established in our region. They consume huge quantities of water, cause riverbeds to dry up, and contaminate the rivers with cyanide, which affects the surrounding communities…. In the end, the mining companies have won over the government, who lets them do whatever they want and gives concessions to everyone. So, I am calling on Canadians to react, to write to the government so that there is justice and respect for the environment. The Earth was given by God and we must exploit it, but in a way that makes it all the more beautiful, not that destroys it.” – Bishop Guy Charbonneau, Choluteca, Honduras
CAMPAIGNS FOR MINING JUSTICE
The current Development and Peace campaign is not the first campaign calling for mining justice.
2010, Bill C-300: Many Canadians supported a private member’s bill on responsible mining, Bill C-300. The bill was defeated on second reading as a result of intense lobbying by mining companies. If passed, the bill would have held Canadian mining companies responsible for human rights and environmental violations in other countries.
2010, Development and Peace campaign for more accountable mining companies, including the establishment of an independent mining ombudsman: The campaign collected half a million signatures. However, instead of appointing an independent ombudsman, the Harper government created the office of the Extractive Sector for Corporate Social Responsibility. Since the participation of mining companies is voluntary, the office has been ineffective at resolving conflicts.
2013, Development and Peace campaign for an independent mining ombudsman: Let’s make sure this campaign is successful. Turn to the back page of this flyer and find out how you can be a voice for mining justice.
TAKE ACTION: BE A VOICE FOR JUSTICE
- Google “development and peace take action,” click on “Take action! Write your MP,” and send a message to your MP.
- For more information on the actions of Canadian mining companies, go to www.miningwatch.ca
The information in this pamphlet is taken from the Fall Education Campaign of the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace.