Press Release: Mexican Delegation Urges Canadian Government to Prevent Human Rights and Environmental Abuses from Canadian Mine

Excerpt from the Press Release issued by PODER:



Monday, December 4

In Ottawa, Vancouver and Kamloops the delegation will advocate for closing the Almaden Minerals’ Ixtaca project to prevent irreversible harm to health, water and the environment.

OTTAWA, Ont. — A delegation of Mexican community members and human rights advocates will visit Canada this week (December 5-12) to urge the Government of Canada, and investors, to prevent potential human rights violations and environmental damages associated with Vancouver company Almaden Minerals’ Ixtaca mining project in the region of Ixtacamaxtitlán, Puebla, Mexico.

Accompanied by PODER —a Latin American not for profit— the delegation hopes to halt the mine, currently in the exploration phase of development, and to advocate for greater accountability for Canadian mining companies operating in foreign countries. The group will share findings from the first ever community-led Human Rights Impact Assessment outlining current risks and future threats to the region’s water supply, ecosystem and residents’ health should the mine continue to be developed.

Four residents of the Ixtaca region—Ignacia Serrano, Alejandro Marreros, Francisca Zamora and Ignacio Carmona—will be joined by Benjamin Cokelet, Founding Executive Director of PODER, and PODER’s Strategic Engagement Director, Eugenia López. At events in OttawaVancouver and Kamloops , they will meet with government officials, Indigenous communities and mining investors.

Their visit comes after months of calls for greater accountability for Canadian mining firms, including an open letter from 180 non-government organisations in 2016 , and a 2017 United Nations assessment that Canada can—and should—deepen its emphasis on human rights. The United Nations Working Group on Business and Human Rights told Ottawa in June that concerns about reported abuse by Canadian companies operating abroad have been raised by international human rights treaty bodies. The UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples also stated that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has an obligation to regulate the activities of Canadian mining companies that operate elsewhere in the world.

Canadian mining companies are the subject of grievances in communities “across the globe,” Cokelet says, and as The Ottawa Citizen reported earlier this year, “ Canadian extractive companies have been implicated in the world’s most notorious examples of human rights abuses.” What is notable about this week’s delegation is that “ it is preventative,” Cokelet said. “No shovel has hit the ground, and so we’re still in time to prevent human rights and environmental abuses. We’re asking Canadians at all levels of community, business or government to promote responsible business conduct and protect both environmental and cultural diversity. Almaden Minerals’ Mexican mining project does none of those things.”

Key findings in the Human Rights Impact Assessment that will be shared are:

  • Almaden Minerals has violated the right to a healthy environment and potable water: Almaden Minerals has undertaken 236 more blasts than authorised by Mexican regulations and perforated the local aquifer, thus jeopardising the community’s access to potable water and threatening food security.
  • Investors in the mine have been misled: In quarterly reports from Almaden Minerals, investors were informed that the mining region is empty. In fact, more than 20,000 people live there. The company has also failed to communicate to investors that there are several juridicial procedures against the project, including a nullity trial seeking to cancel the exploration permit in the area held by the company for having violated Mexican environmental regulations and a popular complaint before the environmental regulator.
  • Almaden Minerals hired Knight Piésold Engineering to write the environmental impact statement—the same company that acted as the engineer of record for the Canadian Mount Polley tailings dam, the failure of which resulted in the release of 8 million cubic meters of mine tailings into Polley Lake, Hazeltine Creek and Quesnel Lake in British Columbia.
  • Will build a tailings waste dam on land now used for farming by the Indigenous community.

PODER and the delegation members are strongly requesting that:

  • Almaden Minerals cancel or, at least, suspend the Ixtaca mining project.
  • Almaden Minerals inform its investors that the project entails economic risks, and that a wide range of groups have voiced their opposition to it.
  • The Government of Canada ensures Almaden Minerals—and other Canadian mining companies—respect human rights in all their operations.
  • The Government of Canada ensures that local legislation is upheld by Canadian companies in countries they have activities in.

About the Ixtaca Project

The proposed gold and silver open pit mine of Ixtaca is located in the Ixtacamaxtitlán municipality of the Sierra Norte region of the Mexican State of Puebla. It occupies the South-Eastern portion of Tuligtic Project and is currently in an advanced exploration stage. Both concessions are properties of Almaden Minerals Ltd. Directly or as a partner, Almaden was involved in other mining projects (such Caballo Blanco and White River) that have been cancelled due to their negative impacts on the environment and human rights.

About the Human Rights Impact Assessment

The Human Rights Impact Assessment on Canadian Mining in Puebla and its Human Rights Impact is the work of multiple organisations. It includes information provided by the Government of Mexico, including preventive technical reports, judicial records, and access to information requests; reports Almaden Minerals has provided to its investors through equity offering memoranda; and testimonies from the inhabitants of communities affected by the project, gathered through participatory workshops and surveys with more than 500 individuals.

The following organisations contributed to the Human Rights Impact Assessment: Unión de Ejidos y Comunidades en Defensa de la Tierra, el Agua y la Vida, Atcolhua (Ejidatarios and residents of communities affected by the Almaden Minerals project), Centro de Estudios para el Desarrollo Rural (Center of Studies for Rural Development – CESDER), and the Mexican Institute for Community Development (Instituto Mexicano para el Desarrollo Comunitario – IMDEC).

Selected Key Documents:
PODER Human Rights Impact Assessment Report Summary
United Nations: Statement at the end of visit to Canada by the United Nations Working Group on Business and Human Rights

The Project on Organizing, Development, Education, and Research (PODER)® is a regional not-for-profit, non-governmental organization whose mission is to improve corporate transparency and accountability in Latin America and to strengthen civil society stakeholders of corporations as long-term accountability guarantors. They accomplish this by leveraging business intelligence, transparency technologies, and community organizing to ultimately build a citizen-led corporate accountability movement.

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Almost A Quarter Million People Worldwide Join Call for Nevsun Resources Investors to Divest Over Abuses at Eritrea Mine [Press Release]

Freedom United – Mining Justice Alliance – MiningWatch Canada

(Vancouver, May 3, 2017) Community members joined Vancouver’s Mining Justice Alliance outside Nevsun Resources’ Annual General Meeting today to present over 240,000 signatures on petitions calling for the company’s shareholders to divest from operations in Eritrea, a country where forced labour is widespread.

Nevsun, whose sole operating mine is the Bisha gold/copper in the north-eastern African nation, benefits from the country’s system of indefinite conscription. It’s a form of forced labour (or modern slavery) according to the United Nations, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and others.

The Bisha mine is also a major source of income for the repressive regime that has ruled Eritrea since its independence, and the largest source of foreign exchange earnings. Nevsun has consistently denied that it has used conscript labour, including through its subcontractors, as well as asserting that its contributions to the government are used for development and infrastructure improvement. A UN commission found that the government is guilty of committing “systematic, widespread, and gross human rights violations.” Eritrea is also the worst country in the world for freedom of speech, according to the World Press Freedom Index. At least 17 journalists are behind bars but none of them has ever been tried in court, nor even been charged with a crime.

Canada is a signatory to international conventions on human rights and forced labour, but has no legal restrictions on the international operations of Canadian companies other than rarely-used anti-bribery laws. “We are pressing the federal government to take responsibility and at least implement an Ombudsperson to investigate complaints,” says Jamie Kneen, Communications Coordinator for MiningWatch Canada. “At the same time, it’s fair to ask what kind of business ethics, and what kind of due diligence on the part of investors, allows companies to operate in countries like Eritrea.”

Forty-eight former workers are currently suing Nevsun in the Supreme Court of British Columbia, making it the first time a modern slavery case has been heard in a Canadian court. “The tens of thousands of petition signatories are shocked that a Canadian company can produce goods sold around the world in an environment synonymous with forced labour and human rights violations. The fact that this company is backed by investors that have we have stake in, such as through pension funds, makes our responsibility even more clear.” said Joanna Ewart-James, Advocacy Director at Freedom United.

This form of modern slavery is also the primary cause for another crisis. Eritrea is currently producing an incredible number of refugees. Of a population of fewer than 6 million people, 5,000 are leaving every month, with Eritreans make up a large part of the thousands of people desperately trying to reach Europe from the Middle East and North Africa, with many drowning in the Mediterranean or dying along the way.

“Nevsun Resources is helping fuel a refugee crisis by profiting from supporting a repressive regime,” says Daniel Tseghay, a local Eritrean organizer working with Mining Justice Alliance. Tseghay points out that Nevsun’s shareholders include the Canadian Public Pension (CPP) Investment Board. He says, “With the CPP investing in the company, a large number of Canadians are shareholders and therefore complicit in the enslavement of people from my country.”

The groups argue that the company’s investors must divest now.

See/sign the petitions:

For more information, contact:

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Slave Labour in Eritrea: Picket Vancouver-based mining company Nevsun’s Annual General Meeting

Join us on May 3, 2017, from 8:30 am – 9:30 am, at the corner of Howe and Georgia Street in front of the Four Seasons Hotel

Vancouver, Unceded xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) territories.

Organized by Mining Justice Alliance, MiningWatch Canada, Freedom United and Amnesty International
Click here to sign the petition calling on Nevsun to stop profiting from slavery

The north-eastern African country of Eritrea may be far away but a Vancouver-based mine’s activities there connects us and makes Canada complicit in serious labour violations.

Nevsun Resources operates in Eritrea, benefiting from its program of indefinite conscription. The system has been called a form of slave labour by the United Nations, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and others. Forty eight former workers are currently moving forward with lawsuits against Nevsun in the Supreme Court of British Columbia, making it the first time a modern slavery case has been heard in a Canadian court.

Eritreans on Nevsun’s site will regularly work 12 hours a day, for six days a week, working for the equivalent of $30 a month, and often much less. When one worker left the work site without authorization he was imprisoned for four months.

Eritrea established a National Service program in 1995 requiring adults to undergo 18 months of military training. The program quickly transformed into indefinite conscription that often lasts for years, and sometimes for 10 to 20 years. Conscripts are rarely engaged in duties related to the military, serving, instead, as labourers in state-run industries and projects like Nevsun’s mine.

Eritrea is also currently producing an incredible number of refugees. Of a population of fewer than 6 million people, 5,000 are leaving every month. Eritreans make up a large part of the thousands of people desperately trying to reach Europe and drowning in the Mediterranean or dying along the way every year.

Nevsun Resources is complicit in this refugee crisis and profits from supporting a brutally repressive regime. The Canadian Public Pension (CPP) Investment Board is one of the company’s investors, making workers paying into Canada’s public pension plan all shareholders. We call on people to join us outside the venue for the Annual General Meeting where we will present a petition and make the case that the company’s investors must divest now.

For more info on Nevsun:


For more info on the picket:
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Jan 31: Fundraiser for Tsilhqot’in legal defense against Taseko Mines

Support Tsilhqot’in Nation in defending  Teztan Biny (Fish Lake)!

Tuesday, January 31, 7pm

The WISE Hall, 1882 Adanac St, Vancouver

Next week (Jan 30 to Feb 3) is the federal court hearing Taseko Mines’ judicial review of the federal rejection of Taseko’s New Prosperity proposal. The court hearing is at 701 West Georgia St.

Facebook event:






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Jan 26: Flin Flon Flim Flam (Film Screening)@KDocs

Join members of MJA for a screening of John Dougherty’s documentary on HudBay Minerals. The film will be followed by a Q&A with the Director and local panelists.


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Jan 24: Blood of Extraction (Book Launch)

Please join us for the Vancouver Launch of a new book by Todd Gordon & Jeffery R. Webber


FB page for the event here:

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News Release: Murder of Young Assistant from Guatemalan Environmental Organization is Evidence of Escalating Risk to Human Rights Defenders

(Ottawa/Toronto/Vancouver/Reno/Washington/Guatemala) North American organizations are dismayed and deeply troubled by the execution-style murder of 22 year-old Jeremy Abraham Barrios Lima, assistant to the director of the Guatemalan Centre for Legal, Environmental and Social Action (CALAS), on Saturday in Guatemala City.

A group of Canadian and US legal, environmental and social justice organizations, and solidarity networks publicly express their condolences for the victim’s mother and two young sisters. In addition, they are profoundly worried about the safety and continued work of CALAS and the mining-affected communities that this organization collaborates with. There is no denying the significance of this brutal murder amidst escalating violence against land and environment defenders, journalists and citizens involved in important environmental and social justice struggles in the country and the region.

Jeremy Barrios was cruelly assassinated by unknown assailants with two bullets to the head while doing errands in zone 4 of Guatemala City. He was responsible for managing sensitive information at CALAS and had not received any prior threat or warning of this attack. None of his personal belongings were stolen. His murder is understood as a direct message to CALAS’ director and other personnel. The precise motive for his murder is not yet known. …

Read the full release here

Posted in Conflict and Repression, Goldcorp, Tahoe Resources, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment