Blog Entry

Declaration of Solidarity with the Communities of Monte Plata, Dominican Republic

Diana Martin

Diana is MiningWatch's Administration and Resource Development Coordinator, with a wealth of international and domestic experience in work for social justice and peace.

We, the undersigned organizations, express our continued solidarity with the communities in Monte Plata resisting Barrick Gold’s expansion activities in the Dominican Republic. As Barrick Gold continues with its proposed expansion of the Pueblo Viejo gold mine, which would include the construction of a new tailings dam to store the mine’s waste, communities continue to urge the company to withdraw its plans and call on the government to stop the project from moving forward.

Local social movements have expressed concern about the proposed tailings dam and organized demonstrations in opposition to it. Government officials (including the president of the Alianza País political party and an official representing Monte Plata), civil society (including Centro Montalvo and the Archbishop of Santo Domingo), and others have expressed solidarity with community members and are raising the alarm about this project. In February of 2020, the Binational Forum on Mining and Climate Change released a statement asserting that “mega-mining leads to social and territorial breakdown, uses economic resources against local organizations as tools for manipulation by creating false hopes of development, and builds community infrastructure and inconsequential development projects that don’t lead to human development.”

In May of this year, 88 organizations from 21 countries and 15 ethical jewelry producers sent letters to the Dominican Government and Barrick Gold raising concerns over the proposal’s potential to exacerbate vulnerability to climate change, the inherently risky nature of tailings dams, the opaque and non-transparent nature of the expansion process, and the credible allegations of environmental harm leveled against Barrick.[1]

Recently, the Ministry of the Environment and Ministry of Energy and Mines announced the government would carry out an international bidding process to hire an independent consulting firm to develop an Environmental Impact Study to determine the location of the proposed tailings storage facility. The Minister of Energy and Mines, Antonio Almonte, said: the Dominican Government has a commitment that Barrick Gold continues operating, as long as it does not put resources more valuable than gold at risk, like natural resources and human lives (“El Gobierno dominicano tiene el compromiso de que la Barrick Gold siga operando siempre y cuando no ponga en riesgo recursos más valiosos que el oro como son los recursos naturales y la vida de las personas”).

However, the Environmental Commission (Comisión Ambiental) and the Dominican Public Policy Observatory (Observatorio Dominicano de Políticas Públicas) of the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo have demanded the immediate suspension of the tendering process for this independent firm. They contend that hiring a firm to carry out such a study “violates our environmental legislation and our evaluation procedures, placing the Dominican Government as an employee of the company, while limiting its authority in law enforcement and environmental governance.”

Over the last month, hundreds have mobilized in opposition to the project’s expansion. On September 12th, community and religious leaders stood in solidarity with the Province of Monte Plata calling on Barrick to halt the expansion plans in the region. They raised concerns about the potential impacts of the tailings dam on their water sources, agricultural lands and food production, and called on the government to support small-scale cacao producers, not mining companies. On September 19th, thousands of people representing over 100 organizations marched on the National Palace in Santo Domingo in opposition to the project demanding that the Dominican government protect and respect the social and environmental rights of the communities. The undersigned organizations support the calls of communities and civil society to halt the proposed expansion and the construction of a new tailings dam.

Signed,

  • Akali Tange Association Inc- Papua New Guinea
  • Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic, Yale Law School- United States
  • Ang Aroroy Ay Alagaan, Inc.- Philippines
  • Asociación de Desarrollo Económico Social Santa Marta (ADES)    - El Salvador
  • Bench Marks Foundation - South Africa
  • Canadian Jesuits International- Canada
  • Center for Biological Diversity- United States
  • Centro de Reflexión y Acción Social P. Juan Montalvo- Dominican Republic
  • Comité de Solidarité/Trois-Rivières- Canada (Québec)
  • Comité pour les droits humains en Amérique latine (CDHAL)- Canada
  • Denver Justice and Peace Committee (DJPC)- United States (Colorado)
  • Diálogo 2000-Jubileo Sur Argentina- Argentina
  • Earthworks- United States
  • Fundación Ecología Tropical- Dominican Republic
  • Fundación Montescola- Spain
  • Global Justice Clinic- United States (​​Communications from the Global Justice Clinic do not purport to represent the institutional views of NYU School of Law, if any)
  • Grupo de Pesquisa Política, Economia, Mineração, Ambiente e Sociedade (PoeMAS)- Brazil
  • Hawai'i Institute for Human Rights- United States
  • Human Rights Inter-Pacific Association- Papua New Guinea 
  • International Human Rights Clinic at Santa Clara Law- United States
  • London Mining Network- United Kingdom
  • Lynn Canal Conservation- United States
  • Malach Consulting- United States 
  • McGill University Canada- Canada
  • Mesa Nacional frente a la Minería Metálica en El Salvador- El Salvador
  • MiningWatch Canada- Canada
  • Mining Injustice Solidarity Network- Canada
  • Movimiento Ecologista de Mujeres del Sur- Ecuador
  • Mujeres por Miranda- Dominican Republic
  • Observatorio Latinoamericano de Conflictos Ambientales OLCA- Chile
  • Observatorio Plurinacional de Salares Andinos OPSAL- Chile 
  • Porgera 119 Indigenous women Association inc- Papua New Guinea
  • Porgera Red Wara (River) Women's Association Incorporated (PRWWA INC)- Papua New Guinea (Porgera District, Enga Province)
  • Porgera Women's Rights Watch- Papua New Guinea 
  • Procesos Integrales paras la Autogestión de los Pueblos- Mexico
  • Programme de volontariat pour l'Intag- France
  • Projet Accompagnement Québec-Guatemala- Canada
  • SOKIJA (Sosyete Kiltirel Jen Ayisyen)- Haiti
  • TerraJusta- Bolivia 
  • The Gaia Foundation- United Kingdom
  • Unified Civilian Society Incorporated- Philippines
  • UNIR-INITE Universidad Itinerante de la Resistencia en Haití- Haití
  • Yasunidxs Cuenca- Ecuador
  • Zaštitimo Jadar i Rađevinu/Protect Jadar & Radjevina- Serbia

[1] Barrick sent this response on May 18, 2021. Barrick’s letter has not altered the concerns of civil society and community members opposing the expansion.