As mining executives from across the country converge on Parliament Hill today to ask for more tax breaks and public subsidies, groups are calling on the Mining Association of Canada (MAC), the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) and the Canadian government to do more to hold mining companies accountable for the social and environmental impacts of their operations overseas. “It is no longer enough for the industry to simply show up with its hands out and plead for more taxpayers’ dollars,” says Graham Saul, Friends of the Earth Canada’s International Program Director. “Canadian mining companies have to be willing to subject themselves to standards of behaviour of which Canadians can be proud.”
The mining industry will be out in force on this annual “Mining Day on the Hill”, with over 50 of Canada’s mining executives ready and eager to lobby the government. This year is different, however, because the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade recently issued a report on Mining and Corporate Social Responsibility. The report recognizes that Canadian mining companies are having an “adverse effect” on communities, environments, and human rights around the world. The committee has called on the Canadian Government to better regulate the behaviour of Canadian mining companies and to base financial and political support for Canadian mining companies on compliance with internationally recognized human rights and environmental standards.
“It’s a real paradox for Canadian mining companies to argue that they are the financial backbone of the country and at the same time in constant need of more public subsidies in the form of tax incentives, flow through share schemes, low royalty payments, and public money to clean up abandoned and toxic mine sites,” according to Jamie Kneen of MiningWatch Canada. “Mining is in fact a bad investment of public funds,” he added. “It just earns poor returns – the cost to taxpayers for the care and feeding of the industry has increased steadily since 1995 while jobs in the industry have declined.” According to government figures, federal taxpayers provided the mining industry $13,095 dollars for every mining job in 2000-2001. “We’d like to see some of that money going towards recycling, improved efficiency, and supporting clean, healthy jobs,” said Kneen.
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For more information contact:
Jamie Kneen, MiningWatch Canada: Tel: 613-569-3439 or Cell: (613) 761-2273
Graham Saul, Friends of the Earth Canada: Tel: 613-241-0085 ext. 22 or Cell: 613-558-3368
For information on the report issued by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, see this article.