In an unprecedented expression of concern, a House of Commons committee has called on the Government of Canada to take action to end the sometimes-devastating social and environmental impacts of Canadian mining operations overseas. But the Government’s failure to take action on a controversial Canadian mine in Ecuador suggests ongoing indifference to the plight of affected communities, according to Friends of the Earth Canada and MiningWatch Canada.
A report recently adopted by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade calls on the Government to stop using taxpayer money to support destructive Canadian mining projects abroad — and to hold Canadian mining companies legally accountable for environmental and human rights violations in other countries. The report argues that measures are particularly needed to deal with mining-related conflicts in countries “where regulations governing the mining sector and its impacts on the economic and social wellbeing of employees and local residents, as well as on the environment, are weak or non-existent, or where they are not enforced.”
In reaction to the report, MiningWatch Canada’s Jamie Kneen notes: “Despite Canada’s dominant role in the global mining industry, the Government has consistently refused to develop the necessary tools to hold Canadian companies accountable for what they are doing in other people’s backyards.”
Despite a formal complaint, the Government of Canada is currently standing on the sidelines as yet another controversial Canadian mining project moves forward in Ecuador. According to Graham Saul, International Program Director for Friends of the Earth Canada, “Ascendant Copper Corporation’s “Junín” project is a classic example of why Parliament felt the need to act. This project is a poster child for the ‘ugly Canadian’ mining company.”
Vancouver-based Ascendant Copper Corporation recently submitted a preliminary prospectus to the Toronto Stock Exchange in an effort to raise millions of dollars for its proposed “Junín” open pit copper mine. The project, located in an area of rich and threatened biodiversity in northwestern Ecuador, is facing massive opposition from local communities who have refused to let Ascendant personnel into the area. The securities commissions of British Columbia, Ontario and Alberta are currently reviewing Ascendant’s prospectus. “Ascendant is fuelling a local conflict and actively undermining democratically elected officials in Ecuador. It’s an outrageous situation. Where is the accountability?” says Saul.
– 30 –
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
• Graham Saul, Friends of the Earth Canada, tel: (613) 241-0085, ext 22; cell: (613) 558-3368
• Jamie Kneen, MiningWatch Canada, tel: (613) 569-3439; cell: (613) 761-2273
See the Parliamentary report at: www.parl.gc.ca/committee/CommitteePublication.aspx?COM=8979&SourceId=122762
See the international investment complaint filed against Ascendant with the Canadian government here.