Norway’s Government Pension Fund has dropped its shares in Canada’s Barrick Gold as a result of Barrick’s operations at the Porgera Mine in Papua New Guinea. Based on an in-depth assessment of Barrick’s operations in Porgera, the pension fund’s Council of Ethics concluded that investment in Barrick amounted to “an unacceptable risk of the Fund contributing to serious environmental damage.” The Council added that “the company’s assertions that its operations do not cause long-term and irreversible environmental damage carry little credibility. This is reinforced by the lack of openness and transparency in the company’s environmental reporting.”
Barrick Gold has a 95% stake in the Porgera Joint Venture. The Government Pension Fund had owned more than $229 million (Canadian) in Barrick shares.
MiningWatch Canada has documented and reported on the unacceptable environmental and social impacts of the Porgera Mine since 2000, when MiningWatch staff first visited the project. A return visit in November 2008 confirmed that Barrick has made no progress in alleviating the egregious impacts of the mine. MiningWatch’s findings helped to inform the work of the Council of Ethics.
In May of 2008, indigenous Ipili leader Jethro Tulin spoke out at Barrick’s Annual General meeting in Toronto, saying, “Your mine has destroyed our ancestral land, our sacred places, and our gardens, which we need to feed ourselves. You dump your mine waste directly into our river system contaminating 600 km of river all the way to the sea. You do this, even though you know that it is illegal to dump your waste into rivers in Canada.”
“MiningWatch Canada applauds the ethical decision taken by the Norwegian Government Pension Fund to exclude Barrick Gold,” says Catherine Coumans of MiningWatch Canada.
“We urge the Canadian Pension Plan, Canadian investors, and socially responsible investment companies that hold Barrick shares to similarly reconsider their financial support for this company.”
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Contact: Catherine Coumans, Research Coordinator (613) 569-3439 or catherine(at)miningwatch.ca;
For a copy of the Council of Ethics Report on Barrick Gold see: www.regjeringen.no/upload/FIN/etikk/recommendation_barrick.pdf.