Today, 50 Canadian, Mexican, and international organizations, including the British Columbia General Employees Union (BCGEU) and the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (UBCIC), wrote to the British Columbia Investment Management Corporation (BCI) regarding its investment in Vancouver-based mining company Equinox Gold.
The organizations urge the fund to engage Equinox in dialogue over breaches in key provisions in its social cooperation agreement with the community of Carrizalillo in Guerrero, México, on whose land the company’s flagship Los Filos mine is principally located. Violations of the agreement led the community to act upon their rights in that same agreement and shut down the mine for over 60 days and counting. Key issues include the provision of clean water, medication, educational scholarships, jobs and contracts, as well as company management’s discriminatory and racist treatment of the community as it seeks to resolve these matters through dialogue. Notably, since the Los Filos mine went into operation in 2008, the communities’ sources of water have been dried up or contaminated with arsenic and other heavy metals.
The letter highlights significant and serious concerns for community safety, health and economic well-being, stating: “We do not understand why, instead of engaging promptly and in good faith, the company decided to adopt a dilatory, discriminatory and abusive stance, including to criminalize the community’s actions.” On September 4, the company issued a public statement calling the community encampment an “illegal road blockade”, putting people at grave risk of legal persecution and violence, which is all too common at mine sites in Mexico.
The community strike now far surpasses the last shutdown at Los Filos in April 2014, which lasted 33 days after Goldcorp failed to reach a new land use agreement with the community. Equinox requires access to Carrizalillo’s lands in order to operate the Los Filos mine and has no rightful or legal way to operate without their agreement.
The signatories to the letter, some of whom include contributors to the fund, echo the principle requests of the Ejido of Carrizalillo including:
• Engage in respectful and serious talks over a new social-cooperation agreement that could mitigate harms on the community’s water, health, work and safety.
• To abstain from any further acts of criminalization, discrimination, racism and abuse of its economic and political influence.
You can find the full letter as well as the full list of the organizations who signed on here.