Conflict, Environmental Harm and Human Rights Abuse Allegations – What Barrick Shareholders Need to Know

MiningWatch Canada

OTTAWA – As Barrick Gold presents itself to shareholders in Toronto at its Annual General Meeting (AGM) today, communities affected by Barrick’s mines around the globe speak out about the human rights and environmental harms they endure and Canadians protest inside and outside the AGM in solidarity.

This month, communities from Argentina, the Dominican Republic, Papua New Guinea, Alaska, Nevada, Pakistan and the Philippines, organized public actions and spoke out to raise awareness of their claims of oppressive violence, perpetual water pollution, violations of Indigenous rights, and destroyed livelihoods from Barrick Gold operations. To coincide with Barrick’s AGM, Dominican advocates have also written to the company directly, amplifying impacted communities’ demand for relocation.

“The gulf remains great between Barrick’s presentation of itself as a responsible Canadian multinational and the lived realities of people in the shadow of Barrick mines,” says Catherine Coumans of MiningWatch Canada. 

Porgera, PAPUA NEW GUINEA  The Porgera Joint Venture mine has been in care and maintenance since 2019 when the Papua New Guinea (PNG) government declined to renew Barrick’s lease citing tax issues, environmental concerns and legacy issues understood to include human rights abuses such as rapes and gang rapes by mine security and mine police. In 2020 Barrick filed against the PNG state in an international tribunal, still pending, forcing the PNG government to commence fraught negotiations with Barrick. In March CEO Bristow noted: “It’s been a long journey but in the process we have secured the buy-in of all the stakeholders.” However, since April it has been abundantly clear that this buy-in does not exist. 

Grassroots human rights groups from Porgera villages staged local protest actions focused on long-out-standing human rights claims. Downstream landowners affected by the mine’s “riverine” disposal of tailings and waste rock have brought their complaints to the capital. And the recognized landowner agents of the mine lease area have also come out in protest against the new agreements, issuing a statement and a no-trespassing order against the mine. Additionally, previously reported tax claims against Barrick have not been resolved fully as internal revenue commissioner-general Sam Koim has made clear.  

North Mara, TANZANIA In November 2022, legal action was filed in Canada against Barrick on behalf of more than 20 Indigenous Kuria plaintiffs from villages around the North Mara mine. All allege excess use of force by mine police leading to severe maiming and death. Injuries and deaths at the hands of mine security have been reported to have occurred since at least 2009. This case is the third in under ten years filed on behalf of Kuria villagers making the same allegations. The first was settled in 2015 and the second is still ongoing in the UK. In addition to a long and ongoing history of violence against local Kuria by mine security, MiningWatch Canada also recently documented human rights abuses related to ongoing forced evictions from the village of Komarera to allow for expansion of the North Mara mine. While Barrick denies that forced evictions are taking place in Komarera, villagers have gone to the extraordinary lengths of filing local suits to restrain the mine from bulldozing their houses and to seek remedy for those cases where their homes and crops have already been bulldozed.

As questions concerning the human rights and environmental harm caused by Barrick’s mines are raised in front of the board and shareholders inside the annual general meeting and through the meeting’s online portal, Canadians protest outside the meeting in solidarity with the global victims of Barrick’s operations.  

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