Notes for UN Special Rapporteur on Hazardous Substances and Wastes

Canadian mining multinationals are causing toxic impacts on surface and ground water and on marine ecosystems in overseas countries where they operate, in part through mine waste disposal practices that are effectively illegal in Canada. This brief focusses on impacts through practices that are effectively banned in Canada through protective provisions in the Metal and Diamond Mining Effluent Regulations (MDMER) that prohibit unrestricted release of tailings into fish bearing waters.


Comments on the Discussion Papers on the Proposed Project List and the Proposed Information Requirements and Time Management Regulations

MiningWatch Canada submitted these comments on the Discussion Paper on the Proposed Project List and the Discussion Paper on the Proposed Information Requirements and Time Management Regulations under the proposed Impact Assessment Act, Part 1 of Bill C-69, An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts that were published on May 1, 2019.

We conclude that:


Extraction Casino: Mining companies gambling with Latin American lives and sovereignty through supranational arbitration

During the last couple of decades—and particularly during the last ten years—mining companies have filed dozens of claims against Latin American countries before international arbitration panels, demanding compensation for court decisions, public policies and other government measures that they claim reduce the value of their investments. In a majority of these cases, the communities most affected by the mining projects have been actively organizing to defend their territories and natural resources.


Submission to the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment, and Natural Resources (ENEV) on Bill C-69

This is MiningWatch Canada’s submission regarding Bill C-69, An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts. Our focus is on Part 1, theImpact Assessment Act (IAA). We make the same essential arguments as we did to the House of Commons Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development, but our recommendations are specific to the bill as amended by the House of Commons and the opportunities that the Senate now has to improve it.


State Duty to Protect Human Rights: How Canada’s Embassy Staff and Trade Commissioners Are Not Fulfilling Their Duty

This presentation was made by Catherine Coumans, Ph.D. at the Canadian Network for Corporate Accountability Symposium Taking Responsibility: Canada, Business, and Human Rights held in Ottawa on April 30, 2019.

Canada has a state duty to protect human rights.

Since at least 2002, UN bodies have repeatedly and explicitly emphasized that Canada’s duty to protect extends to Canada’s obligation to protect against human rights abuses caused, or contributed to, by Canadian corporations operating overseas.   


Primer on Mine Water Pollution in Canada:  Are Waters & Fish Habitat Protected?

Following the alarming findings from the Commissioner on Environment and Sustainable Development released on April 2, 2019, MiningWatch Canada urges the federal Environment Minister to take immediate actions to beef up inspections and enforcement of the Fisheries Act to protect waters and fish from the 255 active mine sites, as well as from the thousands exploration sites and abandoned sites across the country.


Submission to the United Nations Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries

This submission is made in support of an investigation and forthcoming report by the United Nations Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries (the Working Group)  that examines the relationship between private military and security companies and extractive industry companies from a human rights perspective. Following communications with the Working Group, this submission covers issues related to excess use of force by private mine security and by police who participate in securing mines through memorandums of understanding between mine proponents and police agencies of the states hosting the mines. The sections below follow organizational and informational guidelines provided by the Working Group. 


OceanaGold in the Philippines: Ten Violations that Should Prompt Its Removal

OceanaGold Corporation, an Australian-Canadian company, is one of dozens of transnational mining companies in the Philippines that have been reaping profits by mining gold, silver, copper, and other minerals. Its underground Didipio gold and copper mine in the Northern Luzon province of Nueva Vizcaya started open-pit commercial production in 2013. It continues to operate despite a suspension order issued on February 14, 2017 by then-Philippine Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Gina Lopez. 

Guest Publication

Growing Bougainville’s Future: Choices for an Island and its people

Jubilee Australia's report 'Growing Bougainville's Future: Choices for an island and its people' examines the choice facing the people of Bougainville and asks the question of ‘to mine or not to mine.’ MiningWatch Canada staff member Catherine Coumans contributed the chapter, "Mining and development: Is “good governance” really the cure?"


Inequality of Arms: A summary of concerns raised by victims of violence by private and public mine security at Barrick Gold’s North Mara Gold Mine in Tanzania regarding the mine’s new Operation-level Grievance Mechanism

This brief also provides initial findings based on MiningWatch’s review of some “Case Summaries” and “Remediation Plans” prepared by the mine’s Community Impacts & Remediation Investigation Team in regard to the victims that were interviewed.


Statement from OECD Watch and MiningWatch Canada regarding the Canadian NCP’s improper handling of the OECD Guidelines specific instance Bruno Manser Fonds vs Sakto Group

On May 16, 2018, MiningWatch Canada and OECD Watch issued a media release to draw attention to an attempt by the Government of Canada to cover up its mishandling of a complaint through Canada’s National Contact Point (NCP) for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. The Request for Review in question, titled “Complaint against the Sakto Group, Ottawa” was filed with Canada’s NCP in January 2016 by the not-for-profit Bruno Manser Fonds (BMF) of Switzerland. The complaint alleges that the Sakto Group, with corporations headquartered in Ottawa, breached disclosure requirements of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, a guide to responsible business conduct that is binding on Canada and other members of the OECD.


Review of Barrick Gold/Acacia Mining’s Draft “Community Grievance Process - Standard Operating Procedure” for the North Mara Gold Mine in Tanzania

In January 2018, Acacia Mining released a draft Standard Operating Procedure for a new Community Grievance Process for the North Mara Gold Mine in Tarime, Tanzania. This review of Acacia/Barrick’s new draft Grievance Process is informed by field assessments carried out yearly at the North Mara mine by MiningWatch Canada in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.


Submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development (ENVI) Regarding Bill C-69

Bill C-69 brings both promise and disappointment. Overall, however, it does not fulfil the government’s promise of restoring public confidence, and therefore also cannot fulfil the promise of facilitating good development projects. In some respects, it represents a failure of ambition, where a stronger commitment and stronger leadership are required to meet the challenges of the 21st century. In other respects, it is just a matter of design flaws and limitations of implementation. At this juncture, it may be too late to address the bigger structural problems, but Parliament has the opportunity to fix many of the Bill’s deficiencies.


Making the (Mid-term) Grade: A Report Card on Canada's New Impact Assessment Act

On February 8, 2018, the federal government tabled Bill C-69, which introduces a proposed new Impact Assessment Act (IAA) to replace the current Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 (CEAA 2012). Bill C-69 follows more than 18 months of consultation and discussion of Canada’s environmental assessment (EA) processes, and is claimed to fulfill the government’s commitment to introduce new, fair processes to ensure decisions are based on science and Indigenous knowledge, and win back public trust.

How does the proposed new IAA measure up?


Behind the Pebble Mine: Hunter Dickinson Inc., the Canadian Mining Company You’ve Never Heard Of

This report examines the Hunter Dickinson family of companies, their track records and current situations, and the implications for the prospects of Northern Dynasty Mining, the company promoting the controversial Pebble mine project in Alaska’s sensitive Bristol Bay. The report labels Northern Dynasty as a highly risky speculative investment, calling its risk levels “unprecedented even among other junior mining companies.”


OECD Peer Review of the Canadian National Contact Point on the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises

As part of the OECD Peer Review of the Canadian National Contact Point  on the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, MiningWatch was asked to submit a general questionnaire, as well as to participate in a review of the Porgera Specific Instance (2011), in which we were a notifier. This questionnaire answers general questions. Under section B. (Specific Instances) we discuss the Porgera case in more detail. Finally, Appendix 1 provides further detail regarding specific concerns related to the Canadian NCPs handling of ten Specific Instance cases.


A New Mineral Resources Act for the Northwest Territories

In response to the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT)'s request for public input for the development of a new Mineral Resources Act (MRA), MiningWatch Canada submitted key recommendations that would help better protect northern communities and the environment, while also increasing the long-term benefits from the extraction of non-renewable minerals. These recommendations also aim to reduce mining-related conflicts and increase predictability for all of those involved in, or affected by, the sector. We divide our recommendations in three sections:


Comments on the Government of Canada Discussion Paper on the Review of Environmental and Regulatory Processes

This is MiningWatch Canada’s submission in response to the federal government’s Discussion Paper on its reviews of environmental and regulatory processes, including the review of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012, the National Energy Board Act, the Fisheries Act, and the Navigation Protection Act. Our focus here is on the environmental assessment portion of the Discussion Paper; we refer readers to our submissions to the Parliamentary reviews of the Fisheries Act and the Navigation Protection Act for our comments on those reviews.


Report to the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

EarthRights International, MiningWatch Canada, and the University of Toronto International Human Rights Program issued this report calling on the CERD to denounce Canada’s ongoing failure to prevent Canadian mining and petroleum companies violating human rights – and especially the rights of Indigenous peoples – abroad.