TORONTO (CANADA), April 27, 2011 – Today, during the annual general meeting (AGM) of mining company Barrick Gold in Toronto (Canada), Friends of the Earth International is supporting a loud call from communities around the world for a halt to gold mining and Barrick Gold’s destructive practices. Campaigners are present at the meeting and join a protest rally outside the meeting venue.
Barrick Gold, the largest gold miner in the world, has been the subject of many documented studies of human rights abuses and environmental devastation globally, including in the Philippines, Tanzania and Australia.
Friends of the Earth International calls in to question the necessity of the Canadian-owned corporation’s gold mining operations. With the vast majority of gold used for jewellery, Barrick’s gold mines on average use more water than the entire bottle water industry in Canada, and this water is polluted with mining waste products such as cyanide, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, selenium, and sulphides.
Romel de Vera, coordinator of Friends of the Earth Internationals program on Resisting Mining, Oil and Gas, said:
“All this waste, pollution and impacts on communities lives and livelihoods is in exchange for a product that has very few practical applications. With environmental costs almost entirely unaccounted for, the processing costs are all that stand in the way for companies to realise huge profits at the expense of those living next to the mines.”
Last year, the Norwegian Pension fund divested 230 million dollar from Barrick for ethical reasons, especially related to their mine in Papua New Guinea. And when Swiss Research firm Covalace compiled both quantitative and qualitative data spanning seven years and 581 companies they listed Barrick as the 12 least ethical company in the world.
Heri Ayubu, from Lawyers Environmental Action Team/Friends of the Earth Tanzania said:
“ There have been two reports[5,6] confirming lasting negative effects of a toxic spill from Barrick Gold’s North Mara operation in Tanzania that occurred in May 2010. Villagers alleged that up to 40 people and from 700 to 1000 herds of livestock died from the contaminated water and the nearby community are still experiencing health problems to date. Despite this Barrick has taken no action and is still endangering peoples’ right to life.”
Natalie Lowrey, from Friends of the Earth Australia, who is inside Barrick Gold’s Annual General Meeting in Toronto, Canada and joining the rally outside, said:
“In Australia, Barrick has desecrated an ecologically and culturally significant site on Wiradjuri lands with an open-pit mine in the bed of Lake Cowal within a flood plain. Wiradjuri Traditional Owners have been fighting Barrick in the courts for 10 years on the desecration of sacred sites at Lake Cowal and on the protection of Wiradjuri Native Title Rights.”
Friends of the Earth is joining ProtestBarrick.net with Barrick Gold impacted communities from Tanzania, Philippines and Papua New Guinea on a two week speaking tour in Canada from 27 April until 15 May.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Romel de Vera, Friends of the Earth International, Tel: +63 906 305 7097 (Philippines), mel.devera [at] lrcksk.org
Natalie Lowrey, Friends of the Earth Australia, +1 647 838 8455 (Canada), natalie.lowrey [at] foe.org.au
Heri Ayubu, Lawyers Environmental Action Team-Friends of the Earth Tanzania, +255 656 322 271 (Tanzania), heriayubu23 [at] gmail.com
. Of the 23 mines that Barrick provides water usage data for, the average water consumption totals 3.6 billion litres/year for 2009. Statistics can be found on the Barrick Gold website.
. In 2006, Canada consumed 2.15 billion litres of bottled water according to the Canadian government.
. Norwegian Government website tells the story of how the Norwegian Pension fund divested 230 million dollar from Barrick for ethical reasons.
. Huffington Post: The 12 Least Ethical Companies In The World.
. Bitala, Manfre, Charles Kweyunga, and Mkabwa LK Manoko, “Levels of Heavy Metals and Cyanide in Soil, Sediment and Water from the Vicinity of North Mara Gold Mine in Tarime District, Tanzania” June 2009.
. Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Investigation of trace metal concentrations in soil, sediments and waters in the vicinity of Geita Gold Mineand North Mara Gold Minein North West Tanzania, 2009.
 Barrick Gold’s mine in Lake Cowal, the ‘Sacred Heartland of the Wiradjuri Nation’