The Canadian Mining Industry

Photo : OXFAM, NZ

Did you know that Canadian mining companies make up about 60% of the world mining industry?

Canada plays a big role in developing mines in countries, a good part them in the third world.

And yet, these companies have only voluntary standards and regulations that are not bound by law. Though we make up a sizeable portion of the mining industry,Canada has yet to implement legislation regarding corporate social responsibility in mining abroad.

One of the countries where Canadian companies have developed mines is in the central American country of Guatemala. In Guatemala, as in many countries all over the world,much of the impacts are being felt byindigenous communities. They suffer from the health effects and the degradation of their land due to thesemines. Theyare kicked off their land and are not given free, prior or informed consent. One Canadian mine in particular- Vancouver based GoldCorp- is one of the biggest offenders. Goldcorp’s mine has been accused of not respecting therights of the indigenous peoples in Guatemala and of ignoringthe health effects of their Honduras mine. Out of all the mining companies on the TSX,Goldcorp has been fined the most for their environmentaloffenses.

In March 2007, a report on social responsibility in the mining, gas and oil companies was issued. In the report, representatives from the mining industry, NGOs, and the government recommended that mining companies must have standards and reporting obligations. These recommendations would also punish mining companies with bad practices by not granting them governmental support. However, the recommendations have not yet been implemented.

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