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LATIN AMERICA
Miners’ dismal reputation
8/13/2008
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Ethical violations abound among world’s top mineral producers.

Some of the world’s largest mining companies active in Latin America have the world’s worst reputation among mineral producers for poor community relations and environmental violations.

The Swiss consultant group Covalence SA said in a report published July 24 on the mining industry that US-based Newmont Mining, Canada’s Barrick Gold and the British company Anglo American topped the list.

Newmont is the majority stakeholder in the Yanacocha gold mine, the largest in Latin America, in Cajamarca, Peru. In 2004, the local population protested successfully to block the company’s plan to explore for gold on Cerro Quilish, an important source of subterranean water. Four years earlier, the company spilled mercury in the nearby village of Choropampa, causing serious health problems to the community.

Barrick, the world’s third-largest gold producer, is developing the controversial Pascua-Lama project on the Chilean-Argentine border. A giant deposit, Pascua-Lama is located in the fertile Huasco River Valley. Barrick plans to drill below three glaciers, an important water source for three rivers that feed into the valley, which would contaminate them with waste water, putting local agriculture at risk.

Anglo American extracts coal in Colombia’s Cerrejón mine in a joint project with Australia’s BHP Billiton and Swiss miner Xstrata.

The project, in Guajira Colombia, is under fire for allegedly forcing the disappearance of the Afro-Colombian town of Tabaco, to take over their lands. The companies are also accused of causing environmental and health damage and harming the farmlands.

But US aluminum producer Alcoa and Anglo-Australian copper miner Rio Tinto have the best ethical reputation, the report found. — Latinamerica Press.


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