Tuesday, November 17, 2009

How can Canadian companies operate illegal mining worldwide?

How can Canadian companies operate illegal mining worldwide?

Picture: Mexican people demonstrate against Canadian mining company in Cerro de San Pedro

Sergio Ulhoa Dani, from Göttingen, Germany, November 10, 2009

The people of San Luis Potosí, Mexico, have been fighting an open pit gold mine in Cerro de San Pedro. Last year it became part of a larger company, New Gold Inc. ("New Gold", TSX and NYSE AMEX: NGD), who has been pretending that all is well and legal while continuing to operate illegally, the people of San Luis Potosí say.

The configuration is very similar to that of Paracatu, Brazil, where Canadian Kinross Gold Corporation (NYSE: KGC; TSX: K) operates a true genocide through the release of arsenic from its open cut gold mine located in the outskirts of the city, with the invaluable support of a fistful of government people.

But San Luis Pososí and Paracatu are not isolate cases. Some Canadian companies have been operating corruption and murdering plots worldwide. The Congo affair gained notoriety through the intervention of the UNO Secretary General.

How and why can Canadian gold companies thrive so easily and illegally in foreign countries, despising local people and the environment?

“Over the last ten years a small group opposed to the mine has conducted an ongoing series of challenges, appeals and counter appeals related to the EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) approval process”, it reads in New Gold’s website. It reads in the same website that Mr. Santos Loredo Tenorio, President of the Cerro de San Pedro Municipality, appreciates New Gold’s supports to schools, health services and infrastructure improvement. Still according to information in New Gold’s website, Tenorio would have said that "the company's contribution to sustainable community development and our future is greatly appreciated."

What we have learned from Kinross Gold Corporation in Paracatu is that it makes “facilitation payments” to local government people in order to “facilitate” its business in Brazil. What we have learned from Stephen Harper, Canada’s Prime Minister, is that “Canada will rule”, which sounds much like “Canada will take over the world”. To make his point clear, he is caring for the militarization of Canada. In other words, the boss sets the tune and provides for backing.

“Quite simply, Stephen Harper is unfit to govern. Surely the only prime minister in Canadian history who has actually expressed contempt for his own country, Harper has demonstrated a disregard for the rule of law that should, in a rational world, disqualify him from leading any government,” wrote Murray Dobbin in a recent article.

Harvey Oberfeld discloses another aspect of Canadian Prime Minister’s personality when talking about Harper’s customary use of French – the minority language in Canada – instead of English: “He is really clearly placing 25 per cent of Canada’s population ahead of the other 75 per cent. And it’s about time, people started telling him to restore respect for the majority, as well as the minority.”

About New Gold’s mines

In addition to Cerro de San Pedro mine, New Gold Inc. has other operations: (i) Mesquite, a gold heap-leach, run of mine operation 70 km northwest of Yuma, Arizona, Imperial County California; (ii) Peak Mines, a gold-copper underground mining operation in the Cobar Gold Field, New South Wales, Australia; and (iii) Amapari Mine, a gold heap leach operation located in the State of Amapá in Brazil.

New Gold’s Amapari mine is located in central Amapa State, in the middle of the Amazon Forest, near Amapari river, Brazil. It is a open cut mine (see satellite images in this report). The method employed by New Gold Inc. to extract gold at the Amapari mine is heap leaching. The mined ore is crushed into small chunks and heaped on an impermeable plastic and/or clay lined leach pad where it is irrigated with a leach solution containing the extremely toxic sodium cyanide which is employed to dissolve gold. The solution containing gold and usually other metals (so called "pregnant solution") continues percolating through the crushed ore until it reaches the liner at the bottom of the heap where it drains into a storage (pregnant solution) pond. This can take several weeks.

The leach solution containing the dissolved metal is then collected. After separating the precious metals from the pregnant solution, the dilute cyanide solution (now called "barren solution") is normally re-used in the heap-leach-process or occasionally sent to an industrial water treatment facility where the residual cyanide is treated and residual metals are removed. The water is then discharged to the environment, posing water pollution. Same occurs with the residual ores, called tailings, which are contaminated with residual cyanide, sulphuric acid and mobilized heavy metals.

In addition to the environmental hazards presented with this extraction method, there is also the hazard presented by the cyanide itself. These hazards are present in virtually all gold mines. Some cases have gained public recognition, like the environmental disaster in Central-Eastern Europe in year 2000, when during the night of 30 January, a dam at a goldmine reprocessing facility in Romania released approximately 100,000 m³ of wastewater contaminated with heavy metal sludge and up to 120 tons of cyanide into the rivers of Tisza.

To learn more about Kinross mine in Paracatu, Brazil, access:



[1] Mining Watch Canada
[2] Google Earth
[3] Available at www.newgold.com, accessed November 10, 2009.
[4] Wikipedia
[5] Ali, Saleem H. Gold mining and the golden rule: a challenge for developed and developing countries. Journal of Cleaner Production, Vol 14:3 (2006)
[6] http://www.dominionpaper.ca/images/2228
[7] www.alertaparacatu.blogspot.com
[8] Murray Dobbin. Stephen Harper: unfit to govern. September 10, 2009. Available at: http://www.rabble.ca/news/2009/09/stephen-harper-unfit-govern, accessed November 10, 2009.
[9] http://harveyoberfeld.ca/blog/stephen-harper-insults-english-canada-again/

No comments:

Post a Comment