Thursday, December 24, 2009

Kinross to greenwash cyanide

Kinross to greenwash cyanide

By Sergio U. Dani, from Göttingen, Germany, December 24, 2009

Kinross Gold Corporation, a transnational Canadian company that pollutes the environment, robs drinking water and kills people in Paracatu-MG, Brazil, has announced its new greenswashing move this Tuesday [1]. Kinross announces “Cyanide Management Certification” in its gold mines in the Americas and Russia. Stephen Odoi-Larbi has written about this greenwashing modality in Africa in a recent article [2] attached hereto. It reproduces to perfection the pathetical and notious greenwashing move as has been observed in Paracatu and elsewhere: polluting companies’ self regulation; violation of human rights, despise of nations’ sovereignty; wrong voluntary code of conduct; greenwashing intended to better the interest of the mining companies operating in countries.

[1], accessed December 24, 2009.

[2], accessed December 24, 2009.

Read attachment [2] here:

Ghana: Mining coys, WACAM in fight over cyanide management

Stephen Odoi-Larbi

16 October 2009

Accra — In a bid to protect the environment within catchment areas of their operations, some mining companies in Ghana have signed the International Cyanide Management Code for the manufacture, transport, and use of cyanide in the production of gold.

This is a voluntary initiative spearheaded by the International Cyanide Management Institute (ICMI). Cyanide management has always been a headache to many mining firms in Ghana and other mining countries in the sub-region.

As a result of this, players in the industry gathered in Accra recently for a day's workshop on the auditing and management of the International Cyanide Management Code, a move they described as a step towards protecting the environment.
The training aims to build on the capacity of personnel in the mining industry to handle, and, or mitigate cyanide related emergencies.

"Environmental management is a key corporate priority, and members have integrated it into the continuum of operations from exploration, through design and construction to mining, processing, and rehabilitation and decommissioning. Our members continue to cooperate assiduously with the EPA and the Mines Inspectorate, in adhering to the Environmental Laws of this country," noted Ms. Joyce Aryee, Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, in her opening remarks to participants attending the workshop.

So far, 21 mining companies, including four from Ghana, namely, Newmont Ahafo mine, Anglogold Ahanti Obuasi and Iduapriem mines, Golden Star Wassa and Bogoso mines, as well as Gold Fields Tarkwa and Damang, are signatories to the International Cyanide Management Code.

The aforementioned companies, according Ms. Joyce Aryee, have either been fully certified, or over 90% certified.

Two cyanide producing members of the Chamber, Cyplus and Orica, and three transporting companies, Barbex Technical Services, Allship Logistics and Vehrad Transport, are all subject to the code's requirements.

But, WACAM, a lead advocate non-governmental organisation on environmental issues, has described the move as "pure green-washing" intended to better the interest of the mining companies operating in the country.

Its Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Daniel Owusu Koranteng, told The Chronicle in a telephone interview, that the aforementioned companies, now signatories to the International Cyanide Management Code, were all guilty of cyanide spillage.

"These are the very companies that are guilty of cyanide spillage. They are trying to move to a voluntary code of conduct, which is wrong. This is pure green-washing," fumed Mr. Koranteng.

According to him, much as the companies are trying to protect the environment, they shouldn't be allowed to regulate themselves.

He accused the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of doing too little to save the environment and communities in the catchment areas of the mining companies.

"The companies are not supposed to regulate themselves. They are on a daily basis doing things to better their interests. We must have strong regulations, enforce them, so that they benefit the communities these mining companies operate," he noted.
Mr. Koranteng challenged the basis under which the environment and communities in the mining areas are protected.

Under the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006 (Act 703), there is no clause or section for addressing cyanide spillage in the country. This, according to Mr. Koranteng, does not augur well for the country.

"There is no clause in the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006 (Act 703) concerning spillage. There is nothing," he noted.

He quoted the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006, (Act 703) sections 17 and 108 to buttress his argument.

Section 17 of the Mineral and Mining Act, 2006, (Act 703) reads: "Subject to obtaining the requisite approvals or licenses under the Water Resources Commission Act 1996 (Act 552), a holder of a mineral right may, for purposes of or ancillary to the mineral operations, obtain, divert, impound, convey and use water from a river, underground reservoir or watercourse, within, and the subject of the mineral right."

Mr. Koranteng therefore advocated the polluter pay principle (PPP), where the polluter is made to pay for the harm inflicted on the environment.

He said elsewhere in the world, clean up cost of cyanide amounted to US$100 million, but in Ghana, it was the mining companies that decide on what to pay. Under Section 108 (1) of the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006 (Act 703) "A person found guilty of an offence under this Act, for which a penalty has not been provided, is on summary conviction liable, on first conviction, to a penalty of a fine not more than the cedi equivalent of US$5,000."

This, Mr. Koranteng noted, was a meager amount to the multi-national mining companies operating in the country.

"What is this US$5,000 to these multi-national mining companies, and where does our sovereignty as a country lie," he fumed.

Mr. Koranteng therefore called on the EPA to institute regulator policies that would be reinforced to benefit the communities in the catchment areas of mining companies in the country.

In March 2008, investigations conducted into the operations of mining companies in the country by the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Ghana, revealed that state institutions with regulatory and monitoring responsibilities for the mining sector, had not performed optimally, due to capacity constraints.

The CHRAJ sited the EPA as an example, for amply demonstrating lack of capacity in terms of human and financial resources to hold mining companies accountable for their environmental stewardship, as required by law.

This lack of capacity, according to CHRAJ, has been demonstrated in the increasing record numbers of reported cases of cyanide spillages from a number of mining companies, polluted community water sources, threat to communities' health by inappropriate siting of mine waste facilities, and uncovered mine pits and trenches.

The CHRAJ, in its concluding report, noted: "Communities have expressed little confidence in the ability of the agency (EPA), in particular, to protect their environment against the activities of miners."

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