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International | Environment & Forest Defense | Fault Lines | Global Justice and Anti-Capitalism | Racial Justice
Second Quarter Reporting: What will Barrick hide from their shareholders this time?
August 2 marks the publishing date of Barrick Gold's second quarter results. With profits down by 14 percent, the Pascua Lama project delayed, and Norway's pension fund considering pulling their investment on ethical grounds, things aren't looking good for this gold mining giant. But, are any of these developments a big surprise? There are many shareholders who might think so, but that is only because Barrick has been systematically hiding vital information from them through glaring omissions and outright lies. (title photo of Diaguita Woman, taken by Isabel Orellana. The Diaguitas, despite the fact that Barrick is planning to mine for gold on their ancestral land and the fact that they have a lawsuit and several formal complaints against Barrick, are not mentioned any of Barrick's Annual Reports since 2001.)
August 2 marks the publishing date of Barrick Gold's second quarter results. With profits down by 14 percent, the Pascua Lama project delayed, and Norway's pension fund considering pulling their investment on ethical grounds, things aren't looking good for this gold mining giant. But, are any of these developments a big surprise? There are many shareholders who might think so, but that is only because Barrick has been systematically hiding vital information from them through glaring omissions and outright lies.
The first place to look for Barrick's reporting on shareholder's issues would be their 2006 annual report, seemingly complete with a section listing "Litigations and Claims." However, Barrick failed to even mention a costly lawsuit with landowner Rodolfo Villar, a stumbling block that could prove costly (around the tune of $300 million) and one which will possibly delay the Pascua Lama project, a proposed mine on the border of Chile and Argentina, according to the Valaparaiso Times.
But that's not all, Barrick also failed to mention a 2005 complaint
filed with the Organization of American States (OAS) on behalf of the
Diaguita indigenous communities. It alleges that the Pascua Lama
project poses a grave risk to the subsistence rights of the Diaguita
indigenous communities in the area, and that the Chilean government
would be breaking its international commitments if it approves the
project. The Diaguita also had a lawsuit
filed in 2001 that lays claim to disputed land needed for the project.
Despite this litigation, formal complaints, and two letters written by
Diaguita leadership to Barrick and the President Bachelet of Chile in
2006, the Diaguita Indigenous group are not mentioned once in any of
Barrick's Annual reports since 2001.*
In the U.S., Barrick failed to mention a lawsuit brought by the Te-Moak Tribe, the Western Shoshone Defense Project, and Great Basin Mine Watch against the U.S. Bureau of Land Management that Barrick is also party to. At the center of the lawsuit is the Bureau of Land Management’s approval of Cortez Gold Mines’ gold mining exploration proposal on and around Mt. Tenabo and Horse Canyon, important spiritual areas for the Western Shoshone. It causes one to wonder if Barrick will mention to their shareholders that the 135-year-old hard-rock mining law that grants Barrick cheap mining in the U.S. is now being reviewed by the U.S. Congress. A change in the law could impose the first-ever royalty fees and environmental restrictions for mining on public land.
The real reason for the depletion is the dust kicked up by the
construction activity, acccording to Luís Faura Cortes, a Councilperson
from Alto del Carmen. According to Faura, the dust kicked up from
Barrick's activites settles on the glaciers, causing them to absorb
heat rather than reflect the sun rays, causing them to melt at a faster
rate. (see picture)
* a remark about methodology, I downloaded every annual report since 2001 and used a search function to find mention of the Diaguita.
This map was provided by Luis Faura, a Councilperson from Alto del Carmen, a town near Pascua Lama. It clearly shows that a dramatic depletion in glaciers is unique to the glaciers near Barrick's operations.
This photo, titled "Polvo (dust) = Extincion" illustrates the amount of dust that is on top of the glaciers near the Pascua Lama project. Debris from Barrick's operations over the last 20 years is blamed for the 50 to 70 percent depletion of the three glaciers near the Pascua Lama project. photo: Luis Faura