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.
From the Washington Post
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.
Beyond the omissions – of which there are too many to mention here – there are lies that Barrick continues to peddle to the press and shareholders about their operations. Among the most visible, literally, is the mystery of the depleted glaciers near Pascua Lama. This issue has recently been getting a lot of press in both Chile and Argentina, as a recent study has revealed a 50 to 70 percent depletion in the glaciers near Barrick's exploration activity. While Barrick continuously blames Global Warming, a simple comparison with other glaciers in the same area (but not near Barrick's activities) illustrates that this is not the case. (see picture)
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)
Will anyone hold Barrick accountable for these lapses in their own reporting? WIll Barrick finally own up to the difficulties that they face and acknowledge resistance to their mining operations? Or will this be another Bre-X case where shareholders are merely left with the lesson and reminder of the lax regulatory standards that Canada's mining corporations face.
* a remark about methodology, I downloaded every annual report since 2001 and used a search function to find mention of the Diaguita.