United Nations expert on hazardous waste “deeply concerned” about environmental practices of Canadian mining companies operating abroad, citing Human Rights Clinic’s Red Water Report
Waste disposal practices, such as those at Porgera gold mine in Papua New Guinea, undermine right to water and present health risks
New York, June 12 - Canada has a “double standard” when it comes to regulating environmental practices of mining companies operating at home versus abroad, said the United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights and hazardous substances and wastes, Baskut Tuncak, following an official visit to Canada earlier this month.
“I remain deeply concerned by ongoing reports of Canadian business enterprises failing to respect human rights in their operations abroad,” he said. “Overseas, Canadian mining companies are using, or propose to use mine waste disposal practices that are not allowed in Canada.”
The Special Rapporteur raised particular concern about the practice of Barrick Gold’s Porgera Joint Venture Mine in Papua New Guinea of disposing mine waste directly into the river system on which communities depend. Citing the report Red Water: Mining and the Right to Water in Porgera, Papua New Guinea of the Columbia Law School Human Rights Clinic and the Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict, and Complexity (AC4) of Columbia University’s Earth Institute, the Special Rapporteur noted that: “Studies have recorded high levels of heavy metals in the waste which present health risks, and legal analyses have found that the Canadian corporation is in breach of its obligations to respect the Porgerans’ right to water, while raising implications relevant to numerous other human rights.”
To address these concerns, the Special Rapporteur welcomed the establishment of the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE), and was encouraged by its potential to use economic and other incentives to improve the conduct of Canadian companies, but expressed concern about the extent of CORE’s investigative powers and the timelines for its investigations.
The Special Rapporteur concluded by noting, “I remain optimistic that Canada embrace the many opportunities to transition to a cleaner, healthier and more equitable economy. The well-being of people and peoples depend on this, not only in Canada but around the world.”
The full text of the Special Rapporteur’s statement is available here: https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=24678&LangID=E
The Red Water report, press release, and fact-sheet are available here: http://ac4.ei.columbia.edu/research-themes/environment-peace-and-sustainability/red-water-mining-and-the-right-to-water-in-porgera-papua-new-guinea/
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