EARTHWORKS Calls on Newmont to Respect Community Rights
March 11, 2009
New study provides miner with unprecedented opportunity for improving troubled community relations
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Newmont Mining, the second largest gold producer in the world, recognized in a new report that it has failed to properly engage with affected communities at five of its principal mine sites around the world. The company's Community Relations Review (CRR), mandated by a shareholder resolution passed two years ago, found that there has been "a consistent lack of accountability in the implementation of Newmont's community relations objectives."
"For too long, Newmont's relationship with local communities at its mining operations has been fraught with tension and absence of dialogue," said Payal Sampat, International Campaign Director at EARTHWORKS in Washington, DC. "This review provides Newmont with an unprecedented opportunity to rethink, and overhaul, its relationship with communities at existing and future projects."
The CRR was commissioned and funded by Newmont to report on "its policies and practices relating to existing and future relationships with local communities near its operations." The review began in 2007, following a resolution filed by Christian Brothers Investment Services and 10 other faith-based investors.
The Advisory Panel to the CRR noted problems with the report and process, including a short timeline, inadequate methodology, institutional defensiveness and resistance, and insufficient consideration of issues related to indigenous peoples, water use and contamination, gender, and community consent.
"EARTHWORKS is pleased that Newmont states a 'commitment to the principle of free, prior, and informed consent' in the CRR report," said Sampat. "We urge Newmont to put this into practice, and guarantee that this right is respected for communities affected by its mining operations.
EARTHWORKS commends Newmont for undertaking a review of its community relations, and considers the review an important first step in addressing and repairing Newmont's checkered track record of conflicts with communities. The next steps will need to be bolder and more ambitious than those outlined by the firm's consultants. In addition to implementing its commitment to community consent, these steps should include the Advisory Panel's recommendations that Newmont commit to a concrete action plan and timetable to resolve concerns raised by the report and other unaddressed issues, commit to being accountable to communities, and institute an ongoing advisory and oversight mechanism.
"Newmont must recognize the need for truly independent oversight of its interactions with communities," said Scott Cardiff of EARTHWORKS. "This independent oversight needs to take place on an ongoing basis, to ensure that community rights and interests are being respected at all stages of the project's life-cycle."
The report identifies failures in the company's approach to communities at its mines in Nevada, Peru, Indonesia, Ghana and New Zealand, in particular, in its lack of appropriate engagement with the Western Shoshone nation in Nevada, communities around the Yanacocha mine in Peru, and at the closed Minahasa Raya mine in Indonesia. At Yanacocha, the report says that the company "has failed to effectively engage with stakeholders regarding community concerns" and "has historically made commitments to community stakeholders that have gone unfulfilled."
EARTHWORKS: Protecting communities and the environment
For more information:
- Payal Sampat, EARTHWORKS: 202-657-6880
- Scott Cardiff, EARTHWORKS: 202-887-1872 x202