Blog Entry

MiningWatch and Papua New Guinea Partners File Complaint on Porgera Mine

Catherine Coumans

Ph.D. Research Coordinator and Asia-Pacific Program Coordinator

On March 1, 2011, MiningWatch Canada and our Papua New Guinea partners from Akali Tange Association and the Porgera Landowners Association filed a “Request for Review” with the Canadian National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises. The complaint alleges that Canadian mining company Barrick Gold Corporation has violated the OECD Guidelines in its operations at the Porgera Joint Venture (PJV) gold mine in the Porgera valley, a remote region of Enga Province in the highlands of Papua New Guinea (PNG). Barrick has co-owned (95%) and operated the mine since 2006. The other 5% is owned by the PNG government via Mineral Resources Enga (MRE).

The complainant contends that Barrick/PJV has violated sustainable development guidelines, environmental guidelines, and the human rights of the local community in a number ways. Over the past two decades, there have been consistent and widespread allegations of human rights abuses committed by PJV security personnel in and around the mine site, including killings and beatings of local Ipili men and beatings and rapes, including gang rape, of Ipili women. In addition, the living conditions of people within the PJV mine’s Special Mine Lease Area are incompatible with human health and safety standards and the OECD Guidelines’ provision on sustainable development. Moreover, in 2009 troops from the PNG Defence Force forcefully evicted local landowners near the Porgera gold mine by burning down houses to allegedly restore law and order in the district. There has never been an investigation of these gross violations of human rights but the troops remain housed at the mine site and supplied with food and fuel by the mine. Moreover, the PJV mine yearly disposes of approximately 6.05 million tons of tailings and 12.5 million tons of suspended sediment from erodible waste dumps into the downstream Porgera, Lagaip and Strickland river systems, thereby polluting the river and endangering public health and safety of communities along the shores in violation of Chapter V of the Guidelines. The complainants further allege that Barrick/PJV has violated the OECD Guidelines with regard to good governance, promoting employee awareness of and compliance with company policies, and disclosure of information.

See the complaint here: Request for Review of the Operations of Barrick Gold Corp. at the Porgera Joint Venture in Papua New Guinea.