Contemporary Forms of Slavery and the Canadian Mining Industry

MiningWatch Canada submitted a brief to the UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, ahead of Professor Tomoya Obokata's country visit to Canada.

In brief, Canadian governments have consistently failed to prevent the use of slave labour at Canadian mining operations overseas, let alone mandate the elimination of forced labour at Canadian mine sites overseas. In recent years, the use of slave labour has been alleged in the operations of Canadian mining companies, their subsidiaries or contractors – for instance, in Eritrea, in the case of the company Nevsun Resources Ltd., and in Xinjiang, China, in the cases of alleged use of slave labour by Uyghurs by the mining companies GobiMin and Dynasty Gold Corp. The use of slave labour is also a possibility in other high risk areas where Canadian mining companies operate or have operated, such as Tibet and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Furthermore, common practices by Canadian mining companies operating overseas that lead to permanent displacement of marginal communities and Indigenous peoples from their lands, such as through forced evictions and contamination of agricultural land and water, also makes communities and Indigenous peoples more vulnerable to forms of modern slavery by pushing agricultural people into cities and making women and girls vulnerable to sexual exploitation.

MiningWatch makes several recommendations: Canada must pass comprehensive mandatory Human Rights Due Diligence legislation, strengthen the mandate of the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise by providing the Ombudsperson with meaningful investigatory powers, among others.