Barrick Gold PNG Blacklisted as ‘Unethical’ Corporation

Norway is Leading the March on Ethics in Business PracticeI’ve always been a fan of the scandinavian realm, particularly Finland, Sweden, and Norway. I think the fact that I went to school and lived in boarding houses with kids from these countries, who have since become long-life friends, has played a key role in establishing within myself such a fondness.

However, there are other reasons too. Despite their geographic size and small populations, all these states have managed to successfully etch out world-leading economies spanning several key industries. They all enjoy some of the lowest unemployment levels in the world and are the benchmark for environmental policy and ethical business practice – facts which I admire and believe should be seriously exemplified by other countries including PNG.

Norway especially is renowned for its ethical business practice and yesterday the country’s full commitment to ethical business practice was revealed when it was leaked that the country had blacklisted some of the most powerful global corporations, including BAE, Boeing, EADS, Honeywell, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Rio Tinto, Vedanta and Wal-Mart on grounds ranging from environmental damage and labour practices to weapons manufacture.

Included in the list was Barrick Gold of Canada, the biggest global gold mining company. The blacklisting of Barrick Gold followed the completion of an investigation which started in 2005 over severe environmental damage caused by its mining operations at the Porgera Mine in PNG.

Gold Panning in Tailings, Porgera Gold Mine. (Water contains Sulpher, Mercury and Cyanide and is 70-80 degrees Celcius) According to Norway’s Council on Ethics, Barrick Gold’s disposal of waste from the mine was causing extensive and irreversible damage to the natural environment and the council believed that the miner “is causing severe environmental damages as a direct result of its operations and that this unacceptable practice will continue in the future.

The blacklisting ensures that those corporations identified as being unethical will be denied the chance of seeking investment from Norway’s US$300-billion Government Pension Fund – the county’s sovereign wealth fund and one of the largest global pension funds. As a result of the blacklisting, in October, Norway quietly got rid off its US$200 million stock investment in Barrick Gold and its US$67 million of Textron (US cluster bomb making company) stock.

Since the establishment of the Council on Ethics in 2004, Norway has banned 29 companies so far, including miners like Vedanta Resources, Freeport McMorRan of the US, South Africa’s DRD Gold, and more recently, Rio Tinto for environmental reasons while Wal-Mart Stores, the world’s largest retailer, was blacklisted for labour rights abuses at its suppliers in Africa, Asia and Central America as well as discrimination against women and employees for not allowing them to form unions in the US.

Consequently, I was quite dismayed to read that Barrick Gold has announced its intention to spend an extra US$7.8 million on exploration this year to find additional gold resources at its Kainantu project with a view to restarting production in the future following its temporary shut-down last week.

Question:

If Norway’s $US 300-Billion Government Pension Fund deems that there is enough evidence available to justify the blacklisting of Barrick Gold and if the investigation conducted led to the establishment that Barrick Gold “is causing severe environmental damages as a direct result of its operations and that this unacceptable practice will continue in the future“, why oh why do we still allow Barrick Gold to operate unchallenged in our country?

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~ by Tavurvur on February 3, 2009.

8 Responses to “Barrick Gold PNG Blacklisted as ‘Unethical’ Corporation”

  1. T,
    Absolutely disgusting news!! (The fact that a company with this sort of a track record is not only invited by encouraged to come into PNG and do business).

    Aches the mind to think what Barrack might be up to out at Kainantu considering the Norway’s Council recent report.

    In 50 years time when PNG looks back on the so called “Extraction at all costs” years (90’s and 00’s) – the people will cry and grieve as they stare out at the polluted dessert and hear the stories about how beautiful and pristine PNG once was.

    The current wave of leadership must surely have this motto: “Extract at any cost. Extract fast. F@#! tomorrow!!

    R

  2. Great article Tavurvur! This is news that the people of PNG have a right to read about. What are our two dailies doing about reporting this???

    The PNG Government should seriously look into Barrick Gold before they reopen the Kainantu mine.

  3. Protestbarrick.net. Came across this today which had a submission by Akali Tange Association Inc. of Porgera, Enga Province.

    Check this site out http://www.mpi.org.au/article_001.html

  4. Hi Solo,

    Thanks for the site. I just checked the site out and it has a lot of useful links. I’m still reading through some of the submissions and the speeches that were made by landowner representatives to the Canadian Government.

    Tavurvur

  5. Great Work T and Solo, when will the government realise that small businesses and everyday people need more jobs for our country to progress not more mining. What’s going on with our agriculture and SME’s?

  6. [...] Tavurvur’s got an interesting post on Barrick Gold being labeled as an ‘unethical corporation‘ by Norways Council on Ethics. “According to Norway’s Council on Ethics, Barrick Gold’s disposal of waste from the mine [in PNG] was causing extensive and irreversible damage to the natural environment and the council believed that the miner “is causing severe environmental damages as a direct result of its operations and that this unacceptable practice will continue in the future”.” Read full post here. [...]

  7. Hey,

    I hope you don’t mind but I used the photo from your post in my investing blog. Check it out if you want at:

    http://diabloportfolio.wordpress.com/

    Thanks for the photo. Great article on this important issue.

  8. What makes me so concerned about my country and my people of Papua New Guinea is that, these problems can’t be encounted if only our leaders have been so concious about their decisions and if they only have the foresight to see beyond their country’s well being, instead, out of prideness,selfishness and greed they themselves invited this to happen, so then who are we to blame, these mining companies or the so called brains of Papua New Guinea.My advice to future leaders is today before you become a leader and take up leadership role, think of your fellow countrymen, the future of your country and dont look on the bigger side of your prestigeness and dont be a proud leader, be a humble leader,out of prideness comes stupid decisions.

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