Comunicaciones OLCA, 11 de julio de 2007

Communities Affected by Canadian Mining Projects Seek Meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper during his Upcoming Visit to Chile

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In a few days, the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, will visit Chile during a trip to several Latin American countries. The objective of the trip is to celebrate the ten-year anniversary of the Free Trade Agreement with Canada.

The organizations that request the meeting wish to transmit, directly to the Prime Minister, the serious economic, social, cultural and environmental damage that Canadian mining companies are causing.

They also want to present their evaluation of the negative impact that the FTA has had on communities, as well as the failure to fulfill commitments that the Chilean government secured in the Environmental Cooperation Agreement (FTA annex) with Canada regarding strengthened environmental laws and improved environmental management.

The request for a meeting was made to the diplomatic representative of the Canadian government in Santiago. Attached is the letter to the Canadian ambassador.

July 10, 2007

Mr. Norbert Kalisch
Canadian Ambassador to Chile

We, members of social organizations and communities affected by Canadian mining projects in Chile, have learned that the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, will soon visit our country.

We are aware of the concern expressed by members of Canadian society about the way in which its corporations operate outside the country. We have been informed about the government’s public consultation process on the responsibilities of Canadian businesses that exploit natural resources in developing countries. We have witnessed honest efforts by Canadian civil society to highlight the environmental, economic, social and human rights conditions in which these companies operate.

During the previous decade, numerous Canadian mining investments were made in Chile and serious social, cultural and environmental impacts began to appear. Our experiences with this sector have led us to question how it conceives social responsibility and demonstrate the need for international agreements to include guarantees for affected communities.

In particular, we are concerned about the following cases: Barrick Gold Corporation and its bi-national Pascua Lama project; the Minera Cerro Casale company (Arizona Star Resource Corporation, Kinross Gold Corporation, Bema Gold Corporation) and its Aldebarán project; Tenke Mining Corporation’s bi-national project known as Las Flechas; and the Andacollo Cobre project of Aur Resources, recently acquired by Teck Cominco. All of these projects benefit from the Canada-Chile Free Trade Agreement and other bilateral agreements but are strongly rejected by the communities in the areas where the mines will be located. For this reason, we believe it would be very valuable for the communities that will be directly affected by these operations to have the opportunity to meet with the highest office in the Canadian government, which could respond to Chilean civil society’s demands for transparency and information, clarify the Canadian and Chilean governments’ responsibility for damage resulting from the mines, and determine what measures are to be taken so that aberrant situations, such as those surrounding the Pascua Lama and Andacollo Cobre mines, are not repeated in up-coming projects such as Las Flechas and Aldebarán.

If you consider, as we do, that it is very important to take advantage of this opportunity, we ask that you take the necessary steps to ensure that this meeting takes place during the Prime Minister’s visit to our country.

We would be grateful for a prompt response in order to make the necessary arrangements for community representatives to travel to Santiago.

We thank you for your attention to this matter.

Latin American Observatory for Environmental Conflicts
(Observatorio Latinoamericano de Conflictos Ambientales)