Oxfam Calls on Newmont Mining Company to Publicly Renounce Human Rights Abuses at Peruvian Gold Mine

By mborum

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Boston – The international relief and development agency Oxfam America today called on the Newmont Mining Company to address human rights abuses surrounding its Yanacocha Gold Mine in northern Peru.

Late last year, Marco Arana and Mirtha Vasquez of GRUFIDES, a Peruvian organization working on behalf of local communities affected by the Yanacocha mine, received anonymous death threats and were subject to video surveillance.   An investigation by the Peruvian press uncovered that individuals with ties to the security firm FORZA, which Newmont hired to provide security at Yanacocha, were involved in the surveillance of the GRUFIDES staff members.   The spying and harassment have been subject to investigations by human rights bodies from the United Nations and Organization of American States, and denounced by various human rights organizations, including Amnesty International.  While Newmont has denied any involvement in the harassment or surveillance, the company has not made a public statement formally distancing itself from these human rights abuses.  Oxfam has urged the company since early this year to take appropriate action to address these issues, which it has thus far failed to do.

"The mining industry has too often been associated with human rights abuses," said Keith Slack, senior policy advisor on extractive industries for Oxfam America.  "Newmont has a chance to change the way the industry does business by handling this case in an open and transparent way."

Newmont saw more trouble at the Yanacocha mine last month when villagers from the community of Totorcocha entered Yanacocha property protesting the company's failure to pay them for work on a potable water project.   They were forcibly evicted by FORZA agents; 13 people were detained and brought to the local police station, several people were injured. Local human rights organizations and church groups have raised concerns about the excessive force used and have called on Newmont to clarify its connection to FORZA.
 
Oxfam is calling on Newmont to respect the human rights commitments it has made under various voluntary multi-stakeholder initiatives, including the United Nations Global Compact, the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights, and the International Council on Mining and Metals’ Sustainable Development Framework.  These initiatives share the fundamental principle that companies must ensure their operations and workers will respect the human rights of community members.
 
"Newmont's handling of recent problems at Yanacocha raises concerns about the company's commitment to human rights," continued Slack.   "Respect for human rights means investigating and taking an active stance against abuses attributed to mine contractors."
 
Oxfam calls on Newmont to publicly demonstrate its commitment to human rights by:
conducting an independent investigation of the human rights abuses in Cajamarca, and
making a public statement in Peru explicitly and unequivocally condemning the threats and harassment against Marco Arana, Mirtha Vasquez and other representatives of civil society organizations.
 
Oxfam America works to ensure the oil, gas, and mining industries respect the rights of community members impacted by extractive industries projects, and that projects contribute to the long-term reduction of poverty.
For more information please visit www.oxfamamerica.org or contact Helen DaSilva at hdasilva@oxfamamerica.org, (617) 728-2409 (office) or (617) 331-2984 (cell).