Mining and Conflict
Like oil and diamonds extraction, gold mining bears the scars of conflict in communities around the world.
Guatemalan troops break up a blockade by farmers and indigenous people in opposition to the proposed Marlin mine. Credit: Corresponsal Oscar Toledo
In many cases, this conflict is a result of mining companies or local governments repressing community discontent with a mining operation. In 1994 and 1995, the Indonesia military and security forces employed by Freeport McMoRan, owner the Grasberg mine, "disappeared" or killed 22 civilians, according to the Australian Council of Overseas Aid. Freeport also acknowledged paying off the Indonesia military in 2003. In August of that year, the military shot two American schoolteachers and one employee near Grasberg, the world's largest gold mine.
In Ghana, where concessions cover 70 percent of the country, clashes between large-scale gold miner Ashanti Goldfield (AGC) and artisanal miners resulted in an established pattern of human rights violations, according to the Ghanaian Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice. In the Sansu mining community, AGC and the military were implicated in murders and beatings from 1994 to 1997, some of which included attacks by AGC security guard dogs.
An artisanal miner who was attacked by AGC guard dogs.
The No Dirty Gold campaign asks that mining companies not operate in areas of armed or militarized conflict; and calls on jewelry and other retailers to not use gold in their products that comes from conflict areas or the production of which causes human rights violations.
Read The Curse of Gold, a report by Human Rights Watch.
Quoting from Human Rights Watch:
"The 159-page report, The Curse of Gold, documents how local armed groups fighting for the control of gold mines and trading routes have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity using the profits from gold to fund their activities and buy weapons. The report provides details of how a leading gold mining company, AngloGold Ashanti, part of the international mining conglomerate Anglo American, developed links with one murderous armed group, the Nationalist and Integrationist Front (FNI), helping them to access the gold-rich mining site around the town of Mongbwalu in the northeastern Ituri district.
The Human Rights Watch report also illustrates the trail of tainted gold from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to neighboring Uganda from where it is sent to global gold markets in Europe and elsewhere. The report documents how a leading Swiss gold refining company, Metalor Technologies, previously bought gold from Uganda. After discussions and correspondence with Human Rights Watch beginning in December 2004, and after the report had gone to press, the company announced on May 20 that it would suspend its purchases of gold from Uganda."