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British mining corporations and human rights

 British NGO War on Want published in November 2007 a comprehensive report on the role of British mining companies in conflict and the violation of human rights.  The Report explicitly mentions the following British corporations: Anglo America, AngloGold Ashanti, BHP Billiton, Global Coal Management, Montericco Metals, Oxus Gold, Sibuyan Nickel Property Development Corp., Vedanta Resources and Xstrata. You can read report and company’s responses here. In particular, responses of some corporations are worth reading. What follows are some experts from the summary of the Report:

 “Many developing countries, on the other hand, have experienced the negative side of mining. Armed groups have often enriched themselves through minerals extraction, doing deals with companies and using the revenues to fuel civil wars. Human rights violations have occurred where security forces paid to protect mining assets have attacked local communities and anti-mining activists. There is now an established pattern in country after country where local people have been forced off their land by mining projects, and those protesting have been intimidated, beaten or shot… Local communities face similar threats as a result of British mining companies’ operations in other countries across Africa, Latin America, Asia and the Pacific island states. British companies have entered into partnerships with repressive regimes in Tibet and Uzbekistan, while local protests against UK mining activities in countries such as Bangladesh, Peru, Argentina, South Africa, West Papua, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea have met with varying degrees of human rights abuse. War on Want believes that the UK government must acknowledge the harm being done to local communities in developing countries as a result of British mining companies’ activities. Relying on voluntary codes of conduct and selfregulation to police the extractives industry has been shown to be ineffective, and the government must now take action to make mining companies accountable both nationally and globally. War on Want calls on the UK government to introduce new rights of redress in the UK and to support binding standards for corporate accountability at the international level. Only through such action will we be able to tackle corporate complicity in conflict and human rights abuse.”

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