Barrick Gold had lots to say about a CorpWatch report alleging widespread eco abuses by the T.O.-based mining giant. The company released a five-page rebuttal on its website (www.barrick.com). Still, a lot of questions are left unanswered. Here, we mine a few of the nastier nuggets.
Barrick by the numbers
27 : the number of working gold mines run by Barrick worldwide
8.64 million ounces : total amount of gold produced by Barrick in 2006
123 million ounces : total amount of gold held by Barrick in reserves
79 tons : amount of waste typically dug up to extract 1 ounce of gold
96 : percentage of the world's arsenic emissions caused by mining
$682 : cost of gold per ounce on the world market
Provincial authorities are seeking damages from Barrick after its purchase of Placer Dome, the copper giant whose 30-year reign of error in the farming and fishing region included the dumping of tonnes of waste rock in a local bay and rivers.
A 2004 government report found widespread cyanide and heavy metal contamination at the Kalgoorlie Super Pit, Australia's largest open-pit mine, in which Barrick owns a 50 per cent stake. In July 2005, company officials admitted tohigher than expected mercury emissions (some 5 to 7 tonnes a year).
Enga Province, Papua New Guinea
Violent clashes between indigenous Ipili miners of the New Guinea highlands and security guards contracted by Barrick subsidiary Placer Dome left at least eight villagers dead and hundreds injured. The company says security guards shot in self-defence.
Lake Cowal, New South Wales, Australia
Barrick continues to draw water from this precious source, the largest inland lake in NSW, for its open-pit mining operation (the company is licensed to draw 17 million litres a day from underground sources for the next 13 years) in an area plagued by years of drought.
Grants, New Mexico
Twenty-six residents near the former uranium mill in Grants run by Barrick subsidiary Homestake filed a complaint in U.S. District Court in September 2004 alleging physical and emotional injuries from exposure to radioactive and other hazardous substances. A year later, water samples taken by the New Mexico Environment Department and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from 21 residential wells in the area showed elevated levels of uranium - though it's unclear whether the mill was the sole source of contamination.
Pascua-Lama, Huasco Valley, Chile
Government authorities pushed forward with this Barrick mining project high in the Andes despite local fears that it will make water from three glaciers feeding farms in the region too acidic to support life.
Hemlo Gold Camp, Manitouwadge, Ontario
Sixteen workers with silicosis, a respiratory disease caused by exposure to silica dust from drilling, blasting and grinding ore, filed workers' compensation claims in 2001. The Pic River First Nation living downstream report having to replace their water treatment facilities to remove cyanide from their drinking water.
Crescent Valley, Nevada
Barrick continues to operate its Cortez gold mine on sacred land claimed as native territory by the Western Shoshone Defense Project, a group of the Shoshone nation. A University of Nevada study found high concentrations of mercury in air around Barrick's Marigold mine.
Ancash Region, Peru
Locals who blocked access roads to Barrick's Pierina mine to protest company operations in May 2006 were shot at and tear-gassed by police. Two protestors were killed in the mayhem, prompting calls for a public inquiry.