VANCOUVER, TORONTO and STOCKHOLM, April 24 /CNW/ - In an unprecedented
move Canadian mining firm Goldcorp Inc. has agreed to conduct an independent
Human Rights Impact Assessment in Guatemala at the request of Canadian and
Swedish shareholders. The company has faced criticism regarding the
environmental and human rights impacts of its mining operations. The
shareholders hope that the assessment will become a benchmark for mining
companies operating in high risk countries. The agreement was announced in a
The statement reads: "The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) Staff
Pension Fund, The Ethical Funds Company, The First Swedish National Pension
Fund and The Fourth Swedish National Pension Fund, have reached an agreement
with Goldcorp Inc. and have withdrawn a shareholder resolution submitted to
the company in March. Goldcorp Inc. has agreed to commission an independent
human rights impact assessment of its operations in Guatemala.
The intention of the assessment is to provide the company with concrete
recommendations regarding its implementation of practices, policies and
procedures, and the impact of its operations on human rights. A steering
committee is being formed to oversee the assessment process and will include
representatives from the company, shareholders and other stakeholders.
Shareholders expect the assessment to be completed in the next 8-12 months, at
which time the company will develop a plan for implementing recommendations of
A group of investors has been in dialogue with the company for more than
two years, and stepped up engagement efforts in February by conducting a field
trip to Goldcorp's Marlin mine in Guatemala. The group met with NGOs,
indigenous people, government authorities and company representatives in order
to get a clearer picture of the complex situation. The trip culminated in a
shareholder resolution submitted to the company.
"By taking on a Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA), Goldcorp is
behaving responsibly and responding to the concerns raised by local
stakeholders in Guatemala. Goldcorp is also setting a standard for others in
the mining industry - for which they should be commended," said Bill
Brassington of the PSAC Staff Pension Fund, who will represent the investor
group in the HRIA steering committee.
"Mining corporations are increasingly operating in high risk areas - both
in terms of culture and environment and they need to address these risks in a
way that satisfies local stakeholders, as well as investors," said Peter
Chapman, Executive Director of the Shareholder Association for Research and
Education (SHARE) which is providing research and engagement assistance to the
PSAC and Meritas Mutual Funds.
"Business recognition of human rights obligations is relatively new,"
said Robert Walker, Vice President of Sustainability at The Ethical Funds
Company. "And human rights impact assessment is a relatively new concept for
promoting human rights. We laud Goldcorp for embracing this tool as a
foundation for protecting human rights and addressing community concerns in
Guatemala. We look forward to reviewing the results."
"The outcome of this process could set a precedent for the entire
industry and is crucial for Guatemala, since the mining industry has rapidly
expanded there. However, after ending 36 years of civil war, the country is
extremely vulnerable. Therefore, mining companies and others have a
responsibility to make sure their business operations are sustainable over the
long-term, and respect the Maya culture," said Helene Regnell, Research
Director of GES Investment Services, an advisor to the filing First and Fourth
Swedish National Pension Funds as well as the Second and Third Swedish
National Pension Funds who supported the resolution through their
collaborative body, the Ethical Council.
For further information: Bill Brassington, PSAC Staff Pension Fund,
Phone: (604) 298-6301, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Peter Chapman, Executive
Director, SHARE, Phone: (604) 408-2456, Email: email@example.com; Robert
Walker, Vice President, Sustainability, The Ethical Funds Company, Phone:
(604) 714-3833, Mobile: (778) 772-2142, Fax: (604) 714-3861, Email:
firstname.lastname@example.org; Carl Rosén, Chairman, Ethical Council, Phone: +46 31
704 29 00, Mobile: +46 73 940 10 10, email@example.com; Helene Regnell,
Research Director, GES Investment Services, Phone: +46 8 787 99 17, Mobile:
+46 70 787 01 04, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org