Down to Earth No 44, February 2000

The need to control transnational mining companies. A Canadian case study.

Undermining the Forests, a new report published by the Forest Peoples Programme, the World Rainforest Movement and Philippine Indigenous Peoples Links, documents cases from around the world of the disastrous impact that Canadian mining enterprises are having upon the world's forests and forest peoples.

Examples of the links between Canadian mining companies and mercenaries, paramilitaries, violent and corrupt regimes, the poisoning and destruction of forests, rivers and inshore waters are all documented. The affected peoples are given a chance to express their concerns.

Undermining the Forests details cases from around the world that clearly indicate not only the appalling unresolved legacy of past bad practice but the continuation of serious human rights violations, impoverishment and massive and irreparable environmental damage. Drawing on accounts from Indonesia, the Philippines, the Guyana Shield and elsewhere, as well as within Canada itself, the report highlights the scale and gravity of the problem. Mining and mineral exploration are now expanding into many of the world's remaining forested and other environmentally threatened regions without adequate safeguards for their protection. The report also documents the growing resistance to mining from both affected communities and a wider concerned public. The contradiction between the growing international recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples and the aspirations of companies to mine on their lands is highlighted.

Undermining the Forests argues above all that the imposition of mining projects on unwilling communities and peoples is unacceptable. If a mining proposal cannot secure the free and informed consent and willing participation of the affected peoples it constitutes a violation of their rights. At present, most projects are opposed. The report argues that the continued tolerance of voluntary codes of conduct and self-regulation by mining companies is no longer adequate or acceptable.

Intervention by governments and regulatory bodies and the recognition of indigenous peoples' and local communities' rights is essential to adequate control of the industry. Affected peoples believe - as a minimum - that they should have the right to reject destructive "development" and access to Canadian courts to gain redress for damage caused by Canadian mining companies.


Undermining the Forests (90 pages including photographs and maps) is available from the Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) or Philippine Indigenous Peoples Links (PIPLinks). Price £8 including p&p in Britain and £8 plus p&p elsewhere. In Canada the report is also available from MiningWatch Canada.

For more details contact:
Geoff Nettleton (PIPLinks), tongtong@gn.apc.org or FPP, info@fppwrm.gn.apc.org or Catherine Coumans (MiningWatch Canada), ccoumans@magma.ca