For Immediate Release
Canada Tibet Committee slams Continental Minerals over Tibet mine
Victoria’s Butchart Gardens used to allay environmental fears
(Montreal, Tuesday, 23 June 2009) – On the eve of Continental Minerals’ annual general meeting in Vancouver, the Canada Tibet Committee (CTC) today released a 2007 report possibly commissioned by Continental which raises serious alarm bells regarding the company’s Shetongmon mine in Tibet.
The CTC obtained a copy of ‘The Second Report on the Development of the Shetongmon Copper Mine’ prepared by TibetInfoNet whose executive director has worked in the past for Continental in an undefined consultative role.
“According to the report, Continental’s approach to an affirmative action program is to hire Tibetans mostly for “menial jobs”, its environmental program can only be described in parts as resting on a hope and a prayer, and its community relations program is backed up by China’s oppressive “political education” camps,” said the CTC Vancouver chapter vice-president Mati Bernabei. “Community relations in this context can only be described as ‘free, prior and informed consent at virtual gunpoint’.”
Of particular concern to the CTC is Section 7 of the report entitled “Working with the Communities”. According to the report, Continental’s local manager claimed that informing locals earlier “of the scale and design of the project, and its impact locally” would have been “scaremongering” and that this information “had intentionally been held back.”
Section 7.2 notes that after a 2006 incident, “villagers received a week of ‘political education’...often the occasion (in China) for human rights violations and, in extreme cases, can involve physical violence.” While the report does not indicate that abuses occurred, the term evokes heavy negative connotation among Tibetans and Chinese alike.
As part of its outreach efforts, the report highlighted a brochure that Continental produced to allay local environmental concerns which included examples of “re-vegetated mine sites in Canada, including Butcharts Garden (sic) near Victoria.”
“Colour photos and smiling faces on a corporate web site are not a substitute for transparency and accountability,” said Bernabei. “Continental Minerals must engage with independent experts and the Tibet Government-in-Exile to ensure that its operations go beyond glossy PDFs and actually meet local Tibetan standards.”
As Toronto-based Jantzi Research noted in 2008, “Although companies do not face a consolidated divestment movement with respect to their operations in Tibet, history shows that this remains a possibility.”
The Canada Tibet Committee is an independent non-governmental organisation of Tibetans and non-Tibetans living in Canada, who are concerned about the continuing human rights violations and lack of democratic freedom in Tibet.
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For more information:
CTC Vancouver chapter vice-president
778-999-4578 / email@example.com
514.487.0665 / firstname.lastname@example.org
To read the full report click here