Chapter 9: Mining, human rights and the socially responsible investment industry: considering community opposition to shareholder resolutions and implications of collaboration
In 2008, a group of Socially Responsible Investment firms and pension funds (the SRI group) issued a press release praising Canadian mining company Goldcorp Inc. (Goldcorp) for agreeing to their request to conduct a Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA) at its conflictridden Marlin mine in Guatemala. Preceding this public announcement, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) had been signed between the SRI group and Goldcorp setting out the terms of the proposed assessment. One year later, one of the members of the SRI group, the Public Service Alliance of Canada, withdrew its involvement in the HRIA noting that it had: become increasingly concerned with the HRIA process and its relationship with the local communities. We have been especially concerned about the lack of free and informed prior consent of the communities in regards to the HRIA, and that the interests of Goldcorp are being put before the interests of the local people. Shortly thereafter, Bill Law, a BBC Radio 4 reporter, interviewed a participant in the SRI group from the Ethical Funds Company who, he reports, acknowledged ‘that the HRIA had had the unintended consequence of “inflaming the situation” in Guatemala’ (Law, 2009). In spite of the withdrawal of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, which necessitated the withdrawal of SHARE as advisor to the Public Service Alliance of Canada’s staff pension fund, the three remaining members of the SRI group decided to continue with the controversial HRIA.
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