Peaceful protesters arrested outside Barrick meeting
Barrick takes rare loss on hit to unwind hedge
Anti-mine activists arrested outside annual meeting of shareholders
May 03, 2007
Lisa WrightBusiness Reporter
Two anti-mining protesters were arrested yesterday outside Barrick GoldCorp.'s annual meeting at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre just asthe company celebrated a long-awaited milestone with the elimination ofits controversial hedge book.A woman in her late 20s who was handing out pamphlets about the negativeimpacts of global gold mining and a Toronto man in his early 40s, whotried to intervene during her arrest, were hauled off in a police van atabout 9:30 a.m., accused of trespassing and obstructing officers, policesaid."They're free to get their point across but they were on privateproperty," Sgt. Mark Hayward told the Toronto Star."They were asked to leave and they refused to leave so they werearrested," he said, adding a handful of others complied and moved acrossFront St. The woman was released and not charged, while details of theman's status were not immediately available.He added that eight officers were waiting at the scene this morningafter receiving intelligence of potential protests against Barrick, theworld's largest gold miner and a favourite target of environmentalactivists for their mining practices."We want to raise awareness about the significant ecological damage thattheir projects have caused in remote communities," said Natalie Lowreyof Friends of the Earth Australia.A Barrick spokesperson said the police were simply doing their jobprotecting the public.Another small rally was held outside Barrick's head office on Bay St.late yesterday to continue the day of protest in tandem with the annualmeeting in the John Bassett Theatre, with some environmentalists giventime to speak to shareholders.Barrick reported a net loss of $159 million (U.S.) in the first quarter- its first quarterly loss in five years - after taking a hit of $557million to unwind its hedge book.Barrick is now free to sell all production from its 27 mines at spotprices. Gold fell by $2.10 to close at $672.30 yesterday in New York.The strategy of forward selling production was a $2 billion windfallover the late 1980s and 1990s when bullion continued to tumble. ButBarrick's share price took a beating as gold began to climb over thelast five years."When you look at the whole ball of wax, in the 20 or so years ofBarrick hedging, it's probably been an even sum game for them, but Ithink the market will take it kindly," said analyst Michael Fowler ofDesjardins Securities.Flamboyant company founder Peter Munk told the audience Barrick has done"a superb job" in growing to the top of the heap globally and that thelagging stock price should reflect that."We're very pleased about what we've accomplished because the market islooking for unhedged producers and there's a very bullish sentiment onthe gold price now," said chief financial officer Jamie Sokalsky.Barrick boosted its annual dividend 36 per cent and has $3 billion incash. Shares jumped $1.56 (Canadian,) or 5 per cent, the most in almosta year, to close at $32.71 in Toronto.
TORONTO – May 2, 2007 - Western Shoshone and Wiradjuri Nation Aboriginals told Barrick Gold Corporation to leave their lands during the annual stockholder meeting here. Western Shoshone Defense Project (WSDP), a grassroots Native American group based in Nevada attended, with support from the Oxfam America, an international relief and development organization. Dedicated to protecting the land rights and preserving the homelands of the Western Shoshone people, the WSDP is concerned about Barrick's plans to mine on Mount Tenabo and Horse Canyon, important spiritual areas in Northern Nevada and home to Shoshone creation stories. "As the world's largest gold mining company, Barrick should be an industry leader and respect the rights of communities to give their free, prior, and informed consent to all mining projects proposed on their lands," said Keith Slack, senior policy advisor for Oxfam America. "Respecting the right of consent is critical for protecting indigenous peoples’ sacred sites.""The United Nations has recognized that the U.S. government and the mining companies are violating Western Shoshone land rights," said Larson Bill, community organizer for the Western Shoshone Defense Project. "We have repeatedly tried to engage with Barrick regarding their plans to mine on Mount Tenabo, but all they have done is bring in more drilling rigs and put up fences.""We are bringing a petition signed by over 18,500 people telling Barrick to stop all activity on Mount Tenabo and Horse Canyon. These are people all over the country who understand that this is Western Shoshone land and the mining companies have no right to destroy it," said Bill. Slack continued, "Today's meeting is an opportunity for the WSDP to take their concerns directly to Barrick and its shareholders."Oxfam America works to ensure the oil, gas, and mining industries respect the rights of community members impacted by extractive industries projects, and that projects contribute to the long-term reduction of poverty. For more information, or for an interview with Keith Slack or Larson Bill, please contact Helen DaSilva at firstname.lastname@example.org, (617) 728-2409 (office) or (617) 331-2984 (cell).
From Wiradjuri Nation in Australia:
2 MAY 2007
Peter Munk, Chair of Barrick Gold Admits Liability for The Desecration Of Lake Cowal Sacred Site, Australia
At today’s Barrick Gold AGM held at the Convention Centre in Toronto, Neville ‘Chappy’ Williams, traditional owner of Lake Cowal and Western Shoshone delegates from Nevada successfully questioned the Barrick Gold Board of Directors during the live webcast. Shareholders were amazed and concerned the interveners had traveled so far to raise their objections Peter Munk tried to explain why Barrick Gold shares continued their ‘disappointing’ decline in value whilst the mining industry is “drowning in liquidity” as he put it. Peter Munk blamed Barrick Gold’s demise on NGOs who pressure governments to require too many permits before mining can commence. He cited 500 permits before the controversial Pascua Lama could begin construction in a glacier area on the border of Chile and Argentina. The Western Shoshone delegate, granddaughter of the late Mary Dann articulated her intense opposition to Barrick’s plan to mine her Peoples’ sacred mountain. Next Neville ‘Chappy’ Williams too the microphone and passionately put his case and personally served a Notice to Quit on Peter Munk and the Board of Dirctors. He stated: “On April 07, Barrick’s mines manager, Bill Shallvey, refused to be served this document. As an elder of the Wiradjuri Nation I serve this document on Barrick Gold on behalf of the Mooka and Kalara united families within the Wiradjuri Nation.” The Notice to Cease Illegal Occupation of Lake Cowal includes: “Under Wiradjuri custom, tradition and Law/Lore you have received your three warnings. You must now respect the unceded sovereignty of the Wiradjuri Nation and cease all operations; restore the landscape; remove all equipment and replace all artifacts to their GPS’d positions.” We reserve our right to take further action as necessary.” After the AGM Neville ‘Chappy’ Williams approached Peter Munk and stressed that Barrick Gold is desecrating the sacred site of Lake Cowal. Peter Munk tried to say he had so many employees he didn’t really know what Barrick Gold was doing. Eleanor Gilbert, challenged this by saying: “But the buck stops with you Mr Munk. Ultimately you are the one responsible.” Peter Munk agreed. Neville Williams continued by detailing the desecration and stressed his right to religious freedom under section 116 of the Australian Constitution. As Peter Munk moved away he turned to Neville Williams and with a haunted look in his eyes said: “I’m so sorry.” Media from Quebec and Chile recorded Peter Munk’s admission of liability. Later a shareholder approached Neville Williams saying: “I’ve got shares in Barrick. I’m thinking now whether I should sell my shares in Barrick Gold.” In a peaceful demonstration outside the AGM supporters were handing out the Alternative Annual Report for Barrick Gold [www.protestbarrick.net] when two were roughly arrested for trespassing whilst they stood on the sidewalk. Contact Neville Williams 647 268 4440 or +61 421 795 639
Photos: GOLD MINING CORES OUT MOUNTAINS: Newmont gold mining on Western Shoshone land/Project Underground. (R) Lake Cowall gold mine processing plant in Australia. Image: Natalie Lowrey