Canada: Recent lawsuits point to advances in accountability of Canadian mining companies for abuses abroad, observers say

Author: Douglas Quan, National Post (Canada), Published on: 27 November 2017

" 'New era': Canadian mining industry closely watching three civil cases alleging human rights abuses ", 27 Nov 2017

A trio of civil cases winding through the courts signal a breakthrough in efforts to hold Canadian-based mining companies accountable on home turf when they’re accused of violations abroad, human rights and legal observers say. Historically, Canadian judges have been inclined to send such cases back to the jurisdictions where the alleged abuses occurred. But the three pending cases ... show that the legal landscape is shifting.

...Industry groups say they have taken steps to make sure members don’t run afoul of human rights and environmental laws when operating abroad. But several reports in recent years suggest more needs to be done in Canada...

...In one lawsuit, Vancouver-based Nevsun Resources is accused of being complicit in the use of conscripted military labour at a gold mine in Eritrea...The other two pending cases — against Vancouver-based Tahoe Resources and Toronto-based Hudbay Minerals — involve alleged breaches of traditional Canadian tort law.

[T]he Canadian Mining Association, says the industry is watching the cases closely [and that] the association has implemented mandatory measures to ensure members follow good practices...

...But critics say self-regulation doesn’t cut it and are urging the federal government to follow the lead of France, which earlier this year passed a law requiring major multinational companies to publish annual “due diligence” reports...[and are] pressing the... government to fulfill a campaign promise to appoint an ombudsperson to investigate grievances from people impacted by Canadian mining operations abroad.

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Related companies: Hudbay Minerals Nevsun Tahoe Resources