Canadian mining giant Barrick launches remediation program to help victims of sexual assault but there's a catch


The stories of rape and assault coming from women victimized by security guards near a major gold mine site in Papua New Guinea have been persistent and deeply disturbing. Canadian giant Barrick Gold has responded with a program offering medical, psychological and community services. But Barrick's critics question why woman have to sign away rights to legal action later in order to get help now.

Asia-Pacific Coordinator with Mining Watch, Catherine Coumans

The Canadian mining giant Barrick is the largest gold-mining company in the world. Many protesters believe the social and environmental costs of its operations are simply too high. Lately, the criticisms have centred on allegations that security guards hired by Barrick in Papua New Guinea sexually assaulted local women.

We aired some testimonials gathered by Human Rights Watch at the Porgera Mine in Papua New Guinea.

The company Barrick acknowledges there have been incidents of sexual assault at the mine. It's launched what's called an independent remediation project to help the victims with medical counselling.

But Catherine Coumans says those efforts carry problems of their own. Catherine Coumans is the Asia-Pacific Coordinator with Mining Watch, a not-for-profit group that monitors the effects of Canadian mining operations around the world. She was in Ottawa.

Spokesperson for Barrick Gold, Andy Lloyd

Andy Lloyd is a spokesperson for Barrick Gold. He was in Toronto.

Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining, University of Queensland

For a broader perspective on this issue, we were joined by Saleem Ali. He is the Director of the Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining at the University of Queensland. He was in Brisbane, Australia.

This segment was produced by The Current's Lara O'Brien and Gord Westmacott.

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Other segments from today's show:

Pope Benedict XVI announces resignation

Dual citizenship and the concerns over terrorism

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