Gold miners oppose rules on overseas operations

Three big Canadian gold mining companies have banded together to oppose a private member's bill that would regulate their activities in developing countries.

Bill called 'unnecessary and damaging to Canadian business'

Three big Canadian gold mining companies banded together Thursday to oppose a private member's bill that would regulate their activities in developing countries.

Barrick Gold and Kinross Gold, both based in Toronto, and Goldcorp of Vancouver said the bill is "unnecessary and damaging to Canadian business."

Core samples on display at a mine in Mongolia. A private member's bill would disqualify companies from receiving Canadian government support if they were found in violation of environmental or human rights guidelines. ((Ganbat Namjilsangarav/AP Photo))

The companies said Bill C-300 would hurt Canadian companies' competitiveness, damage their reputations, and undermine their abilities to collaborate with local people to be socially responsible and encourage multinational companies to relocate outside Canada.

The bill, introduced by Liberal MP John McKay, allows the ministers of foreign affairs and international trade to receive environmental or human rights complaints from Canadians or citizens of the country in question about a Canadian company's international operations. It is currently before a parliamentary committee.

If an investigation found the company violated the guidelines in the bill, it would become ineligible for government support.

"Scrutiny and even criticism are part of doing business, but must be fair and factual," Barrick spokesperson Vince Borg said in a news release. "The hearings have amply demonstrated how Bill C-300 has become a magnet for false and unsubstantiated allegations from individuals anywhere in the world and do nothing but unduly harm the Canadian mining industry," Borg added. 

The companies said international standards and local laws already govern the international operations of Canadian companies. 

"The proper forum for redress and resolution are courts of law or responsible sovereign authorities where matters can be properly investigated on a timely basis, not political arenas," Borg said.

With files from The Canadian Press