Grasping at Lies – NGOs, Mining and the Truth – by Marilyn Scales

 Marilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication. She is one of Canada’s most senior mining commentators.

“A lie told often enough becomes the truth.” – Lenin

Am I the only one who thinks there may be a conspiracy to defame BARRICK GOLD? The name of the Canadian company has cropped up recently in connection to a couple untruths, deliberate or not.

Last week it was a story circulated by Agence France-Presse and Dow Jones Newswires. Both implied that several miners were killed at the North Mara gold mine that Barrick operates in Tanzania. Dow Jones has since issued a corrected item. As it turns out the deaths occurred at the state-owned Buhemba gold mine. That mine is neither owned nor operated by Barrick, although the company’s mine rescue team responded immediately to the emergency.

In July there were autopsy photos of a gunshot victim allegedly killed by security guards from Barrick’s Porgera mine in Papua New Guinea circulating on the Internet. Again, neither the company or anyone in its employ had any involvement in the incident.

Barrick is not the first, only, or last mining company to be villanized by activists and NGOs with little regard for the truth. Junior miners, too, are accused of environmental and human rights abuses by organizations with political self-interests. I suspect Barrick is targeted because of its name, made recognizable by virtue of its worldwide success. I have seen the company in action at some of its Latin American projects, and I assure my readers that Barrick operates by the highest community and sustainability standards.

Okay, I’ll grant that some advocacy organizations do improve the lives of those they purport to represent. But I take issue with those that grasp at lies to put their cause into the spotlight. And a bald-faced lie that hits the press will be remembered for its shock value. The correction that follows will be largely ignored, especially by those who have an anti-mining axe to grind. I’m afraid Comrade Lenin will be proven correct.