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.
Toronto’s Barrick Gold, being the world’s biggest gold miner, is also on the receiving end of the world’s worst media abuses. “Yellow journalism” has not gone out of style, and today the Internet provides the means of spreading disinformation worldwide at speeds unheard of a century ago.
Case in point. Headline: “Deadly toxin invades Barrick’s Dominican gold mine, Thousands hospitalized.”
Those are eye-catching words, but no more accurate than the picture of artisanal miners identified as the “Barrick Gold mine in Coui, Dominican Republic” used to illustrate the article.
The article posted at www.BusinessInsider.com went on to say that over 1,000 people were felled by an unknown chemical so toxic that health care workers who attended them had to wear masks. It also reported a boiler explosion at the site that may have been the root of the problem.
Even CNN posted this erroneous report unedited at its www.iReport.com site.
Later, Trading Markets (www.TradingMarkets.com) posted an item under the headline “Hundreds poisoned in Dominican Republic.”
This report notes a pipeline explosion and strong smell of sulphide, but it also contains Barrick’s denial. The company reduced the number of affected employees to 200 and blamed the problem on food poisoning.
Why a day-trading website such as Trading Markets is circulating this story confuses me. I would have thought the site wanted to encourage more trades, not scare away investors.
Finally, the Winnipeg Free Press got the story right. “Hundreds of Barrick workers fall ill from food poisoning in Dominican Republic,” read a March 15 headline.
The Canadian newspaper said 326 workers were hospitalized and others received outpatient treatment. It added that the illness spread after overnight shift workers ate food prepared by a catering company.
Here is an interesting tidbit. The operation in question is Pueblo Viejo, which was not named by either Business Insider or Trading Markets. Moreover, those agencies failed to note that Goldcorp holds a 40% interest in the mine. Their interest in smearing Barrick is evident. Yellow journalism, indeed.
All I can suggest is that our knowledgeable readers avoid websites such as these that understand so little about the mining industry and have a political axe to grind.