Investors are increasingly shunning mining companies that violate human rights – by Shin Imai and Sarah Colgrove (The Conversation – February 22, 2021)

Shin Imai is Professor Emeritus, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, Canada. Sarah Colgrove is Adjunct Law Professor, Ryerson University.

Investors in Canadian mining company Tahoe Resources paid a price when Tahoe failed to disclose the extent of community and Indigenous opposition to its Escobal mine in Guatemala a few years back.

Its stock was flying high at $27 a share, but it fell after a string of lawsuits and violent conflicts — including security guards shooting protesters in the back. The mine was eventually suspended by a Guatemalan court, and Tahoe was sold to Pan American Silver for about $5 a share.

People who invested in Vancouver-based Tahoe were undoubtedly attracted to its ownership of one of the world’s largest silver deposits, and assured by its claims that “communities love us.”

They only learned about the extent of community opposition to the mine when civil society organizations publicized complaints that they had filed with the British Columbia Securities Commission.

The securities commission itself appears to have ignored those complaints — though investors did not. Despite investor behaviour, however, a new report on the future of securities regulations suggests that Ontario still believes social conflicts aren’t relevant to investors.

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