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Canadian mining company profiting from slavery says UN

Staff Reporter | 8:07 AM | |
A Canadian mining corporation is profiting from slave labor in Eritrea, according to a new UN report.

The survivors of conscription in Eritrea have reported brutal scenes of torture, rape, and summary execution. They’re made to work backbreaking jobs under the guise of “national service” for international corporations like Nevsun, which opted into this system when it opened its Bisha mine.

When confronted about its connection to slave labor, Nevsun Resources Ltd has refused to face the facts. Instead, it gleefully advertises the Eritrean mine as “untapped potential”.

Now that this UN report is out, the international community will be watching closely.Nevsun even had to respond publicly to the allegations. Its answer? That the UN failed to rely on the company’s own “independent” human rights assessment.

Few dispute that the Eritrean state has been involved in significant human rights abuses. But Nevsun is the only foreign mining company paying royalties and taxes to the Eritrean treasury — almost a billion dollars so far, and another $14 billion over the next ten years.

Why does Nevsun do this? Because it’s making billions of dollars from the Bisha mine.

Nevsun says these indentured workers were sub-contracted, and therefore not its responsibility. Imagine if every mining company across the world took this position, and tried to wash their hands of the most egregious of human rights abuses happening right under their noses.

It’s increasingly common — companies are trying to bury human rights abuses through opaque supply chains, and mining companies are some of the worst.

Together, we can prevent more shady investment in Eritrea — especially for companies that want to follow Nevsun’s example and profit from the sweat and tears of indentured workers.

We’ve done it before — a few months ago we got the CEO of mining giant Newmont to agree to stop building its Conga mine in Peru without community consent.