Lake Cowal goldmining boss "so sorry"

At today’s Barrick Gold AGM held at the Convention Centre in Toronto, Neville ‘Chappy’ Williams, traditional owner of Lake Cowal and Western Shoshone delegates from Nevada successfully questioned the Barrick Gold Board of Directors during the live webcast.
2 MAY 2007

Peter Munk, Chair of Barrick Gold Admits Liability for The Desecration Of Lake Cowal Sacred Site, Australia

At today’s Barrick Gold AGM held at the Convention Centre in Toronto, Neville ‘Chappy’ Williams, traditional owner of Lake Cowal and Western Shoshone delegates from Nevada successfully questioned the Barrick Gold Board of Directors during the live webcast. Shareholders were amazed and concerned the interveners had traveled so far to raise their objections

Peter Munk tried to explain why Barrick Gold shares continued their ‘disappointing’ decline in value whilst the mining industry is “drowning in liquidity” as he put it.

Peter Munk blamed Barrick Gold’s demise on NGOs who pressure governments to require too many permits before mining can commence. He cited 500 permits before the controversial Pascua Lama could begin construction in a glacier area on the border of Chile and Argentina.

The Western Shoshone delegate, granddaughter of the late Mary Dann articulated her intense opposition to Barrick’s plan to mine her Peoples’ sacred mountain.

Next Neville ‘Chappy’ Williams too the microphone and passionately put his case and personally served a Notice to Quit on Peter Munk and the Board of Dirctors. He stated: “On April 07, Barrick’s mines manager, Bill Shallvey, refused to be served this document. As an elder of the Wiradjuri Nation I serve this document on Barrick Gold o behalf of the Mooka and Kalara united families within the Wiradjuri Nation.”

The Notice to Cease Illegal Occupation of Lake Cowal includes: “Under Wiradjuri custom, tradition and Law/Lore you have received your three warnings. You must now respect the unceded sovereignty of the Wiradjuri Nation and cease all operations; restore the landscape; remove all equipment and replace all artifacts to their GPS’d positions.”
We reserve our right to take further action as necessary.”

After the AGM Neville ‘Chappy’ Williams approached Peter Munk and stressed that Barrick Gold is desecrating the sacred site of Lake Cowal. Peter Munk tried to say he had so many employees he didn’t really know what Barrick Gold was doing.

Eleanor Gilbert, challenged this by saying: “But the buck stops with you Mr Munk. Ultimately you are the one responsible.” Peter Munk agreed.

Neville Williams continued by detailing the desecration and stressed his right to religious freedom under section 116 of the Australian Constitution. As Peter Munk moved away he turned to Neville Williams and with a haunted look in his eyes said: “I’m so sorry.”

Media from Quebec and Chile recorded Peter Munk’s admission of liability. Later a shareholder approached Neville Williams saying: “I’ve got shares in Barrick. I’m thinking now whether I should sell my shares in Barrick Gold.”

In a peaceful demonstration outside the AGM supporters were handing out the Alternative Annual Report for Barrick Gold [www.protestbarrick.net] when two were roughly arrested for trespassing whilst they stood on the sidewalk.

Neville Williams
647 268 4440 or +61 421 795 639

Global Day of Action Against Barrick Gold, May 2, 2007

Big Mining Investors Fear Big Losses

In almost every Latin American country, transnational metals mining firms are exploring, building and operating huge, open-pit gold mines which extract and contaminate using tremendous amounts of water. These new “modern mining” projects leave thousand-year legacies of acid mine drainage, destruction of ecosystems, disease, and regional climate change. Riches in the form of gold, silver and copper are exported to first world shareholders, leaving behind poverty, dependency and pollution.

However, once-isolated communities are suddenly uniting and strengthening in their actions to halt Big Mining projects.

Today there are more than a hundred mining-related local conflicts, in every Latin American country (www.minesandcommunities.org) Campesinos, indigenous and community groups in villages and cities are fighting Big Mining insertion. In countries such as Peru, Ecuador and Colombia, multinational mining firms are responding by arming paramilitary groups to meet community resistance with murder, threats and violence. In every instance, mining firms attempt to "purchase" social license with bribes, handouts, media campaigns and corrupt local politicians, to sell "sustainable gold mining."

The tremendous over consumption of water resources is the key issue in modern metals mining projects. Big mines change regional climate patterns, dry up ecosystems, cause the desertification of agricultural lands, communities are dried out. Big mining projects are being located primarily in sensitive river headwaters of vulnerable arid regions upon which millions of human and ecological communities depend. Big mining, through its intensive use of energy and destruction of habitat, glaciers, aquifers, climate patterns and water resources, is a huge factor in global climate change. Appropriate international and national regulation of Big Mining projects is almost non-existent.

On May 2, 2007, communities around the world affected by Big Mining projects are going to carry out simultaneous demonstrations against the Barrick Gold Corporation. Simultaneous actions will be held in Chile, Argentina, Peru, Australia, Canada, the Philippines, Tanzania, and Europe.

Barrick Gold Corporation, the world's largest gold mining firm, is spearheading the transnational metals mining firms invasion of Latin America. In the past few years, community groups struggling against projects of Barrick Gold Corporation on five continents began communicating together, and this year they have joined together for the first time to call for this Global Day of Action Against Barrick Gold Corporation.

• In Argentina, community activists forced Barrick Gold to suspend operations in the province of La Rioja, the governor ousted due to his corrupt relations with the mining firm, and a state referendum to prohibit open-pit mining is to be voted by the population.

• Chilean and Argentine communities are fighting tooth and nail against the construction of one of the world's largest gold mines in the heart of a UNESCO World Heritage Wilderness Area, in the delicate glacier peaks of the Andes along the Chile-Argentina Border. This is Barrick’s infamous Pascua-Lama/Veladero project. http://projectcensored.org/censored_2007/index.htm#21

• In Ancash, Peru, fierce community resistance has been answered with the murders of protestors by paramilitary and state forces working for the Barrick Gold Corporation.

• In Australia, a series of powerful direct actions carried out by local Aboriginal leaders, indigenous and community activists has tied up and cast grave doubts on Barrick Gold's huge Lake Cowal project.

On May 2, A Global Day of Action Against Barrick Gold will be carried out. We invite all neighbors, activists and ecologists to join or form the many local-scale actions to be carried out simultaneously and autonomously throughout the world, on the five continents in which Barrick Gold operates.

We hope that through visible and spirited actions, we can join together to draw attention to the grave threat brought upon our world by these transnational large-scale open-pit metals mining projects using cyanide. Our world does not need more gold and silver! We must fight to preserve this world for our children and their children.

We hope to send a message to Barrick Shareholders that their investments are highly risky: Throughout the world, communities are rejecting and shall put an end to these shameful metals mining operations.

written by David Modersbach
National University of Rosario, Argentina

For More Information:

Mines and Communities - www.minesandcommunities.org
CorpWatch - www.corpwatch.org
Latin American Observatory of Mining Conflicts - www.conflictosmineros.net
www.noalamina.org (Argentina)
www.noalapascualama.org (chile)
www.savelakecowal.org (Australia)

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