Letter to Dominican Republic officials warns against conflict of interest in evaluating Barrick Gold’s proposal
Today 43 organizations representing 17 countries sent a letter to the Dominican Ministries of Energy and Mines and the Environment and Natural Resources in response to Barrick Gold’s plan to expand its mine in the Dominican Republic. The organizations expressed solidarity with nearby communities urging the company to withdraw its plans, and called on the government to stop the project from moving forward. The letter echoes concerns from local organizers and leaders about the potential impacts on water sources, agricultural lands and food production.
The letter is just the latest expression of opposition to the expansion. Local activists have organized demonstrations, winning support from elected officials, church leaders and academics. In May, 88 organizations from 21 countries and 15 jewelry producers sent letters to the Dominican Government and Barrick Gold raising concerns over the proposal’s potential to exacerbate vulnerability to climate change, the inherently risky nature of tailings dams, the opaque and non-transparent nature of the expansion process, and Barrick’s track record of environmental harm.
“The government must put Dominican farmers before foreign corporations,” said Diana Martin from MiningWatch Canada. “We stand in solidarity with the people of Monte Plata in condemning this proposal.”
The Dominican government recently announced plans to hire a third-party contractor to conduct the proposal’s environmental review. The response was swift and included accusations that such a move was illegal and a conflict of interest. On September 12th, community and religious leaders stood in solidarity with the Province of Monte Plata calling on Barrick to halt the expansion plans. On September 19th, thousands of people from more than 100 organizations marched on the National Palace in Santo Domingo in opposition to the project demanding that the Dominican government protect and respect the social and environmental rights of the communities.
As the government and Barrick Gold move the expansion process forward, international organizations have committed to following the proposal and supporting community calls to protect their land, water and livelihoods.
“Communities in the Dominican Republic have been clear: water from the Ozama River is necessary for their life and livelihoods, and they reject the proposal to build a tailings dam in Monte Plata,” said Ellie Happel of the Global Justice Clinic. “The Dominican government is violating the human rights of its people if it allows Barrick to continue with its proposed expansion.”
“The proposal for an international third-party contractor to carry out an environmental impact study, announced by the Minister of Energy and Mines of the Dominican Republic, creates doubt with the academic community and with community leaders because it’s part of a compromise that lacks transparency between the government and the mining company to accelerate the expansion permitting process and the construction of a dangerous and unwanted tailings dam in Cuance, Monte Plata,” said Dario Solano of Centro Montalvo.