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Washington, D.C., Sep 9 — Newmont Mining claims the 2016 Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) will rank Newmont its top mining company on Monday when the 2016 Index is released, despite the gold miner’s role in human rights violations at its proposed Conga mine in northern Peru.

“Any company that rides roughshod over community wishes cannot be ‘sustainable’,” said Earthworks’ Mining Program Director Payal Sampat. She continued, “For years, Newmont has harassed, intimidated and sued community members opposing its proposed Conga mine. The Dow Jones Sustainability Index cannot be taken seriously if sustained community harassment meets its definition of ‘sustainability’.”

Communities in northern Peru have long opposed Newmont’s Conga gold mine. This opposition is informed by Newmont’s environmental and human rights track record at their nearby Yanacocha gold mine. Newmont has been strongly criticized by human rights and environmental groups for its use of excessive force against community members who oppose its mine, which it has carried out through hired security forces, including armed police. For her ongoing resistance to Newmont’s attempt to take her land at Conga, Máxima Acuña de Chaupe recently won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize. Harassment and intimidation of Máxima supported by Newmont continues, despite court rulings in Máxima’s favor.

Launched in 1999, the DJSI claims to be the first global index tracking the financial performance of leading sustainability-driven companies. For 2016, it invited the participation of the 3,400 largest companies from developed and emerging markets.

But DJSI has has been criticized for its flawed methodology, including the following deficiencies:

  • It prioritizes financial performance over environmental or social sustainability, and can exclude companies that measured well on sustainability indicators but not financial ones;
  • It is a relative measure, meaning that a highly ranked company has outperformed other companies, but “least bad” doesn’t mean “good;”
  • DJSI measures how well companies complete the DJSI evaluation rather than actual environmental and social performance;
  • DJSI scoring lumps together several criteria, making it difficult for companies to know where they went wrong, and where to seek improvement.

In April 2016, 21 organizations including Sierra Club, Earthjustice, Earthworks, Global Witness, and Amazon Watch sent a letter to Newmont’s CEO Gary Goldberg urging the company to end its physical, psychological and legal harassment of the Chaupe family. The company never replied, although it acknowledged receiving the letter.