Dominican Republic

Communist Party of Labour (PCT)

Manifesto to the Dominican People:
The PCT calls for a fight against Barrick Gold and other mining concessions

The Communist Party of Labour rejects the contract by which the government authorizes the setting up and operation of the Canadian company Barrick Gold in Pueblo Viejo, Cotui, Sanchez Ramirez Province, for the exploitation of the silver, gold and copper mine.

At the same time, we show firm opposition to the siphoning off of the natural patrimony and the territorial alienation that is promoted by unconditionally handing over the strategic patrimony of the people to foreign capitals, a policy that has also set its sights on the gold deposits of Bonao in the centre and of San Juan de la Maguana in the south of the country.

Under the protection of this anti-national and anti-popular policy for which the government in office is the main one responsible, enterprises such as Barrick Gold, Unigold and other capitalist companies  are being set up in the country, including some of dubious origin such as those of the investor in Torre Atiemar, tried in Spain for money laundering and drug traffic .

The world gold multinational, Barrick Gold, referred to the gold mine concession at Pueblo Viejo, Cotui, Sanchez Ramirez Province in the northeast of the country, as “a world class reserve and one of the largest undeveloped gold deposits”. At the same time, it estimates that the mine will have a useful life of 25 years and proven and probable reserves of 20.4 million ounces of gold, 455 million pounds of copper and 131.3 million ounces of silver within the reported reserves.

It announced that it will begin production in the first quarter of 2012. But it is already massively intervening in the mining area, setting up the necessary facilities for the operation.

Just like Barrick Gold, Unigold Inc., a subsidiary of the former, holds the Neita Concession of about 226 square kilometers in the Restoration Zone, on the border with Haiti, with a proven gold deposit in Los Candelones, Loma Guano-Montazo and Los Naranjos, an operation that includes the territory of the neighbouring country and is contaminating the waters that our brother people drink. Recently it has announced new findings that compare the reserves with those of Pueblo Viejo in Cotui, at a time that it is procuring international funds for the operation over which it states that it has exclusive ownership.

This company has announced in its web page that “the Dominican Republic is a unique opportunity for UNIGOLD because of its exceptional geology and its attractive business climate”.

As can be seen, the strategic patrimony of the nation is being irresponsibly handed over to foreign investors under very shameful conditions, which provide very limited benefits to the country and do very little to improve the conditions of life of the Dominican people. On the contrary, this is having a dramatic environmental impact and serious consequences for the stability of the ecosystems, the natural resources, the biodiversity and the environmental services which these provide for the population, especially the water.

Our objective is to Cancel the Contract, regain sovereignty over the gold and sanction those responsible in the government and the three parties of the system that made this possible.

We consider that the Contract with Barrick Gold Pueblo Viejo Dominican Corporation, the name under which it operates in the country, should be cancelled and the authorities involved in its approval and the legislators of the three parties of the system that approved it must be investigated, under suspicion of irregularities and treason to the interests and sovereignty of the country.

The Contract establishes shameful conditions for a country that is supposed to be sovereign, suspiciously granting favourable conditions to the multinational, while committing various irregularities in its negotiation and approval. Among these it is worth emphasizing:

• It has violated Article 40 of the General Law of the Environment and Natural Resources and Article 36 of the Regulation of the System of Environmental Permits and Licenses of the Ministry of the Environment, which prohibit the beginning of any project before a corresponding License or Environmental Permit is granted. This prohibition also applies to the phase of setting up the mine that at the moment is fully under way.

• The new operation of the mine by Barrick Gold does not have an Environmental License. The Company is lying when it says on its web page that the Pueblo Viejo Dominican Corporation acquired its Environmental License in February of 2006. This is not possible because on the same page it says that in that same year it bought the world assets of Placer Dome, including the Mine at Pueblo Viejo. Among other transgressions against the interests of the people, against its national sovereignty and laws, we point out:

1. The License for Placer Dome that had announced an estimated investment of $330 million dollars cannot be sold for another project that will supposedly invest more than $3 thousand million dollars, according to what its promoters say, apparently determined to enlarge the amount of its investment. Therefore the above-mentioned license has not been brought before public opinion, or even before a demand of protection in a court of the Republic, simply because they do not have it and because they are violating Law 64-00 and other environmental norms, with the consent or complicity of the Environmental Ministry itself, after having begun the work of setting up the mine without the necessary Environmental License.

2. The Contract does not mention the potential damage to the environment, the soil and the water in the whole region that would cause the release of sulphides, which will increase considerably when the mine begins operation. This will put in danger the availability and quality of this vital liquid for human, agricultural and industrial use of the water in the entire zone beneath the Hatillo Dam, including Bajo Yuna. This situation would worsen if, as has been reported, it will use other dangerous contaminants in the extraction process such as cyanide, an element whose use in mining has just been prohibited by the European Parliament due to the risks to human health and the environment.

3. The measures for prevention and mitigation announced by the company do not guarantee environmental security, therefore the principle of precaution should prevail, which stipulates that because of the uncertainty or lack of certainty of environmental damage one must act as if the damage would occur.

4. The company has been exonerated of all obligations to recover the environmental liabilities accumulated by its predecessors in the nearby areas of the project and the environmental damage that its own activity causes in the zone bordering the concession. This responsibility is left in the hands of the Dominican State, which the company offers to finance, that is, to lend to the State, 50% of the cost of recovery of the damage that it itself will cause.

5. The use of water, estimated at thousands of gallons a day, is granted to the company at no cost whatever.

6. It is ignoring Article 17 of the new Constitution of the Republic, which stipulates that the mining deposits and renewable natural resources can only be exploited by individuals through concessions or contracts under environmental criteria and under the conditions that the laws provide, in this case demonstrating contradictions with the national interest and the General Law of the Environment and Natural Resources.

7. It alienates for about six years the Dominican State from the benefits of the operation of the mine by accepting that until the multinational recovers its investment and begins to make a 10% profit, the country will not receive the miserable 28.75% of the profit that is established in the contract.

8. It upholds the displacement of more than 330 families who had been evicted from El Llagal and Fatima for the building of a tailings dam, of whom only 65 were relocated and the others supposedly compensated.

9. 640 families of the missing community of Los Cacaos have been abandoned, affected for decades by previous mining work who today, desperate, have no other alternative than to accept crumbs, without an increase in the amount of compensation for the past years.

10. The multinational will put up a high voltage power line more than 100 kilometres long, from Azua in the south to the Pueblo Viejo Mine in Sanchez Ramirez Province in the northeast, as has been said, cutting across the Francis Caamaño and Loma La Humeadora national parks, in addition to towns in the provinces of Azua, Ocoa, Bonao and Sanchez Ramirez.

11. The Contract that authorizes the operation of Barrick Gold was approved in an irregular manner, without a serious analysis by the members of congress, since it was denounced by some legislators.

Barrick Gold faces conflicts in various parts of the world because of its lack of respect towards the environment in its operations, its abuses towards the workers and local communities and its irregular practices in its lobbying for contracts and concessions. An example of this is the conflict with the Chilean and Argentine communities in the Pascua Lama Concession, on the border between those two countries, where the company is destroying two glaciers to make use of the mineral located underneath them.

Because of everything stated above, our party announces its support for the demands of the affected communities and other sectors of the nation, and calls on the people in general to increase the activities against this policy, demanding:

• Revision of the Law on Foreign Investment.

• Cancellation of the Contract of Barrick Gold for the operation of the mine in Pueblo Viejo, Cotui, and the investigation of the government officials involved in the contract’s negotiation and approval.

• Revision of the concession granted to Unigold in the border Restoration Zone.

• Revision of all mining concessions and cancellation of those that are shown to have been granted by irregular means or that significantly affect the natural resources, biodiversity or significant sources of water.

• Reform of the Mining Law.

We called for the greatest possible decisive and diverse unity to save our natural resources. What is good for Barrick Gold is not good for the Country and its People!

February 2012

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