In the fall, I discovered a handy Web site that tracks news and white papers about human rights involving some of the world's largest corporations. The site tracks Pebble partner Anglo American, and I found at least 30 pages' worth of Anglo-related links and material. (Anglo discusses its own social and human rights agenda here.)
In general, this site, run by the United Kingdom-based Business Human Rights Resource Centre, does a good job of compiling information from a large variety of sources, including industry, unions, human rights groups and the news media.
For example, it compiles quite a few links related to a recent investigation involving an Anglo mining development in South Africa. The investigation, by the South African Human Rights Commission, a government institution, took an in-depth look at alleged human rights abuses in South Africa communities that were relocated due to the mining project.
The South African report laid out a rather complex answer to the allegations, which mainly involved loss of agricultural land and potable water. The report does not aggressively prosecute Anglo but it describes a "total disintegration of trust" in the community relocation project, including distrust of the tribal organizations that were put in charge of various aspects, among other problems. In its response to the report (see link above), Anglo American said the commission pointed out “hidden vulnerabilities” in the complex relocation project and that it had begun a “post-settlement” review. The company disputed some specific claims about loss of farmland and water.
Here are some of the main things I gleaned from the report:
* Land and water were fundamental concerns, not just keeping the two clean but also making sure people who live in the region don't end up with something less than what they had before. Yes, plenty of people wouldn't want to give up their land for any price, but if something does get taken away (a village site or a farm) from them in exchange for something else (a new village site or new farm), who is accountable for determining the proper amount of compensation? And if there's a problem with the compensation, is there a reliable third party that can quickly resolve the problem? If Pebble is ever built, it seems likely that a similar sort of debate could ensue over loss and compensation for salmon habitat.
* The compensation process in the South African communities became politicized and, as a result, the communities were fractured, according to the human rights commission. Here's a relevant quote: "This dislocation has created a perception in some elements of the community that organizations set up to consult and seek consent, and to deliver community concerns to the relocation sponsors are not working on behalf of the community, but on behalf of (the company). This dislocation is evident not just through community testimonial, but through visible and structural divisions which have developed within the communities, but most clearly through members of the communities refusing to relocate."
Here's one last point: Some might argue that there's no reason for Alaskans to study large mines in Africa or on other continents because of the differences in politics and regulations. But other people are clearly interested in watching what is happening at these big mines for any sort of universal lesson that could be applied to Pebble.
I'm not a big fan of one-sided reports, so you won't see scads of those posted on the blog, but I'll post whatever I find that seems relevant and reliable, given my usual time constraints. (I originally began working on this blog post in November!) If you want to, feel free to post additional Web links in the comments section.