Chilean president politely reminds Canadian business to follow the law

Chilean president politely reminds Canadian business to follow the law by Bruce Cheadle, Canadian Press, May 30, 2013, Edmonton Journal
The president of Chile is politely reminding Canadian business that his country is a democracy governed by laws that will be enforced, a week after a massive Canadian gold mining project was suspended and fined for multiple environmental violations. … Last Friday, the Chilean government fined Barrick Gold $16.4 million for breaching its environmental commitments, and ordered the suspension of the $5-billion open-pit Pascua Lama project in the Andes Mountains. And on Thursday, while Harper was meeting his Chilean counterpart, a Greek delegation was elsewhere on Parliament Hill seeking help to stop Vancouver-based Eldorado Gold Corp.’s mining operations in northern Greece. Pinera was asked about the economic impact of the Barrick suspension during a media availability with Harper. The Chilean president, who holds a PhD in economics from Harvard, noted the importance of Canada as one of his country’s top three foreign investors. “I would like to start these remarks by saying that Canadians’ investment are welcome in Chile,” said Pinera. “And in Chile we have a democratic system and the rule of law.” … Harper, standing next to Pinera, did not address the issue of Barrick’s environmental problems in Chile. … On the weekend, a coalition of 11 groups spoke out against what they consider an insufficient penalty for Barrick Gold’s environmental transgression. In a release, they noted the government decree states that the project title holder “has deliberately failed to comply with a large number of commitments which, it is worth recalling, it took upon itself in order to benefit from the favourable approval of this project.” The Chilean coalition stated that the fine levied was “insignificant when measured up against the irreparable damages produced in our headwaters.” Jamie Kneen, a spokesman for the advocacy group MiningWatch Canada, said this country should be a global standard-bearer given the long expertise and number of mining schools. “Canada should be a leader, not a laggard in corporate behaviour. Canadian companies should be the best, and not average or worse than anyone else,” Kneen said in an interview. [Emphasis added]

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