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Activists infiltrate world's largest mining convention to say 'Canadian mining kills'

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Photo: Council of Canadians

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On March 6, the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network (MISN) and allies held a vigil at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada's (PDAC) annual conference to declare that "Canadian Mining Kills." PDAC is the largest mining convention in the world, with over 25,000 attendees each year. While companies and investors gathered in the Investors Exchange to discuss profits, activists were there to remind them of the deadly toll of Canadian mining.

Led by Anglican priest Maggie Helwig, activists gathered to honour the lives of those killed opposing Canadian mining projects around the world. Among the booths of many high-profile abusers like Barrick Gold and Goldcorp, Helwig highlighted that "lives are worth more than minerals and corporate profits." Activists read aloud the names of those killed and laid flowers to honour them before being escorted out by Toronto Police. 

More than 75 per cent of the world's mining companies are headquartered in Canada and Canadian mining companies are known worldwide for being the worst offenders for human rights abuses. Canadian companies have perpetrated targeted assassinations, persecuted activists, displaced populations, violated labour rights, and wreaked environmental destruction. 

The Council of Canadians was present at the vigil and condemns the abuses of the Canadian mining industry. Our Money Thread campaign advocates for divestment from Goldcorp and Tahoe Resources, Canadian companies committing abuses in Guatemala. At the vigil, the names of Topacio Reynoso Pacheco, a 16-year-old anti-mining activist killed for her resistance to Tahoe Resource's Escobal mine; Telesforo Odilio Pivaral Gonzalez, a farmer killed for resisting the Escobal mine; and Alvaro Benigno, a 23-year-old father killed in association with Goldcorp's Marlin mine, were read along with many others. Visit the Money Thread campaign website to learn how to take action.

Just four days after her assassination, Honduran Indigenous leader Bertha Cáceres was also honoured at the vigil. Cáceres was a prominent activist for Indigenous and environmental rights, winning the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2015. She was instrumental in the resistance to Honduras' 2009 military coup and to opposing the Agua Zarca Dam project. Since the 2009 coup, almost 30 per cent of Honduras' land has been set aside in mining concessions, many of them for Canadian companies. This mining boom has fuelled the construction of dam projects like Agua Zarca across Honduras to provide cheap energy for future mining projects. The Council of Canadians has spoken out against the murder of Berta Cáceres.

A video of the event is available online and you can learn more about the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network at www.mininginjustice.org.

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