Holding Steady on Misinformation: II part of the Spin
Sure enough, The Resource Investor’s latest news release (10/19) on Ascendant Copper’s operations in Ecuador did not disappoint. The first part of the 2-part spin left us with some truly impressive whoppers- such as saying that the latest government suspension of its activities in the Intag region was similar to the government’s “other suspensions”. Another good one was a quote from one of its directors to the tune of that the company was sitting on the biggest or second biggest copper deposit in the world. Then, the company lied about the December 2006 violent confrontation in which dozens of armed thugs labeled as paramilitary force by a prestigious Human Rights organization shot at defenseless community members. The thugs were paid for by Ascendant, and the confrontation did not take place in their land, as was alleged. Finally, and like a broken record, the company tried to blame all their woes in their Junin concessions (their “nest egg”) to the actions of “an ecological organization” (guess who?)
On the second installment of the spin, the company repeats its unbelievable claim that they are sitting on one of the world’s biggest copper deposit (see our first exposé) Then, the release identifies DECOIN as the ecological group- but then goes further in making untrue statements that DECOIN signed an agreement in March 20th with the company to ease tensions in the area, and that DECOIN was involved in the demands contained in the agreement which forced the company to reduce it’s work force from 159 to 48 (keep in mind that they were not doing any exploration work) All of this is not only untrue, but ridiculous, since DECOIN has never signed anything with either the government nor the company. The company knows this very well because they have a copy of the March 20th agreement, which, in any case, was signed by the Community Development Council and the government- and not with the company (the company signed its own agreement with the government)
As if this wasn’t sufficient, the spinners say that what has kept the company from “conducting its drilling program” was the seizing of the company’s farm in March of 2007 by local anti-mining protesters. This is one of the biggest pieces of misinformation yet. The plain truth is that company cannot drill, or carry out any other exploration activities unless it first gets its Environmental Impact Study approved. It is amazing that in spite of informing its investors and Canadian regulators that it has incurred over three million dollars in exploration costs just at the Junin site, the company has not done any exploration work whatsoever. And, this is simply because the government has not approved the company’s Environmental Impact Study (nor is it likely to)
As to the claim that it is part of the UN Global Pact and that it is a socially responsible corporation- flexibility is the key here. Flexibility in interpreting what socially responsibility means. Paying for paramilitary-like force to violently try to storm past a community roadblock and shoot at defenseless campesinos might not qualify in most people’s concept as socially responsible behavior. Nor perhaps is financing the use attack dogs against community residents, and tear gassing six year olds. Inciting illegal land trafficking (currently under government investigation) might also be incompatible in most people’s mind with social responsibility. I suspect that telling investors the company has spent million of dollars in exploration costs when, in fact, no real exploration work has been undertaken, would probably fail the acid test for socially responsibility in most persons and institutions. I also wonder what socially responsible company would keep the truth from the public about the real nature and extent of the opposition to its project? Or tell the public that it is sitting on four times more minerals than what was technically inferred after years of drilling by a very capable corporation (Mitsubishi Materials in the 1990’s) ?
The list of questionable and illegal behavior and claims is very long. But let’s face it; unless there is genuine civil society involvement in Canada and other northern countries that really give a damn, there is nothing to stop extractive corporations from perverting the truth, ripping off investors, and causing social and environmental upheaval in countries like Ecuador.