Letter by Kinross´s vice-president of corporate communications, Steve Mitchell, to Die Zeit
Your article “Der Giftige Schatz von Paracatu” (Die Zeit, date) employed a mix of unsubstantiated allegations, rumors, misleading statements, and factual errors to present a one-sided and distorted view of Kinross Gold Corporation and its relations with the community of Paracatu, Brazil.
The article is based largely on the allegation that there is an arsenic-related health risk to the residents of Paracatu due to current mining activities in the region. This is definitively not the case, as has been conclusively shown in two recently completed independent studies by recognized experts in environmental toxicology. A study by INCT-Entox (University of Queensland, Australia) commissioned by Kinross – and subsequently published in international scientific journals — determined the level of exposure of the population to arsenic through water, dust, and food, considering both bioavailability and bioaccessibility. The results clearly show that local geology and mining activities do not have a significant impact on total exposure to arsenic in Paracatu region, where the average total daily intake of inorganic arsenic was in fact found to be considerably below the World Health Organization benchmark. The study also conclusively demonstrated that the contributions of soil/dust and water to total arsenic exposure in Paracatu are secondary compared to intake from food. A second study by CETEM (a major federal research centre in Brazil), commissioned by the Mayor of Paracatu, concluded that the concentration of arsenic in Paracatu is within legislated parameters and presents no risk to the population. The reporter was aware of the results of the first study at the time he researched the article, and yet chose to omit these facts from the story.
The reporter also gave no mention to the company’s many relevant workplace and community programs, which include: a health monitoring program for all employees; rigorous health and safety measures to minimize exposure to dust in the workplace; a 24-hour hotline to receive and respond to community complaints; regular meetings with an advisory panel of local representatives to resolve community concerns; coordinating with adjacent communities regarding the time and frequency of mine blasting and implementing strong measures to reduce noise, vibration, and dust; conducting permanent water quality monitoring downstream of tailings storage areas and involving the community in this practice; investing more than $3 million in environmental programs to restore local streams damaged by historic artisanal mining; and working with the local community on many initiatives in health, education, local business development, culture, and sports.
As a member of the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index, the Ethibel Investment Register, the Jantzi Social Index, and the UN Global Compact, Kinross deeply appreciates the need to be responsive to local concerns and a positive force in the community. It is unfortunate that this article totally overlooked our sincere efforts to deliver on this commitment in Paracatu, and opted instead for sensationalism and shock value in place of a fair and balanced account.
Vice-President Corporate Communications, Kinross Gold Corporation, Toronto, Canada