Kinross Gold takes its ethical standards seriously: Letter to the Guardian newspaper

Kinross Gold takes its responsibility as a good corporate citizen very seriously. Your article (Canadian mining company spied on opponents and activists in Brazil, 13 May, dismisses the findings of a credible, independent study on arsenic commissioned by the city of Paracatu and conducted by Brazil’s Centre for Mineral Technology.

It neglects to mention a second study, conducted by researchers in Brazil and the University of Queensland in Australia, including Professor Jack Ng, a leading environmental toxicologist who helped define safety standards for arsenic in food for the World Health Organisation. These studies, and others, conclude that mining activities do not significantly affect total exposure to arsenic, which is naturally occurring in the area. Moreover, the exposure is well below the benchmark safe level set by the World Health Organisation and poses no risk to human health.

Instead, the reporter cites the claims of two well-known mine opponents, one of whom is Sergio Dani. His fantastical claim that the potential damage from such a mine “could impact seven trillion people” should have raised eyebrows immediately. Furthermore, the story romanticises informal miners, many of whom have a history of using mercury to recover gold, thereby causing serious environmental damage. Kinross has made significant investments to help remediate that damage and, in 2011, won an award for its reclamation work.

The portrayal of blasting is also misrepresented. The story claims that “160 dynamite explosions are carried out daily”. There is, in fact, only one blast per day, and dynamite is not used. Rather, the company uses the most advanced electronically activated explosives, and vibration levels, which are monitored by members of the local community, average 2mm per second, well below the 15mm allowed under Brazilian standards.

The story goes on to insinuate that Kinross harasses its opponents and makes threats. The company categorically rejects these allegations. Consistent with best practices, we monitor social media and other public source information, and we undertake extensive stakeholder mapping and consultations in order to better understand the social, political and economic context in which we operate.

Kinross operates within a strict legal and regulatory framework, and adheres to the highest ethical standards.

James Crossland
Executive vice-president, corporate affairs, Kinross Gold Corporation, Toronto, Canada