All That Glisters

by Zbigniew

“Many men who had failed at the mines were washed down here like the river silt to find their treasure ….”

Bruce Hutchison, The Fraser


According to Human Rights Watch, Eritrea “is one of the world’s most repressive and closed countries. The government of President Isaias Afewerki has effectively banned the independent press. Journalists languish in detention, as do officials who question Isaias’s leadership; many have died in jail …. Nearly all men and many women over 18 are conscripted into indefinite ‘national service,’ which exploits them as forced labor at survival wages.”

The “hermit-like pariah state on the Horn of Africa” was subjected to United Nations sanctions in 2009 for supporting the Somali Islamist insurgents Al-Shabab.

But there’s gold in them thar hills, so enter Nevsun Resources Ltd, 760 – 669 Howe Street, Vancouver, British Columbia. Nevsun’s Bisha mine was built with slave labour, but by an Eritrean sub-contractor.


Pacific Rim Mining Corp, 410 – 625 Howe Street, is suing El Salvador via a World Bank Tribunal for placing a prohibition on mining and effectively scuttling its plans for the El Dorado (sic) gold mine. “Recent murder and death threats against activists in the region have put the spotlight on the gold mining project there.”


Goldcorp Inc., 3400 – 666 Burrard Street, opened their Marlin Mine in Guatemala in 2005 to heavy opposition from local residents. “Critics suggest that Marlin is environmentally unsound; while Goldcorp points out that since 2005 they’ve been the driving force behind building roads, schools and health clinics in the area.” Both, of course, are possible.