Yesterday, I attended Hudbay Minerals’ Annual General Meeting of shareholders to confront the company about their terrible track record of violence at their present and former mines in Canada, the US, Guatemala, and Peru. Here is a transcript of what I said:
“Let’s take a brief look at each of Hudbay’s current and former operations.
At the Rosemont mine in Arizona just two weeks ago the Tohono O’odham Nation, the Pascua Yaqui Tribe and the Hopi Tribe all launched a lawsuit alleging that the mine is going to deprive tribal members of ancestral praying grounds, destroy a critical part of their heritage including burial grounds and stop members from engaging in important cultural practices and religious traditions. And this is just one of several lawsuits launched against this mining project.
In Manitoba there have been ongoing conflicts with Indigenous people surrounding the Lalor project. The Mathias Colomb Cree Nation on whose territory this mine sits maintains that Hudbay has not obtained their consent to operate. The chief in fact issued stop work orders on 2 occasions, and band members held peaceful gatherings at the mine site with drumming and ceremonies. Hudbay’s response was to obtain injunctions against the whole First nation and launch a lawsuit against their chief. So this in fact criminalized the MCCN people who live off of the land and prevented them from hunting and fishing on their land.
In Peru at the Constancia mine there have been major protests involving thousands of people since the project started denouncing a lack of consultation, lack of transparency, the environmental impact, and that Hudbay has been breaking promises made to communities. The Peruvian government has declared a state of emergency in the zone that includes the Constancia project in order to quash resistance to mining. So communities there are now asking how Hudbay can justify operating in a militarized area where civil liberties have been suspended.
And regarding Hudbay’s former operations in Guatemala, the Fenix Project, there are three lawsuits proceeding in Canadian courts, not to mention ongoing trials in Guatemala, holding Hudbay accountable for gang rapes of eleven women during illegal evictions, the murder of Adolfo Ich, a community leader resisting the project, and the shooting of another person, German Chub. And just two weeks ago, Hector Manuel Choc Cuz, an 18 year old in that community of El Estor, was beaten to death. This is the nephew of one of the claimants in this case, Angelica Choc, whose husband was murdered by Hudbay’s employed security.
On your website it says “Productive, mutually respectful relations with First Nations are a priority for Hudbay.” Given the examples I listed, which are just some of the serious conflicts and harms that Hudbay has caused with Indigenous people at every single one of your mine sites, how can you maintain that relationships with indigenous people are a priority?”
The CEO, Alan Hair, was visibly taken aback. This was his response:
“That was quite the question. You obviously present a certain view. I would suggest that hudbay would put forward completely different points of view. I don’t know if it is particularly worthwhile discussing it in detail today. I assume you believe your perspective on it. I certainly believe my perspective on what Hudbay’s performance has been, how we carry out our business, how we’re recognized by a number of stakeholders as being perhaps if not the best in class certainly up there. We could extend into the merits of mining and Canadian mining companies. That’s a very extensive debate and I don’t intend to enter into that debate here. But I am confident that we as a company and certainly under my watch have carried out our business appropriately and tried to engage constructively where we have people opposed to mining. And the reality is not everybody supports mining. And it’s unfortunate because on this planet if it’s not growing it has to be mined, and it has to be mined somewhere. I can cite examples of other mining companies that maybe don’t perform as well as Hudbay, in other parts of the world. And maybe you have to ask yourself when you look at your usage of metals and the like who you want to be developing those mines. Do you want companies like Hudbay that respect human rights, that try to engage constructively with communities, that do follow all the legal processes to operate the mines or would you be happier with companies that maybe use child labour or the equivalent of blood diamonds for copper. I think you might have to ask yourself that question. I’ve already rambled on long enough so I’m just going to draw a line under it.”