Mining firms risk violating human rights

From Global development | The Guardian Tue Jan 15 2013, 00:05:01

Caution counselled over use of state-owned contractors after workers complain of forced labour and poor living conditions

Investors in Eritrea's mines risk complicity in gross human rights violations unless they take effective steps to ensure that no forced labour is used in connection with their operations, Human Rights Watch warned on Tuesday.

In a report examining the operations of Nevsun Resources, Human Rights Watch said it found that the small Canadian company was obliged to used a state-owned contractor, Segen Construction Company, to build some of the infrastructure around the mine site.

Segen has a long track record of allegedly deploying forced labour in connection with its projects, according to Human Rights Watch, which interviewed four Eritreans who worked at the Bisha project, Eritrea's first and so far only operational mine. It began gold production in 2011 and produced $614m worth of ore in its first year. The project is majority owned and operated by Nevsun Resources.

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