Case story

  • Canada

OECD NCP Canada - Mining Watch Canada, FoE Canada and DECOIN vs. Ascendant Copper Corporation

Ecuador 2005

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Story

The initial complaint concerning the conduct of Ascendant Copper Corporation in Ecuador was submitted to the Canadian NCP for the Guidelines on 16 May 2005. The complaint was filed jointly by Mining Watch Canada (MW), Friends of the Earth Canada (FoE), and DECOIN.

Procedure: After intra- and inter-departmental consultation, including close contact with the Canadian Embassy in Quito, Ecuador, the NCP determined that the submission was relevant within the meaning of the Guidelines. It thus offered to facilitate dialogue on relevant issues raised in the submission. Both parties agreed to participate in the dialogue in the fall of 2005, with a scheduled start in late January 2006.

The following terms of reference were sent to both parties:

"The purpose of the NCP facilitated meeting is:

  • To provide a non-confrontational forum for the parties (DECOIN and Ascendant) to present their views and discuss issues relating to the proposed mining operation;

  • To facilitate an objective discussion by the parties of the issues presented in the DECOIN submission to the NCP;

  • To allow the parties to provide updates on recent developments and clarify related facts and goals;

  • To pave the way for an ongoing dialogue between the parties on key issues, should they so choose; and,

  • To contribute to the resolution of issues."

The NCP made it clear that the purpose of the meeting was not to conduct an investigation into Ascendant’s conduct in order to determine whether the company had violated the Guidelines. Also, the NCP decided that the meeting would be entirely confidential: it intended to record that the meeting took place and, at its discretion, issue a statement at the conclusion of the talks and make recommendations relating to the implementation of the Guidelines.

In early January 2006, DECOIN, FOE and MW pulled out of the process in protest at the NCP’s terms of reference, specifically the stated need to maintain “confidentiality”. In response, the NCP sent a letter to all parties indicating its willingness to facilitate a dialogue consistent with its terms of reference.


Outcome

The NCP reported that it was unable to proceed with the dialogue, because the Complainants had pulled out over concerns about the NCP’s terms of reference (especially its confidentiality requirement).

The NCP encouraged Ascendant to independently pursue ongoing dialogue with Ecuadorian communities affected by the company’s operations to resolve outstanding issues.

The NCP indicated that the Canadian government expects Canadian companies to observe the OECD Guidelines in their foreign operations and operate transparently and in full consultation with the host government and local community. As such, the NCP expressed interest in following Ascendant’s operations in Ecuador and in being briefed by the Canadian Embassy in Quito on several issues, including a community development plan (requested by Ecuador’s Under-Secretary of Mines) and Ascendant’s Environmental Impact Study.

Contributor(s): This article was modified by Nicolaclayre (5), Kyle (3), and Ejfturnbull (2).