Case story

  • Ghana

OECD NCP Sweden - ATTAC & FoE Sweden vs. Atlas Copco

2003

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Story

This case concerns pollution and human rights violations in gold mining industry in Ghana. Atlas Copco Group is a Swedish company which supplies mining equipment and services for mining companies. During 20 years it has provided equipment and services to Ashanti Goldfields Company (AGC) in Ghana. It has its own personnel on site in the mines and the minefield areas.

AGC has been accused of repeatedly violating human and environmental rights and standards. NGOs have charged that AGC has forcibly evicted, persecuted and killed local villagers, destroyed villages and destroyed water and agricultural land by discharging cyanide and other heavy metals.

The complaint states that given the 20-year relationship Atlas Copco Group has with AGC, including having a physical presence in Ghana, the company bears responsibility for AGC’s harmful activities.

Outcome

The parties met with the NCP twice. In the second meeting, the companies refused to participate in a dialogue and instead only presented their reports and position.

In June 2002, the NCP released a statement that recognized that environmental and social problems exist in Ghana’s mining sector, but said the companies’ role in this case was limited. The NCP’s statement concluded the companies have not failed to comply with the Guidelines, but encouraged them to inform their subsidiaries and staff in Ghana on the Guidelines. The statement referred to the existence of an established regulatory framework and judicial institutions to tackle these problems. However, the NCP also acknowledged that these processes and institutions wrestle with difficulties normally associated with developing countries such as insufficient resources and capacity.

The Complainants recommended three concrete steps that they wished the NCP had taken, including establishing a rough time-plan and date for the first dialogue meeting between the parties. The NGOs also inquired why the Guidelines’ human rights provision was not applicable, and why the NCP did not comment on this issue in its statement. The NCP responded stating the case was closed and it was not necessary to continue the process.

Additional Info: http://oecdwatch.org/cases/Case_30

NCP Final Statement

Contributor(s): This article was modified by Kyle (3), Ejfturnbull (1).