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This case concerned pollution and human rights violations in the gold mining industry in Ghana. Sandvik is a Swedish company which supplies mining equipment and services for mining companies. It provided equipment and services to Ashanti Goldfields Company (AGC) in Ghana over a period of ten years. It had its own personnel on site in the mines and in 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, and destroyed villages, water supplies and agricultural land by discharging cyanide and other heavy metals.
The complaint stated that given the 10-year relationship Sandvik has with AGC, including having a physical presence in Ghana, the company bore responsibility for AGC’s harmful activities.
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, which recognized that environmental and social problems exist in Ghana’s mining sector, but stated that the companies’ roles in this case were limited. The NCP’s statement concluded that the companies had 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 as to why the Guidelines’ human rights provision was not compatible and why the NCP did not comment on this issue in its statement. The NCP responded by stating that the case was closed and that it was not necessary to continue the process.
OECD Watch case story page: http://oecdwatch.org/cases/Case_29