Evidence of meeting #29 for Foreign Affairs and International Development in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was mining.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Sabine Luning  Professor, Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology, Leiden University , As an Individual

3:55 p.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims Newton—North Delta, BC

I think there is agreement that what we're all looking for is long-term sustainable development.

3:55 p.m.

Professor, Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology, Leiden University , As an Individual

Dr. Sabine Luning

Of course. Yes.

3:55 p.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims Newton—North Delta, BC

It is in long-term sustainable development, as you will know, that the public sector, like CIDA, has a critical role to play. How important are both capacity-building and regulations for achieving this long-term sustainable development?

3:55 p.m.

Professor, Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology, Leiden University , As an Individual

Dr. Sabine Luning

I think they are very important.

Also, let me make clear that I'm arguing for the separation of tasks, right? I'm not arguing against some of the tangible development projects that are now being carried out. Indeed, I was referring to the initiatives being taken in Ghana as an example. For instance, WUSC is now working toward training people for community representatives and governance structures; that is exactly the sort of initiative that is necessary if we want to work towards more sustainable development as a spinoff of mining.

I'm not arguing against the type of activities being proposed there, but I'm arguing that it might be very sensible to not have this blurring of partnerships that occurs when the tasks of mining companies, NGOs, and government and CIDA are mixed together.

Indeed, I think what is happening in Ghana could be a very good example of an activity that could take us further into a proper way of organizing mining in a sustainable way by organizing civil society also in its capacity to negotiate.

3:55 p.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims Newton—North Delta, BC

Okay. Thank you.

One thing you have clarified for me very clearly, and have reinforced, is the need to keep separate the mining interests from building institutions and building capacity. You don't want there to be that kind of pressure or conflict that could develop there, because it could be seen that people are being driven into...or institutions are being developed only to serve the mining company.

I like the way you explained all of that, and the need to have distinct tasks with clear lines. I especially liked your comments about land use. As you know, monetary compensation is not always enough, because land use and food security, and also developing a diversity of industry, become really critical.

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Dean Allison

Thank you. That's all the time we have.

3:55 p.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims Newton—North Delta, BC

Thank you.

3:55 p.m.

Professor, Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology, Leiden University , As an Individual

Dr. Sabine Luning

Thank you very much.

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Dean Allison

We're back over to the government side now, and I'd like to welcome Ms. Brown.

You have seven minutes.

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Lois Brown Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Good afternoon, Dr. Luning, or rather good evening, where you are.

3:55 p.m.

Professor, Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology, Leiden University , As an Individual

Dr. Sabine Luning

Good afternoon.

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Lois Brown Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Thank you very much for your commentary today. I really appreciate it.

With the exception of Mali.... I have been in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo, Nigeria, and Benin. I've spent some time there. As part of the Canada-Africa parliamentary delegation that went there, I had the opportunity to visit the Essakane mine in Burkina Faso.

I'm going to refer to a report that was tabled in the House of Commons a year and a half ago. I'm going to commend that to the committee. I know it's been written in both official languages, Mr. Chair, so I will ensure that copies are spread.

We had the opportunity to visit with President Compaoré and have a lengthy discussion with him about the things going on in Burkina Faso. With regard to the $450 million investment that IAMGOLD had made in Burkina Faso, he told us, first of all, that they had found suitable conditions to invest. He said that procedures had been cleaned up and a framework had been arranged to encourage that kind of investment.

We also had a meeting with the Minister of Mines, Quarries, and Energy, His Excellency Abdoulaye Abdoulkader Cissé. He told us that the country had gone from issuing 12 mining permits in 2000 to 430 mining permits today. Canadian companies lead with 15 permits, and they have seven mines in production.

During our visit to the IAMGOLD mine, we were told that the mine is 90% owned by IAMGOLD and 10% owned by the Government of Burkina Faso, so when we're talking about capacity-building, what I saw that IAMGOLD had done there was nothing short of remarkable.

In order to accommodate the people of the village of Essakane, they purchased property, and the Essakane community participated in that discussion. They have built a whole village. The most important thing I saw that they had done was to build slab-on-grade foundations for the residents to have their homes built on. That meant they were no longer confined to spending much of their day rehabilitating their houses; they had time for more productive activities.

We learned that there are now some 1,800 contract workers. Priority is given to local hires. Over 1,000 young people have been trained in areas such as construction, carpentry, welding, and plumbing. Mr. St-Pierre, who gave us the tour of the mine, pointed out that as a result of the demand for skilled workers in the mining industries, salaries for them are higher than the national average. Whereas the average salary in Burkina Faso is $1,200, workers at the mine are paid between $4,000 and $30,000, depending on their trade. They're giving literacy programs. We saw the hospital or clinic and the skills training facility they've built.

In building public-private partnerships with these corporations, first of all the country is not only getting tax dollars from the corporation itself but is now able to get tax dollars from the individual workers who are now contributing to their country.

I saw some remarkable things in Burkina Faso. It gives me great hope for that country and for their process in becoming an independent, self-reliant country. They're still looking for CIDA involvement; I know that. I think Canadians would relish the opportunity to help with that capacity-building, because we see real results happening there.

Do you have any comment on that?

4 p.m.

Professor, Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology, Leiden University , As an Individual

Dr. Sabine Luning

Thank you very much for your description of the visit to the IAMGOLD mine. Of course I'd like to comment on it.

First of all, I think I would support a lot of the initiatives you are referring to. I've argued very strongly that mining companies have a very strong commitment to on-site mitigation. I think that IAMGOLD, in a lot of the examples you are giving, is doing jobs at the mining site. I think in that sense that a lot of things that have happened and that also have been reported on are going okay.

One of the things that is now appearing is that there is a lot of resistance still. It's not just simple, and we all know that. People from IAMGOLD must have told you how complicated the processes are, with the strong and fast influx of wealth. That's why I refer to the issue of compensation for land. These influxes of wealth have to be catered to. They may attract a lot of people to that place. That's why I'm saying that one of the things IAMGOLD has to continue to do is mitigation. Taking care of problems that occur is a continuing process.

They've now put in place facilities, which they've done well, and a lot of housing facilities. I'm familiar with that story. Reprom has done that for IAMGOLD. What you were just referring to is very well documented.

However, we should really bear in mind that this is the start of a big mine. There's a large amount of money coming in, and a big effort is made in the beginning to relocate people and give them compensation and new housing. However, I'm arguing that IAMGOLD should move away from doing general development initiatives that are portrayed as just doing altruistic things, such as the schooling of people. I'd rather see mining companies continue to monitor very carefully the processes around their mines, because problems will continue. It is a difficult situation that they have to address. That is something I want them to continue to focus on around the mine.

Now in the papers it's clear that there are big protests around the IAMGOLD mine. The mine is cut off at the moment, so cars can't get to it. That is an indication that social development will be accompanied by problems and inequalities. People from the mining company will have to continue to really focus attention on doing this in a manner that will not exclude large groups. That's why I'm emphasizing procurement. That's why I'm emphasizing job facilities around the mine.

Also, don't make promises you can't keep. That's why I'm insisting that these very vague sorts of associations of mining companies with development initiatives may also trigger expectations the companies cannot live up to. They should be very careful with that.

However, I'm not contesting a lot of positive news you're giving.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Lois Brown Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Dr. Luning, I know we're out of time, but I just wanted to stress that President Compaoré told our delegation that Burkina Faso had a phenomenal relationship with Canada. Many Burkinabés have been educated in Canada, with many of them taking that expertise back to Burkina Faso. I think that's one of the most positive things.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Dean Allison

Thank you very much.

We're going to move back to the opposition side.

Mr. Eyking, you have seven minutes, please.