Canada plans to create an overseas mining watchdog early next year, a move welcomed by environmental and human rights activists. Ottawa says it will create an independent office that will specifically look at Canadian oil, mining, and gas companies’ activities abroad.
Reuters reports that this action is significant because the majority of the world’s public mining companies are in Canada:
Nearly two-thirds of the world’s public mining companies are listed in Canada, while Canadian mining and exploration companies were present in 102 foreign countries in 2015, according to Canadian government data.
Non-government groups have called for years for greater oversight of Canadian mining companies abroad following a number of environmental incidents and accusations of human rights abuses, including that of forced labor at Canadian miner Nevsun Resources’ mine in Eritrea. Nevsun has denied the allegations.
A spokesman for Canadian Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne explained that the new watchdog will have both an “advisory and robust investigative mandate.”
The Mining Association of Canada, which represents the industry, has not yet commented on the government’s move.