Gold's Costly Dividend

The Porgera Joint Venture
by Chris Albin-Lackey, senior business and human rights researcher at Human Rights Watch

Private security personnel employed by the world's largest gold mining company, Barrick Gold, have been implicated in alleged gang rapes and other violent abuses in Papua New Guinea.

Barrick maintains a private security force of nearly 450 personnel at Porgera. The mine must cope with extraordinary security challenges, including violent raids by groups of illegal miners. But Human Rights Watch's research documents a pattern of opportunistic, violent abuses that are in no way a reaction to these threats.

Every day, hundreds of people try to eke out a living by scouring the waste rock dumps around the mine for minute traces of gold. In contrast to the violent raids the mine confronts on a regular basis, these miners are for the most part engaged in an entirely nonviolent--albeit illegal--routine.