Barrick explores and operates in diverse locations around the world where security contexts vary greatly. We also produce a precious commodity – gold – and our mine sites house valuable equipment, vehicles, commodities and materials that must also be safeguarded.  In light of this, we recognize the need for an effective security program to protect people, products, assets and reputation.

Often that means having to rely on public and private security. As a result, we may have no choice but to enter into relationships with security forces that have questionable human rights records, over which we have no control. The need to enter into these security relationships may arise because of violence in local communities, threats to the site and employees, or because the government insists on public security to protect an important national resource. 

Human rights–related issues in the mining sector that have involved public security personnel include:

  • Discouraging union activity
  • Enforcing or extracting forced labor
  • Enforcing workforce discipline
  • Clearing or resettling people from their land
  • Using excessive force to make arrests or reduce security risks
  • Responding with violence to peaceful protests
  • Intimidating local communities, NGOs and activists
  • Engaging in extortionate behavior, including taking money or equipment and sexual assaults

In addition, in developing countries, it is becoming increasingly common for governments to assign military personnel to perform policing activities, which has occurred at Porgera and elsewhere.  Some of the challenges for companies can arise based on the distinct training regimens for military and police personnel, and access to appropriate equipment for policing activities. 

Finally, in all locations, we contract with and employ private security personnel.  While private security personnel at our sites generally do not carry hard munitions, they nonetheless can be implicated in serious human rights abuses.  Many have prior experience in local police or military forces in which respect for human rights may be wanting or uneven, or are from local communities where violence is prevalent.  Fully reliable vetting can be a challenge, and despite company training, messaging and monitoring, improper practices related to the use of force, detention or investigations may occur.  Indeed, local private security providers perpetrated the gender-based violence at Porgera, demonstrating vividly and terribly how substantial the risks of negative impacts can be and how attentive we and other companies must be to those risks.

Because of these issues and others, multiple studies have confirmed that companies in the extractive sector, including Barrick, often face salient risks arising from their reliance on public or private security forces.    

Our Approach

Barrick has developed a Security Policy and Security Management System designed to respect human rights while protecting persons and property associated with our mines.  We categorize our operations according to the security risk and, based on the security threat and the location of the operation, we determine which procedures and what type of protective equipment and infrastructure are required.

The UN Voluntary Principles on Business and Human Rights (VPs) guide and dictate our overall approach to providing security on a global basis and are integrated into our Security Policy and operationalized by our Security Management System. This includes our engagement with public security providers (e.g., host nation military and police representatives) who may provide external security and response assistance, as well as private security providers. The VPs also help us formulate guidelines and train security personnel on the use of force and respect for human rights.

Over the past several years, there are many ways we have sought to abide by the VPs, including: 

  • Focusing on the use of less-than-lethal munitions as part of our security approach;
  • Helping to arrange for an independent observer of public security operations;
  • Conducting background checks on security employees or contractors, including developing a pre-employment procedure whereby we can use expanded searches and different forms of identity documentation if needed;
  • Facilitating human rights training for public security at several locations, including in partnership with the International Committee of the Red Cross;
  • Providing substantive input into public security training materials;
  • Encouraging local stakeholder consultations related to public security arrangements with a range of governments;
  • Participating in local working groups to discuss practices as to implementation;
  • Reporting human rights incidents related to public security to appropriate authorities, sharing related internal information, and urging investigations; and
  • Participating in and leading working groups with a range of stakeholders to develop tools and identify best practices to assist in implementation.

We assess our compliance with the VPs regularly through multiple internal and external review channels, develop action plans for follow-up, and consider the outcomes of the reviews in developing and strengthening our programs. 

Although these steps help mitigate the risks posed by public and private security, we recognize that substantial challenges remain.  We will continue to consider approaches to vetting and training private security providers, including through collective action; the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Contractors Association (ICOCA) and activities within the VPs are both potential avenues.  We also will consider ways, through the VPs, home governments and other approaches, to help enhance the human rights training for public security, and avoid having public security officers with credible human rights violation accusations assigned to provide security around our sites.  We further will continue to work with leading civil society organizations, companies, and governments to identify best practices and practical solutions to the continued risks that security forces pose.

Our Progress

  • In 2016, Barrick did not experience any severe security-related incidents at the sites it operates.
  • In 2016, over 850 security personnel (100% of security employees) received dedicated, in-person human rights training, including use-of-force training, comprising more than 3,000 hours of total instruction.  All security personnel receive human rights training on an annual basis. All of Barrick’s training requirements apply to third-party organizations providing security personnel.
  • We have Memorandums of Understanding with security agencies in Zambia, Peru and the Dominican Republic, reflecting the terms of the VPs.
  • We have created a template reflecting our security and human rights expectations for joint ventures and affiliates in which we have an interest but do not control, and seek to use our leverage to help implement those expectations.
  • In 2016, we served on the Steering Committee of the UN Global Compact’s Business for Peace Platform and the Steering Committee of the VPs.  We also worked with the Mining Association of Canada to institute a requirement that members agree to follow the VPs.
  • We continue to conduct audits of both our compliance with the VPs (both internal audits and third-party audits) and our compliance with all related policies and procedures, such as the Security Code of Conduct, Use of Force procedure, pre-employment screening and related requirements.  In 2016, we conducted  audits of seven security-related standards across four sites (Pierina, Lagunas Norte, Veladero and Lumwana), and worked to implement recommendations and follow-up activities.
  • Since 2011, we have engaged Bureau Veritas to conduct annual external ICMM assurance audits on the VPs at some sites, resulting in a public Assurance Letter.  As part of that process, Bureau Veritas completed a VP assessment at Veladero in Argentina in 2016 and conducted a VP assessment of Lumwana in early 2017.
  • In March 2016, we helped lead a workshop with the Government of Canada related to implementation of the VPs.
  • In July 2016, we organized, with UNICEF Canada and the Government of Canada, a multi-sector working group to create a checklist related to the VPs and children’s rights. The checklist was launched in March 2017.

Our Priorities

  • Zero severe security-related incidents at Barrick-operated mine sites.
  • Continue to improve the Barrick Security Strategy and Security Policy through the accurate identification of significant security risks at operations and appropriate mitigation plans, with a strong focus on human rights and security for gold.
  • Conduct assurance reviews at seven sites. These reviews will emphasize the role of critical security controls and overall effectiveness of security program.
  • Conduct external benchmarking and research into step-change opportunities for the Company’s security performance. 
  • Develop improved annual security performance targets by which the effectiveness of the function will be judged in 2017.

Human Rights

Restoring Justice Initiative

The project brings together government, businesses, community leaders and non-governmental organizations

Date Download Description
May 6, 2015 files/design/bodybg/our-approach.jpg
2014 Responsibility Report

Our vision is the generation of wealth through responsible mining — wealth for our owners, our people, and the countries and communities with which we partner.

World Gold Council MemberMember of ICMM

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