The case studies in this report reveal recent instances where UK-listed companies’ operations have had serious adverse impacts on workers’ health and safety, individuals’ and communities’ human rights, developing country economies, and the quality and availability of natural resources.
While not all mining firms commit equally disturbing acts, and some companies genuinely try to observe the benchmarks for good governance already in place, there is persuasive evidence that such benchmarks are ignored with impunity by others. None of the companies critiqued in this report has been ousted from the LSE Main Market or AIM or been subject to a thorough official examination of their alleged misdeeds. The report pays special attention to Vedanta Resources, which is emblematic of multiple failures prevailing under the FSA’s regulatory ‘light touch’ of recent years. Vedanta may not be the worst environmental and human rights offender in every respect. (The company has not been accused of complicity in the shooting down of citizens by security forces: an accusation levelled in May 2011 against African Barrick – case study 3.1.) Nonetheless, charges against Vedanta continue to mount, lending urgency to the debate on whether there should be a UK definition of a corporate ‘bad actor’ – and one going beyond that outlined in the US Dodd-Frank Act. Some of Vedanta’s worst offences have been committed in the past two years.
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