The Canadian Mining group, Nevsun, has been under intense pressure after the UN’s Commission of Inquiry found evidence that it was employing Eritrean conscripts. The National Service personnel, working through a South African subcontractor, were using the conscripts in slave-like conditions.
As the UN report put it: “Eritreans are subject to systems of national service and forced labour that effectively abuse, exploit and enslave them for indefinite periods of time.”
This issue was taken up by the UK Foreign and Commonweath Office during a meeting earlier this month, it has been revealed (see below). Nevsun assured the British that it has put in place safeguards to prevent this happening. I have highlighted the key paragraph before including the rest of the letter.
See the UN Commission of Inquiry’s findings on this issue after the letter.
This is the relevant section of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Eritrea report
211. Nevsun Resources Ltd., a Canadian company, is the only mining company currently operating in Eritrea. It operates a mine in Bisha (150 kilometres west of Asmara) that produces gold, silver, copper and zinc. Nevsun is also the only foreign mining company paying royalties and taxes to the Eritrean treasury. Its published data show that it paid over 85 million USD to the Government of Eritrea in income taxes, royalties and other fees. The company estimates that it will pay a total of 14 billion USD to the Government of Eritrea over the next ten years. On 20 November 2014, three Eritreans filed a lawsuit against Nevsun in the Supreme Court of British Columbia, Canada, in relation to whether Nevsun relied upon forced labour.