Nevsun Resources (TSX:NSU) has released an independent report that found no evidence of forced labour or human rights violations the miner was accused of in a United Nations report released last June.
The claims relate to Nevsun’s Bisha copper and gold mine in Eritrea. The company has walked a rocky path to get this project off the ground. Back in 2004, Eritrea’s autocratic government kicked all mining companies out of the country for no apparent reason. They were welcomed back a few months later, and shortly after Nevsun was able to strike a development agreement.
But the company has repeatedly come under fire over the use of conscripted labour since construction of the mine began in 2008. Fingers have pointed mainly to state-owned contractor Segen Construction, said to have used conscripts under harsh working conditions. And while Nevsun was unable to confirm or deny the use of such labour at the site, it did take measures to prevent it from happening in the future.
The use of conscripted labour in Eritrea’s mining sector was first reported by Human Rights Watch in 2013.
Eritrea’s weak economy has become dependent on revenues from its resource sector, which has attracted foreign miners —mainly from Australia, Canada and China— all looking to cash in on untapped mineral reserves.