Follow the money path…and take action!

Goldcorp and Tahoe Resources sell shares of their company to the public at large via stock exchanges. Those shares can be purchased by individuals or private and public financial institutions that manage mutual funds and pension funds. Therefore, the shareholders invest in capital that they hope will grow in mining companies; they become holders of a small part of the company, assuming both the financial risk and the possibility for profits. On their end, the mining companies find the capital – i.e. colossal amounts – necessary to open and operate a mining project.

That capital is comprised of the savings or contributions of clients or contributors of those institutions, whether they are aware or not of the route their pennies are taking. The Caisse de Dépôt et Placement du Québec invests the contributions made to the Régie des Rentes du Québec of nearly 4 million Quebeckers. As for the Canada Pension Plan, it collects and invests the contributions of some 18 million Canadians, via its Investment Board.Hence, that means that via these two public pension funds, the very vast majority of Canadians and Quebeckers have money invested in Goldcorp and Tahoe Resources. Many of us also invest in these companies via other financial institutions who buy shares of these two mining companies, for example Royal Bank, National Bank, ING Direct, or AGF Investments.

By following the money trail, we discover that we are financially linked to Guatemalans suffering serious harm and brutal repression related to Tahoe Resources and Goldcorp’s mining projects. Regardless of what our intentions may be, this link makes us unwitting accomplices to a large number of human rights violations taking place in Guatemala. But it also provides us with a means to act in order to make a difference!

However, some of these financial institutions have adopted ethical principles that guide their investments and assure us that our assets will not be used to fund wars or companies presumed guilty of serious abuse and unscrupulous environmental destruction. That is particularly the case with the Caisse de Dépôt et de Placement du Québec, the Canada Pension Fund, and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Fund, managing the savings of millions of Canadians! In addition to the principles that they adopted themselves, these three institutions also signed the Principles for Responsible Investment initiative of their own free will. This UN initiative commits private and public financial institutions to take into account ethical principles related to human rights and the environment such that they make investment decisions that are not only profitable, but also responsible.

“Investors have obligations to shareholders to invest responsibly and avoid links to human rights violations.”
- Ken Neumann, United Steel Workers National Director, 2013

As direct and indirect investors, we can play a key role in favour of the respect of human rights and the environment in Guatemala! Participating in this divestment campaign is a committed, responsible act within everyone’s reach that can make a positive difference. Companies are aware of the pressure exerted by the public, particularly by its investors. We can show our opposition to the investments made using our money by questioning the managers of our pension funds, by calling our bank and by calling to order Quebec and Canada’s public investment fund, which are violating their own ethics principles by investing in Goldcorp and Tahoe Resources.

Did you know that Goldcorp and Tahoe Resources have been at the center of several controversies for many years now? The people’s opposition to their mining projects in Guatemala and elsewhere is very strong; the damage to the environment and human health associated with them only tarnish their reputation around the world even further. The activities of Goldcorp and Tahoe Resources have resulted in several warnings and urgent action on the part of Amnesty International, and even international court rulings on the protection of human rights! As for Goldcorp, in 2008 it was taken off the Jantzi Social Index, a list of recommended companies for investors who want to be responsible in their choices.

By incorporating environmental and social considerations in their criteria, investment companies recognize that a company’s performance is not based solely on financial criteria. Natural resources mining projects, when they are unsustainable on the environmental and human level, are also financially unsustainable in the long term. The investment risk is increased by social tension, legal decisions and international warnings associated with mining projects; the investors’ reputation is called into question as is that of the companies; the resources freely used and deteriorated by the companies (water, agricultural soil, mountains) have a real cost and irreversible consequences for humanity as a whole.

Investor (public or private institution holding shares in the company) Value of investments in Goldcorp Inc. (in $US) Value of investments in Tahoe Resources Inc. (in $US)
Caisse de Dépôt et de Placement du Québec More than $246 million
Canada Pension Plan Investment Board More than $217 million Almost $54 million
Ontario’ Teachers Pension Plan More than $175 million
Public Sector Pension Investment Board $80 million $12.5 million
Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) $464 million $30 million
Bank of Montreal (BMO) $382 million $19 million
Desjardins Group (Equity Growth and Environment funds) $28.6 million
CIBC (CIBC World Markets and CIBC Global Asset Management) $427 million $4 million
National Bank of Canada $5.7 million
Fidelity Investments $373.5 million $128 million
Empire Life $8.7 million
Standard Life $7.6 million $322,800
AGF Investments $67.5 million $69 million
Industrial Alliance $56 million
Manulife Financial $30 million $388,000
*GOLDCORP INC. Almost $937 million (40% des parts)

The list of shareholders in this table is by no means exhaustive. Institutions investing in the two mining companies have been identified by monitoring their financial holdings via the financial sites and, consulted between November 2013 and January 2013, the annual report of the Caisse de Dépôt et placement du Québec and the Comprehensive Ownership Detail Reports of Goldcorp and Tahoe Resources. The figures listed in the table were taken on September 30, 2013, unless otherwise specified. The purpose of this table is not to assign a precise, up-to-date investment value, but rather to simply give an idea of the extent of the investment of each financial institution identified.