Nevsun Rejects HRW “Conscripted Labour” Accusations

Human rights is indivisible and one cannot be selective at whim. Nor should these be instrumental used for political ends by major powers” – Yemane.

HRW's radar focused on Nevsun not for protection of human rights but predictably on Eritrea's mining sector
HRW’s radar focused on Nevsun not for protection of human rights but predictably on Eritrea’s mining sector

By Nevsun Resources,

Nevsun Resources Ltd. (TSX: NSU / NYSE Amex: NSU) today provided a comment on its approach to human rights at the Bisha Mine in Eritrea, in which Nevsun has a 60% ownership position. Nevsun provided the comment because it anticipates that both the Company and a Bisha Mine subcontractor will be mentioned in a forthcoming report by a non-governmental human rights organization.

Nevsun is committed to responsible operations and practices at the Bisha Mine, based on international standards of safety, governance and human rights,” said Cliff Davis, President and CEO.  “Our 60%-owned subsidiary Bisha Share Mining Company (BMSC) directly employs nearly 1,000 Eritreans at the Bisha Mine and provides a safe and supportive working environment. Bisha had zero lost time accidents in all of 2012.”

POSITIVE SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC IMPACT:

Nevsun strives to ensure that the Company’s presence has a positive social and economic impact. With spin-off effects, the Bisha Mine has created meaningful employment for thousands of Eritreans. The Company’s commitment to corporate social responsibility is detailed in its 2011 CSR report, available on its website at this link: https://www.nevsun.com/pdf/2011-nevsun-csr-report.pdf

From inception of mining in early 2011 Bisha has contributed more than US$400 million in cash remittances to the Eritrean government and government owned entities. In addition, the mine contributed tens of millions of dollars to the economy of Eritrea through salaries, wages, benefits, local supply-chain purchases, and community assistance and the mine did not displace any local communities. Considering that the Bisha Mine is the only modern mine in Eritrea, this contribution is a significant benefit to the national economy and the local communities.

Compensation for Eritreans directly employed by BMSC is well above the average for Eritrea. Employees are provided free food and free accommodations or free local commuting. These employees also receive free training and have opportunities for advancement. Employees also have access to free medical care at the mine’s clinic.

CONSCRIPTED LABOUR IS NOT ALLOWED AT BISHA: 

The use of conscripted labour at the Bisha site is not allowed. BMSC has strong practices and procedures to ensure that all individuals at Bisha are working of their own free will and are not conscripts. The procedures include the inspection of national service discharge documentation for all Eritrean workers at Bisha. The inspection process is further supported by a Bisha-issued photo ID card for those employed directly or by subcontractors.

In early 2009, within a few months of the start of mine construction, Nevsun became aware of allegations that a particular subcontractor, Segen Construction, might be employing conscripts from the country’s national service. Unfortunately, at the time, BMSC’s national service discharge document inspection procedures did not apply to subcontractors. In response to the allegations BMSC acted quickly by immediately extending its procedures to include subcontractors and by obtaining a written guarantee from Segen that it would not use conscripts at Bisha. There are currently 140 Segen employees at the mine, representing about 10% of the 1,400 Eritreans employed directly or indirectly at Bisha. Segen is not a permanent fixture at Bisha. All Segen employees will leave Bisha by the end of August, 2013, when their current work is completed.

The Company expresses regret if certain employees of Segen were conscripts four years ago, in the early part of the Bisha Mine’s construction phase. Segen is controlled by the Eritrean State and BMSC is required to use Segen for certain construction work at Bisha. BMSC is not allowed to do such work itself or to engage any other subcontractor for such work.