SAfrican mining firm wins 'shame award' at Davos

28th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

South African mining giant AngloGold Ashanti scooped the unwanted "Public Eye Award" for environmental and social "irresponsibility" Friday on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum.

Campaigners in Davos to lobby the world business elite's annual get-together claimed the firm "contaminates land and people with its gold mining in Ghana".

"AngloGold Ashanti has destroyed over 50 rivers in Ghana that are indispensable for the residents. The rivers dry up, or mining toxins cause them to die off completely," the activists alleged.

Company spokesman Alan Fine told AFP: "First we have no idea what criteria was used for this award. Secondly, we have never been approached by these organisations and thirdly most of the events they refer to happened many years ago before our company was established."

Other firms nominated for the award included oil giant BP after an April 20 explosion in the Gulf of Mexico killed 11 people and unleashed 4.9 million barrels of oil in the worst-ever maritime spill.

Coca Cola, Philip Morris and Toyota were also "named and shamed."

Neste Oil, a Finnish manufacturer of bio diesel, won a separate online poll to nominate the "world's worst company" in terms of negative environmental and social impact, winning over 17,000 of 50,000 votes cast.

The firm, which sells biofuels from palm oil, "accelerates rainforest destruction and displaces ever more local communities in Indonesia and Malaysia," organisers said.

Simo Honkanen, responsible for sustainability at the firm, said: "Neste Oil is disappointed in the outcome of the Public Eye Award announced today and believes that it does not reflect the true nature of the situation."

"We believe that we are one of the world's most responsible companies buying palm oil today."

© 2011 AFP

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