Initial Assessment Report for a complaint filed by a coalition of 28 organizations about the activities of GobiMin
File number: 220844
Complaint filed on: 21/06/2022
Report published on: 15/08/2023
About the CORE
The Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE) is a business and human rights grievance mechanism established by the Government of Canada. People can file complaints with the CORE about possible human rights abuses arising from the operations of Canadian garment, mining, and oil and gas companies outside of Canada.
For more information, see the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise website.
What is the purpose of this report?
The CORE is reporting on the initial assessment stage of a complaint filed by a coalition of 28 Canadian organizations on June 21, 2022, about the activities of GobiMin Inc. (“GobiMin”).
Pursuant to section 16 of the CORE’s Order in Council, the parties had an opportunity to comment on the facts contained in the report. A summary of the comments received is at Part 5 of the report.
Who are the parties to the complaint?
The Complainants are a coalition of 28 Canadian organizations listed in Annex 1.
GobiMin is a Canadian mining company. GobiMin was incorporated under the Canada Business Corporation Act on September 30, 2005.
What is the complaint about?
The complaint alleges that GobiMin has been implicated in Uyghur forced labour through exploration work carried out at its Sawayaerdun mine in Xinjiang, China. According to the complaint, the company’s exploration work was “performed by local exploration teams under subcontract”, as stated by GobiMin and reported on by the Globe and Mail.
Furthermore, the complaint alleges that there is no indication that GobiMin has taken any concrete steps to ensure beyond a reasonable doubt that Uyghur forced labour is not implicated.
The Complainants indicate that by way of a letter dated November 12, 2021, they asked GobiMin to conduct human rights due diligence (HRDD) to ensure that they do not benefit form Uyghur forced labour. According to the Complainants, GobiMin did not reply to their inquiry.
Part 1 — Summary of the intake stage (or admissibility stage)
- On July 31, 2022, on the basis of the information provided by the Complainants, the Ombud decided that the complaint was admissible pursuant to section 6.1 of the Operating Procedures. This means that the Ombud decided there was sufficient information for the Complainants to form a reasonable belief that each of the three admissibility criteria was met. The threshold for admissibility is a low one. The admissibility criteria are that:
- The complaint concerns an alleged abuse of an internationally recognized human right;
- The alleged abuse arises from the operations abroad of a Canadian company in the garment, mining or oil and gas sector; and
- The abuse allegedly occurred after May 1, 2019, or, if it allegedly occurred before May 1, 2019, is ongoing at the time of the complaint (Section 5.7, Operating Procedures).
- The Ombud’s decision was communicated to the Complainants by email on August 1, 2022.
- The Ombud’s decision was communicated to GobiMin by priority post and email on August 2, 2022. The complaint was provided to GobiMin on October 12, 2022.
Part 2 — Initial assessment
- Initial assessment is the process for deciding how to proceed with an admissible complaint including how to address any objections from the respondent (the company named in the complaint). The Ombud does not make a decision on the merits of the complaint during initial assessment.
- The objectives of the initial assessment process are to:
- Develop a better understanding of the parties’ positions regarding the allegations including any objections to the complaint from the respondent;
- Begin to identify the parties’ underlying needs and interests;
- Provide information regarding the role of the CORE and the different dispute resolution processes; and
- Work with the parties to decide what dispute resolution process may best address the issues raised by the complaint including the allegations and any objections from the respondent.
- During initial assessment, the Ombud meets with the parties to learn about their views regarding the allegations, respond to their concerns and questions, and seek their agreement to participate in early resolution or mediation. If the parties do not agree to participate in a consensual dispute resolution process, the Ombud will decide how to deal with the complaint including whether to begin an investigation.
The initial assessment process in this complaint
- The steps taken by the CORE during the initial assessment of this complaint were as follows:
- Desk review of the complaint.
- Virtual initial assessment meeting with the Complainants’ representatives on November 18, 2022.
- Virtual initial assessment meeting with representatives and counsel for GobiMin on January 16, 2023.
- Facilitating the exchange of documents between GobiMin and the Complainants (complaint response and subsequent responses).
- Desk research on corporate statements provided by GobiMin.
What the Complainants told the CORE
- During the initial assessment meeting on November 18, 2022, the Complainants expressed their willingness to participate in early resolution or mediation including agreeing to terms of confidentiality. The Complainants are willing to work towards a systemic resolution that does not name GobiMin and that finds solutions to address the possible use of Uyghur forced labour and that would help Canadian mining companies to undertake appropriate HRDD in this high risk context.
GobiMin’s response to the complaint
- On November 8, 2023, GobiMin provided a response to the complaint. The response disputed both the admissibility of the complaint and the substantive allegations made in the complaint. First, the response asserts that GobiMin is a Canadian company and does not own property in China, have any direct employees in China, or otherwise operate in China. According to the response, as of June 30, 2022, GobiMin indirectly owned a Hong Kong-incorporated subsidiary, which in turn owned a Chinese subsidiary, Xinjiang Weifu Mining Limited. The Chinese subsidiary owned a 70% equity interest in Xinjiang Tongyuan Minerals Limited, a Chinese company holding the mining license of the Sawayaerdun Gold Project, the mine referenced in the complaint. In July 2022, GobiMin sold its interest in the Chinese subsidiary. As of the date of GobiMin’s response (November 8, 2022), GobiMin asserts that its only remaining indirect investment in Xinjiang is a commercial office building owned by a subsidiary. Prior to the sale of its interest in the Chinese subsidiary, the subsidiary did not have any employees of Uyghur ethnicity.
- Second, GobiMin explained that its subsidiary completed exploration work in 2014, at which time it engaged independent laboratories to perform testing on samples collected from the project. In 2019, the subsidiary engaged an independent research institution in Beijing to evaluate the feasibility of extracting ore from the previously collected samples. The work performed by the Beijing-based research institution included limited on-site testing, with assistance from Xinjiang Tongyuan’s (the subsidiary’s) employees.
- GobiMin’s response also asserted that the complaint does not meet the CORE’s admissibility criteria as there are no specific allegations in the complaint that GobiMin engaged in any alleged human rights abuses after May 1, 2019. Furthermore, GobiMin asserts that it is under no obligation to prove anything “beyond a reasonable doubt”, as the Complainants allege.
- Finally, GobiMin asserted that it has complied with Canadian and Chinese laws at all times and exercised appropriate due diligence in its hiring practices, ensuring that all workers have freely chosen to accept employment.
Complainants’ response to GobiMin’s response to the complaint
- GobiMin’s response to the complaint was shared with the Complainants on March 13, 2023. The Complainants were provided with an opportunity to respond. The Complainants responded by way of letter dated April 11, 2023. The Complainants assert that none of the information provided by GobiMin would justify the CORE halting its initial assessment or not proceeding with a fulsome investigation.
- First, the Complainants assert that GobiMin has not provided documentation concerning its purported sale of its Xinjiang investments in July 2022. According to their response, the 2021 annual report provided by GobiMin does not mention any sale or planned sale.
- Second, the Complainants assert that given the fact that GobiMin engaged more than 30 employees in Xinjiang prior to the sale of its investments in July 2022, the complaint is admissible. They allege that the human rights abuses occurred after May 1, 2019, and were ongoing at the time of the complaint, as the purported sale occurred several months after the Complainants lodged their complaint.
- Finally, the Complainants assert that GobiMin has not provided any indication as to how their wholly owned subsidiary “ensured that all workers have freely chosen to accept employment”, and argued that citing compliance with Chinese laws is insufficient. They reject the claim that none of GobiMin’s employees “were of Uyghur ethnicity”. In an April 2022 article, the Globe and Mail reported that GobiMin’s president and chief executive officer claimed that the company’s human resources department has conducted due diligence to ensure that “the rules and rights of choosing one’s job are [the employees’] decision”. However, the Complainants note that prior to this statement, GobiMin had explicitly stated to the Globe and Mail in January 2021 that most of the company’s exploration work was “performed by local exploration teams under subcontract”. They assert that using “local exploration teams” in Xinjiang would almost certainly have involved Uyghurs.
GobiMin’s response to the Complainants
- The Complainants’ response was shared with GobiMin on April 17, 2023. GobiMin was provided with an opportunity to respond. GobiMin responded by way of letter dated April 20, 2023. In its response, GobiMin concluded that further exchanges with the Complainants will not be productive as the complaint does not appear to have been made in good faith. GobiMin alleges that the Complainants have ignored evidence in the public record and continue to make accusations without supporting evidence. GobiMin provided the following eight documents as exhibits to its letter:
- Equity Transfer Agreement between Zijin Mining Group Northwest Co. Ltd. and Alexis Investments Limited, Xinjiang Weifu Mining Limited
- Debt Assignment Agreement (Parties: Zijin Mining Group Northwest Co. Ltd., Xinjiang Gebi Mining Limited, Xinjiang Weifu Mining Limited)
- GobiMin News Release: ‘GobiMin Inc. Announces Disposal of the Gold Project for USD68 Million’
- Debt Assignment Agreement (Parties: Zijin Mining Group Northwest Co. Ltd., Xinjiang Gebi Mining Limited, Xinjiang Tongyuan Minerals Limited)
- GobiMin News Release: ‘GobiMin Announces Third Quarter 2022 Results’
- GobiMin News Release: ‘GobiMin Inc. Provides Progress on Gold Project Divestment’
- Debt Assignment Agreement (Parties: Zijin Mining Group Northwest Co. Ltd., Alexis Investments Limited, Xinjiang Tongyuan Minerals Limited)
- GobiMin News Release: ‘GobiMin Receives Final Payment from Sale of Gold Project’
- First, GobiMin addressed the Complainants’ allegation that GobiMin failed to provide documentation demonstrating the sale of its Chinese subsidiary and that the sale was not disclosed in GobiMin’s 2021 Annual Report. GobiMin clarified that the sale was only announced in July 2022, whereas the Annual Report is for events ending on December 31, 2021. The documents provided by GobiMin to the CORE confirm the sale of the Chinese subsidiary.
- Second, GobiMin explained that all events that were the subject matter of the complaint regarding “mining activities” occurred prior to May 2019 and were therefore outside of the CORE’s jurisdiction. They allege that the Complainants are unable to identify any specific act by GobiMin after May 2019 beyond the fact that GobiMin had employees performing administrative and technical work until the sale of the Chinese subsidiary.
- Finally, GobiMin argued that the mere presence of employees in Xinjiang performing administrative and technical tasks is not a sufficient basis to launch an investigation. They further explained that the aforementioned quote in the Globe and Mail was not an occasion to provide a full description of all of the due diligence that GobiMin undertook with respect to its employment practices in Xinjiang.
- In drafting the initial assessment report, the CORE sought clarification from GobiMin regarding several questions related to the sale of GobiMin’s Chinese subsidiary. GobiMin confirmed that the Chinese subsidiary was sold in July 2022 and that there are no further operations. GobiMin provided the CORE with copies of press releases issued in April of 2016, 2017, and 2018 which refer to consideration of potential transactions with possible investors, demonstrating that GobiMin continuously evaluated the possibility of a partial or total sale of its interests in the project.
- In response to a question from the CORE regarding the steps taken by GobiMin leading up to and following the sale to minimize the human rights impact of its departure, GobiMin noted that the proposed buyer is Zijin Mining Company and that the buyer has publicly announced its commitment to respecting human rights.Footnote 1 In response to a question regarding GobiMin’s operations in China, the company directed the CORE to its 2021 Annual Report (p.5) which details its major subsidiaries. Finally, in response to a question about its responsible business conduct (RBC) policies, GobiMin explained that “Xinjiang Tongyuan maintained detailed policies to ensure that all employment and recruitment were voluntary and open to the entire community”. While GobiMin maintains detailed records of employees and letters of reference, these records are no longer the property of GobiMin since the sale of the Chinese subsidiary.
Part 3 — How to deal with the complaint
- The Ombud must decide how to deal with the complaint. The Ombud may decide to:
- Close the file — The Ombud may decide not to deal with the complaint and to close the file after publishing this report pursuant to section 14(2) of the Order in Council; or,
- Proceed to mediation — The Ombud may decide to proceed to mediation if both parties are in agreement; or,
- Conduct an investigation using independent fact-finding — The Ombud may decide to investigate the complaint using independent fact-finding pursuant to section 7(b) of the Order in Council.
- In deciding whether to investigate a complaint, the Ombud considers the overall context of the complaint and relevant factors including whether:
- The complaint is trivial or frivolous;
- The complaint is being reviewed or has been reviewed, in another forum.
- The Canadian company has already provided a satisfactory response or remedy to the allegations in the complaint;
- Relevant information is likely to be available; and
- An investigation is likely to lead to unacceptable risk to the complainant or others.
- In considering whether relevant information is likely to be available, the cooperation of the Canadian company named in a complaint is not determinative. The CORE may consider the availability of information from all reasonably accessible sources. As well, in any final report, the CORE may comment on how the cooperation of the parties impacted on the availability of information and other aspects of the investigation.
- On their face, the allegations made by the Complainants raise serious issues regarding the possible abuse of the internationally recognized right to be free from forced labour, referred to in following instruments:
- Right to be free from slavery or servitude (Article 4, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948);
- Right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work (Article 23, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948; Article 6.1, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 1966);
- Freedom from forced or compulsory labour (Articles 1 & 2, ILO’s Forced Labour Convention, 1930 [No. 29], Article 8[a], International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966; The Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention 1930);
- Freedom from forced or compulsory labour as a means of political coercion or of racial, social, national or religious discrimination. (Article 1, ILO’s Abolition of Forced Labour Convention, 1957 [No. 105]).
- The seriousness of the human rights impacts arising from the possible use of Uyghur forced labour is underlined by the report OHCHR Assessment of human rights concerns in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, People’s Republic of China issued in August 2022. The report finds that far-reaching, arbitrary and discriminatory restrictions on human rights and fundamental freedoms were imposed on Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim communities living in Xinjiang “in violation of international laws and standards” and calls on states, businesses and the international community to take actions in order to end the abuses.
- Recognizing the seriousness of the possible use of Uyghur forced labour in Xinjiang, the Canadian government requires Canadian companies that source directly or indirectly from Xinjiang or from entities relying on Uyghur labour or who seek to engage in the Xinjiang market to sign the Integrity Declaration on Doing Business with Xinjiang Entities before receiving services and support from the Trade Commissioner Service (TCS). In addition, the Canadian government’s 2023 budget signalled its commitment to reducing supply chain vulnerabilities and its intention to strengthen Canada’s supply chain infrastructure by shifting critical supply chains away from dictatorships and towards democracies.
- The complaint raises questions about GobiMin’s due diligence activities. Principles 14 and 17, and related commentary of Guiding principles on business and human rights (PDF) indicate that HRDD in high-risk areas such as the Xinjiang region in China be tailored according to the nature and context of a company’s operation, types of vulnerable groups, and the intensity and severity of human rights risks and that a company may need to adopt more robust measures in a high-risk operating context.
- As well, the UNGPs provide guidance regarding the responsibility of companies to be transparent about their HRDD activities. Companies whose business operations or operating context pose risks of severe human rights impacts are required to report formally about how they identify and address those serious human rights impacts (Principle 21 and its commentary of Guiding principles on business and human rights [PDF]). When concerns are raised by or on behalf of affected or other relevant stakeholders, companies need to provide sufficient information and ensure that its reporting/communication is accessible to the intended audiences.
- As mentioned above, GobiMin provided the CORE with a response to the complaint. In its complaint response, GobiMin disputed the admissibility of the complaint on the grounds that the company does not have “direct operations” in China and that they completed exploration work in 2014. While GobiMin does not have direct operations in China, its former subsidiary, Xinjiang Tongyuan Minerals Limited, was active in Xinjiang, China prior to the time of its sale in 2022. According to the definition in section 2 of the CORE’s Order in Council, a Canadian company includes an entity that it controls and that operates abroad in the garment, mining, or oil and gas sectors. This broad definition includes a company incorporated in Canada that owns a subsidiary that operates abroad.
- With respect to the timeframe, while GobiMin completed exploration work in 2014, work related to the Sawayaerdun Gold Project continued after May 1, 2019. As GobiMin states in its response to the complaint, “[in] 2019, Xinjiang Tongyuan engaged an independent research institution in Beijing to evaluate the feasibility of extracting ore from the samples previously collected from the Project. The work performed by the Beijing-based research institution included limited on-site testing, with assistance from Xinjiang Tongyuan’s employees”. Based on this information, it appears that GobiMin’s subsidiary was operating in the region after May 2019.
- With respect to the workers employed by both Xinjiang Weifu Mining Limited and Xinjiang Tongyuan Minerals Limited, GobiMin claims that none of the workers were of Uyghur ethnicity. The Complainants dispute this assertion on the grounds that the use of “local exploration teams” in the Xinjiang region “almost certainly would involve Uyghurs”. Based on the information received by the CORE, it is unclear what steps, if any, GobiMin took to ensure that its subsidiary operating in a high risk did not use Uyghur workers.
- In its correspondence with the CORE, GobiMin provided documentation which confirmed that they sold their interest in the Chinese subsidiary [Xinjiang Weifu Mining Limited] which owns Xinjiang Tongyuan, the Chinese company holding the mining license of the Sawayaerdun Gold Project. According to a press release issued by GobiMin on December 9, 2022, the company “received final payment of RMB50 million [approximately CAD 9.7 million] in connection with the disposal of its Sawayaerdun Gold Project”.
- As mentioned above, in deciding whether to investigate a complaint, the Ombud considers the overall context of the complaint and relevant factors including whether the Canadian company has already provided a satisfactory response or remedy to the allegations in the complaint. A relevant consideration in this complaint is the fact that GobiMin sold its interest in the Chinese subsidiary which owned the company holding the mining license of the Sawayaerdun Gold Project in July 2022. According to GobiMin, as of November 8, 2022, “GobiMin’s only remaining indirect investment in the XUAR is a commercial office building owned by a subsidiary”. Given the sale of its subsidiary, the Ombud may consider that GobiMin has already provided a satisfactory remedy to the allegations in the complaint. However, the Ombud may also decide to conduct an investigation using independent fact-finding to verify the information provided by the parties and to learn what GobiMin did to ensure a responsible exit from this high-risk area when it sold its interest in the Chinese subsidiary.
- If the Ombud decides to investigate the complaint, there will be an ongoing opportunity for GobiMin to respond and participate including providing additional information regarding its HRDD activities.
- Given the broader context of the complaint and challenges in gathering information on an in-country basis, independent fact-finding may be limited. The availability of the information would need to be assessed as the investigation progresses and would be considered in any final report.
- The complaint does not name individuals or make individuals identifiable thereby reducing the potential for an investigation to increase risk to individuals. If the Ombud decides to investigate the complaint, an assessment of risk will be ongoing throughout the investigation.
Part 4 — Participation in the Complaint process
- As outlined above, GobiMin provided a response to the complaint. GobiMin agreed to meet with the CORE for an initial assessment meeting, and this meeting was held on January 16, 2023. GobiMin has responded to all correspondence from the CORE and provided additional information in response to the CORE’s questions on April 20, 2023, and May 5, 2023.
- The CORE’s Operating Procedures provides that full and active participation in the complaint process is part of good faith:
Section 11.1 requires the parties to fully participate in the complaint process including by providing the Ombud with relevant information and documents and making witnesses available on reasonable notice, according to the timelines established by the Ombud.
Section 11.2 provides that where a Canadian company does not participate actively in the complaint process, including refusing to provide relevant information and documents, the Ombud may draw appropriate negative conclusions or adverse inferences during factfinding.
Section 12.4 provides that the Ombud may consider a party not to be acting in good faith if the party does not actively participate in a review without reasonable explanation.
- Given its full and active participation in the complaints process, it appears that GobiMin is acting in good faith.
Part 5 — Comments from the parties
Comments from the Complainants
- The Complainants provided comments on May 31 regarding the CORE’s initial assessment draft report. Drawing on the CORE’s Order in Council and its Operating Procedures, the Complainants listed the following reasons why the CORE should conduct an investigation of GobiMin:
- The complaint is not trivial or frivolous — the CORE is already aware of the human rights situation resulting from the use of Uyghur forced labour in China and that GobiMin’s subsidiary, Xinjiang Tongyuan Minerals Limited, was operating in the Xinjiang region after May 2019.
- The complaint is not and has not been reviewed in another forum.
- GobiMin has not provided a satisfactory response or remedy to the allegations in the complaint — Gobimin had a majority ownership stake in Xinjiang Tongyuan Minerals Limited until it sold its interest in the subsidiary in July 2022 [after the Complainants filed their complaint with the CORE on June 21, 2022], which meets the CORE’s admissibility threshold. In addition, the company has not provided “any specific evidence” to support its assertion that it did not rely on Uyghur forced labour, nor has the company provided evidence to indicate it exited responsibly from this high-risk area when it sold its interest in Xinjiang Tongyuan Minerals Limited.
- Relevant information is likely to be available: in addition to the publicly available information regarding GobiMin and its business operations in the Xinjiang region, additional information can be obtained from GobiMin’s business partners in China by relying on language translation services.
- The investigation will likely not lead to unacceptable risk to the Complainants or others.
- The Complainants also reference Section 11.2 from the CORE’s Operating Procedures — “[w]here a Canadian company does not participate actively in a review including refusing to provide relevant information and documents, the Ombud may draw appropriate negative conclusions or adverse inferences during fact-finding.”
Comments from GobiMin
- GobiMin provided comments on May 22 regarding the CORE’s initial assessment draft report.
- The company disagrees with the draft report’s statement regarding not replying to the Complainants’ inquiry, which was sent to GobiMin in the form of a letter dated November 12, 2021. According to GobiMin, this letter was not received because, instead of being sent to its current office in Montreal, it was sent to the company’s former office in Toronto, which was reportedly not in use since November 1, 2018.
- GobiMin also stressed that the report did not capture the “very limited nature” and short duration of the work related to the on-site testing of ore samples collected from the Sawayaerdun Gold Mine. The company explained that employees of its subsidiary, Xinjiang Tongyuan Minerals Limited, were reportedly “primarily engaged in observing and monitoring the progress of minerals removed from samples after being submerged in a bio-leaching solution.” This testing was “interrupted” in 2020 due to the public health measures implemented in China in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Finally, GobiMin asserts that the CORE’s references to Canada’s Xinjiang Integrity Declaration requirement in 2020 and the report of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights issued in 2022 are a “retroactive application of standards and guidelines to GobiMin’s activities” and that “[t] he limited operations of GobiMin in the latter half of 2019” should be evaluated based on the information that was publicly available at that particular time.
Part 6 — Ombud’s decision
- According to section 4 b) of the Order in Council, part of the mandate of the Ombud is to advise Canadian companies on their practices and policies with regards to responsible business conduct. Section 11 of the Order in Council provides that once a review is completed, the Ombud may make recommendations including changes to a Canadian company’s policies.
- In order to address the allegations raised in the complaint, the Ombud has decided not to launch an investigation, but to provide recommendations to GobiMin on their responsible business conduct abroad. It should be mentioned that the threshold for admissibility of a complaint is a low one and the complaint submitted by the Complainants remains admissible on the grounds that:
- It concerns an alleged abuse of an internationally recognized human right;
- The alleged abuse arises from the operations abroad of a Canadian company in the garment, mining or oil and gas sector; and
- The abuse allegedly occurred after May 1, 2019, or, if it allegedly occurred before May 1, 2019, is ongoing at the time of the complaint (Section 5.7, Operating Procedures).
- In reaching this decision, the Ombud considered the following factors:
- The complaint raises serious allegations regarding the possible abuse of the international human right to be free from forced labour arising from the operations abroad of GobiMin.
- GobiMin sold its former subsidiary, Xinjiang Tongyuan Minerals Limited in 2022.
- Despite GobiMin’s assertion that their presence in the Sawayaerdun Gold Mine was limited and interrupted in 2020 due to the public health measures implemented in China in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, GobiMin had operations in Xinjiang until the sale in 2022. Whether the operations were limited or substantial, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights applied to them.
- In regards to GobiMin’s assertion that the CORE’s references to Canada’s Xinjiang Integrity Declaration requirement in 2020 and the report of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights issued in 2022 are a retroactive application of standards and guidelines to GobiMin’s activities, it should be understood that these documents reflect the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which were established in 2011.
- In order to address forced labour, Canadian mining companies operating abroad need to:
- know how the risk of forced labour might arise from their investment or business activities;
- prioritize transparency across their business activities such that they can identify the presence or potential presence of forced labour;
- adopt robust HRDD to ensure effective prevention and remediation of forced labour and to prevent importation of goods mined with forced labour;
- exercise heightened caution in doing business or investing in high-risk areas such as Xinjiang;
- develop and exercise leverage over their business partner(s) to prevent and mitigate forced labour risks and, in the event there is no leverage, consider a responsible exit from the investment or business relationship; and
- effectively communicate their HRDD policies and strategies to relevant stakeholders especially when there are complaints about their investment or business activities in high-risk areas; and,
- take appropriate steps to ensure responsible exit in order to avoid or minimize any human rights impacts.
- GobiMin has not provided information that it took appropriate steps to ensure a responsible exit when it sold its interest in Xinjiang Tongyuan Minerals Limited;
- GobiMin has not provided information about its policies and practices regarding developing and using leverage in its business relationships to prevent and mitigate forced labour risks;
- GobiMin has not disclosed how it reached the conclusion that its subsidiary did not have any Uyghur workers; and
- The sale of GobiMin’s interest in its Chinese subsidiary in 2022 and consequently its departure from the high-risk region of Xinjiang, significantly limits the potential for an investigation or other dispute resolution process to contribute to an effective remedy in the context of this particular case.
- The Ombud recommends that GobiMin:
- Revise and update its policies on responsible exit or if it does not have such policies, develop and adopt policies on responsible exit including from high-risk areas as part of their HRDD;
- Shares these policies with the CORE by December 29, 2023, and incorporate any feedback or comments from the CORE;
- Post the final policies on their website by March 15, 2024; and
- Publicly commit to implement and apply these policies in the context of its operations abroad.
- The CORE will follow up to assess Gobi-Min’s response to and implementation of the Ombud’s recommendations and will report publicly on the follow-up, as required by section 14(1)(d) of the Order in Council.
- Depending on GobiMin’s response to this report, the Ombud may reassess the question of good faith participation.
Complainants: A coalition of 28 organizations
- Canadians in Support of Refugees in Dire
- Need (CSRDN)
- Alliance Canada Hong Kong
- Anatolia Islamic Centre
- Canada Tibet Committee
- Canadians Against Oppression & Persecution
- Canadian Council of Muslim Women (CCMW)
- Canadian Council of Imams (CCI)
- Canada-Hong Kong Link
- Doctors for Humanity
- East Turkistan Association of Canada
- End Transplant Abuse in China (ETAC)
- Human Rights Research and Education Centre, University of Ottawa
- Human Concern International (HCI)
- Islamic Circle of North America Canada (ICNA)
- Islamic Society of North America (ISNA)
- Justice for All
- Lawyers for Humanity
- Muslim Association Canada (MAC)
- National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights
- Canadian Security Research Group
- Share 2 Care (S2C)
- Stop Uyghur Genocide Canada
- Toronto Association for Democracy in China
- Union of Medical care and Relief Organizations-Canada (UOSSM)
- Uyghur Refugee Relief Fund
- Uyghur Rights Advocacy Project
- Vancouver Society in Support of Democratic Movement
Report a problem on this page
- Date Modified: