(London, April 7, 2016): On January 11, 2013, Nevsun Mining Resources Ltd. issued a press release in which the company stated that “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.” (http://www.nevsun.com/news/2013/january11/).
Later, in February 2016, in an interview with the Fifth Estate, Canadian Premier Investigative Program (http://www.cbc.ca/fifth/episodes/2015-2016/nevsun-in-eritrea-dealing-with-a-dictator), Nevsun’s Vise President Todd Romain retracted the statement. However, the evidence still shows that Nevsun have and are still using Eritrean conscripts as labourers in their mines.
The less unfortunate conscripts are professionals such as geologists, accountants, administrators, etc. who are ‘seconded’ by the Eritrean Ministry of Energy and Mines, ENAMCO, and others to the Bisha mine. Initially, they are paid up to 10,000 Nakfa per month. Their own ministries get half of their monthly income for having placed them there. Make no mistake, these professionals cannot leave. They are conscripted into the Eritrean army for indefinite period. Even those who are demobilised from the Eritrean Defence Force, are conscripted into the People’s Army. There are cases of 84-year-olds being conscripted into the People’s Army.
Human Rights Concern – Eritrea’s (HRCE) recent research, having spoken to more than 50 conscripts who managed to escape to safe countries, shows that at least as late as November 2015 Eritrean conscripts were subjected to forced labour by Nevsun. Each one of them was told by the Eritrean government and SEGEN not to reveal that they were there against their will. Nevsun does not have any system in place to automatically enquire about the former status of these Eritrean conscripts. This would suggest that Nevsun does not care one way or the other who is doing the work, and what the conditions are like, so long as their mine gets mined. Nevsun must be aware that the Eritrean government’s human rights record has been listed as the second-worst in the world after North Korea. They are therefore turning a blind eye in pursuit of profit.
Mining will continue in Eritrea. The government will continue supplying Eritrean conscripts as forced labourers, even if they label them as ‘secondments’ or some other euphemism to hide the fact that the Eritrean government is making profit out of the blood, sweat and tears of their people, while companies like Nevsun turn a blind eye, and even deny, that this is what is going on. Will Nevsun be able to justify its callousness and the blighting of so many lives when the world is made aware of their complicity?
 The value of a Nakfa varies from 20-60 Nakfas per US dollar.