A 72-page report entitled ‘For life and territory: COVID-19 and resistance to the mining pandemic’ is the result of the effort of the Coalition Against the Mining Pandemic, a coalition of environmental justice organizations, networks and initiatives from North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Africa and Latin America that work in solidarity with mining-affected communities. This regional study is part of a global collaborative research project involving local partners in 23 countries to document what it has been like to struggle during the pandemic against the threat of losing one’s water and territory from the long term impacts of mining.
The report looks at the challenges and resilience of Indigenous peoples and rural communities facing David and Goliath battles to protect their land and water from the long term harms of mineral extraction during the COVID-19 pandemic. The report covers case studies from nine Latin American countries, from Mexico to Argentina, including some of the countries hardest hit from COVID-19, as well as being areas of major mining investment.
At the start of the pandemic, frontline communities were already facing tough odds up against transnational corporations keen to extract gold, silver, copper, iron ore, coal, lithium and uranium from their territories. Since that time, they have found no reprieve. While taking measures to protect themselves from COVID-19, they could not let their guard down as governments and corporations took advantage of greater social constraints – and danger to land and environment defenders – to advance projects and further position the industry as “essential” for economic reactivation and the energy transition. As a result, viewed from Latin America, the COVID-19 pandemic and related measures seem to have been made to fit the mining industry.
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Even so, communities have been fighting back and reaffirming the importance of putting priority on land, food and health before profit. Their struggles reaffirm the need for a serious rethink of the costs and need for more mining.