The vast expansion of British mega-mining in Latin America is displacing communities, destroying ecosystems, costing lives and polluting our planet. The Rivers are Bleeding: British Mining in Latin America documents 56 UK-mining operations – 32 of which have ongoing conflicts –to produce a damming indictment of one of the world’s most powerful industries.
Mining conflicts are fuelled by environmental degradation, competition over water, the dismantling of local organisations, fraud, corruption, dispossession, repression and the criminalisation of community opposition. The proliferation of catastrophic conflicts associated with the mining industry has been widely analysed by various environmental and social movements, intellectuals and academics.
The report highlights company practices and their consequences, which in turn demonstrate the need for much greater independent scrutiny and action by governments to defend the rights of local communities.
The heart of the global mining industry beats in the City of London, where most of the world’s biggest mining companies are incorporated. Despite systematic human rights abuses, the overwhelming conclusion is that mining companies are evading responsibility for the devastating social, cultural, economic and environmental legacies these projects leave behind. Instead, corporations enjoy the benefits of tax breaks, subsidies and weak regulations. The report calls for binding legislation that can put an end to corporate impunity worldwide.
In the face of this bleak outlook, our report also shows how grassroots resistance led by frontline communities is one of the most effective ways of stopping destructive projects. Peasants, fisherfolk, indigenous communities, and social movements across Latin America are asserting their rights, defending territories, mounting legal challenges, and promoting alternatives.
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The planetary emergency we are facing is inflaming all the crises, deprivations, and injustices we know of. We are in Decade Zero – an indispensable period of ten years where we have to achieve major systems change, pulling down emissions, and dissolving the inequalities that make us vulnerable to climate violence. Mining companies bear a huge responsibility for the climate crisis, yet today, they present themselves as the solution-bearers rather than as the enablers and dirty polluters they are.
War on Want will continue to stand with frontline communities around the world in their struggle for justice. We’re also at the forefront demanding a Global Green Deal for People, central to which is a call for publically-owned, de-centralised renewable energy systems that ends corporate control of energy, extraction and supply, as part of a series of measures which guarantees the right to a dignified life for everyone.
The report has been written in collaboration with the Observatory for Mining Conflicts in Latin America (OCMAL) with the support of the London Mining Network and Gaia Foundation. It is available in Spanish and English.