What is 'The Heart of Our Earth'?
- A book. Due to be published by LAB and Practical Action Publishing in 2022, it will be written in compelling, straightforward language you don’t need to be an expert to read, it will chart the activities of multinational mining companies in Latin America, the effects on local communities, and the ways in which they are resisting and fighting back.
- A website. This website provides a space for additional reading, multimedia material, and comment, beginning now and continuing long after the book is been published. We will also encourage the affected communities to contribute. Follow our project-specific Facebook and Instagram pages to keep updated on Latin American mining news.
- Other advocacy materials. With our partners in the project we will prepare material on mining and communities directed at policymakers, companies, investors, and the general public.
Across Latin America, mining has expanded massively in recent decades. Vast landscapes have been stripped to feed the factories of Europe, North America and Asia – and not only in traditional mining regions, but also in hitherto pristine areas in places like Argentine Patagonia, the Amazon Rainforest and the Guatemalan Highlands. But communities aren’t taking this lying down. All over the region, hundreds of affected communities have been fighting to protect their land, their water, and their traditional ways of life – and in some cases have achieved some remarkable victories, with lessons for social movements and environmental activists everywhere.
‘Green’ technologies, especially the soaring demand for batteries for electric vehicles and energy storage, will vastly increase demand for copper, lithium, nickel, cobalt and other minerals and pile further pressures on communities, water resources and the environment.
Why does this matter?
Mining is one of the dirtiest, most destructive industries in the world. It consumes massive quantities of water and generates vast amounts of toxic waste. It devastates biodiversity and is one of the sectors most to blame for the global climate emergency. With life-changing impacts on communities who live close to operations, opposition is inevitable. But all too often this is met with harassment, threats and violence. In the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, governments have designated mining an “essential activity”, despite clusters of the disease developing at mining sites, with consequences not only for the health of workers, but also local communities already suffering from mining-related health conditions. Moreover, there is mounting evidence that mining companies are using the pandemic to bulldoze opposition and secure regulatory changes in their interest.
Who is the project for?
- Students and academics working in disciplines such as geography, development studies, anthropology, Latin American Studies, and others.
- Journalists, NGOs, and businesses doing work in the region, particularly on mining and other extractive industries.
- Activists, campaigners, and members of social movements everywhere who wish to learn from the Latin American experience.
- Investors concerned with understanding what their money is used for.
- Social movements and activists in Latin America, so they can link up and share their experiences.