Sunday, August 14, 2022

The Heart of Our Earth : Community Resistance to Mining in Latin America

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.

Why mining?

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.

News about mining

Ecuador’s crisis is over … for now

A wave of protest paralysed Ecuador, with roads blockaded and food running short in some areas. The protests were led by indigenous organizations, but backed by students and trade unions. After various authoritarian actions and threats, Lasso has been forced to conciliate and the protests have subsided for now.

The Deaths of Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira

The brutal murders of journalist Dom Phillips and indigenist Bruno Pereira took place in a region, the Javari Valley, beset by a profitable vortex of clandestine economies, resource plunder and land grabbing which the present government does almost nothing to discourage or suppress.

Dom and Bruno – Bolsonaro’s victims

Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira were murdered in a remote area of the Amazon – almost certainly by or on the orders of those who run the illegal trade in fish, timber, drugs and minerals. President Bolsonaro has fuelled lawlessness by his rhetoric.

Mining: the struggle for what’s essential

Former MiningWatch Canada researcher Jen Moore reports on Global mining companies which have used the pandemic to push unwanted projects on vulnerable communities, who are fighting back — and sometimes winning.

Brazil: the companies are ‘killing us bit by bit’

The mine tailings dam disasters in 2015 and 2019 in Minas Gerais, Brazil, killed many and affected thousands more. Members of affected communities came to London in April 2022 to meet with London Mining Network and described how the mining companies are still evading responsibility and failing to pay meaningful compensation.

Venezuela: gold fuels malaria epidemic

Venezuela, once a 'good example' for malaria control is now facing an epidemic of infections, fuelled by mining, deforestation, poverty and violence, especially in the Arco Minero around Sifontes

London Mining Network Blog

Pinheiro, Maceio

Brazil: mine subsidence destroys Pinheiro

In Brazil, an entire urban neighbourhood emptied out following catastrophic subsidence caused by salt mines. In Sonora, Mexico, ejido members pursue proper compensation and justice from Penmont Mining.

Ecuador: Intag stands up to mining

Intag communities in Ecuador are resisting development of a copper mine at Llurimagua, proposed by Enami and Codelco. In Peru, residents of Aquia, Ancásh, accuse the Antamina mine of encroaching on their land without consultation.
Chubut protest, photo:Conclusión Buenos Aires / No a la Mina Esquel

Mining: democracy comes from the street

Protests at Chubut in Argentina highlight the importance of pressure from the streets to force local officials to hold the line against destructive mine development. In Brazil, meanwhile, it is the trans-Brazil FIOL railway project that is mobilising communities to defend their land and livelihoods.


If you'd like donate towards this project, please click here. Thank you very much to everyone who has supported the project thus far.

Environmental Defenders