Sunday, September 19, 2021

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.
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News about mining

Lithium: white gold or curse?

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A proposal to start large-scale mining for lithium in Cornwall, UK, raises all the same issues as seen in Chile, Bolivia and Argentina. It's a timely reminder that mining is not just a problem for poorer countries

Ecuador: we’ve decided – no more mining here!

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Josefina Tunki and Tania Laurini, two leaders of the Shuar Arutam people in Ecuador have received explicit death threats from Federico Velasquez, senior official at Lowell-Solaris, a Canadian owned mining company. The Shuar are opposing a gold and copper project at Warintza in the Ecuadorean Amazon.

Mining: On the track of dirty gold

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Through one character's journey meeting everyday heroes of resistance and telling their stories, Luis Manuel Claps documents the wave of organised resistance to large-scale industrial mining that spread from from the south of Patagonia as far as the Amazon.

Honduras: water defenders targeted

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On 13 October 2020, Arnold Joaquín Morazán Erazo, a human rights defender and environmental activist, was shot twice in his own home in Guapinol,...

Ecuador: Cuenca vs the miners

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Residents of Cuenca, in Azuay province, voted overwhelmingly in a 'consulta popular' to ban mining that would affect key water resources. Incoming president Guillermo Lasso may find it hard to ignore this result.

Mining: ISDS – a licence to plunder

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The iniquitous ISDS system allows mining companies to sue Latin American governments for massive amounts of 'compensation' every time their mining activities are blocked by local community opposition or environmental concerns.

London Mining Network Blog

Glencore and Anglo-American blamed for pollution

At Espinar in Peru and on Chile's Colina river, major international mining companies are once more in the spotlight, suspected of causing pollution, denying responsibility and failing to consult local communities

Mining protest criminalised

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Local communities in Andalgala, Argentina have been fighting mining companies for 11 years. Now they are being criminalised. US investment giant Blackrock is continuing to finance Anglo American and other miners laying waste the Amazon territories of the Munduruku and others

‘Throw them overboard’: Brazil mine disaster victims bullied over compensation

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Communities awaiting compensation from the worst environmental disaster in Brazilian history say they’re being stymied by a convoluted legal process that favors those responsible.

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