7. Mining and communities

Abstract

Mining has grown exponentially in Latin America in the last three decades. Massive new mining projects have had major socioenvironmental effects, including pollution, appropriation and contamination of water supplies, division and co-optation of communities, and in some cases their forced relocation.

Communities are learning how to resist and some have successfully challenged government and company claims that large-scale mining projects can be safe, sustainable, and socially beneficial.

Index

About the Author

Tom Gatehouse is a writer and translator who has lived in Argentina, Spain and Brazil. He holds an MPhil in Latin American Studies from the University of Cambridge.

He has written for LAB and Red Pepper and his translations have appeared in Folha de S. Paulo, Agência Pública and Tales and Trails Lisbon, a recent collection of short stories and other writings. He lives in London.

Interviewees

Lucio Cuenca (OLCA): interviewed in London on 23 May 2017 by Tom Gatehouse. Transcribed by Tom Gatehouse and translated by Chris Whitehouse.

Marcelo Giraud (Asamblea Popular por el Agua): interviewed in Mendoza, Argentina, on 17 November 2016 by Tom Gatehouse. Translated by Hebe Powell.

Esther González and Alfredo Gallardo (CDPC): interviewed in Caimanes, Chile, on 24 November 2016 by Tom Gatehouse. Translated by Francis McDonagh.

Angelo Herrera (Hotel manager): interviewed in Caimanes, Chile, on 25 November 2016 by Tom Gatehouse. Translated by María Boniface and Mike Gatehouse.

Carina Jofré (CONICET San Juan): interviewed in San Juan, Argentina, on 17 November 2016 by Tom Gatehouse. Translated by Tom Gatehouse.

Camila Méndez (COSAJUCA): interviewed in London on 30 November 2017 by Tom Gatehouse. Translated by Mike Gatehouse.

Rodrigo Péret (Churches and Mining Network) and Thiago Alves da Silva (MAB): interviewed in London on 19 October 2017 by Tom Gatehouse. Translated by Tom Gatehouse.

Oscar Roca (CAEP): interviewed in Huanuni, Bolivia, on 30 November 2016 by Tom Gatehouse. Transcribed by Alan Williams and translated by Rachel Toogood.

Constanza San Juan and Stefanía Vega (CTDG): interviewed in Santiago de Chile on 26 November 2016 by Tom Gatehouse. Translated by Matty Rose.

Rogelio Ustate (Tabaco community): interviewed in Hatonuevo, La Guajira, Colombia, on 7 January 2017 by Emma Banks. Transcribed by Elizabeth Pillares and translated by James Scorer.

Lucrecia Wagner (CONICET Mendoza): interviewed in Mendoza, Argentina, on 16 November 2016 by Tom Gatehouse. Translated by Tom Gatehouse.

References

NB: All web references were checked and still available in May/June 2018 unless otherwise stated.

Bebbington, A. and Bury, J. (2013) ‘Political ecologies of the subsoil’, in A. Bebbington and J. Bury (eds), Subterranean Struggles, pp. 1–26, University of Texas Press, Austin, TX.

Bebbington, A., Bury, J. and Gallagher, E. (2013) ‘Conclusions’, in A. Bebbington and J. Bury (eds), Subterranean Struggles, pp. 267–88, University of Texas Press, Austin, TX.

Brown, K. (2012) A History of Mining in Latin America, University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, NM.

Bury, J. and Bebbington, A. (2013) ‘New geographies of extractive industries in Latin America’, in A. Bebbington and J. Bury (eds), Subterranean Struggles, pp. 27–66, University of Texas Press, Austin, TX.

Colombia Solidarity Campaign (2013) ‘La Colosa: a death foretold’, Colombia Solidarity Campaign, London

Galeano, E. (1971) Open Veins of Latin America, tr. C. Belfrage (1997), Monthly Review Press, New York, NY.

Gatehouse, T. (2017a) ‘Antofagasta: the Goliath which is crushing Caimanes’, Latin America Bureau (LAB)

Gatehouse, T. (2017b) ‘After the flood: two years on from the Fundão tailings dam disaster’, LAB

Greenpeace Chile (2016) ‘Greenpeace: El proyecto de Ley de Glaciares es malo y no protege a los glaciares

Jamasmie, C. (2013) ‘Chile’s proposed glaciers protection law worries miners, investors’, MINING.com

McKinley, A. (2018) ‘El Salvador: first anniversary of the mining ban’, LAB

Miller, H. (2010) ‘Esquel community opposes to gold mining, Argentina, 2002–2006’, Global Nonviolent Action Database

Sankey, K. (2014) ‘Colombia: The mining boom: a catalyst of development or resistance?’, in H. Veltmeyer and J. Petras (eds), The New Extractivism: A Post-Neoliberal Development Model of Imperialism of the Twenty-First Century?, pp. 114–43, Zed Books, London and New York, NY.

Scott, P. (2016) ‘Review of Cerro Rico – the silver mountain’, London Mining Network

Thorp, R., Battistelli, S., Guichaoua, Y., Orihuela, J.C. and Paredes, M. (2012) ‘Extractives-based development and developmental outcomes’, in R. Thorp et al., The Developmental Challenges of Mining and Oil: Lessons from Africa and Latin America, pp. 168–211, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke.

Veltmeyer, H. and Petras, J. (2014a) ‘A new model or extractive imperialism?’, in H. Veltmeyer and J. Petras (eds), The New Extractivism, pp. 21–46, Zed Books, London and New York, NY.

Veltmeyer, H. and Petras, J. (2014b) ‘Theses on extractive imperialism and the post-neoliberal state’, in H. Veltmeyer and J. Petras (eds), The New Extractivism, pp. 222–49, Zed Books, London and New York, NY.

Videos

Pumé

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The Pumé people (sometimes called Yaruro) live in  the savanna plains of Venezuela, the Llanos, located west of the Orinoco River. Most...

Bolivia: 21 days working in a tin mine

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Spanish journalist Samanta Villar Fans spent 21 days working in an artesanal tin mine in Bolivia in 2009. She filmed it for...

Colombia: forced removal to make room for the mine

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Rogelio Ustate recalls (in a poem) the day when his community (Tabaco, a township of Alto Nuevo in Guajira) was displaced...

Las Huellas del Cerrejón

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The documentary "Las Huellas Del Cerrejón" recounts the experiences of some of the people living near the largest coal mine in...

Protest at the Mines & Money Conference, London

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Documentary by Zoe Broughton for London Mining Network, detailing the protests at the annual industry conference on mining. Frontline defenders from Global...

Environmental hazards in Chile’s mines

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Afshin Rattansi goes underground on how the mining of its resources are linked to environmental disaster, and the London Stock...

Further reading

General

War on Want UK and OCMAL (2019), ‘The Rivers are Bleeding – British Mining in Latin America‘, London, updated April 2019. Download pdf.

Argentina

Lucrecia Wagner/Marcelo Giraud/Mendoza

Café Universidad (2015) ‘Entrevista en capítulos: Lucrecia Wagner, investigadora ambiental’, Radio Universidad, (in Spanish)

Conte, G. (n.d.) ‘Las razones de un ambientalista: por qué las provincias mineras “no están mejor” que Mendoza’, MDZ Online (in Spanish)

Gago Menor, A. (2015) ‘Lucrecia Wagner, Investigadora Argentina de Conflictos Ambientales: “Buscar alternativas a la minería sigue siendo la tarea pendiente”’, Revista Pueblos (in Spanish)

Wagner, L.S. (2014) Conflictos socioambientales: La Megaminería en Mendoza, 1884-2011, Universidad Nacional de Quilmes, Provincia de Buenos Aires, Argentina. (In Spanish)

 Carina Jofré/San Juan/Jáchal

He, L. (2017) ‘Veladero: history repeats itself’, Equal Times

Healey, M. and Martin, F. (2017) ‘A Troubling Turn for Glacier Science in Argentina’, GlacierHub

Jofré Luna, I.C. (2017) ‘Una mirada crítica de los contextos de patrimonialización en el contexto megaminero’, in J.R. Pellini (ed), Arqueología Comercial: Dinero, alienación y anestesía, pp. 143-176, JAS Arqueología, Madrid.

McSheffrey, E. (2016) ‘Canadian mining giant Barrick Gold fired whistleblower. Then it spilled cyanide into five rivers’, Canada’s National Observer

Nathanson, M. (2017) ‘Top Argentine glacier scientist charged over cyanide mine spill’, Mongabay

Brazil

The Bento Rodrigues Disaster/Mariana

Gormezano, D., Protti, T. and Cowie, S. (n.d.) ‘The Mariana mining disaster: A journey through Brazil’s worse environmental disaster’, France 24

London Mining Network (2017) ‘The River is Dead: The impact of the catastrophic failure of the Fundão tailings dam’, London Mining Network

Phillips, D. and Brasileiro, D. (2018) ‘Brazil dam disaster: firm knew of potential impact months in advance’, The Guardian

Ruhfus, J. and Lak, L. (2017) ‘Brazil’s River of Mud’, Al Jazeera

Chile

Coordinación de Territorios en Defensa de los Glaciares/Chilean glaciers/Pascua Lama

Concha, M. (2017) ‘The history of the Pascua-Lama mining project’, Generatie Transitie

González, E. (2016) ‘Chile has 24,133 glaciers, and we’re losing them piece by piece’, Greenpeace

Li, F. (2016) ‘The Defeat of Pascua Lama’, Nacla

Sayeed, S. (2016) ‘Activists Say Chilean Glacier Protection Law Falls Short’, GlacierHub

Caimanes/Minera Los Pelambres

Böhm, S. and Maher, R. (2016) ‘What is Antofagasta hiding from it investors?’, New Internationalist

Franklin, J. (2014) ‘How the El Mauro dam divided a family in the Caimanes community’, The Guardian

London Mining Network (2017) ‘In the Valley of the Shadow of Death? A Report on Antofagasta plc, Minera Los Pelambres and Caimanes’, London Mining Network

Maeve, A. and Barrington-Bush, L. (2017) ‘For how long will the London Stock Exchange give Antofagasta mine a free pass?’, The Ecologist

Colombia

Camila Méndez/Cajamarca/La Colosa

Ebus, B. (2017) ‘Villagers vote to ban ‘La Colosa’ gold mining project in Colombia’, Mongabay

Garavito, S., Ordoñez, S. and Rhoades, H. (2017) ‘Meet the frontline activists facing down the global mining industry’, Red Pepper

Novara Reporters (2018) ‘How a Tiny Colombian Village Beat the World’s Third Largest Gold Mining Company’, Novara Media

Rogelio Ustate/Tabaco community/El Cerrejón

Brogeland Laache, F. (2016) ‘Life by Latin America’s largest open-pit coal mine’, Al Jazeera

Jasiewicz, E. (2014) ‘In Colombia, two worlds collide’, New Humanist

Solly, R. (2014) ‘Stop forced displacements by Cerrejon Coal in Colombia!’, The Ecologist

El Salvador

Lakhani, N. (2017) ‘El Salvador makes history as first nation to impose blanket ban on metal mining’, The Guardian

Mardirossian, N. (2017) ‘Does El Salvador’s Metal Mining Ban Suggest a Global Trend?’, Columbia Water Center

McKinley, A. (2018) ‘El Salvador: first anniversary of the mining ban’, Latin America Bureau

Yatsenko, Y. and Rosemont, S. (2017) ‘How Local, Grassroots Organizing Drove El Salvador’s Mining Ban’, Foreign Policy in Focus

Peru

Fernandes, D. (2018) ‘A US corporation wants to raze a gold-rich mountain in Peru. Meet the woman who stands in its way.’, GlobalPost Investigations

Hennessy, H. (2003) ‘Gold mine fails to glitter in Peru’, BBC News

Stern, R. (2016) ‘All that glitters is not gold: Indigenous communities in Peru protest mining’, DW

Wilson, S. (2002) ‘A Life Worth More Than Gold’, The Washington Post

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