MAC: Mines and Communities

Hunger strike to stop mining project in Chile

Published by MAC on 2010-10-25
Source: La Tercera, others

A long-standing conflict, and labyrinthine legal process, over construction of a huge tailings dam in Northern Chile, has forced residents opposing the project to take direct action.

London-listed mining company Antofagasta PLC owns the Los Pelambres, El Tesoro and Michilla mines in Chile.

See previous posting: Chile: Copper tailings dam completed, but controversy isn't over


Hunger strike in rejection of mining project

Pupio Valley residents, belonging to the Caimanes community, call for the removal of the El Mauro tailings dam.

La Tercera

30 September 2010

At least 11 people from the Caimanes community, a rural village in the Pupio valley in Choapa Province, began a hunger strike in protest at the Minera Los Pelambres Company (MLP) mining project. The project entails a tailings dam at the headwaters of the valley with a capacity for 2,060 million tonnes of tailings.

The people of Caimanes assert that this project is one of the largest tailings dams of the Americas. According to this community, the Pupio valley, where 2000 people live, has lost areas with a high archaeological value, with a rich biodiversity in flora and fauna, and a micro climate that has unique features in the Region of Coquimbo in Northern Chile.

The demonstrators stated in a document that a legal process already begun and a lawsuit allowed MLP to build the dam. "Since then we have to endure the intrusion of a company that has been looking to divide us in order to silence our voices and not be responsible for the loss of our quality of life, our environment, our resources."

Caimanes protesters arrested

13 October 2010

About 30 people were arrested this morning after an eviction of protesters who had been blocking the access road to the El Mauro tailings dam of Minera Los Pelambres.

The inhabitants of the community burned a vehicle in protest of the lack of response from government authorities that, according to the community, are not attending to their demands.

By the same token, they assert that Minera Los Pelambres should listen to them "without conditions" because the company rejected an initial proposal for dialogue requiring an end to the demonstrations and the suspension of the hunger strike, which 11 people in Illapel are carrying out.

"There are people who are not feeling well, there are people 60 years of age whose health is being affected by staying in this hunger strike, but it is the only way to pressure [the company] so that once and for all negotiations can be established without preconditions" said Cristian Flores, chairman of the Defense Committee of the People of Caimanes.


English version by MAC

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