MAC: Mines and Communities

Argentinian university faculties reject mining hand-outs

Published by MAC on 2011-04-12
Source: Conflictos Mineros (2011-03-19)

(Where will the funds go now?)

There are growing concerns about financial donations from mining companies to Canadian university campuses (http://www.mediacoop.ca/story/mining-injustice-‘canada's-university'-complicit/6817 and http://ubyssey.ca/opinion/25797/).

University faculties in Argentina have also been rejecting such corporate blandishments.

In March 2011, the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters at  Argentina's National University of Tucumán became the twenty-seventh academic faculty to reject funds from the Alumbrera Mining company.

Goldcorp has a 37.5% share in Alumbrera, which is operated as a joint venture with Xstrata and Toronto-based Yamana Gold. It was Goldcorp's biggest source of earnings outside of Canada in 2010.

See: http://www.conflictosmineros.net/contenidos/2/6974

However, unlike many other corporate donations, Alumbrera's contributions are mandated by Argentinian law, in order to distribute a greater share of its to civil society. See: Argentina: Academics reject corporate miner's handouts

It is not clear what will happen to those portions of this corporate funding that has now been rejected by some Argentinian academics.

Will they revert to YMAD (a body made up of the national government, the provincial government of Catamarca and the National University of Tucumán)?

Or will those academic institutions, which haven't taken a stand against Alumbrera's munificence, now get more than they did before?

What is also not clear is whether the dissident students and teachers want the company's activities to be closed down altogether.

If so, it will surely accuse them of wanting to deny poorer, less privileged, citizens the benefits of social programmes being funded from mining revenues.

[Comment by Nostromo Research, 10 April 2011]

A historic act: Faculty of Philosophy and Letters rejects funds from Alumbrera Mining company in Tucumán, Argentina

By Esteban Stanich

Conflictos Mineros

19 March 2011

For the first time, a faculty at the National University of Tucumán has decided to no longer accept any kind of funding from the Alumbrera Mining company, [jointly owned by Xstrata, Yamana Gold and Goldcorp]. The faculty becomes one of more than twenty academic units across the country that have already turned down money from this company, which faces lawsuits for environmental violations. The faculty proposes that the university end its relationship with the company.

The backlash against open-pit mining operations is spreading among all sectors linked with this activity, including those who affected by its social and environmental impacts, as well as from diverse sectors into which it has its tentacles. Yesterday morning, despite opposition from Rector Judith Casali de Babot, the Board of Directors of the faculty of Philosophy and Letters at the National University of Tucumán made an unprecedented decision to take a stand against the pro-mining policy of the University and to refuse to accept any type of funding from the Alumbrera Mining company.

Based on a proposal from student councilor Natalia Armendariz, the majority on the council decided to support this proposal to reject funds that the multinational mining company provides to UNT and that are then distributed to the various departments. "Philosophy and Letters has the autonomy to reject money from the Alumbrera Mining company, beyond the decision of UNT to do otherwise. We don't want to receive any more money from an activity that is condemned by the environmental damage that it causes, nor de we want to participate in the general corruption taking place in the management of these funds. The only funds that will be received are those that genuinely come form the university and that don't have any thing to do with mining," Armendariz affirmed first hand.

In a parallel way, the Board of Directors approved a second motion that will be dealt with by the Superior Council of the UNT next Tuesday recommending that the decision of Philosophy and Letters be extended to the whole university.

According to Law #14.771, national universities receive money from the earnings of the Alumbrera Mining company. The norm dictates that 20% of the company's earnings should go to the Waters of Dionisio Mining Deposits company (YMAD), which distributes 60% of this amount to the province of Catamarca, another 20% to the University of Tucumán and another 20% to the remainder of the universities. YMAD holds the mining rights to copper, gold and molybdenum in the area known as Bajo de la Alumbrera. The meeting of the board of directors of the faculty of Philosophy and Letters took place in the Physical Education faculty given that their own amphitheatre was damaged in February.

According to Armendariz, the Council further agreed to wait on any improvements to the faculty's building until the causes of its poor state of repair are determined, the origin of the funds that will remodel the building identified and the work plan made known. In addition to the faculty of Philosophy and Letters, three universities and twenty-seven academic faculties from across the country have rejected funds from the mining company. Among them are Psychology, Philosophy and Humanities and Law at the University of Córdoba; the faculties of Social Work, Engineering, Educational Sciences, and Food Studies at the National University of Entre Ríos; the faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Buenos Aires; and the University of Río Cuarto, as well as others.

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