MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Latin America Update

Published by MAC on 2006-03-19


Latin America Update

19th March 2006

World Water Day is commemorated on March 22: an occasion on which to remember that mining is one of the most insidious of industries in its impacts on water availability and quality.

That's reflected in articles and urgent pleas from four countries. In Argentina, Barrick Gold is accused of covering up information about its Veladaro project. Communities are protesting the dumping of mine wastes into rivers in Ecuador and Nicaragua. Smallscale miners from Venezuela's Bolivar state are demanding sustainable employment as the army sweeps against river pollution.

The world's leading medical journal, The Lancet, has taken up the La Oroya issue while US company Doe Run continues to protest that it's materially improving conditions - despite the evidence.

We break the news that Canadian firms are beginning uranium exploration in Guatemala, just as there's a breakdown in negotiations between social organisations and the government, meeting at the High Level Mining Commission. New demands are also made that World Bank-supported Canadian mining company, Marlin, quit the country.

A talc mining company is accused of exploiting child labour in Brazil at a site which supplies ICI (formerly Imperial Chemical Industries) of the UK. Talc fibres share many of the characteristics of asbestos and can trigger similar lung diseases.

And the world's biggest mining company has now agreed to pay a royalty to the Chilean government, out of its huge profits from the Escondida copper mine.

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