MAC: Mines and Communities

Latin America Update

Published by MAC on 2007-05-24

Latin America update

24th May 2007

New accusations have been levelled against Canadian mining companies operating in El Salvador.

Communities potentially affected by projects in the southern part of Ecuador are asking why a “dialogue” on mining is now being carried out, when concessions have already been awarded to multinational corporations. Shouldn't this dialogue have been arranged in order to permit communities to express their opinions at the outset - and when national mining legislation was being rewritten? Communities refuse to accept a "dialogue" about decisions that have already been made: doing so runs the risk of legitimising the very process that needs to be transformed.

As Honduras moves towards national elections, the minerals industry is accused of seeking to influence the outcome, by offering funding to the Liberal Party.

The Venezuelan government is demanding an account by mining companies on their operations and future plans. One of the companies, Hecla of Canada, has been forced to suspend operations after local protests.

Father Marco Arana, a longstanding critic of the Yanacocha mining operations in Peru - now the world's biggest single gold mine - has been seriously threatened by "security" agents linked to the mine's operators, Newmont and Buenventura.

Chile's (and the world's) largest copper mine, Escondida, has suffered a setback in its quest for further water "rights". Says a representative of the company (owned largely by BHPBilliton and Rio Tinto): "If the EIS [Environmental Impact Statement] is not approved, we will search for water elsewhere."

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