MAC: Mines and Communities

Latin American Update

Published by MAC on 2006-03-01

Latin American Update

1st March 2006

After the recent presidential victories of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and Morales in Bolivia, another Latin American candidate has promised scrutiny of all current mining agreements, and to stop privatisation ("foreignisation") in the minerals industry. Olanta Humala may not win next month's elections in PERU but, says the Financial Times, investment is already drying up in the country's mining sector.

The discovery of new mining concessions on indigenous teritory in COLOMBIA have sparked vigorous community opposition.

As has the arrival of Falconbridge in Tarapaca, CHILE. Although this is one of the driest places on earth, mining companies have free access to scarce waters resources - allegedly at the expense of local people, animals and agriculture.

Meanwhile, there's continuedfurore following an agreement between the Chilean government and Barrick over the Pascua Lama gold project. "The battle is just beginning," declares one local farmer.

In an uncanny replay of circumstances surrounding January's Sago mine disaster in the US, MEXICO's president is accused of concealing news of the deaths of 65 miners at Grupo Mexico's Pasta de Conchos mine last month. Workers have gone on strike at seventy mines and plants, demanding trade union independence, increased social benefits, and improved safety and security.

The government of BOLIVIA has yet again postponed bidding for the huge El Mutún iron ore concession. According to APG Noticias, the decision was supported by the Coordinator of Ethnic People of Santa Cruz (CPESC) in a public statement: "The CPESC demonstrates its agreement with the delay of the process, demands from the new government the effective application of indigenous rights in the process of permitting for El Mutún, and urges a national debate to modify the National Mining Code".

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