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Complaints Against Minera del Altiplano Before Secretary of Human Rights of Argentina

Published by MAC on 2005-12-05

Complaints Against Minera del Altiplano Before Secretary of Human Rights of Argentina

5th December 2005

A serious charge has been presented before authorities of the Argentine National Secretary of Human Rights, against the mining company Minera de Altiplano, subsidiary of North American company FMC Lithium (a division of the FMC Corporation.

The charges were made by residents Eduardo Aroca and Rubén Lasa, who first filed their complaints with the Commission of Human Rights of the Lawyers Guild of Catamarca. According to their complaint, the company mining lithium deposits in the Salar del Hombre Muerto (Dead Man Salt Flats) has installed a metal fence running along the boundary of a mountain and a salt flat, preventing the passage of persons from the local school to the town and cutting off access to Provincial Route 43 which connects the residents to Antofagasta de la Sierra. Aroca and Lasa met with the newly-erected fence when they were making a trip on the "Volcán Galán" roads.

"You can imagine our suprise when in front of us we found a tall and large metal fence with a checkpoint, blocking our passage. We didn't have any alternative to either pass through or continue to Route 43 and then to Antofagasta. We had to press a buzzer and wait for someone to respond to us through an intercom in the fence. After a long wait, a voice came asking us our names and documente numbers, then the gate opened, and we entered into the land which was marked as property of FMC Minera del Altiplano. To the left we saw an airplane landing pad, and other installations of the company. Nobody was around, we wandered about a while in the empty facilities until someone arrived, asked for our names, documents, purpose of our trip, destination, information about our vehicle," said Aroca and Lasa in their report.

Their complaint says that a report from the Office of Prospecting indicates that the land in question is property of the State, and thus the Province is the owner of the land. They ask that authorities order the removal of the fences because of "violations of constitutional rights," that government officials working with the company be investigated, and that the company itself should be investigated for alleged "abuse of power, usurpation of titles and illegally giving themselves policing power over our free transit."

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