MAC: Mines and Communities

Mapuche Organizations Reproach CODELCO for Mining Claims on Lafquenche Communities

Published by MAC on 2005-09-14

Mapuche Organizations Reproach CODELCO for Mining Claims on Lafquenche Communities

September 14, 2005

The Territorial Identities Commission has again publicly accused the National Copper Corporation of Chile (CODELCO, the largest copper company in the world) for having staked claims on the subsurface of the Mapuche communities of Lafkenche in the coastal areas. "We demand an explanation in the face of this new attack against the Mapuche territory," was part of the contents of the letter delivered to the Chief Officer of the Rancaugua division, Ricardo Álvarez, to the President of CODELCO, Minister of Mining Alfonso Dulanto and his chief, Minister of Interior Nicolás Eyzaguirre.

"They have registered claims right in the zone of territorial conflicts on the part of cellulose company Celco, who plans to run a pipeline to the ocean to discharge their toxic wastes." The Territorial Identities Coordination suspects that CODELCO could be being used to "cover" for the goals of private interests. "What is CODELCO doing through the Mapuche communities and through the conflicts with private companies? Why is the company speculating with these claims, to privatize lands which have no mining interests? It is unjustifiable that this company is claiming over 3,500 hectacres of subsoil. CODELCO registered the mining claims in this fraudulant manner. The company argued that the lands claimed were uninhabited and uncultivated, which is a huge deception. They are lands of communities and campesinos, who live from fishing, small agriculture and livestock, and with a large number of people in the region. It is unplausable what CODELCO is arguing," indicated the Coordination in their missive.

The registrations of mining claims were made in July of this year through the company lawyer Patricio Alfonso Leiva Salinas, and directly involve the subsoil in more than seven Mapuche Lafquenche communities. The Mapuche Lafquenche live in the coastal zone from the Nihue Bay in the south of the Araucanía region, to the Rada of ViluLufquén, with the mouth of the river Toltén in the middle. Other areas affected in the zone, in a long strip to the coast are: De Las Quilas sector, Casas Viejas, Santa Laura, Punta La Barra, Rada Maquehue, Los Arenales, Localidad Tolten, La Rada de Donhuito, El Danubio and the Mar Del Plata sector.

"Celco needs to use the subsoil in order to install their pipeline, and to have done so directly, the company would have generated immediate suspicions. To this end, we think CODELCO is being used as a ¨cover." And the Mapuche organizations are asking: What is a copper mining company doing in this region in a country whose strongest sources of copper are found in the North?

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