MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Latin America update

Published by MAC on 2007-11-10


Latin America Up Date - Corema de Antofagasta rechaza proyecto Pampa Colorada de Escondida

10th November 2007

Most mining companies use "spin", distorting and mis-informing the public, but few to the extent of Ascendant Copper, according to noted environmentalist, Carlos Zorrilla.

Peru's Prime Minister has signed a memorandum of understanding with mayors and governors opposed to Monterrico Metals' Río Blanco project. However, community leaders who took part in the tense, five-hour, meeting are unhappy with the stand taken by del Castillo, and some have complained that the government is siding with the company.

In Chile, the Regional Environmental Committee (Corema) of Antafogasta has unanimously rejected the Environmental Impact Study "Pampa Colorada Water Supply", carred out by the mining company, Escondida. This BHPBilliton managed enterprise was planning to consume 1,027 litres per second of underwater supplies from Salar and Tuyajto and Pampa Punta Negra.. Indigenous peoples, students, environmentalists and members of the San Pedro de Atacama's Environmental Working Group were happy with the decision - as was demonstrated by their musical celebrations, dancing, and waving flags outside the Regional Municipality.

CVRD executives have announced that they will "put a coal plant in the middle of the Amazon forest" to generate electricity. Landless peasants halted railroad traffic on an important route owned by the Brazilian mining giant, in the third such protest in around a month. The Carajas railroad transports 250,000 tonnes per day from its biggest open-pit mine in Carajas to coastal ports.


ECUADOR

EXPOSING ASCENDANT'S LATEST SPIN

Carlos Zorilla, DECOIN

12th October 2007

If there is one thing that makes most mining companies homogenous,it is their need to spin, distort, and disinform the public regarding either the real value of their mining deposit, the regulatory obstacles they face, and/or, the projects's environmental and social challenges, plus the true nature of the opposition their projects face on the ground. They are especially careful about controlling and manipulating the information regarding grass-roots opposition. Rarely are all these spins found in one single, short news release. Following is a typical example of such spin - one of many we've faced in the years of dealing with a copper-mining project in the biodiverse Toisan Range of Ecuador.

The October 10th Resource Investor news release (http://resourcexinvestor.com/news.php?id=2554) concerning Ascendant Cooper Corporation projects in Ecuador makes quite a lot of interesting, and outright disingenuous claims. Let's look at the claims in the news release one by one:

* Amount of copper: We are sitting on the second if not the largest copper/molybdenum property in the world" ... "in fact we are looking at a potential in excess of a billion pounds of molybdenum and in excess of 20 billion pounds of copper".

Truth: The truth is that, after 5 years of exploratory drilling in the 1990's in the Junin mining concessions, the Mitsubishi subsidiary, Bishimetals, only inferred the possible existence of 2.26 millions tons of copper, and very little molybdenum . This amounts to four times less copper than what Ascendant is saying they are "sitting on", and only 52 days worth of global annual consumption. Needless to say, it does not constitute even a medium size discovery, much less a world-class one. On the other hand, what little was discovered in the company's Chaucha concession was so disappointing, that it led Antofagasta to pull out of their joint exploratory agreement 2 months ago forcing Ascendant to fork over to the Chilean mining company 1.12 million dollars

(http://biz.yahoo.com/iw/070716/0278284.html)

* Suspensions: the release makes this assertion concerning the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum latest stop work order:

"On the downside, the Correa government on September 25 announced the formal suspension of Ascendants mining and community development activities in the Junin area in an effort to defuse tensions, an announcement Ascendant said was only a repetition of a previously announced order"

The Truth: the September 25, 2007 complete work suspension, contrary to what Ascendant would like to believe, is very much different from the other three suspensions, in that it came with a legal order signed by Ministry officials, and was based on a major judicial decision by the nation's Attorney General. Also unlike previous times, this suspension was based on a violation of article 11 of the Mining Law- something not used in the previous suspensions.

* The Confrontation: This is what the Resource Investor has to say about the decisive and violent confrontation between the communities resisting the project and paramilitary-like security guards paid for by Ascendant:

"These tensions boiled over in December of last year on Ascendants agricultural property. Anti-mining activists confronted a third party contracted agricultural firms Intag workers and security guards resulting in almost 60 people being held captive by activists, and locked in the local community church for several days until order was restored by Ecuadorian police."

The Truth: The confrontation took place, not on Ascendant's agricultural property, but on the road leading to the community of Junin. Second, the "agricultural firm" mentioned was hired by Ascendant, and the persons which confronted and shot at the unarmed community members were a paramilitary force, as described by CEDHU, the prestigious Quito-based human rights organization. Third, of the nearly 60 persons held in the community church, none was from the Intag or Junin area- all were ex-military personnel from the coast of Ecuador, all had .38 caliber hand guns, pepper spray, and several had 12 gauge shotguns. The company later tried to claim these individuals were "agricultural consultants".

* The Copper Delusion: As if this self-delusion wasn't enough, the news release goes on to say that: "The Junin prospect has an inferred, NI 43-101 compliant resource estimate of 982 million tonnes. A drilling program is under way at the Chaucha property on the western flank of the Andes, the results of which are expected to up its combined resource estimate, according to Haigh".

In June of this year Micon International stated that, because of a noted discrepancy between a 2007 and an original assaying of the Bishimetals sampling, it was unable to verify their previous inferred 982 million ton copper deposit. Here is an excerpt from the June 11th release

Because of the noted discrepancies, Micon has advised Ascendant that the inferred resource estimate contained in the Junin Report of 982 million tonnes grading 0.89% copper, 0.04% molybdenum and 1.9 grams per tonne silver, may not be fully representative of the mineralization at Junin, as the inferred resource estimate was based on historical data, some of which is now considered to be unverifiable due to deterioration of the core samples over time, the loss of fine material in the transfer of the historical core samples, and the methods of sampling and assaying employed during the 1990s Program. ." http://biz.yahoo.com/iw/070611/0264465.html

In other words, termite damage and other factors may now make it impossible to confirm Micon's earlier inferred results for the Junin mining concessions. In fact, in 2006, CELA, the Canadian Environmental Law Association, filed a complaint with the British Columbia Securities Commission questioning the procedure used by Micon International to ascertain the Junin inferred mineral content, which was based on the Bishimetals samples. The complaint is still being investigated.

* Scapegoating: If there has been a constant among Ascendant's spins it is the effort to try portraying to the world that their problems in Junin are due exclusively to the work of an environmental organization in the area. Here's what the October 10th news release has to say:

"The problems that we have had and are having at Junin are the result of a massive campaign of no mining in Ecuador conducted by a local NGO. This particular NGO has been operating since the mid-1990s and were violent objectors to Mitsubishi when they were drilling there from 1993 to 1997 on the same deposit."

DECOIN is very flattered to think that we, a very small, under funded and understaffed grass-roots organization, with an office measuring 3 by 3 meters in the Intag town of Apuela (rent: $ 40 a month), could be responsible for all of Ascendant's troubles in Junin. But we know the truth is very different, and that Ascendant's allegations have other objectives. It is in any corporation's interest to create the illusion that their project does not face grass-roots community and local government opposition. As every Banker knows, this is equivalent to a death sentence for mining projects.

The opposition to Ascendant's Junin project is, in fact, truly remarkable in scope - perhaps even unique. It includes all seven local township government in Intag, as well as the Canton (county) government of Cotacachi, and the Provincial government of Imbabura- not to mention approximately 95% of the area's legitimate organizations, and the overwhelming majority of the communities. Finally, it is important to point out that the opposition to the company's project is led by the communities, and by them alone. The opposition to mining, far from being concentrated in Intag and Junin, is now a national issue, with several very strong anti-mining national groups opposing large-scale mining development. Given the firm and widespread opposition generated by this single mining project, one can only hope that investors are asking themselves what was it that the company did to deserve it. And while they are at it, perhaps they can question the need to misinform, exaggerate, distort, and keep vital information from the public.

As a matter of fact, these are the kinds of question Rio Tinto Zinc should be asking itself, since it apparently considers itself a socially responsible corporate citizen, and Ascendant considers Rio Tinto its "strategic partner".


Holding Steady on Misinformation: Second part of Ascendant's Claims

By Carlos Zorrilla, DECOIN

25th October 2007

Sure enough, The Resource Investor's latest news release (10/19) on Ascendant Copper's operations in Ecuador did not disappoint. The first part of the 2-part spin left us with some truly impressive whoppers- such as saying that the latest government suspension of its activities in the Intag region was similar to the government's "other suspensions". Another good one was a quote from one of its directors to the tune of that the company was sitting on the biggest or second biggest copper deposit in the world. Then, the company lied about the December 2006 violent confrontation in which dozens of armed thugs labeled as paramilitary force by a prestigious Human Rights organization shot at defenseless community members. The thugs were paid for by Ascendant, and the confrontation did not take place in their land, as was alleged. Finally, and like a broken record, the company tried to blame all their woes in their Junin concessions (their "nest egg") to the actions of "an ecological organization" (guess who?)

On the second installment of the spin, the company repeats its unbelievable claim that they are sitting on one of the world's biggest copper deposit (see our first exposé) Then, the release identifies DECOIN as the ecological group- but then goes further in making untrue statements that DECOIN signed an agreement in March 20th with the company to ease tensions in the area, and that DECOIN was involved in the demands contained in the agreement which forced the company to reduce it's work force from 159 to 48 (keep in mind that they were not doing any exploration work) All of this is not only untrue, but ridiculous, since DECOIN has never signed anything with either the government nor the company. The company knows this very well because they have a copy of the March 20th agreement, which, in any case, was signed by the Community Development Council and the government- and not with the company (the company signed its own agreement with the government)

As if this wasn't sufficient, the spinners say that what has kept the company from "conducting its drilling program" was the seizing of the company's farm in March of 2007 by local anti-mining protesters. This is one of the biggest pieces of misinformation yet. The plain truth is that company cannot drill, or carry out any other exploration activities unless it first gets its Environmental Impact Study approved. It is amazing that in spite of informing its investors and Canadian regulators that it has incurred over three million dollars in exploration costs just at the Junin site, the company has not done any exploration work whatsoever. And, this is simply because the government has not approved the company's Environmental Impact Study (nor is it likely to)

As to the claim that it is part of the UN Global Pact and that it is a socially responsible corporation- flexibility is the key here. Flexibility in interpreting what socially responsibility means. Paying for paramilitary-like force to violently try to storm past a community roadblock and shoot at defenseless campesinos might not qualify in most people's concept as socially responsible behavior. Nor perhaps is financing the use attack dogs against community residents, and tear gassing six year olds. Inciting illegal land trafficking (currently under government investigation) might also be incompatible in most people's mind with social responsibility. I suspect that telling investors the company has spent million of dollars in exploration costs when, in fact, no real exploration work has been undertaken, would probably fail the acid test for socially responsibility in most persons and institutions. I also wonder what socially responsible company would keep the truth from the public about the real nature and extent of the opposition to its project? Or tell the public that it is sitting on four times more minerals than what was technically inferred after years of drilling by a very capable corporation (Mitsubishi Materials in the 1990's) ?

The list of questionable and illegal behavior and claims is very long. But let's face it; unless there is genuine civil society involvement in Canada and other northern countries that really give a damn, there is nothing to stop extractive corporations from perverting the truth, ripping off investors, and causing social and environmental upheaval in countries like Ecuador.


PERU

Disappointing Talks on Mining Miss the Point

By Milagros Salazar

LIMA, Oct 31 (IPS) - Peruvian Prime Minister Jorge del Castillo signed a memorandum of understanding with mayors and governors opposed to the Majaz [Monterrico Metals] mining company's Río Blanco project, which the people of the Piura highlands in northern Peru have been opposing for five years. However, community leaders who took part in the tense, five-hour meeting on Monday were unhappy with the stand taken by del Castillo, and some complained that the government is siding with the company. "We know that this is just the start of a long process, and that there are still several questions to be settled. But we have to keep moving forward," the head of the Ayabaca Provincial Federation of Campesino Communities, Magdiel Carrión, told IPS.

Since 2002, conflicts and clashes have left two campesinos (peasants) dead and several injured, while fierce disputes have broken out between miners and farmers, and over 200 demonstrators protesting against Majaz, which plans to mine copper and molybdenum in the area, have faced legal charges. "We have taken a big stride towards open dialogue, and will continue to explore and find the solutions that the best interests of our people deserve," del Castillo said.

The meeting discussed accusations that the company had illegally invaded local people's land.

Community leaders also complained that the mining company lacks authorisation from general assemblies of the local communities, which must approve mining initiatives by a two-thirds majority in campesino and native community areas, according to the law promoting private investment.

Although the question of illegal action by the mining company was not mentioned in the memorandum of understanding, del Castillo promised to include it in the dialogue process. Majaz, a subsidiary of the London-based Monterrico Metals, was taken over earlier this year by China's Xiamen Zijin Tongguan Investment Development Co. when it acquired 89.9 percent of the mining company's shares.

The Río Blanco project covers over 6,000 hectares. Between 2002 and December 2006 Majaz conducted exploration activities, and now the mining company wants to start extracting copper and molybdenum.

The memorandum of understanding consists of five points. One is the naming of a moderator for the talks, who could be elected from among representatives of the ombudsman's office, the Catholic diocese of Chulucanas (which is in the department, or province, of Piura and has supported the communities throughout the conflict), or the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

Local authorities proposed the creation of an Environment Ministry, although they made it clear, as did the members of the communities, that they are against participating in the environmental impact study, required by law before the exploration phase can be deemed complete, because they consider that the exploration was illegal.

For its part, the executive branch stated in the memorandum that it could not intervene in the legal action taken by the national electoral authority (JNE) against the mayors of Ayabaca, Pacaipampa and El Carmen de la Frontera, who held a non-binding referendum on Sept. 16, in which over 90 percent of voters rejected mining activity in Piura. Finally, the parties to the dialogue promised to keep the debate civil and peaceful. This point was necessary because of the climate of aggression between mayors opposed to Majaz and those who support it, which was on the verge of breaking up the talks.

The authorities in the areas affected by the mining project had agreed with del Castillo that only they and the community leaders would take part in the meeting. However, in a surprise move, other mayors from towns far away from Majaz's activities were allowed in.

The Front for the Sustainable Development of the Northern Border, made up of authorities and representatives of the communities affected by Majaz, was another source of controversy at the meeting. The organisation had been recognised by del Castillo as a legitimate interlocutor in the negotiations, but at the last minute the head of the Front, Carlos Martínez, was relegated to an observer's position in the talks.

Martínez is also governor of the province of San Ignacio in the region of Cajamarca, adjacent to Piura, which would be affected by the Río Blanco project because the rivers flowing through the mining zone are the source of irrigation for large coffee plantations in the area. In spite of signing the memorandum, del Castillo shrugged off responsibility on a number of counts, among them the draft law presented by the executive to Congress, declaring 20 mining projects, including Río Blanco, "in the national interest," after local communities had rejected Majaz's mining activities in the local referendums.

Members of the local communities regard this draft law as a provocation, and an open indication of support for the mining company, but del Castillo said it was just "a necessary step."

The prime minister had no answer as to why the JNE accused mayors of usurping functions in the communities where people voted against Majaz, but did nothing in the case of the mayor of Talara, of the governing Peruvian Aprista Party, who held a similar unofficial referendum on the same day, in which supporters of the mining company won the vote.

Del Castillo did not concentrate on problems such as potential water pollution by the mine, but instead spoke about drug trafficking in the Piura region. He proposed including in the memorandum a commitment by the mayors to cooperate with the police to eradicate the drug trade, but this was not accepted. "When the police carry out their operations in this area, they need the cooperation of the local and regional authorities. What is more poisonous, after all, drugs or mining?" del Castillo asked when he spoke to the press, after the meeting.

"Several community leaders were not allowed to explain the potential harm to rivers and to the biodiversity of the area," complained Carrión, who was not permitted to speak at the negotiating table in spite of being one of the Piura highlands' most respected leaders. There are endangered species in the mining project area, and typical Andean highland ecosystems and cloud forests, highly biodiverse small islands of vegetation which capture, retain and distribute water to the rivers, would be threatened by extractive activities.

"I have the feeling that the discussion lacked sufficient scope, and that the essential points have not been identified. In future the government must work harder to regain the confidence of local authorities and communities in order to reach a consensus," José de Echave, head of the mining and communities programme for the non-governmental organisation CooperAcción, told IPS.


CHILE

( See previous MAC post: The War for Water: THE EXTRACTION PROJECT OF MINERA ESCONDIDA AND THE RISKS FOR THE PEOPLE OF ATACAMA

By José Miguel Jaque, La Nación, 23rd April 2007, http://www.minesandcommunities.org/Action/press1472.htm )

Corema of Antofagasta rejects the Pampa Colorada Project

Chile

5th November 2007

http://www.tercera.cl

The Regional Environmental Committee (Corema) of Antafogasta has rejected unanimously the Environmental Impact Study "Pampa Colorada Water Supply" of the Mining company Escondida which was planning to use 1,027 litres per second of underwater supplies from Salar and Tuyajto and Pampa Punta Negra, annually for their productive processes.

The Committee looked into the criticisms that the Licananta and Quechua indigenous communities gave, when they, through the Atacameños Pueblos Council, formally manifested their rejection of the project since, in their view it would seriously affect the conservation of the wetlands in ancestral lands. Osvaldo Galleguillos, president of the Council, was glad to hear the Committee's decision that will "protect an area that is very fragile and that is a fundamental part of the lives and customs of the original highlands inhabitants".

Pedro Correa, Escondida's manager of public affairs, said that after this rejection the mining company would abandon the idea of extracting water from those sources. The company intended to invest 300 million US dollars for the construction of 25 extracting wells, 190 kilometres of pipes, one transmission line and a mini central hydroelectric power plant to satisfy water requirements for their activities.

The area of Pampa Colorada, outstanding for its scenery and tourist potential, is located in the highlands of the San Pedro de Atacama county, about 160 kilometres south-east of the city with the same name, four thousand meters above sea level, and is part of the Atacama La Grande indigenous development area.


The Atacama people are happy because the water from Pampa Colorada will not be extracted

By Alejandro Espindola C.

30th October 2007

http://www.lickancabur.blogspot.com/

In the light of Corema's rejection of the Minera Escondida project to extract water, the indigenous leaders, the student indigenous group "Ayllu", environmentalists and members of the San Pedro de Atacama's Environmental Working Group were happy of the results. This was seen throught their music celebrations, dancing, and waving flags outside the Regional Municipality of Antofagasta.

Wilson Galleguillos, the president of the Atacama People's Council, said "Corema meticulously revised the project which is what led in the end to its rejection". In addition, he argued that the communities had gained consciousness about the issues of water because, if they had touched the water, it would have meant the death of the community for sure. "The Atacama communities have to be prepared because it is certain that great conflicts lie ahead", he said.

Ernesto Cerda, responsible for environmental issues and director of the communities of Toconao said: "This is the result of the struggles of some communities, but it will continue, because it is only the first victory of a peaceful revolution".


BRAZIL

Landless protest halts Brazil CVRD railroad again

RIO DE JANEIRO, (Reuters)

7th November 2007

Landless peasants halted railroad traffic on an important route owned by Brazilian mining giant CVRD on Wednesday in the third such protest in just about a month, the company said. The Carajas railroad run by CVRD, the world's biggest iron ore miner, transports 250,000 tonnes of iron ore per day from its biggest open-pit mine in Carajas to coastal ports.

A previous protest in mid-October disrupted iron ore shipments for two days and briefly left a pellet plant in Maranhao owned by the company without raw materials, but a CVRD spokeswoman said the pellet plant had enough stocks for now.

CVRD said some 300 members of the leftist Movement of Landless Rural Workers, brandishing machetes and sickles, invaded the tracks near the town of Parauapebas in northern Para state in the lower Amazon basin early on Wednesday. "The traffic is disrupted. They stopped one train and damaged its breaks, so we cannot even remove the locomotive from there," the spokeswoman said.

Last time, police dispersed the protesters and reopened the route. But the protesters moved their camp close to the railroad while they negotiated with the Para state government for an agrarian reform plan, credits for settled members, education and health care in settlements and other issues. The government said talks broke up this week even though the government had promised to satisfy most of their demands.

CVRD said a riot police squad still remained in the vicinity and the company expected the government to use it to free the tracks soon. Some 2,700 train carriages normally circulate daily at the railway.

The peasants' movement, known as MST, staged various protests across Brazil last month, including one that ended in bloodshed at a farm owned by Switzerland-based Syngenta -- the world's largest agrochemical company. An MST leader and a guard were shot dead there. The peasants accused Syngenta of financing armed militias, which the company denied.

The MST and similar groups frequently occupy farms, block highways, torch crops, and stage rallies to pressure the government to give more land to the poor. Landowners often hire armed guards and hit squads to repel invasions.


CVRD energy needs require coal despite green plan

By Denise Luna

RIO DE JANEIRO, (Reuters)

6th November 2007

The need to generate electricity in Brazil amid power supply concerns is forcing mining giant CVRD to set up a coal-fired plant in the Amazon despite its commitment to developing cleaner energy.

On Tuesday, CVRD and Brazil's National Economic and Social Development Bank (BNDES) signed an agreement to set up the Center for Technological Development in Energy, where the company will invest over $110 million in energy sources with reduced environmental impact like biomass or natural gas.

But CVRD executives say the company cannot rely exclusively on clean energy to meet its ambitious output targets for the coming years. By 2011, it hopes to boost iron ore output by 50 percent.

"We're not putting up a coal plant in the middle of the Amazon forest because we want to. We have no other option," said Fernando Thompson, a company spokesman, noting that the licensing process for hydroelectric plants has been slow.

Coal-burning power plants emit carbon dioxide, a major contributor to greenhouse effect and global warming. CVRD, the world's biggest exporter of iron ore and a major producer of aluminum, copper and nickel, is importing the 600 megawatt plant from China for an aluminum project in northern Brazil. It will use coal imported from Colombia.

"The best technology will be used and we are more than compensating for the emissions (from the coal plant)," Thompson said. He added that CVRD's tree-planting program, now counting 2.7 billion trees worldwide, is estimated to neutralize some 1 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide.

About 346 million trees will be planted through 2010.

CVRD, which has $2.7 billion earmarked for environmental projects in its $59 billion investment plan until 2012, says it is faring well on the green front when compared to its mining sector rivals. Most of the energy it consumes comes from hydroelectric dams, which are common in Brazil.

"CVRD emits 9.7 million tonnes of carbon gas in Brazil and another 1.1 million tonnes from purchases of electricity. That is a lot less than our competitors produce," Walter Cover, the company's environment management director, told Reuters.

He did not provide figures for CVRD's operations abroad. Canadian nickel producer Inco, which CVRD acquired last year, emitted around 3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2005.

CVRD's rival, Australia's Rio Tinto, says on its Web site it emits 28 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.

UNCHARTED WATERS

With the new research center focusing on clear energy, CVRD is wading into uncharted waters.

"It's the first CVRD initiative in the area, linked to efficiency. The problem (tight energy supply) is worldwide and it is a concern," Tito Martins, executive director for corporate issues and energy, told Reuters.

"We want to stimulate renewable sources or improve the efficiency of nonrenewable sources, work to clean up the nonrenewables," he added, expecting the center in Sao Jose dos Campos to show initial results in the next few months.

CVRD is already blending biodiesel made from oilseeds into the diesel fuel used by its locomotives. CVRD is one of the main railroad operators in Brazil. Earlier this year, CVRD chief executive Roger Agnelli said delays with electricity projects in Brazil will limit company investment in energy-intensive alumina and aluminum in 2012 and 2013, underscoring concerns among analysts about possible power shortages in the country at the start of the next decade.

The 1,087 megawatt Estreito hydroelectric project in Maranhao state, which has CVRD, Suez Energy International, Alcoa Inc. and Brazil's Camargo Correa as partners, suffered delays due to a court injunction. The order was since overturned and construction is under way.

(Additional reporting by Inae Riveras; Translated by Andrei Khalip; editing by Jim Marshall)


PERU

Promesa de diálogo y pocas soluciones para Piura

Por Milagros Salazar

http://www.ipsnoticias.net/nota.asp?idnews=86423

LIMA, 30 oct (IPS) - El primer ministro de Perú, Jorge del Castillo, firmó un acta de entendimiento con los alcaldes que se oponen al proyecto Río Blanco de la minera Majaz, resistido desde hace cinco años por los habitantes de la septentrional sierra de Piura. Sin embargo, dirigentes sociales que participaron del encuentro el lunes se mostraron disconformes con la posición asumida por Del Castillo durante la tensa reunión de cinco horas. Algunos consideran que el gobierno tiene una actitud favorable a la compañía. "Sabemos que esto es el comienzo de un proceso largo, y todavía hay varias cosas por definir. Pero tenemos que seguir adelante", dijo a IPS el presidente de la Federación Provincial de las Comunidades Campesinas de Ayabaca, Magdiel Carrión.

Desde 2002, los enfrentamientos han dejado dos campesinos muertos, varios heridos, un incremento de disputas entre mineros y agricultores, y más de 200 procesos penales a participantes en protestas contra Majaz, que busca extraer cobre y molibdeno. "Hemos dado un paso fundamental que va a permitir tener la satisfacción de abrirnos al diálogo. Vamos a continuar explorando y encontrar los puntos que merezca mejor nuestro pueblo", señaló Del Castillo.

En las conversaciones se trataron las denuncias sobre ocupaciones ilegales de terrenos por parte de la compañía. Los dirigentes sociales también aseguran que la minera carece de autorización de las asambleas generales de las comunidades, que deben aprobar o rechazar iniciativas con el voto de los dos tercios de los campesinos, como exige la Ley de Promoción de la Inversión Privada para las actividades en áreas de comunas. Aunque la cuestión de la actividad ilegal de la minera no quedó consignada en el acta de entendimiento, Del Castillo se comprometió a tratarlo en el proceso del diálogo.

El proyecto Río Blanco de Majaz, subsidiaria de la compañía británica Monterrico Metals, se extiende por más de 6.000 hectáreas. Entre 2002 y diciembre de 2006 desarrolló la etapa de exploración y hoy busca comenzar a extraer cobre y molibdeno bajo el control de sus nuevos dueños, la empresa china Xiamen Zijin Tongguan Development Consortium, que adquirió este año 89,9 por ciento de sus acciones.

El acta de entendimiento contempla cinco puntos. Uno se refiere a la necesidad de nombrar un facilitador de la mesa de diálogo, quien podría ser elegido entre los representantes de la Defensoría del Pueblo, de la Diócesis de Chulucanas (que pertenece a Piura y ha acompañado a las comunidades durante todo el conflicto) o de la Organización Internacional del Trabajo (OIT).

Las autoridades locales propusieron la creación de un ministerio de ambiente, aunque dejaron en claro, al igual que los comuneros, que se oponen a participar en el estudio ambiental que debe realizarse para dar por finalizada la etapa de exploración del proyecto Río Blanco. Consideran que esas operaciones fueron ilegales.

En el acta, por otra parte, el Poder Ejecutivo advirtió que no puede intervenir en las denuncias que el Jurado Nacional de Elecciones (JNE) interpuso contra los alcaldes de Ayabaca, Pacaipampa y El Carmen de la Frontera, quienes convocaron a una consulta ciudadana no vinculante el 16 de septiembre, en la que más de 90 por ciento de los electores rechazaron la actividad minera en Piura.

Por último, los actores del proceso de diálogo se comprometieron a debatir con altura y en un marco de paz social. Este último punto resultaba necesario a causa del clima de agresión entre los alcaldes que se oponen a Majaz y los que la apoyan, que estuvo a punto de provocar la suspensión de la mesa de diálogo.

Aunque las autoridades de las zonas afectadas por las actividades de la compañía habían acordado con Del Castillo que sólo ellos y los dirigentes de las comunidades participarían del encuentro, sorpresivamente se dejó ingresar a otros alcaldes a pesar de que sus jurisdicciones se encuentran alejadas del proyecto minero.

El Frente por el Desarrollo Sostenible de la Frontera Norte, que agrupa a las autoridades y representantes de las comunidades afectadas por Majaz, se convirtió en otro punto de controversia.

Esta organización había sido reconocida por Del Castillo como interlocutor válido en las negociaciones, pero a última hora sólo se quiso dar al presidente del Frente, Carlos Martínez, una posición de observador en la mesa de diálogo.

Martínez también es alcalde en la provincia de San Ignacio, en la región Cajamarca, contigua a Piura, que sería afectada por las actividades de Majaz debido a que los ríos que atraviesan el proyecto minero son la fuente de agua para el riego de las grandes extensiones de café que hay en esa zona.

A pesar de la firma del acta, Del Castillo evadió responsabilidades ante varios reclamos, entre ellos el referido al proyecto de ley presentado por el gobierno en el Congreso legislativo para declarar de interés nacional 20 proyectos mineros --Majaz incluido-- luego de que los pobladores rechazaran la actividad minera en la consulta ciudadana. Los comuneros consideran que esa iniciativa es una provocación y un abierto apoyo a la minera, pero para Del Castillo sólo se trata de una tarea que "se debía cumplir".

El primer ministro tampoco supo responder por qué el JNE denunció por usurpación de funciones a los alcaldes que promovieron la consulta en la que la población se pronunció contra Majaz, mientras que nada hizo respecto del alcalde de Talara, de la oficialista Alianza Popular Revolucionaria Americana, quien convocó el mismo día a una votación similar aunque en apoyo de la minera.

El primer ministro no se centró en problemas como la posible contaminación de las aguas y planteó en cambio hablar del narcotráfico en la región de Piura. Del Castillo propuso que se incluyera en el acta de entendimiento que los alcaldes se comprometían a colaborar con las autoridades policiales para erradicar la droga. No tuvo éxito. "Cuando los policías incursionan en esa zona, se necesita de la colaboración de los alcaldes. ¿Qué cosa envenena más, la droga o la minería?", preguntó Del Castillo al término de la reunión en diálogo con la prensa.

"A varios dirigentes de las comunidades no se nos ha dado voz para exponer sobre el potencial daño que existe en los ríos y en la biodiversidad en la zona", se quejó Carrión, quien no pudo hablar en la mesa de diálogo a pesar de ser uno de los representantes con mayor legitimidad en las alturas de Piura.

En la zona donde se desarrolla el proyecto minero existen especies en extinción y ecosistemas típicos de los Andes como los páramos, pequeñas "islas" de vegetación que permiten captar, retener y distribuir el agua a los ríos.

"Tengo la sensación de que en esta reunión no ha habido un alcance sustantivo y que no se han identificado los puntos que se requería. En lo que queda del camino el gobierno debería trabajar en recuperar la confianza de las autoridades locales y las comunidades para llegar a consensos", dijo a IPS el responsable del Programa de Minería de la no gubernamental CooperAcción, José de Echave.


Comuneros se enfrentan por minera Majaz cuando campesinos de Segunda y Cajas sesionaban

5/11/2007

http://www.larepublica.com.pe

Un grupo de entre 50 y 60 comuneros de la zona El Carmen de la Frontera, en la provincia piurana de Huancabamba, interrumpieron con piedras y palos la asamblea general que realizaban ayer los campesinos de la comunidad Segunda y Cajas, que en su mayoría se oponen al proyecto Río Blanco de la minera Majaz en Piura.

Así lo denunció el vicepresidente de la comunidad, Eusebio Guerrero Pintado. El dirigente dijo a La República que se trataba de campesinos que apoyan a Majaz bajo el liderazgo de Alfonso Melendres Clemente y que repentinamente llegaron para exigir que sean reconocidos como comuneros calificados con el fin de votar en la elección de la nueva directiva de la comunidad. Guerrero informó que lo pidieron arrojando palos y piedras, lo cual originó el saldo de dos heridos.

Guerrero Pintado explicó que no era posible empadronarlos en ese momento porque ello debe ocurrir en enero, luego de elegirse a la nueva directiva. Ayer se eligió a la comisión electoral para este fin.

Comunidad campesina de Segunda y Cajas da su versión sobre ataque http://www.elregionalpiura.com.pe

Noviembre 6, 2007.- Huancabamba. Tratando de desvirtuar su participación en el ataque a periodistas y otros comuneros, que se habría producido en la provincia de Huancabamba, comuneros de Segunda y Cajas precisaron que tal acción fue promovida por gente extraña a la comunidad.

Según la versión, la asamblea comunal de Segunda y Cajaz, (Huancabamba) fue interrumpida por un grupo de 60 campesinos. El incidente se produjo a las 10 a.m. de ayer cuando 2 camiones provenientes de Huancabamba llego al local comunal ubicado a tres horas de distancia.

Los comuneros denunciaron que esta maniobra proviene de la empresa minera Majaz, quienes buscan tener presencia en la comunidad para favorecer la elección de un representante a favor del proyecto Río Blanco en la nueva junta directiva. También se supo que entre los campesinos provenientes de Huancabamba se encontraban tres periodistas regionales Piura.

Representantes de la comunidad de Segunda y Cajas denunciaron que los 60 campesinos no pertenecen a su comunidad, por lo que no tienen derecho a participar en la asamblea comunal.

Asimismo se supo que luego del incidente se prosiguió con la reunión donde se eligió a los miembros del comité electoral, quedando como presidente Anselmo Moreto Sandoval, secretario Florentino Meléndez Frías, fiscal juan Puzma Huaman, quienes tendrán la responsabilidad de ejecutar las próximas elecciones comunales.

Como se recuerda la comunidad de Segunda y Cajas se opone a la explotación del proyecto Río Blanco, ubicado en territorio de esta comunidad, por considerarla una amenaza para su desarrollo basado en la agricultura y ganadería, así también por amenazar la producción de agua de esta zona.


CHILE

Felicitaciones y reflexiones por el proyecto Pampa Colorada

Toconao, 24 de octubre de 2007

La comunidad atacameña de Toconao agradece a todas la personas y dirigentes de la comunidad de Toconao (Guillermo Gonzalez, Marco Rojas, Ernesto Cerda), Peine (Oriana Mora, su presidenta, secretaria y miembros de sus comisiones) a Socaire (Aliro Plaza) y otras instituciones que apoyaron el rechazo del proyecto "extracción de agua pampa Colarada" de la empresa BHP Billiton ya que este fue un duro trabajo en contra de la transnacional que quiso comenzar a usufructuar y saquear del patrimonio de nuestras comunidades lickantay, aprovechándose de sus necesidades, del desconocimiento de nuestra gente, tratando de usar su dinero para quitarnos uno de nuestros más valiosos recursos: "EL AGUA".

También le decimos a las personas de la COREMA que votaron en contra de éste nefasto proyecto que fue una sabia decisión por la vida, la pacha, la puri. Para los directores de servicios públicos que aprobaron o se abstuvieron, que estarán siempre en nuestras mentes como entes traidores y no bienvenidos a las tierras lickantay por su doble discurso.

Siempre tuvimos fe que mientras las comunidades estén unidas se podrá lograr detener el saqueo de nuestros recursos naturales, ya no estamos solos, daremos la lucha por nuestros territorios y recursos naturales, estamos dejando de ser comunidades desvalidas, estamos en procesos de fortalecimiento y crecimiento.

Nótese que no estamos en contra del desarrollo y crecimiento de nuestro país pero estamos convencidos que no será a costa de sacrificar nuestra cultura, nuestro ser de tiempos inmemoriales, de nuestra gentes y nuestra forma vida, éste es una camino largo y tortuoso en contra de un Estado que sólo tiene leyes adversas y discriminatorias en contra de nuestro linaje indigena, pero estamos aprendiendo a usar las armas del intelecto, del pensamiento, de los derechos humanos básicos y usaremos todo para defendernos de las mineras y transnacionales.

Que esta hazaña quede en las mentes de todos nuestros hermanos, que los judas de los servicios públicos dejen de darnos palmadas en el dorso y nos animen a dar la lucha mientras nos dan el puñal por la espalda, mejor es no decir nada, no pronunciarse ya que ante una sonrisa falsa es preferible un gesto de desprecio que los dignifica.

El Tatio será nuestro próximo objetivo, otro proyecto que sólo pretende llevar crecimiento para unos pocos, a costa del riesgo de quitarnos el sustento turístico sustentable de todos nuestros hermanos de San Pedro de Atacama, indígenas y no indígenas, de todas las comunidades del sur de Atacama, de las comunidades del Alto el Loa que ven como una vez más intentan robarles el agua, el seno de un potencial turístico creado por el mismo Estado.

UN ABRAZO SINCERO Y FRATERNAL DE TODO EL DIRECTORIO DE LA COMUNIDAD ATACAMEÑA DE TOCONAO


Corema de Antofagasta rechaza proyecto Pampa Colorada de Escondida

La Tercera

5 de noviembre de 2007

http://www.tercera.cl

La Comisión Regional de Medio Ambiente de Antofagasta rechazó en forma unánime el Estudio de Impacto Ambiental "Suministro de Agua Pampa Colorada" de Minera Escondida, que buscaba utilizar para sus procesos productivos 1.027 litros por segundo anualmente, de aguas de subterráneas del Salar de Tuyajto y de Pampa Punta Negra.

La entidad atendió las críticas de las comunidades licanantay y quechuas agrupadas en el Consejo de Pueblos Atacameños, que se manifestaron formalmente en contra del proyecto, porque a su juicio afectaría gravemente la conservación de vegas y bofedales en áreas ancestrales. Wilson Galleguillos, presidente del consejo, se mostró contento con la resolución que "resguardará un área que es muy frágil y que forma parte fundamental para la vida y costumbres de los habitantes originarios del altiplano".

El gerente de asuntos públicos de Escondida, Pedro Correa, manifestó que luego de este rechazo, la minera abandonará la idea de extraer el recurso hídrico de aquellas fuentes. La empresa pretendía invertir 300 millones de dólares en la construcción de 25 pozos de extracción, 190 kilómetros de tuberías, una línea de transmisión y una mini central hidroeléctrica, como fuente alternativa a las actuales para abastecer los requerimientos de agua para sus faenas.

La zona Pampa Colorada, que destaca por sus atractivos paisajísticos y potencial turístico, se ubica en el altiplano de la comuna de San Pedro de Atacama, a unos 160 kilómetros al sureste de la localidad del mismo nombre, sobre los 4 mil metros de altura y es parte del área de desarrollo indígena "Atacama La Grande"

Atacameños felices porque no les extraerán el agua de sector Pampa Colorada Escribe Alejandra Espíndola C. Martes 30 de octubre de 2007 - http://www.lickancabur.blogspot.com/

Contento se encuentra el pueblo Lickan Antay debido a que la Comisión Regional del Medio Ambiente (Corema) votó en forma unánime en rechazo a la explotación de suministro de Aguas en sector Pampa Colorada, proyecto que presentó Minera Escondida LTDA. En la Sala José Santos Ossa de la Intendencia Regional se reunieron 14 autoridades del organismo votante que decidieron darle el no a la extracción de aguas subterráneas para procesos mineros.

La Corema presidida por el intendente (S) Arnaldo Gómez manifestaron que el proyecto afecta negativamente el área de las lagunas, altera forma de vida dañando vegas y bofedales. Se consideró también que afecta a usos y costumbres de la comunidad.

Además, el proyecto no se responsabiliza frente a lo planteado en el articulo 11 de la Ley de Bases del Medio Ambiente. Ante el rechazo del proyecto, el gerente de Asuntos Corporativos de Minera Escondida, Pedro Correa, dijo que "en primer lugar este proyecto iba a ser viable en la medida que fuera sustentable en el tiempo, esto implica una licencia legal y una licencia social, es por ello que hoy ha sido rechazada la calificación ambiental y lo que vamos a hacer es no comprar los derechos de agua, que no son derechos de Minera Escondida, sino que son de otra empresa". Agregó además el gerente de Asuntos Corporativos de Minera Escondida que esto no cambia en nada la relación que tienen, a largo plazo, de trabajo con las comunidades a través de Fundación Minera Escondida y con la empresa.

Atacameños

Frente a la votación de Corema en rechazo al proyecto de extracción de aguas de Minera Escondida, los dirigentes de comunidades originarias, agrupación de estudiantes originarios "Ayllu", ecologistas y miembros de la Mesa de Trabajo por el Medio Ambiente de San Pedro de Atacama estaban felices del resultado, lo que se manifestó en música, danza y wipala al viento en las afueras de la Intendencia Regional de Antofagasta. Al respecto, el presidente del Consejo de Pueblos Atacameños, Wilsón Galleguillos, dijo "creo que la Corema revisó muy minuciosamente este proyecto, lo que la llevó finalmente a rechazarlo".

Argumentó además que el tema del agua en las comunidades ha tomado conciencia, porque si les tocan las aguas el pueblo va hacia una muerte segura. "El pueblos atacameño tiene que estar preparado, porque lo más seguro es que se avecine grandes conflictos" dijo. Por su parte, el encargado de temas medio ambientales y director de la comunidad de Toconao, Ernesto Cerda, dijo que "esto es el resultado de la lucha de algunas comunidades, pero esto continúa, porque es el primer triunfo de una revolución pacifica".

Horas antes de la votación en las calles de la ciudad de Antofagasta se dejaba ver carteles, pancartas, wipala y voces al viento del pueblo Lickan Antay que manifestaban su rechazo al proyecto. Fue una marcha que duro desde las once de la mañana hasta las 14: 00 horas en donde se hizo sentir el grito de agonía de los atacameños por sus aguas que cada vez van más en descenso producto de que empresas mineras utilizan el recurso hídrico para sus procesos.


BRASIL

Protesta grupo brasileño MST bloquea otra vez vía férrea de CVRD

Reuters

7th de noviembre de 2007

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Campesinos sin tierra bloquearon el miércoles una importante vía férrea de propiedad del gigante minero brasileño CVRD, en la tercera protesta de este tipo del grupo radical MST en sólo un mes, dijo la empresa. CVRD es el mayor productor mundial de mineral de hierro y por la vía férrea de Carajás se transportan 250.000 toneladas al día de esa materia prima y otros productos entre el yacimiento de Carajás y puertos del litoral brasileño.

Una protesta realizada a mediados de octubre interrumpió los embarques de mineral de hierro por dos días y dejó brevemente sin insumos a una planta de pellets controlada por CVRD en el norteño estado de Maranhao. Una portavoz de la empresa minera dijo que la planta de pellets está por ahora bien abastecida.

CVRD dijo que unos 300 miembros del izquierdista Movimiento de los Trabajadores Rurales Sin Tierra (MST), que exhibían hoces y martillos, invadieron el miércoles la vía férrea cerca de la ciudad de Parauapebas en el amazónico y norteño estado de Pará.

"El tránsito está interrumpido. Ellos pararon un tren y dañaron sus frenos, entonces nosotros ni siquiera podemos sacar la locomotora de allí," dijo la portavoz.

En la última protesta del MST, la policía dispersó a los manifestantes y liberó la ruta, pero ellos se movilizaron hacia un campo cercano a la vía, mientras negociaban con el gobierno de Pará un plan de reforma agraria, créditos para asentar a miembros del MST y educación y salud en esos asentamientos. CVRD dijo que la policía permanece en las cercanías y que espera que el Gobierno use pronto a los agentes para liberar el paso de los trenes.

Pero el MST dijo que la invasión de la vía férrea es por tiempo indeterminado. "Sólo vamos a salir de aquí cuando recibamos una comisión del gobierno estatal, federal y de CVRD para negociar," dijo a Reuters por teléfono Charles Trocate, uno de los coordinadores del MST en Pará.


Necesidades energía de CVRD demandan carbón, pese a plan verde

Reuters

6 de noviembre de 2007

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - La necesidad de generar electricidad en Brasil en medio de preocupaciones por el suministro energético está forzando a la gigante minera CVRD a establecer una planta alimentada por carbón en la Amazonia, pese a su compromiso de desarrollar energía limpia.

El martes, CVRD y el Banco Nacional de Desarrollo Económico y Social (BNDES) de Brasil suscribieron un acuerdo para establecer el Centro de Desarrollo Tecnológico en Energía, en el que la compañía invertirá más de 110 millones de dólares para desarrollar fuentes energéticas de reducido impacto ambiental, como biomasa y gas natural.

Pero ejecutivos de CVRD dicen que la empresa no puede depender enteramente de energía limpia para cubrir sus ambiciosas metas de los próximos años. Para el 2011, pretende elevar la producción de mineral de hierro en un 50 por ciento. "No estamos colocando una usina de carbón en medio de la selva amazónica porque queremos. No tenemos opciones," explicó Fernando Thompson, un portavoz de CVRD, señalando que el proceso de licencias para plantas hidroeléctricas ha sido lento.

El dióxido de carbono emitido por las plantas de carbón contribuyen al efecto invernadero y al calentamiento global.

CVRD, la mayor exportadora mundial de mineral de hierro y gran productora de aluminio, cobre y níquel, está importando la planta de 600 megavatios desde China para un proyecto de aluminio en el norte de Brasil. Usará carbón importado de Colombia.

"Pero será usada la mejor tecnología y estamos más que compensando esa emisión (de carbono)," dijo Thompson, agregando que se estima que el programa de forestación de CVRD, que ahora contabiliza 2,7 millones de árboles en todo el mundo, neutralizará unas 1.000 toneladas de dióxido de carbono.

Hasta el 2010 se plantarán unos 346 millones de árboles.

CVRD, que ha asignado 2.700 millones de dólares para proyectos ambientales en su plan de inversiones de 59.000 millones de dólares hasta el 2012, dice que está bien en el frente ambiental comparado con sus rivales. La mayor parte de la energía que consume proviene de plantas hidroeléctricas, que son comunes en Brasil.

"Vale emite en Brasil 9,7 millones de toneladas de gas carbónico y 1,1 millones de toneladas por la compra de energía eléctrica. Eso es mucho menos de lo que hacen nuestros competidores," dijo a Reuters el director del Departamento de Gestión Ambiental de CVRD, Walter Cover.

El ejecutivo no dio cifras sobre las operaciones en el exterior. El productor canadiense de níquel Inco, que CVRD adquirió el año pasado, emitió unas 3 millones de toneladas de dióxido de carbono en el 2005. La australiana Rio Tinto, rival de CVRD, dice en su sitio de internet que emite 28 millones de toneladas de dióxido de carbono por año.

AGUAS DESCONOCIDAS

Con el nuevo centro de investigación centrado en energía limpia, CVRD está en aguas desconocidas.

"Esta es la primera iniciativa de CVRD en el área, vinculada a la eficiencia. El problema (del ajustado suministro de energía) es mundial y es preocupante," dijo a Reuters Tito Martins, director ejecutivo para asuntos corporativos y energía.

"Queremos estimular fuentes renovables o mejorar la eficiencia de las fuentes no renovables, trabajar para limpiar las no renovables," agregó.

CVRD ya mezcla biodiésel con el combustible diésel para sus locomotoras. La empresa es una de las mayores operadoras de vías férreas de Brasil.

El presidente ejecutivo de CVRD, Roger Agnelli, dijo este año que las demoras en los proyectos de generación de electricidad en Brasil limitarán las inversiones de la empresa en alúmina y aluminio en el 2012 y 2013.

El proyecto de hidroeléctrica Estreito en el estado de Maranhao, con capacidad de 1.087 de megavatios y que tiene como socios a CVRD Suez Energy International, Alcoa Inc. y la brasileña Camargo Correa, comenzó con demoras por una demanda judicial, que fue superada.

(Reporte adicional de Inae Riveras)

 

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