MAC: Mines and Communities

A bridge too far: Famatina residents repel miners in Argentina

Published by MAC on 2009-10-19

In summer 2008, the Argentinian provincial government of La Rioja passed a law forbidding open-pit mining. Within a year, the decree was overturned. See:

Last month, the government tried to re-open a closed gold mine.

It was prevented from doing so...


News from Famatina
Chilecito y Famatina, La Rioja, Argentina

13 September 2009

They say a text message began to circulate early in the hot Sunday siesta: "Mining caravan coming toward Famatina from Los Sauces". That same day the two province-wide newspapers published in their headlines the fact that a government agency was beginning mining exploration in Famatina.

Guarded by two patrol cars, two heavy trucks and three light trucks of the company ECOMINERA tried to advance from Famatina toward Chilecito transporting drilling equipment.

Upon arrival at the bridge in the town of Los Sarmientos, they encountered a human barrier, ready to show them that our life is not for sale.

Only a few minutes had passed when neighbors from the area began to spontaneously join the blockade.

It was moving to see women, men, and children arriving to join us. The officer in charge of the operation tried without success to convince us to let the trucks pass.

The police and the miners understood the message: the decision had already been made. It is our land, our water, our mountains, our life, and we are going to defend it.

The vehicles backed up and had to begin their return, followed by a long caravan of cars.

At the bridge in Capayan, we met up with neighbors from Famatina and Pituil who had been alerted and had gathered in that symbolic location.

The joy of our struggle was palpable everywhere. Once more the mountain felt embraced by the people. We know that history is changing; the silenced voices are making themselves heard.

Report from:

Citizens Assembly for Life, Chilecito, La Rioja
Self-Organized Neighbors for Life, Famatina
La Rioja Citizens Assemblies


Government of La Rioja to Recover Mine for Exploration
Radio Fenix
13 September 2009

The mining exploration will be undertaken by the state company Energia y Minerales SE, created in 2008 by the legislature.

The mine in question is El Oro, located on the eastern face of Mt. Famatina, 35 kilometers west of Chilecito.

Exploration will be done in the area in association with other companies; 200,000 ounces of probable gold reserves are estimated.

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