Final synthesis of the water and mining section. Marseille 2012: Alternative World Water Forum

Final synthesis of the water and mining section. Marseille 2012: Alternative World Water Forum

Open pit mining is often located in the headwaters of water courses (glaciers). Thus, the water is no longer used for urban use, for irrigation, or consumption by breeding animals, the lands are being abandoned permanently.

Final synthesis of the water and mining section

The fight is not one of adversity, but one of resistance ... that is what the grandparents taught ... from the Letter of Carlos Pérez Guatambel, Ecuador, to the Water and Mining section of FAME

Sharing Experiences

In two very intense days we were able to share and learn about unfortunate experiences about what this kind of mining inevitably entails throughout Latin America, as well as successful experiences of social organization and rejection of proposed projects. We were present representatives of social organizations, indigenous communities, study centers and NGOs from Patagonia Argentina to Mexico, passing through San Juan and the Puna region of Argentina, Chile, the Titicaca basin, Locumba and Cajamarca from south to north of Peru , Ecuador, and Central America, Mexico, and other countries that are suffering the consequences of mining extractivism.

Open pit mining is often located in the headwaters of water courses (glaciers). In a short time, the permanent deterioration of entire hydrographic basins is reached, even up to their outlet into the sea, with contamination of coastal areas (Chile). Thus, the water is no longer used for urban use, for irrigation, or consumption by breeding animals, the lands are being abandoned permanently. Beyond cyanide accidents and tailings dyke spills during the exploitation period, more widespread than the mining sector admits, the most serious environmental problem of mega-mining is acid mine drainage (AMD). DAM dissolves heavy metals from ground rocks in dumps and carries them away with ground and surface water. This process can take up to several millennia.

Heavy metals bioaccumulate in the body and therefore, even in small amounts, they are toxic in the long run. The DAM are thus true time bombs because the effects on human health appear over time, after the deposit has been abandoned. Dr. Andrei Tchernischin, president of the Environmental Health Commission of the Medical College of Chile, reported on recent research on the effects of exposure to different heavy metals during childhood and even during pregnancy. Prenatal exposure to these and other chemicals has lifelong sequelae; 25% of adult illnesses were found to be programmed before birth; and these include degenerative, reproductive, and even behavioral diseases: drug tendencies, aggressiveness and delinquency, in the case of lead contamination. Cadmium, arsenic, lead and mercury leave traces for life.

There is no technique to mitigate the negative impacts of this mega-mining, there are no ways of remediation. The proposed techniques are no more than small-scale trials, but they are very expensive and difficult to face on a real scale, even for rich countries. They are only wielded from the mining sector to deceive.

A new form of mining looms over the territories of the indigenous communities of the central Andes salt flats (Uyuni triangle, Atacama, Salar del Hombre Muerto and other smaller ones in Argentina, Bolivia and Chile), main zones of the world for the extraction lithium. The automotive industry has its eyes set there for when the time comes to replace oil-powered cars with electric ones, in the coming decades. The exploitation of lithium destroys the structure of the salt flat and its enormous microbial wealth, and consumes enormous amounts of water in regions where it is more than scarce; They thus use fossil water, that of aquifers without recharge; with which springs and wetlands dry up for many kilometers around. Thus the life of the communities of the salt flats is destroyed.

The entry of mining projects, with land purchases, private property cartels, leads to absolute control of the territory, water, energy sources, and local governments. The authorities are gradually withdrawing, when they do not repress the protests. The temporary income does not generate any social benefits, rather they generate social fracture… the young people stop going to the crops and go to the mine deceived with the promises. Of the 32 million peasants that existed in Mexico before the FTAs, today only 8 million remain.

The mining landing in Latin America with its consequences of corruption, social disintegration, criminalization of protests, assassinations, and above all the slow death to which it subjects numerous populations in its areas of influence, who remain in ignorance, constitute a genocide that spreads mainly along the open veins of Andean America. The lead children of Abra Pampa, those contaminated by mercury in Cajamarca, and the slow death in the upper basin of the Pilcomayo River, to name just a few, are situations that demand justice, while the governments are determined to hide them.

Proposals - lines of action

- All open pit mines that have not yet entered into operation must be stopped.

New mining projects must be blocked before they start operating. All the publicity about sustainable mining is a lie and has no real basis.

- stop the blind advance of mining in Peru; that Yanacocha never exists again; not definitive to Conga. Sipakapa is not for sale. No to the lead Christmas in Patagonia. No to Agua Rica.

- The study and research of the enormous environmental liabilities that traditional and open-pit mining has left in entire regions since colonial times should be encouraged; Information must first of all be available to communities, which are almost always very unguarded and unprotected from their governments.

- The purchase of universities, and research centers, of complicit silences and biased reports written by professionals working for the system must be openly denounced.

- The issue of mega-mining is a very complex issue and it must be made as clear and accessible as possible to the largest number of people. The importance of well-selected images;

Find all possible spatial and territorial relationships of the topic. Strengthen the legislation of our countries with scientists who can provide arguments that are not generally used but that can be important. Highlight the multiple and irreparable impacts on everything in the social, productive and ecological system.

- Achieve the understanding and commitment of the artistic world in such a way that the message can be multiplied in large urban centers, which often continue to see mining as a distant problem.

- Questioning the authority or government in its procedures, revealing the hidden ideology in the decisions it makes, which is true? Where are the fallacies? And why is it so powerful?

- There is still a great dispersion in the resistances of each place ... as if we were fighting alone. The cases of international contamination (for example in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador), require uniting the struggles of each country; also Chile and Argentina, because of the extensive border and the mining integration treaty signed between both countries behind the people's backs. Bolivia and Peru, due to the contamination of Lake Titicaca. Bolivia has already banned mining in the Bolivian part of the lake basin, but in the Peruvian part the activity has not yet been stopped.

- Unite community radio stations, link with universities, demand social commitment from university students.

- Formation of regional or Latin American networks of legal and technical assistance to communities that are already affected by mining contamination or that struggle to avoid their installation.

- Integration of a large movement that ends up imposing the annulment of the current mining laws;

- A forum cannot be a wailing wall. Bring something concrete to our towns: when you go out into the street, let it be with some recourse / legal protection, for example a preventive habeas corpus appeal: There should be no party flags.

Against attacking; initiate criminal actions; make complaints against companies, against public officials who become corrupt. The Treaty of San José, Costa Rica, orders governments to respect the rights of citizens and not to repress them.

- In Mexico, the National Network of Victims of Repression was formed. Mexico was the emblem of what should never happen in any country: living goods have become dead goods and we have become their survivors. A convergence of different movements in the Assembly of Environmentally Affected Persons, which works on three axes: exchange of experiences, recognize and know each other; make complaints in a more systematic way, there is a group of 30 lawyers. Group for emergency responses, when there is not much time to think. Promote leaderships that do not lead to one-person leadership. Every year they carry out a week of activities to understand macro issues.


Communities assume the right to control the basic things on which their lives depend on their territory. They do not recognize any external authority on aspects that put their life at risk (Majaz, Cajamarca, Peru). Communal leaders who confront the state: this is something new, they are not trade unionists, peasants, but presidents of regions.

Convergence Points

- The analysis is that there is still a great dispersion in the resistance of each place ... as if we were fighting alone. Cases of international contamination (Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador) as in the Lempa river.

- Articulation between mobilization, legal aspects; the fight for water together with the struggles for social justice, territories; join the struggles that lead to unity, not those that divide.

- There is already a legal assistance network in Argentina against mega-mining; create a website for international legal advice.

- Proposal for an international criminal court with the power to punish environmental crimes with imprisonment. Economic is not a problem for multinationals.

- make available to communities simple environmental control and measurement elements that can be used with minimal training (for example, colorimetric strips to measure pH and other similar indicators; simple guides on how to take samples in cases of spills).

- Right now there is a worldwide mining boom; If we are not clear that what we have that the problem is the capitalist system, we will disperse efforts. The construction of mega-dams in Brazil, Chile and other states is directly related to the needs of mining projects.

- A fundamental appointment is the Rio + 20 summit. It is necessary to look for allies among workers, indigenous people, peasants, others; it is necessary to have a total presence there.

- Deepening the Latin American Pact for Water - part of the global contract for water, approved at the Porto Alegre Social and Environmental Forum in January 2012;

- Prepare a Latin American Meeting on Water and Mining and extractivism for 2013.

Free services offered to affected or potentially affected communities

1. Advice and support on legal aspects related to pollution, formulation of complaints, right to protest. Dr. Antonio Gustavo Gómez and team, Federal Prosecutor of Tucumán, Argentina; Official email: [email protected]; website:; 54 0381 4311765 / 4311072. Las Piedras 418 3rd floor - Tucumán. Argentina.

2. Guidance and assistance to communities on technical aspects related to water contamination by mining exploitation, with (limited) possibilities of carrying out chemical analysis of water. Prof. Lino Pizzolon, Aquatic Ecology Laboratory of the National University of Patagonia and collaborative network laboratory; [email protected]; Tel. 0054-2945-453679 / 453985. Sarmiento 849 (9200) Esquel. Chubut. Argentina.

3. Availability of recent research results on the long-term effects on human health and behavior caused by early exposure to different metals and advice on the medical issues of pollution. Andrei N. Tchernitchin, President of the Environment and Health Commission, Colegio Médico de Chile, [email protected]

We are poor, but not money-hungry. - A peasant woman in Guatemala (at

What is Extractivism

* Program to use the land not to live and coexist with it, but to extract and suck its goods as raw materials on an industrial scale

* It only counts sites with resources and sites of consumption, and is blind to different regions, peoples, cultures, human values;

* It is governed exclusively by the economic variable as a symbol of development.

* Only takes into account short-term results, measurable on the stock exchanges; does not take into account the long-term consequences; it gives rise to environmentally and socially unsustainable activities.

* It is based on an alleged preminence of the human over the rest of nature -which does not have any kind of rights-, even on other human beings, considered inferior -quasi animals- and therefore also without rights, they can be exploited, expelled from their territories.

* Mining, oil, mega-dams, industrialization of agriculture (transgenics: soybeans, massive reforestation) and aquaculture (cage-fed artificial food);

* Generates an endemic deformation of the entire service structure of the country or a region, routes, railways, power lines, aqueducts, gas pipelines, etc. which are designed and executed according not to an organic territorial planning and with a vision of the future, but according to the needs of the mega-industries.

* Extractivism expels people from the land and crowds them into subhuman suburbs that grow on the outskirts of cities.

* These masses are held captive by political power, through social plans of all kinds, administered in a clientelistic manner, thereby ensuring indefinite re-elections and the deepening of the vicious circle.

DOCUMENT | 2012-04-06 - - M4 - Mesoamerican Movement against the extractive Mining Model -

Video: Dr Adriana Allen in World Water Forum 2012 (June 2021).