SOME OF THE CONSEQUENCES OF MINING AND EXTRACTIVISM
We share this article, originally published in El Sol Ácrata N°31 (Abril, 2016), where we reflect on the geopolitical key in regards to the problematic Proyecto RT-Sulfuros, which implicates, among many nefarious activities: the enlargement of the Tranque de Relaves in the Salar de Talabre and the installation of new processing plants and associated infrastructure. Additionally, the project involves many mining initiatives that want to sack natural resources and exacerbate the dispossession of the communities in the desert of Atacama, in the north of the Chilean region. We must fight for the sake of the world against these mining initiatives!
For a couple of months the communities of Chiu Chiu and Calama have been fighting against the approval of the RT Sulfuros project, as the program enables the expansion of the Tranque de Relaves located in Talabre by turning it into in large industrial landfill for mining. The project, dependent on Codelco, seeks to expand the operating capacity of the reservoir, despite the nefarious ecological and social consequences that it generates to the local communities.
The most immediate consequence of this project is the irreversible damage done to the aquifers of the river Lola, as they have been affected by the filtration of polluted elements through the underground aquifers, caused by the lack of impermeability of the reservoirs. This situation largely impacts the Chiuchiu community because agriculture is one of the main activities of the subsistence of their population. This could even cause a fragmentation of social relations amongst the members of this community, as the program makes it impossible for them to continue ancestral traditions of cultivating the land. Thus, the project imposes upon the community a different style of life based on the mining model – extractivism and a sacker of natural resources, protecting the myth of abundance and supposed necessity of “development and progress” for the population.
We know for a fact that these debates are equally just as useless as the “environmental studies” that represent mining companies, whose donations, “mitigation” methods, promises of “entrepreneurial responsibility” and “technological innovation” are just a smokescreen to reduce their taxes and avoid responsibility for their role in the ecological devastation that is affecting a large part of the desert of Atacama.
Unfortunately, the enlargement of the reservoir is not the only plan that the RT Sulfuros project has envisioned: The program is also looking to extend its scheme onto six other communes of the region (Calama, Sierra Gorda, Antofagasta, Mejillones, Tocopilla y María Elena). Additionally, RT Sulfuros is also contemplating the installation of a desalination plant (14kms from the south of Tocopilla). It also wants to build 160 kms of subterranean tubes (under the river Loa), powerlines, a concentrator plant and find new ways of plundering; all of which would have their exportation point in the already critical port complex of Mejillones. All of this with the intention of exploiting 354.000 tonnes of copper and 7.000 tonnes of molybdenum annually, as declared by Codelco.
In the same way, this project represents one of the multiple plans of destruction of the territory by transnational firms. These companies finance the mining programs in total complicity of the Chilean government and the rest of the South-American states, who do nothing more than put a price on our natural resources and favour their exploitation by facilitating the quick circulation of merchandise on an international scale through oceanic corridors, long roads, power stations and other large scale projects. These programs are approved through deals like the I.I.R.S.A (Integration of infrastructure in regional South-America), a pact signed by UNASUR (South-American United Nations) in May of 2008. It should be noted that groups and projects like RT Sulfuros, the enlargement of the port of Mejillones and the internationalization of the airport in Antofagasta not only entail environmental damage in the desert of Atacama but also in Argentina, the Paraguayan territory and the south of Brazil.
As a result of all of these events we support the necessity to fight for the defence and autonomy of these territories, rejecting those who try to change these movements into political agendas or negotiate our future behind the backs of the communities. Other than worsening this problematic matter from a geopolitical perspective, as pointed out by colleagues of “El Kintral”, a reflection that goes further than “environmentalism of each square feet of land” needs to be implemented in order to build and strengthen new community relations between us and nature. This is what our territory and the health of our communities depends on rather than the judicialization of politics.
Fight for our world!
Against capitalism and mining!
Artticle taken from Chilean anarchist newspaper El Sol Acrata (https://periodicoelsolacrata.wordpress.com/ultima-edicion/)
Article translated by Pietro Casati