Canadian mining companies are having devastating impacts on the environment and Indigenous populations of some South American countries.
By Ramona Wadi, Rabble
In 2009, the then outgoing Chilean President Michelle Bachelet was awarded the Gold Insigne award by the Council of the Americas; the latter an American business organisation “promoting free trade, democracy and open markets throughout the Americas.”
Bachelet is not a stranger to controversy when it comes to human rights violations. Despite her personal history and that of her family as victims of the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship, her legacy as president also included excessive use of the anti-terrorist law to criminalise the Indigenous Mapuche’s resistance against exploitation of their land and natural resources.
The Gold Insigne Award was sponsored by Chevron, Freeport-Mcmoran and Canadian mining company Barrick Gold; the latter having been in the spotlight since 2001 in Chile over the Pascua Lama mining project.
The Pascua Lama original plan called for an open-pit mine on the Chile-Argentina border, which was altered in 2016 in favour of underground mining. One major concern of Indigenous communities and environmental activists who led a relentless campaign against the mining project, was Barrick Gold’s initial plan to move the ice from the Toro 1, Toro 2 and Esperanza glaciers in order to gain access to gold, silver and copper deposits.
Speaking to rabble.ca, Outreach Coordinator and Canada Program Co-Lead of MiningWatch Canada, Jamie Kneen, noted how indigenous people were marginalised from the entire process of Pascua Lama.
“Indigenous peoples’ rights to the Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), or even the more limited right to consultation under ILO 169, were never respected, from the initial exploration through development efforts,” Kneen said. “Those who were also part of the Irrigation Association also had their rights restricted by the deal that Barrick made with the association, to provide funding for projects in exchange for the association refraining from participating in the environmental assessment.”
Kneen added that despite the definitive closure, the communities need to remain vigilant.
“Once a valuable deposit has been identified, there is always the risk that someone will try to go after it. It could be Barrick, or anyone else,” he said.
Read the full article, including quotes from MiningWatch staff Viviana Herrera and Catherine Coumans, here.