Acquisition of Yamana Gold Proceeds as Two More Water Defenders Arrested in Andalgalá, Argentina

MiningWatch Canada

(Ottawa) Yesterday two more water defenders were arrested by police in Andalgalá, Argentina on trumped-up charges presented by a company which provides services for the ongoing development of Yamana Gold’s MARA project. 

The brownfield MARA project (Minera Agua Rica Alumbrera) is a joint venture with Newmont and Glencore (operated and 56% owned by Yamana). Today Yamana announced its acquisition by South Africa-based Gold Fields. 

One of the accused, an elderly man over seventy by the name of Aldo Flores, suffered a heart attack during his interrogation by the police. He is currently being transferred to a hospital in Catamarca, 250km away from his residence, following an internment period in solitary confinement in a hospital in Andalgalá. 

The second, Enzo Brizuela – who suffered an attempt on his life when persons connected to the company ran him over in 2021 – has been detained without access to neighbours or the press. Following his persecution and detention, Enzo declared he would commence a dry hunger strike – depriving himself of much needed medication and water – until freed. 

“Today I was detained unjustly and with false complaints by the justice system in Andagala which is undergoing an ideologically motivated persecution…against those of us who have decided to defend our territory against the plunder of mega-mining. Today I say, ENOUGH,” Brizuela noted in a facebook post.  

“There has been an intensification of the terrible state of criminalization over the past year in Andalgalá", said Mariana Katz, a lawyer representing the Asamblea El Algarrobo in an interview with MiningWatch Canada. 

According to Katz, almost 90 people have been criminalized since 2010 for defending water and land against the Agua Rica/MARA project. 41 of them have been slapped with legal processes since April 2021 alone.

The intensification is not happenstance. Today – just three weeks after a resistance camp set up against the mine was violently evicted – Yamana Gold (the majority operator of the project) announced the acquisition. In its press release, Yamana claimed it is a “natural strategic fit for Gold Fields with its high quality, diversified portfolio of long life assets located in mining friendly rules-based jurisdictions across the Americas (including its five producing mines and pipeline of development projects and exploration properties) and with a shared focus on health and safety and ESG performance.” Yamana has been completing MARA’s Economic Feasibility Study over the past year. 

“Yamana has demonstrated in Argentina that its “ESG performance” is promoting an environment of terror for residents exercising their right to protect water and the environment against mega-mining,” said Kirsten Francescone, Latin America Coordinator for MiningWatch Canada. 

“We are in a state of permanent resistance against MARA because we don’t want to become a sacrificed people, obligated to migrate in the future due to lack of water and contamination,” said Sergio Martínez, a member of the Asamblea El Algarrobo. 

The MARA project combines the infrastructure and pre-existing mine site of the Bajo la Alumbrera mine, known for its toxic legacy of contamination.

For more information or to set up interviews in Argentina, contact Kirsten Francescone, Latin America Program Coordinator, MiningWatch Canada +1 (873) 376-1465