Canadian Mining Investments in Chile: Extractivism and Conflict

In its Andean salt flats, Chile has one of the largest proven reserves of lithium in brines. It is a leading exporter of lithium and copper -- two minerals identified as "critical" for the energy transition. But "green extractivism" has caused conflict in Indigenous and rural territories in Chile, threatening communities and environmental defenders who are currently facing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as climate change that the electric vehicle (EV) market promises to solve. Therefore, it is of utmost urgency to understand the strong inequalities and injustices hidden behind the green growth imagery promoted by governments and corporations as a supposed way out of the climate crisis and as a mechanism for post-pandemic economic recovery.

This brief report seeks to explain the responsibility of Canadian investments in the emergence of new socio-environmental conflicts in Chile’s salt flats, in an effort to contribute to the national and international debate on possible futures with climate justice as a cornerstone in the development of policies that go beyond a corporate energy transition towards a real and socio-ecological transformation.