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Communities oppose Canadian gold mine in Argentina

The El Algarrobo Assembly in Argentina seeks our solidarity in its struggle to block the development of Agua Rica, a Canadian mine.

The inhabitants of Andalgalá first suffered the impacts of mining megaprojects in the 1990s when operations began at the La Alumbrera mine. Canadian companies Goldcorp and Yamana Gold are part owners of that mine.

In early February of this year, the inhabitants of Andalgalá set up camp outside the Supreme Court of Argentina in Buenos Aires, where they remain, despite record-breaking temperatures. They demand that the court respond to a petition they filed three years ago to halt Agua Rica. The project is also owned by Yamana Gold.

Read the statement of support from Above Ground and other civil society organizations below.

International Statement of Support for the El Algarrobo Assembly, Argentina

We, the undersigned organizations, express our support for the El Algarrobo Assembly. Members of the Assembly have been waiting three years for a decision from the Supreme Court of Argentina concerning the Agua Rica mining project in Andalgalá, Catamarca.

In 2009, the Argentine government gave the green light to a copper, molybdenum and gold megaproject owned by the Canadian mining company Yamana Gold. The deposit is located 25 kilometres from the city of Andalgalá, in a periglacial environment, close to 200 rock glaciers in the Aconquija mountain range. The Blanco, Candado and Minas rivers flow from the mountain range. These three rivers provide water to the entire region, which covers nearly a quarter of the province of Catamarca.

The inhabitants of Andalgalá have suffered the impacts of mining megaprojects since the 1990s when exploitation began at the La Alumbrera mine. At that time, community groups began to oppose mining in the region on the grounds that it threatens the health and integrity of local populations and seriously damages the environment. In February 2010, members of community groups suffered severe police repression when close to 30 people were detained, 12 were injured and hundreds were arrested due to their opposition to mining.

That same year, the El Algarrobo Assembly was formed. Members of the assembly sought an order from the Catamarca court to suspend the Agua Rica mining project. They invoked the human rights to water and to a healthy environment, as well as domestic legislation designed to protect glaciers. They also drew attention to thirty observations (on water quality, water pollution, impacts on surrounding communities, etc.) included in an environmental impact report on the project that was prepared for the project’s owner, Yamana Gold. Furthermore, members of the assembly stressed that neither public hearings nor popular consultations were carried out prior to the authorization of the project, as required under Argentine law.

For three years the petition has been before the Supreme Court. No ruling has been issued.

Considering these facts, we demand that:

  1. The Supreme Court of Argentina issue its ruling on the petition filed by the El Algarrobo Assembly to block the project.
  2. The right to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and freedom of association be promoted, protected and respected. These rights are recognized in international and regional human rights agreements, including in relation to acts of protest against government policies, laws or actions.

We stand in solidarity with the members of the El Algarrobo Assembly and support their commitment and actions in defence of the environment.

Signatory organizations:

  • Above Ground, Canada
  • ADES Santa Marta, El Salvador
  • Café Rebelde Collective, Coast Salish Territories
  • CIPO-RFM, Mexico
  • Comité de solidarité internationale du CCMM-CSN, Canada
  • Comité por los derechos humanos en América Latina, Canada
  • Conseil central du Montréal métropolitain (CCMM-CSN), Canada
  • Council For Public Health in Mining Communities, Canada
  • Friends of the Earth Canada
  • L’Entraide missionnaire, Canada
  • Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network, Canada
  • Mining Justice Alliance, Coast Salish Territories
  • MiningWatch Canada
  • Movimiento Mesoamericano contra el Modelo extractivo Minero-M4, Mesoamerica
  • Movimento dos Atingidos por Barragens-MAB, Brazil
  • Otros Mundos AC/Chiapas, Mexico
  • Projet Accompagnement Solidarité Colombie-Canada
  • Red Mexicana de Afectados por la Minería (REMA), Mexico
  • Red quebequense frente a la integración continental (RQIC), Canada
  • Réseau québécois des groupes écologistes (RQGE), Canada
  • United Steelworkers of Canada

Montreal, 4 March 2016