Bolivia: Aymara communities occupy Oruro mine

The comunarios (communal peasants) of Marka La Joya, on the morning of Aug. 21 initiated an occupation of the installations of the Inti Raymi Mining Company at La Titina, outside the Altiplano city of Oruro, in protest of the pollution of local water sources with cyanide and other toxins. Traditional Aymara authorities of the ayllus (agricultural communities) of Jach’a Carangas, Jakisa, Sura and Uru, which together constitute  Marka La Joya, charged that the government of President Evo Morales and the Plurinational Legislative Assembly are making laws that favor the mineral industry, without the involvement of indigenous communities impacted by mining projects. “We view with profound concern…that the government, through the corresponding ministries, has drawn up—without consultation—the projects of the Mining Laws, the Rights of Mother Earth, Water, Prior Consultation…without the participation of social sectors, and especially of the indigenous nations and original peoples,” the statement read. (OCMAL, OIDEC, Aug. 21; La Opinón, Cochabamba, Aug. 20)

  1. No nationalization for Bolivia’s largest mine
    Bolivia’s government said Aug. 23 that new laws aimed at strengthening the state’s hand in mining will leave the country’s largest mine, San Cristobal of Japan’s Sumitomo Corp, completely private. “San Cristobal will definitely continue to operate as a private mine,” Deputy Mining Minister Freddy Beltran told Reuters. “There will continue to be private mining operations with no direct state participation.”

    Bolivia nationalized the Swiss group Glencore‘s tin and zinc mine in June and the silver, indium and gallium mine of Canadian company South American Silver in July.

    But Beltran stressed that while the new policy demands that mining companies enter into new contracts with the state, it will not in all cases mean nationalization. “We’re revising contracts, we want them to be as beneficial as possible for the state,” he said.

    Bolivia shipped $3.4 billion in minerals last year, or 40% of the country’s total exports. Bolivia’s exports are led by natural gas shipments to Argentina and Brazil. (Reuters, Aug. 23)