Chile: indigenous win a round in lithium struggle


The First Environmental Tribunal in the Chile’s northern┬ácity of Antofagasta on Dec. 26┬áruled┬áin favor of indigenous communities that had brought suit against Sociedad Quimica y Minera (SQM), the world’s second-largest miner of lithium. The court found SQM’s compliance plan for water preservation submitted to Chile’s┬áEnvironment Superintendency┬á(SMA) was “insufficient,” citing the “particular fragility” of the lithium-rich but extremely arid salt-flats where the company hopes to expand operations, the┬áSalar de Atacama.┬á┬áUnder the ruling, SQM must submit a new compliance plan, pay multi-million fines to the SMA for being out of compliance, or suspend operations. “We must protect sensitive ecosystems even more when they constitute the ancestral habitat of our native peoples whom the State of Chile is obliged to protect,”┬áthe court’s chief justice, Mauricio Oviedo, said in a statement. The case was brought by┬áthe local Council of Atacame├▒o Pueblos, representing the impacted indigenous communities of┬áPeine and Camar. (Jurist, Al Jazeera)

Photo: First Environmental Tribunal of Antofagasta