Global Day of Action Against Open-Pit Mining

Jul 10, 2009

The Frente Amplio Opositor a la Minera San Xavier (FAO), Cerro de San Pedro, San Luís de Potosí, México, call for a Global Day of Action against Open-pit Mining on July 22nd. Given Canada’s leading role in the global mining industry, we call for peaceful demonstrations in front of Canadian embassies across the world in order to show our condemnation of these mining projects that only leave behind desolation, poverty, and death for our people while enriching the few.

The methods and technology used in open-pit mining operations causes the destruction and exhaustion of the planet’s ecosystems. Removing forest cover, destroying soils, contaminating both running water and underground reservoirs, dividing communities, bribing officials, threatening, blackmailing, and violating human rights are all common practice for open-pit mining projects around the world.

The mining industry has a long history in Mexico. The region’s mineral wealth was one of the main motives behind European conquest in the 16th century. As in other indigenous lands around the world, mining was of utmost importance for the colonial powers but for the indigenous communities themselves, it meant injury, death, environmental destruction, and impoverishment. Despite a long struggle for land and the eventual victory of the Mexican Revolution of 1910, this historical injustice persists to this day.

Today’s colonial powers are the mostly Canadian mining companies who continue to extract resources from the Global South as well as from Canada’s own indigenous peoples. In contrast with its self-proclaimed “environmental awareness”, Canada is the global leader in open-pit mining. Canadian-based transnational corporations (TNCs) control 51% of global mining capital and Mexico in particular had a big role to play in Canada’s rise to become the world mining champion. The neoliberal policies implemented in Mexico since the mid-1980s, codified and consolidated by the creation of NAFTA, were of great importance for Canadian mining companies. The erosion of labour rights aside, it is the repression of environmental movements, increasing militarization and autocracy, and the forced eviction of entire communities that have allowed for the establishment and survival of mining projects.

As of 2007, the Mexican government has granted 438 mining concessions, most of them going to Canadian companies. In the state of Chiapas alone, 72 projects cover 727,435ha of land (slightly larger than the Palestinian Occupied Territories). Half of this territory is now owned by two Canadian companies: Linear Gold and the Frontier Development Group. The territory passed into private ownership without the knowledge, let alone consent, of the communities located there, most of whom are peasants and indigenous people.

The same is happening in the states of Zacatecas, Chihuahua, Sonora, Oaxaca, and Coahuila. A similar fate awaits much of the world. Canadian mining companies are at work in Peru, Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Guatemala, Brasil, Panama, Honduras, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, the Philippines, Surinam, Ghana, Congo, Tanzania, Sudan, Zambia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, the United States, and Canada itself…

FAO Frente Amplio Opositor a la Minera San Xavier (FAO) Cerro de San Pedro, San Luís de Potosí, México (FAO’s resistance to New Gold and its subsidiary Minera San Xavier resulted in a legal ruling against said company. However, the Calderón government, in contravention of the law, has allowed the company to continue with its mining operation.)