In the latest ContraMINAcción and YLNM community-to-community exchange, 14 People’s Platforms from across the Iberian Peninsula came together to form a new, common platform in opposition to the ‘mining boom’ unfolding in Spain and Portugal.
Below is a short description of the event and the declaration articulated by all 14 platforms present.
From February 15-17 2019, 14 platforms and associations opposing open-pit mining across the Iberian Peninsula united at a gathering hosted by the ContraMINAcción Network and supported by YLNM as part of our global programme of community-to-community exchanges.
During three days of intense work, the different groups shared their concerns about the impact that this form of mining has on the health and life of human beings, on the environment and on the territory in which it is developed. Open-pit Mining, they agreed, destroys the way of life of the affected populations, with consequences that are irreparable and perennial in the course of time.
Participants were able to hear firsthand from communities who are already suffering these consequences, without being heard or cared for; a threat that faces many other Iberian communities at this moment in time.
The conclusions of this meeting include the formation of a network to conduct joined-up, common work, with joint strategies and actions to make visible, raise awareness, mobilize and fight against the imposition of an extractivist model in Iberia. Members of the platforms and associations present describe this model as VORACIOUS, PREDATORY, UNSUSTAINABLE and IRREVERSIBLE, and are in agreement that is being imposed on territories in ways that bring violence into the lives of local people.
As well as the formation of a new pan-Iberian network, participating platforms and associations produced the following statement to further describe their analysis, concerns and demands.
Final statement – 4th ContraMINAcción Gathering
Prepared and agreed by:
ContraMINAcción (Galiza), Asociación de Afectados por Metales Pesados (Cartagena), Coordinadora No a la Mina de Uranio (Salamanca), La Raya sin Minas (Valencia de Alcántara, Cáceres), No a la Mina en el Valle del Corneja (Ávila), No a la Mina en la Sierra de Ávila (Ávila), No a la Mina en la Sierra de Yemas (Ávila), No en mi Tierra (Zamora), Oro No (Asturias), Plataforma Ciudadana Sierra de Morón (Sevilla), Plataforma Sierra de Gata Viva (Cáceres), Salvemos la Montaña (Cáceres), Salvemos las Villuercas (Cáceres) e Unidos em Defesa de Covas do Barroso UDCB (Portugal)
“Impacts of Mining in the Iberian Peninsula”
As representatives of the Citizen Platforms mentioned above, nonpartisan, affected by past, present and future mining projects, gathered in Santiago de Compostela on February 15, 16 and 17, 2019, we declare our willingness to work together to make visible the mining boom, to denounce the consequences that it imposes on us and to stop it, in mutual solidarity and together with other groups and peoples affected by mining inside and outside our borders.
Mining is not life, but the destruction of life and of natural and cultural heritage. Mining also represents pollution, danger, precariousness, dismissal, instability, closure and abandonment.
In relation to the different phases of the mining projects in the Iberian Peninsula:
Mining companies say they restore and / or rehabilitate the land, in a way that even improves it. And yet, to take one example, in the Sierra de Cartagena the mud rafts, tailings and contaminated lands remain abandoned for decades, just meters from the houses and the school, irrigated with rainwater and dust in suspension, harming the health of children and the entire population, while the government of Murcia, impassive, denies the situation and shirks responsibility.
They say that their facilities are safe and do not pollute. But we saw the misfortune -the recent crime- of the rupture of a mud dam in Brazil that has killed more than 300 people. We hold our breath because of the collapse of the copper mine Las Cruces in Gerena (Seville) and we raise our voice in anger, because in San Finx, Galicia, the stratagems of the regional administration and the mining company ignore and omit the threat of dams filled with heavy metals that continue to pour into the estuary and threaten rupture and catastrophe.
They say they create jobs, but in open-pit mines, and according to official statistics, the average number of workers is less than 15, as at the Aguablanca mine in Monesterio, where the workforce has been reduced from 25 to 9 workers. However, mining threatens thousands of real jobs and the ruin of families that have already developed sustainable activities, such as in Villuercas, Sierra de Gata and many other places in Extremadura.
They say that in the rural areas there are no employment alternatives, but our Platforms know that we are supporting life, working without prejudice for other sectors without threatening future options, as in the West of Asturias, in Salave, where the administration and the gold mining companies want to impose their destructive operations on the lives and traditions of farmers, herders, shellfishers, fishermen on tourism, education, and health workers. Or as in Touro, where, in addition to the aforementioned rural activities, a copper mining project is placing the last stage of the Camino de Santiago under threat. And in the Villuercas, where Cañamero has been working for 100 years with the agricultural community there.
They say mining is sustainable, but they deplete non-renewable natural resources, eliminate the fertile land that grows our food, burn huge amounts of fossil fuels and energy, monopolize large amounts of water and then contaminate it with heavy metals and toxic chemicals, and abandon it later. That, among many other things, is what we fear in Ávila, in the Sierra de las Yemas and in the Corneja Valley.
They say mining is done in the name of the Energy Transition and spread propaganda that promotes electric cars as the “zero emission” alternative and a friend of the environment. But this is hypocrisy. These same companies are forcing lithium mining and other raw material extraction into World Agricultural Heritage sites such as Covas do Barroso, in Portugal, and in other World Heritage like the city of Cáceres. They are monopolizing and exhausting natural resources like water, air, high quality soils in the name of producing and consuming more and more.
They say they are transparent, that they will keep us informed and allow people to participate in the modeling of their imposed model, but this is not participation, it is compensation. Nobody has asked us what we think. They hide things from us and hinder access to information, they ignore and despise the knowledge acquired by affected groups, as in the case of the uranium project in Salamanca.
They say that we are alarmists, but obscure and deny the consequences of their mining projects, without any transparency, abusing the population, taking advantage of ignorance, without informing people about their real intentions, or future extensions, or risks. They even intend to introduce biased and false material into schools, as in the case of Galicia, where, with the help of the mass media, they greenwash the realities of mining.
They say mining is for us, but they disrespect us and will leave us without a future.
WE, 14 AFFECTED PLATFORMS, OPPOSE THE MINING PROJECTS THAT THREATEN OUR LANDS
- The excessive social and environmental costs associated with 21st century mining; the abuses of rights, destruction and pollution;
- Attempts to sustain the unsustainable lifestyle of excessive consumption by one part of society at the expense of areas and cultures that currently live truly sustainably and have done over time;
- Mining companies’ systematic use of speculation, lies and deceit, the denial of consequences, false and biased advertising to carry out their business and achieve their lucrative ends;
- The political and business situation of the mining sector, declaring our absolute and resounding opposition to the promotion of mining and the abandonment of farms without restoration, without rehabilitation.
- That people and local communities, their ways of life, their traditions, the lands that sustain them and the clean water they need are put above mining companies and their lucrative interests;
- That agricultural, livestock, agrifood, forestry, fishing and tourism activities are declared as strategic in rural areas, always prevailing over mining;
- That water be declared as a priority resource, a finite and vital resource for any form of life. Special attention must be given to its health and universal, free access and supply, as set out in the Charter of Human Rights, the directives of the EU and legislation of EU member states;
- That the political parties that represent us watch over the interests of the local society in the first place, according us the right to a say in our futures. We need changes in administrative management and policies to ensure this.
Santiago de Compostela, February 15, 16 and 17, 2019