On the 10th June hundreds marched through the streets of Santiago de Compostela in the latest mass demonstrations against new mining operations in Galicia, north west Spain. YLNM reports.
11 June 2018. YLNM.
This weekend in Santiago de Compostela members ContraMINAcción, a network of Galician organisations against mining, marched with the people of Touro and O Pino who are resisting Atalaya Mining’s new copper mine in Galicia.
The aim of the demonstration was to demanded that the Galician Regional Government of the PP (Partido Popular) stop the project and deny authorization for mining exploitation
Headed by a banner carried by a group of children with the motto “No To The Mine, we do not want a poisoned inheritance”. Traditional music and lots of protest slogans like “We are going to stop this mine” and banners followed. The massive protest started just after 12.00 hours in the Alameda of Santiago de Compostela, ending two and a half hours later in the Obradoiro Square, in front of the Cathedral and the Galician Parliament.
“It was really incredible that when it comes to this kind of extractivism, the social movements were able once more to gather so many people to say ‘no to mining’. This means for me, that society is really aware of the dangers of such form to impose extractive projects against the law, the common sense, and full of inconsistencies and corruption”, said Guadalupe Rodriguez, YLNM’s European Coordinator, who was at the march.
Big demonstrations like this one have already stopped other mining projects in the region, said Guadalupe, recalling how Canadian miner Edgewater was forced to give up on its Corcoesto gold mining project in 2013.
The Touro and O Pino copper mine is a project of a company called San Rafael, owned by Atalaya Mining, a company headquartered in Cyprus and listed on the London Stock Exchange (ATYM).
The open-pit copper mine will cover 700 hectares, partially on the site of a previous copper mine, and there are plans to extend to 1827 hectares, taking in agricultural land and forests on which several communities depend. The company has plans to operate the mine 24 hours, with a projected mine life of approximately 15 years.
Local residents are concerned that they, and pilgrims walking the famous Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route, will suffer noise and air pollution from daily rock blasting. According to the project description, the mine will use more than 10 tonnes of explosives a day.
Many in Touro are concerned about potential impacts on water systems in a region where 30,000 families are dedicated to harvesting shellfish in the region, with many of the fishing collectives taking part in the protest: “We have a clear message to the mining company Atalaya Mining. Go away. Touro and O Pino don’t want your mining. We want life. We want the ocean. We want a future.”
As YLNM has reported, there are also concerns about the consequences a new mine could have on tourism and the families who depend on this trade in an area close to branches of the Camino de Santiago.
The testimony of several members of the Galician network against mining ContraMINacción are very eloquent:
Eduardo Quintás, a farmer affected by the Touro mining project, explains the reasons why he opposes the mine frontally: “it leaves our farms located in the are without lands . Two deposits of toxic sludge and acidic waters with hazardous materials will surround the village where I live, which means our disappearance. “
Nela Abella explains how “ContraMINAcción helps its member organisation to access the information about the different mining projects, which is a right of the people. The administration is systematically hiding the relevant information. They make very difficult for the affected people to participate in the processes. ContraMINAcción, is working to change this.”
Mining is becoming a huge environmental concern in Europe, as each day new mining projects or re-opening of old ones emerge in places where communities depend on other activities for their livelihoods, and mining is not compatible”.
Articles in the Galician and Spanish press:
Independent information about the demonstration in journalist Pilar Aymara’s Blog, also in english:
Compostela 24 horas Lleno absoluto en el Obradoiro para mostrar el rechazo contra la mina de Touro
Economía Digital, Galicia – Manifestación multitudinaria contra la mina de Touro
Galicia Confindencial – As imaxes dun clamor histórico contra a mina de Touro-O Pino
The regional newspaper La Voz de Galicia which usually hides the resistance against mining not publishing any news related to the issue, but on the contrary giving voice to the mining companies, had this time to recognise that “A human flood protested in Santiago against the Touro mine” (Una riada humana protesta en Santiago contra la mina de Touro). In the same article -not on the cover of the newspaper in spite of the importance of the news-, they give strong voice to the mining company wich is locally called San Rafael, which is owned by Atalaya Mining, owned by multinational capitals.
Galiza Contrainfo https://www.flickr.com/photos/47009921@N02/albums/72157697305423154
ContraMINAcción/ Nacho Jorganes https://www.flickr.com/photos/jorganes/albums/72157697304047464