19/5/16: Meeting with activists to discuss industrial projects and human rights in Chile

The All-Party Parliamentary Human Rights Group (PHRG), in conjunction with the London Mining Network, met with Chilean activists to discuss human rights issues connected to industrial projects in Chile, as well as corruption of Chilean politicians and judges.

We were joined by the following guest speakers:

  • Dr Patricio Bustamante, researcher working with the Caimanes community in connection with the “El Mauro” dam. (“PB”)
  • Marcela Mella Ortiz, President and spokesperson for ‘Citizens Co-ordination No Alto Maipo.’ (“MMO”)

The main points raised during the meeting were:

  • The “El Mauro” tailings dam is the biggest in Latin America, and third biggest in the world. It contains 2700 million tons of toxic waste. (PB)
  • Underground water flows were diverted in order to construct the dam, leading to an 80% loss of water in the valley. Huge areas of land have been made useless to the communities as a result of the dam. (PB)
  • The Supreme Court said the mine is a danger to human life as it could collapse and there are 17,000 people living downstream of it.
  • In 2014, the Supreme Court ordered the company to restore the flow of water in the Pupio River, to bring the water supply back to the area. The company is appealing this decision. (PB)
  • The company running the mine, Minera Los Pelambres, is a subsidiary of Antofagasta Plc, a Chilean-British mining company which is listed on the London Stock Exchange. (PB)
  • Antofagasta Plc is owned by the Luksic family, the richest family in Chile. The family is closely tied to the state through payments to political campaigns and by putting former employees of the company in key positions in the Government. (PB)
  • ‘Citizens Co-ordination No Alto Maipo’ has been opposing the Alto Maipo hydroelectric project for nine years. The valley where the project is being constructed provides Santiago with water. The project involves two companies, US-based AES Corp and UK-based Antofagasta Minerals. (MMO)
  • The project has already had an impact on the supply of potable water to Santiago. In January of this year, a Chilean scientist published a report saying that the construction of the project has been polluting the drinking water supply for Santiago with heavy metals. (MMO)
  • Last week an important tribunal ruled in the community group’s favour in a judicial action, asking for the project to be halted to protect water supply. The company has sued the scientist for £50,000 on the grounds that he lied in his report. (MMO)
  • UK Parliamentarians are encouraged to scrutinise UK-based mining companies for their operations overseas.

The PHRG works to raise issues affecting communities by large-scale industrial operations around the world, raising our concerns in the UK Parliament where possible.