The potential implications are wide-reaching.
Over the years, the mining industry has taken advantage of dictatorship, disasters, and a variety of distractions to expand operations in Latin America. In the time of Covid-19, with entire populations under lockdown and economies falling apart, mining companies have also hopped on the pandemic profiteering bandwagon.
The potential implications are wide-reaching. In Latin America, the areas of interest to mining companies whether they are exploring or digging for gold, silver, copper, iron-ore, and other minerals can extend to vast areas of entire countries. Their activities also affect important ecosystems. These include high-altitude wetlands and glacier systems in the Andes, which are crucial sources of water for millions of people. Mining companies also have their sights set on the Amazon basin, the health and integrity of which is crucial to the future of all. The principle obstacle standing in their way to unfettered extraction have been local communities and Indigenous peoples unwilling to accept the destruction of their land, water and ways of life.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic began, however, governments in country after country have declared mining an essential activity or responded to industry pressure to do so after a brief shutdown. As a result, not only have mine sites become a vector for the spread of the coronavirus into rural areas and vulnerable territories, but land and water protectors on lockdown — who’ve been fighting to protect community health and water from negative mining impacts — are facing new threats.
These trends are laid out in a global solidarity statement released June 2 and signed by over 300 organizations worldwide. The Institute for Policy Studies contributed to a snapshot report, Voices from the Ground, which provides examples to back up the statement.
“The Coronavirus Convention”