Colombians and environmentalists protest Colombian gold mine - London
Colombians, environmentalists and concerned others protest against AngloGold Ashanti's proposal to mine in AngloGold Ashanti, which could displace communities and cause severe damage to the local ecosystem.
Colombians and others protested against AngloGold Ashanti's proposal to mine in AngloGold Ashanti, displacing communities, destroying the ecosystem, contaminating rivers and the cause of human rights violations against the local people.
The mining project by the world's third largest gold producer, AngloGold Ashanti (AGA), which has its headquarters in Johannesburg but is also listed on the London Stock exchange has the backing of the Colombian government but faces strong local opposition in Cajamarca. Colombia is one of the major areas in the world where the company is undertaking exploration. They want to mine low grade porphyry copper deposits which contain a very small amounts of gold, typically 0.5 to 1 gram per ton of ore, a process which involves huge open pit mines and chemical extraction of gold using large quantities of toxic cyanides. These deposits are huge in scale but the ore was too poor a grade for traditional mining techniques.
AGA was one of the first companies to come to Colombia after former president Alvara Uribe permitted exploration in the country, but last year they were joined by most of the major gold producers (or companies owned by them), creating a boom in exploration there. Their major project is at La Colosa in Cajamarca where there are thought to be around 12 million ounces of gold.
Doubts about the environmental impact of mining on this scale at La Colosa were raised last year when it was reported that the mine, expected by AGA to be constructed in 2014-6 and to begin production in 2016 or 7 would endanger a whole river basin because of the huge amount of water needed. The protesters claim that this would threaten agriculture in an area that produces 20% of Colombia's food, and that pollution from cyanides, heavy metals and acids would continue for centuries after the area is mined out.
A protest march by local people in Cajamarca is expected to involve 30,000 people, including some who will be forcibly displaced from the area to allow mining. Protesters report that they have been threatened with violence for voicing opp position to the mine.
The London protest opposite the Colombian embassy in Knightsbridge to show solidarity with them was organised by Movimiento 22 with the Colombia Solidarity Campaign, and by the time I left halfway through the three hours was still growing with just over 30 people present. They leafleted passers by, chanted slogans, displayed banners and placards and made a great deal of noise by banging small sticks on empty tin cans. A couple of diplomatic police came to talk to them and the embassy briefly, but did not interfere with the protest.
The protesters had a placards and banners in Spanish as well as in English, including some from Colombia, one of which read (in translation) 'We are all Cajamarca' and another 'Respect the voice of the people', while the main banner read 'For the good of all the struggle continues.'