Magazine article New Internationalist

Townspeople Put Stoppers on Mammoth Goldmine

Magazine article New Internationalist

Townspeople Put Stoppers on Mammoth Goldmine

Article excerpt

The people of Cajamarca, a small mountain town in central Colombia that sits atop a rich seam of gold, have won an important battle against mining giant AngloGold Ashanti.

A landslide 98 per cent of townspeople voted for work to cease on the La Colosa mine project, along with all other mining projects in the Tolima region in a consulta popular, or referendum, last March.

To date, AngloGold Ashanti, the second biggest mining company in the world, has invested $900 million in Cajamarca to explore the potential of creating Latin America's biggest goldmine. Its potential impacts include the destruction of local ecosystems and displacement of communities.

'This victory shows the world that the people can win. Those in power will have to listen,' says Maria Camila, a member of Cajamarca-based youth-led activist group Cosajuca.

This was not an easy win, and may yet be appealed by the mining company. Nevertheless, it demonstrated the power of both strategic grassroots organizing and the use of legal channels to challenge corporations operating in Colombia. Consultas populares have also been called in other towns including Ibagué, Monterrey, Pueblorrico and Pijao. …

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