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Chilean Supreme Court Red Lights Goldcorp Mine

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Issue: 83 Section: Environment Geography: Latin America Chile Topics: pacific rim mining

April 30, 2012

Chilean Supreme Court Red Lights Goldcorp Mine

Indigenous community leader celebrates ruling, promises continued opposition

by Dawn Paley

Three men from the Diaguita Huascoaltinos Indigenous and Agricultural Community overlook the area which would be destroyed by the El Morro mine in Chile. Photo: Sergio Campusano

MEXICO—On Friday, the Chilean Supreme Court ratified a lower court ruling that rendered Goldcorp's environmental assessment for the El Morro mine null, due to irregularities including the company's failure to properly consult with the Diaguita Huascoaltinos Indigenous and Agricultural Community, whose lands would be destroyed if the mine is built.

Following the lower court ruling, Goldcorp stated that they would not stop working until they received an order declaring the Resolution of Environmental Quality, a kind of environmental permit, to be without effect. "This is the order, and there is no appeal," said Sergio Campusano Villches, President of the Diaguita Huascualtino community.

The Chilean press is reporting that the Supreme Court decision was unanimous, and that the company must respond to the ruling before taking further steps towards opening the mine. 

Goldcorp's base camp at El Morro. Until the company re-does their environmental statement, workers will not be allowed to carry out any further preparations in the area. Photo: Sergio Campusano

The judgement in their favour was a surprise, according to Campusano, who was already preparing to take the legal battle international.

"We were afraid because three of the five judges in the Chilean Supreme Court have been accused of being bought off," Campusano told the Vancouver Media Co-op. "We were actually even preparing to go to the Inter American Commission, since we know there's a lot of money at play here."

The decision has raised the question of whether Goldcorp actually would prefer to deal with this case inside of Chile rather than in international courts, says Campusano. But, he says, his people will continue to oppose proposed copper mine, which requires an almost $4 billion investment by co-owners Goldcorp (70 per cent) and New Gold (30 per cent). Both companies are based in Vancouver.

"These days the ideas of 'consultation' and 'consent' have been manipulated by consulting and human resources firms that work for the government, local governments also stick their noses in there without knowing what they're doing," said Campusano. "All we did was play the game that they want us to play, and 'the illusion' has ended."

The Diaguita Huascoaltinos Indigenous and Agricultural Community have already taken a case against Barrick Gold to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Campusano will be in Vancouver in early June to speak at the Shout Out Against Mining Injustice event, organized by the Council of Canadians.

Dawn Paley is a freelance journalist and co-founder of the Vancouver Media Co-op. This piece was originally published by the Vancouver Media Co-op.

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The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.

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