Fighting the mining giant: water and corruption in Chile

9 May 2016 - 9:45am


Antofagasta Minerals is a mining giant that runs the Pelambres open-cast copper mine in Chile.

For almost a decade, the community of Caimanes in northern Chile have argued that the company has deprived them of a vital resource and fundamental human right: water.

Chile’s Supreme Court ruled in favour of the people of Caimanes, demanding the Pelambres copper mine demolish the Mauro tailings dam, which the community blames for diverting the natural course of the Pupío estuary. However, Antofagasta Minerals, through different legal strategies refuses to comply with the Supreme Court order.

In order to meet the energy needs of the Pelambres mine a hydroelectric project, Alto Maipo, also owned by Antofagasta Minerals (40%) was planned in 2007 and is currently under construction. The community of Cajón del Maipo claims the project endangers the irrigation waters for agriculture and accelerates the melting of glaciers and recharging of aquifers which will leave behind almost 400 square miles of barren land. The project threatens the safe supply of drinking water to 7 million people in Santiago and will do irreversible and long lasting damage to communities and the environment.

The community resistance is recognised as one of the most significant stands against mining companies in Chile. Join two of their leaders to hear about the latest efforts in defence of their rivers, their crops and their livelihoods.

As part of this speaker tour the following events have been planned:

1. Community Resistance to Mining and Hydropower Projects: Voices from Chile London (17 May)

Time: 18:30 - 20:00

Venue: Cass Business School - Room 2004, 106 Bunhill Row, London EC1Y 8TZ


2Fighting the Mining Giant: The Case of Caimanes and the Antofagasta Minerals in northern Chile London (18 May)

Time: 17:30 - 19:30

Venue: Institute of Latin American Studies - Gordon Room, G34, Ground Floor, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

If you would like to attend this event, or for more information, please contact


3. University Of Cambridge Public Speaking Event Cambridge (19 May)

Time: 17:00 - 19:00

Venue: Allison Richard Building, Room SG2, 7 West Road, Cambridge CB3 9DT


4. Public Event: Community Resistance in defence of water & Life London (20 May)

Time: 18:00 - 21:00 

Fim Screening 'Caimanes Stolen Water' - 18:30 

Venue: War on Want, 44-48 Shepherdess Walk London N1 7JP


This event has been organised in collaboration with Alborada 


5. Public Event Sheffield (21 May) - Cancelled



Patricio Bustamante is an archeo-astronomist and one of the most important researchers on the Inca occupation in Collasuyu (Chena pucara – or eventually huaca - in Chile). About a decade ago, he denounced the loss of important archaeological pieces that occurred with the construction of the Antofagasta Minerals’ Los Pelambres mining project. Since then he has been working with Caimanes community to denounce human rights violations such as threats to life, security, lack of water and corruption. Patricio has given talks at several Universities around the world denouncing the atrocities committed by mining projects in Chile.

Mella Marcela Ortiz is a teacher, mother of 2 daughters, and Chairwoman of the Citizen Coordination of "NO Alto Maipo." She has been part of the organisation since its founding in 2007 and is a member of the Cajon del Maipo community, which she has represented in resistance to the Alto Maipo project.  She has organised and participated in marches and other activities related to social mobilisation against Alto Maipo and Minera Los Pelambres in Santiago and in the northern regions. 


The tour has been co-organised with the London Mining Network and Movimiento Jaguar Despierto 

Latest news

Delegation from Colombian community that stopped world’s biggest gold mine & redefined local democracy visit UK

20 March 2018 - 4:30pm

A year ago this rural community used direct democracy to stop what would have been the world’s largest gold mine. Their example has inspired 50 Colombian communities to challenge corporate exploitation through popular consultations and revolutionised the Colombian presidential debate. 25-30 March they visit London to share their vision for a just, sustainable future.

Read more

Event: "Curfew" Contemporary dance by El-Funoun & Hawiyya

16 March 2018 - 5:30pm

War on Want is happy to be supporting “Curfew”, a contemporary dance production performed by El-Funoun (Palestine) and Hawiyya Dance Company (UK), presented by Arts Canteen. "Curfew" is a thought-provoking contemporary dance production that encourages individuals to self-reflect and take action in front of injustice.

Read more

Join the conversation

RT @BDSmovement: Palestinians denounce the assassination of Rio de Janeiro’s councillor and human rights activist Marielle Franco: "Togethe… 2 hours 2 min ago
PRESS RELEASE: UK visit from Colombian community that stopped world’s biggest gold mine & redefined local democracy… 6 hours 15 min ago
War on Want patron Mark Thomas tour #showtimefromthefrontline: a moving and hilarious story about setting up a come… 6 hours 17 min ago