Standing together with frontline communities to confront Newmont Mining
By Ellen Moore – Earthworks.org April 16, 2020
Even in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, indigenous people across the globe must risk everything to defend their land, water and clean air from harmful mining projects. This Earth Day, we are celebrating one of those fierce leaders, Peruvian farmer, Máxima Acuña de Chaupe. For a decade, Máxima has held off Newmont’s plans to build the Conga open-pit gold mine on her family’s land.
Newmont didn’t mention the proposed Conga project, the suits against the family or the public outcry at their annual meeting today, but that is no surprise. Newmont has a long history of deflecting criticism and ignoring community opposition to its projects.
Today, the company continues to harass Máxima and her family, using civil lawsuits to try to strip the family of their legal rights. As in many moments over the past 10 years, Earthworks supporters answered the call for solidarity with Máxima, sending over 9,000 emails to Newmont executives calling on the company to drop the suits against the family and let them live in peace.
Conga is widely opposed by residents already suffering the environmental impacts of Newmont’s neighboring Yanacocha gold mine, which has polluted local drinking water and caused ongoing health impacts. Opposition to Conga grew so intense the Peruvian government was forced to put the project on hold in 2011. In 2016, Newmont announced it would shelve the project. The following year, Newmont lost its criminal case against Máxima. But that didn’t mean it would stop harassing the Chaupe’s. Newmont is still trying to force the family off their land.
This pattern of disregard for communities’ right to protect scarce resources and exert self-determination over what kind of development happens in their territory extends to other places, like Haiti, where Newmont sees opportunity to build another massive mine, if not a clear path forward.
“We take note of how Newmont continues to treat Máxima Acuña in Peru,” said Samuel Nesner from Haiti’s Justice in Mining Collective (Kolektif Jistis Min). “Newmont also holds permits in our area, and we know that if they return to continue activities, the destruction and rights abuses could be worse. Solidarity with communities affected by metal mining all over the world is important—whether in Africa or Latin America, the same companies use the same strategies.”
To mark today’s shareholder meeting, seven farmer’s and worker’s rights organizations from Northwest Haiti, where Newmont carried out exploration, reiterated their opposition to mining. They encouraged communities to learn from Newmont’s treatment of Máxima and drew parallels to their own negative experiences with the company. Read their full statement here.
Every day, frontline communities from Peru to Haiti are standing up to defend the planet. And we are grateful to Earthworks members who stood with Máxima this month, and for the past 10 years. Watch and share this video celebrating 10-years of solidarity with Máxima: