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NEWS: Farmers and mine workers occupy Canadian mine in Bolivia

Agence France Press reports, “Farmers and mine workers have forcibly occupied Canada-based South American Silver’s Malku Khota mine in Bolivia, the company said Wednesday, as the group pushed for La Paz to take over the mine. …The occupiers moved in late Tuesday to take over the mine, about 340 kilometers (210 miles) south of the capital La Paz, and had assumed control by Wednesday morning. No one was injured in the incident. …Leonardo Montano, the group’s leader, (said), ‘We are not leaving the mine until the government takes charge of it and not the Canadian company.’ …Last week, protesters in La Paz called for the repossession of the mine but found little support in the government for their demands.”

The news report adds, “Malku Khota is one of the world’s largest untapped resources of silver and indium, a rare metal used in flat-screen LCD televisions.”

A briefing paper on the mine highlights a number of water-related concerns with the mine. “From our visit we observed equipment for operations that were occurring on the shore of lake Wara Wara. The community rely on fish that live in those lakes; they draw and consume the water from those lakes. …The community of Mallku Khota is especially important for the main watershed Amazonica, which supplies water to the Amazonian region of the country… We noted during our visit that Mallku Khota is undergoing a process of desertification, and community members confirmed that they struggle with daily water consumption during the dry season. …Further, given that the leeching process requires chemical processing, according to the PEA (preliminary economic assessment), there is the possibility of chemical contamination into the local water supplies…”

The briefing paper can be read in full on the Peace, Earth & Justice News website at http://www.pej.org/html/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=9648&mode=thread&order=0&thold=0. A short video of the march last week to La Paz and a subsequent clash with police can be seen on the Georgia Straight website at http://www.straight.com/article-707276/vancouver/video-indigenous-demonstrators-oppose-south-american-silver-corp-project.