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Lithium and iron mining in the dunes of Putu, Chile

The conflict of the dunes of Putu occurs from the rapid and unexpected appearance of mining works in a fragile ecological area. Neighbors and groupings are mobilized to declare the place as a sanctuary of nature in 2017 and paralyze the tasks.

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The dunes of Putu are 22 kms north of Constitution in the Maule region. Include 38 kms its totality along the beach, and constitute a natural barrier that separates the people of Putu from the sea, stabilizing local climatic conditions, such as rains and temperatures, avoids catastrophes if there are earthquakes and tsunamis, at the same time Recharge underground aquifers in the area. The affected area also includes wetlands that concentrate 40% of the 240 species of fauna existing in the Maule region, and houses hundreds of migratory birds [1].

In January 2010 the company Inversiones Aconcagua S.A Chilean subsidiary of the Australian firm South American Iron & Steel, achieved the concession and the right to exploit the area. Thus, he signs an agreement with the company China Sinotech to exploit lithium, titanium, vanadium and iron that are in the same enclosure. The calculations amount to 823 million tons of iron sand, which would affect the extent of the dunes and wetlands located behind the Dunaria line at the coastal edge. On the other hand, the company registers measurements on the populated territory that has yielded significant concentrations of ore, which allowed to infer risk of future expropriations in inhabited areas. There are currently permits granted for exploitation in the Junquillary area, south of Putu, and a request from other new equivalents at 1200 Hás at the North Maule. The total concessions is 21,000 Hás. (91 polygons) on behalf of different people but correspond to the same project [1].

The speed with which the state delivered the concession aroused the suspicions of parliamentarians In the area, and generated a broad citizen movement, between these, the group of defense and conservation Maule-Mataquito (ADEMA) that works to this day. Likewise, the issue of concealment of the company's efforts and the lack of citizen consultation generated discomfort among opponents. The demarcation milestones appear suddenly in the area, without permissions and without the people of Putu could realize when they were installed. Among all generated actions, road cuts and dissemination of information through the media, and initiated a movement to declare the dunes of Putu as a Sanctuary of Nature [2]

In January 2011, the Commission of Natural Resources sent control trades to the Ministry of Education, Environment, Regional Undersecretary of the Maule Environment, Council of National Monuments, the Intendance of the Maule Region and the Municipality of Constitution . In document the parliamentarians ask for a response that explains why the process of declaration of Natural Sanctuary [3] was paralyzed. 0

In the opinion of the DC Pablo Lorenzini the delivery of The concession to Aconcagua S.A. It was due to the desolation and lack of concern of the authorities for protecting environmental and tourist interests. On April 10, 2013, in a unanimous manner, by 75 votes, the Chamber approved the draft Agreement No. 762, which asks the Executive to protect the Putu wetlands, leaving the great environmental impact that the commune will suffer. For this reason, the deputies requested that the feasibility of declaring these wetlands as a sanctuary of nature and thus stop the mining extraction process [4].

the 6 From August 2013, the Talca Court of Appeals admitted a resource of protection against the project and issued an order not to innovate, ordering that prospective tasks be paralyzed in the area. Led by the mayor of Constitución, Carlos Valenzuela, the deputy Pablo Lorenzini and the group Adema, the neighbors accused the company Southeamer Iron & Steel of being conducted an 'aggressive, unauthorized and unconsultant intervention' on the dunes of Putu [5] .

Finally, the year 2017 The Putu wetland was praised as a sanctuary of nature [6].

Keywords: Dunes, Costal Areas, Mining, Natural Protected Areas ..

Basic Data
Name of conflict:Lithium and iron mining in the dunes of Putu, Chile
State or province:Conception
Location of conflict:Putu.
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Wetlands and coastal zone management
Mineral ore exploration
Establishment of reserves/national parks
Specific commodities:Lithium
Iron ore
Titanium ores
Project Details and Actors
Project details

823 million ton. of iron sand and other metals

Project area:1,200.
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:2,000.
Start of the conflict:2010
Company names or state enterprises:Aconcagua S.A from Chile
South American Iron & Steel from Australia
Relevant government actors:Ministry of Education, Regional Undersecretary of the Maule Environment, Council of National Monuments, Intendance of the Maule Region, Municipality of Constitution, National Service of Geology and Mining, Deputies of the UDI Pedro Pablo Álvarez-Salamanca, Iván Norambuena, Sergio Bobadilla , Nino Baltolu and Enrique Estay, mayor of Constitution, Carlos Valenzuel, Deputy Pablo Lorenzini
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Grouping by the protection of natural resources of the Maule North (approx Maule North),
Catholic University of the Most Holy Concepción,
Maule Defense and Conservation Grouping - Mataquito (Adema)
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Recreational users
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Proposal To Declare The Dunas by Putu to Nature Sanctuary
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Mine tailing spills
Other Environmental impactsDestruction of the dunes of putu and contamination of the wetland.
Health ImpactsPotential: Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusProposed (exploration phase)
Conflict outcome / response:Land demarcation
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Strengthening of participation
Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
Under negotiation
Application of existing regulations
Proposal and development of alternatives:The alternative is the sanctuary statement of the nature of the dunes of Putu, 20 km away. of Constitution in the Maule region, area that is home to protected birds and species, as well as constituting a tourist attraction for the country. This place was threatened by the approval of the mining project of the Australian company South American Iron & Steel, through its national affiliate company Aconcagua S.A, by the concession achieved in 2010 to extract large amounts of minerals that is in the subsoil of Said Dunes.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:The importance of wetlands and dunes for the Putu community mobilize citizenship to protect the area and declare the place as a sanctuary of nature.
These claims and the lack of a citizen consultation for the rapid and unexpected installation of the project, allowed that in August 2013, the Talca Court of Appeals admitted an appeal against the project and issued an order not to innovate, ordering that The prospective tasks will be paralyzed in the area. 2017 finely, the area is declared as a sanctuary of nature.
Sources & Materials

[1] Ficha del conflicto minero de Putú en OLCA.
[click to view]

[2] Artículo Diario El Maule (2010) El desconocido proyecto minero entre ríos Maule y Mataquito
[click to view]

[3] Artículo: Parlamentarios advierten irregularidades en concesión a proyecto minero cerca de Constitución
[click to view]

[4] Solicitud de protección de la zona de humedales de Putú en cámara de diputados
[click to view]

[5] Diario ElDesconcierto (2014) Corte Suprema frena proyecto minero de dunas de Putú
[click to view]

Artículo Revista Capital digital: "Las dunas de la discordia" Relato sobre el conflicto minero Agosto 2013
[click to view]

Diario elDesconcierto (2014) Corte Suprema frena proyecto minero de dunas de Putú
[click to view]

Artículo Diario El Quinto Poder: Las dunas de Putú: una belleza natural en pelibro
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

[6] ADEMA: Agrupación de Defensa y Conservación Maule-Mataquitos. Grupo en Facebook donde publican sus actuales actividades.
[click to view]

[7] ADEMA: Agrupación de Defensa y Conservación Maule-Mataquitos
[click to view]

Denuncia de los trabajos mineros en las dunas de Putú
[click to view]

Meta information
Last update29/04/2020
Conflict ID:759
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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