Environmental threats (industrial salmon, new mining concessions) in Chiloé, Chile

Threats in 2016 to environment and local livelihoods by the contaminating salmon industry and by new mining concessions in Chiloé.


In 2016 the archipelago of Chiloé lives its worst socioambiental crisis because of the consolidation of an extractivist model that plunders and robs natural and social commons. The two main issues are the salmon crisis and the new mining concessions. The crisis has become public knowledge and has created unprecedented environmental activism because of the damage from the industrial salmon industry together with multiple concessions for the mining industry beyond the traditional local exploitation of peat and "pompon". There are also conflicts on deforestation and on wind energy. One of the main protagonists are the Huilichi (Wilichi) people.           Chiloé, at the south of Chile, has been ransacked by the salmon farming industry, by forestal monocultures, by the proliferation of t wind energy, by the privatization of large areas for luxury tourism, by centralist imposition of megaprojects and by the current expansion of mining exploration concessions. This new mining threat materializes with the presence of 310 concessions in Chiloe; 209 of exploration and 101 of explotation, that, if citizens do not imposse a democratic management of their territory, can generate very serious environmental, social and economic impacts. Chiloé is an overexploited archipelago, therefore, Chiloe´s community are starting to search defense strategies for territorial resistance against the extractive model .

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Basic Data
NameEnvironmental threats (industrial salmon, new mining concessions) in Chiloé, Chile
SiteIsland of Chiloé
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Mineral ore exploration
Aquaculture and fisheries
Specific CommoditiesBiological resources
Turba (peat) y Pompón (musgo Sphagnum),
Iron ore
Sand, gravel
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsWe focus here on mining, leaving aside the salmon industry.

Mining concessions requested by mining speculators: like María Teresa Cañas Pinochet or Juan José Quijano Fernández. Beaches that have iron and gold concentrations and other ores that can be exploited. Similarly highlights the presence of the Australian mining company South American Iron & Steel, whose Chilean subsidiaries are Inversiones Arenas Claras Ltda., Inversiones Aconcagua Ltda. And Inversiones Arenas Maullín Ltda. Those seeking to start mining projects in the area Dunas de Putú (Maule region), Chañaral (Atacama region), Maullín and Guapilacuy, Ancud (Chiloé).

Mining concessions for resource Peat (Turba), located inside the big island of Chiloe. This is particularly serious because peat are the most important water reservoirs of Chiloé. They constitute unique ecosystems formed by a continuous surface matrix Sphagnum mosses (pompom) on a deep layer of organic matter or turba. Industrial exploitation of turba peat mining concession is one of the main factors that have Chiloé under deep water crisis.

Wind energy companies have applied for huge tracts of mining concessions in order not to have problems when installing transmission lines on land any strategy already used by hydroelectric companies as Hidroaysén and other energy investments throughout the country.

Now in Chiloé are several consessions. One of them is take by Global Gold Corporation (http://www.globalgoldcorp.com/news/2007/Closes-Chilean-Acquisition-Valdivia-Commence-Production), and to clarify with an example, as they say at their web: “The Chiloe Gold-Platinum Project is at an early stage of exploration. There are numerous mineral showings distributed over 16 separate beaches. The Property consists of 24 groups of mineral claims, covering a total area of approximately 5,900 ha on the island of Chiloe. A number of studies have been carried out to estimate the volume and grade of mineralization at Chiloe in the past. The total volume of the mineralized sands is also reported to be in the order of 200 million cubic metres with an average gold grade ranging from 0.4 g Au/m3 to 15 g Au/m3, and an average platinum grade ranging from 0.2 g Pt/m3 to 4 g Pt/m3. The grades for iridium and osmium are reported to be in the order of 6% and the amount of magnetite in the sands is reported to be in excess of 200 kg/tonne. Key agreement terms for the Estrella del Sur and Chiloe projects required Global Gold to pay approximately $160,000 to cover government and license fees in exchange for an exclusive option until January 30, 2008 to review, explore, and form joint ventures on the properties. On or before January 31, 2008, at Global Gold's sole option, either or both of the properties shall be transferred to a new joint venture company (or two separate companies on the same terms). For both properties and in consideration for forming the joint venture, Global Gold shall pay 1,500,000 euros (or the Chilean peso equivalent) on the following schedule: 1. January 31, 2008, 250,000 euros; 2. July 31, 2008, 250,000 euros; 3. January 30 2009, 500,000 euros; and 4. July 31 2009, 500,000 euros”.
Level of Investment (in USD)unknown
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population100,000
Start Date01/05/2013
Company Names or State EnterprisesMedinah Minerals from United States of America
Inversiones Arenas Claras Ltda., Inversiones Aconcagua Ltda. And Inversiones Arenas Maullín Ltda from Australia
Relevant government actorsServicio Nacional de Geología y Minería http://www.sernageomin.cl/

Ministerio de Medio Ambiente

Ministerio de Minería

CORFO. Ministerio de Economía

Subsecretaría de turismo. Ministerio de Economía
International and Financial InstitutionsGlobal Gold Corporation
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersCentro de estudios sociales de Chiloé http://centrodeestudioschil.wix.com/cesch

Centro de estudio y conservación del patrimonio natural. http://cecpan.org/

CasaLahual www.casalahual.cl

Ecoocéanos http://ecooceanos.blogspot.cl/

Fundacion Terram

The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LOW (some local organising)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Social movements
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
Fisher people
Forms of MobilizationCreation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Dissemination of information
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Soil erosion
Potential: Desertification/Drought, 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
OtherPollution of the sea, potential damage to whales and other marine life.
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseUnder negotiation
Development of AlternativesChilean constitution must change, a real change with a new constitution. The hope is there. There is no environmental justice, as shown in the double crisis in Chiloé - in the salmon industry and because of mining concessions (and also deforestation, tree monocultures and development of wind energy by outside companies).
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.If large scale mining arrives, it will deprive the population of its territory. Also, people making a living from the sea, and marine live itself, is being damaged by the salmon faming industry.
Sources and Materials

Infraestructura de datos geoespaciales. IDE Chile. Geoportal de Chile. Visor de Mapas
[click to view]

Sernageomin. Catastro de concesiones mineras.
[click to view]


Fundación Terram. Extracciones mineras alertan ONGs locales
[click to view]

Diario el insular. Visibilizan el impacto que la minería industrial podría tener en Chiloe
[click to view]

Mondaca, E. Morfología del saqueo: el silencioso avance de la minería en Chiloé.
[click to view]

Radio del Mar. Entrevista a A. Montaña. Chiloé sufre ataque extractivista: ahora está siendo invadido por concesiones mineras
[click to view]

Media Links

Centro de estudios sociales de Chiloé. Facebook
[click to view]

Report on the salmon crisis, May 2016, by Fundación Terram
[click to view]

Report of economist Christopher Toledo on the salmon crisis, in the newspaper El Mostrador, May 2019
[click to view]

Videos in 2016 of meetings in Chiloé regarding mining concessions.
[click to view]

Comunicado del Frente anti-minería que al mismo tiempo explica la crisis por la contaminación de salmoneras, 5 mayo 2016
[click to view]

Other Documents

Chiloé protesta ante el Palacio de La Moneda
[click to view]

Other CommentsAs this is an "incipient" conflict, there is no much information yet.
Meta Information
ContributorMáster en Gestión Fluvial Sostenible y Gestión Integrada de Aguas, Asignatura ‘Ecología política y  gestión de Aguas
Last update14/07/2016