Last update:

Mining in Las Coloradas (Las Nenas y La Voluntad), Neuquén, Argentina

This is a conflict on copper and gold mining in Neuquén. Resistance of "self-organized" neighbours' assemblies and also of Mapuche communities. Consolidation of a network of environmental justice organizations.

This case form has been translated for your convenience using translation software powered by Google Translate. Therefore, they may contain errors. Any discrepancies or differences created in translating this content from the original version into another language are not binding and have no legal effect. If any questions arise related to the accuracy of the information contained in these translations, please refer to the version of the case in: Spanish (Original)


In 2015, Minera Southern Copper (Grupo Mexico) intended to carry out an exploration project of copper, gold and molybdenum (deposit "Las Nenas and Will"), in the vicinity of Las Coloradas, Province of Neuquén. One of the biggest concerns about this mining project is the affectation of the River Basin Lil, a source of water for the local population. The inhabitants of the Coloradas and their surroundings already have problems with water for consumption and use, both in its availability and in its quality. Added to this, the company's dark trajectory was very worrisome in other countries (as in its Aunt María project in Arequipa, Peru, where the repression and murders suffered by the opponents of the project; and the pollution of rivers in Mexico) . Thus, the Assembly of autoconvocados neighbors of the Coloradas was formed, supported by other groups of the localities of Aluminé, Junín de los Andes and San Martín de los Andes. The Assembly presented two amparos and precautionary measure, one based on environmental law and another in indigenous law, to stop the public hearing of the project, which was to be held in August 2015. The Judiciary suspended the audience for shortcomings in information official. The members of the Assembly reported that neither the mining company nor the Environment Secretariat approached to provide information. For the neighbors, the brake of the audience was a first triumph, which denotes the reason that the Assembly had on its questionings to the mining project. In addition to the lack of information, the place where the audience would be performed, inhospitable and 60 km from the Coloradas. The measure of slowing down the public hearing did not suspend the project but a part of the process of environmental impact assessment. Also participate in the conflict Mapuche communities (Felipín and Cayupán), which question the non-realization of the prior, free and informed consultation, postulated by Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization (ILO), and also presented a Judicial Amparo before this lack of consultation The Will Area is within the territory of the Felipín community. Both communities asked the provincial authorities to approval of the territorial survey, which they consider that it comes into conflict with mining interests. They denounce that companies continue to act in the area, despite their brake due to the presentation of the amparos, in search of social consensus to advance the exploration. The Neighborhood Assembly denounces the presence of sociologists contracted by the company, made also denounced by the local priest priest. Other Mapuche communities in the area are Cayulef, Paineo and Namuncurá. Marches were made in the town of Las Coloradas, and then in Zapala. In the march performed during Zapala's anniversary, organizations from various cities of the province, such as Junín de los Andes, San Martin de los Andes, Step Aguerre, Neuquén capital, the Coloradas and Picun up. The Mapuche communities Cayupan, Millaqueo, Felipin, Quinchao, Wiiny Folil, Winkul Newen and the Xawvnko Zonal, also attended.

In addition to the marches, festivals and conferences were made. Press in Neuquén, capital of the province, to achieve greater visibility in the media and a greater diffusion of the conflict. Faced with this situation, the municipality sanctioned the Ordinance 174/15, which does not authorize any type of mining activity in its jurisdiction. Although it is a contribution, this ordinance did not meet the expectations of those who oppose the mining project, because of the unparalleled form in which it was sanctioned and by saying in its text "does not authorize" instead of "prohibits". In addition, by mentioning that it does not authorize "all kinds of mining activity" is very general, because it places all kinds of mining at the same level. On the other hand, it does not prevent the progress of other extractive activities, such as hydraulic fracture. For the Assembly, the possibility of progressing will be lost to provide greater protection.

While the mining project is located outside the municipal ejid, the sanction of the Ordinance, a result of the mobilization of the local population accompanied by other groups in the region, constitutes a sample of the social humor of the population with respect to the metalliferous mining project.

Basic Data
Name of conflict:Mining in Las Coloradas (Las Nenas y La Voluntad), Neuquén, Argentina
State or province:Neuquén.
Location of conflict:The Coloradas
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Mineral ore exploration
Specific commodities:Copper
Project Details and Actors
Project details

It is a project of exploration of gold, copper and molybdenum, called the nenuses and the will. The area of ​​the project project Las Nenas is 2,825 Has. And the will of 100 Has. The latter is located within the area the girls and is the most important as it concentrates most of the wells to pierce.

See more
Project area:2,825.
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:2,155.
Start of the conflict:21/06/2015
Company names or state enterprises:Grupo Mexico from Mexico
Southern Copper Argentina S.R.L. from Mexico
Relevant government actors:Governor of the province of Neuquén. Provincial direction of Neuquén mining. Secretary of State of Environment and Sustainable Development, Government of the Province of Neuquén. Municipal mayor. Deliberative Council of Colorades. Power of attorney.
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Assembly of autoconvocados neighbors of the Coloradas. Mapuche communities. Assembly of autoconvocados neighbors of Loncoopué. Aboriginal pastoral team.
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Religious groups
Forms of mobilization:Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Other socio-economic impactsLack of Participation in Decision-Making
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Institutional changes
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Strengthening of participation
Application of existing regulations
Project temporarily suspended
Conformation of provincial assemblies networks. This is the second case of a formation of an assembly against metalliferge megaminery in Neuquén (the first case is the Assemblies of Loncopué and Mahuide bell), and articulates with Assemblies of Junín de los Andes, San Martín de los Andes, Aluminé, between Others.
Proposal and development of alternatives:Social participation in the selection of local development alternatives. Maintenance of community life forms (Mapuche communities). Municipal ordinance sanction that preserves the environment.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:For the first time, an assembly of self-linked neighbors, believed a space in which neighbors can comment and perform actions to decide on their life forms. The Mapuche communities were involved in actions to defend their territory and their ways of life. The metallifer mining exploration was stopped with reference to environmental and indigenous laws, generating jurisprudence on the subject.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Documental realizado por los alumnos de 4to año del CPEM 75, en el marco del Plan Nacional de Inclusión Digital Educativa, trata una problemática socio-ambiental que subyace en la localidad de Las Coloradas, en la misma la empresa Mexicana Shoutern Copper pretende desarrollar un proyecto minero. Disponible en Youtube, publicado por Jorge Hernandez.
[click to view]

Medio de prensa escrita nacional. Página 12
[click to view]

Medio de comunicación alternativo. El sitio (8300)web es un producto de la Cooperativa de Trabajo para la Comunicación (8300) Ltda.
[click to view]

Blog personal de Federico Soria, asambleísta que ha acompañado las luchas socioambientales en Neuquén, Mendoza y otros lugares de Argentina.
[click to view]

Sitio web de la Asamblea de Vecinos Autoconvocados de Esquel (Chubut). Sitio web que registra la mayor parte de los acontecimientos en relación a las luchas socioambientales en Argentina, especialmente contra la megaminería.
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Nota con videos de testimonios de los integrantes de asambleas y grupos que apoyan la movilización en Las Coloradas.
[click to view]

Other comments:For information on environmental impact reports, contact: Lucrecia Wagner: [email protected] Federico Soria: [email protected]
Meta information
Last update04/04/2019
Conflict ID:2399
Legal notice / Aviso legal
We use cookies for statistical purposes and to improve our services. By clicking "Accept cookies" you consent to place cookies when visiting the website. For more information, and to find out how to change the configuration of cookies, please read our cookie policy. Utilizamos cookies para realizar el análisis de la navegación de los usuarios y mejorar nuestros servicios. Al pulsar "Accept cookies" consiente dichas cookies. Puede obtener más información, o bien conocer cómo cambiar la configuración, pulsando en más información.