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Lithium mining in Tres Quebradas and defense of water, Argentina

The company Liex S.A Subsidiary of the Neo Lithium company of Canadian origin begins in 2016 perforations in the Three Quebrades Project (3Q). Autoconvocated neighbors are mobilized and opposed.

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The subsidiary of the Neo Lithium company of Canadian origin begins in 2016 perforations in the project three streams (3q) with the approval of the environmental report. EN 2021, the Zijin Mining company of Chinese origin negotiates the purchase of Leolithium and its three-stream project for 737 million dollars [30].

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Lithium mining in Tres Quebradas and defense of water, Argentina
State or province:Catamarca.
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Mineral ore exploration
Dams and water distribution conflicts
Specific commodities:Lithium
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The company Neo Lithium completed a 5-year pilot project in 2021 in which it concluded that it is possible to obtain a brine concentration of approximately 3.6%. EN 2021 proposes to expand the capacity of the project evaporation pools by 20%. The company indicates that it is possible to produce 40 tons of lithium carbonate per year [11].

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Project area:35,000.
Level of Investment for the conflictive project319,000,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:7,500 people (Urban and rural population of FIAMBALÁ)
Start of the conflict:2016
Company names or state enterprises:Liex S.A from Argentina
Neo Lithium Corp. from Canada
Relevant government actors:Secretary of Environment and Sustainable Development of Catamarca Deliberative Council FIAMBALÁ. Ministry of Mining Catamarca Ombudsman's Office of the Nation
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Autoconvocados FIAMBALÁ awake Peasant Camping Organization Assembly El Algarrobo. Assembly of Chañar (Bethlehem), Assembly of Yokavil (Santa María), Autoconvocados by Life (Tinogast) Neighbors of London, Bethlehem, Anquinca, Ancasti Collective sumaj kausay. Popular movement Dignity (both of San Fernando del Valle de Catamarca). Blessed are the poor. Eg Farn. Yuchan Foundation
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
International ejos
Local ejos
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
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
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Desertification/Drought, Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, 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
Health ImpactsPotential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors
Potential: Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Specific impacts on women, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Criminalization of activists
Strengthening of participation
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Up to 2021, the project advances without consultation or social license.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Convención Ramsar

Código Minería de la Nación Argentina

Ley General del Ambiente Argentina (LGA).

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Salares Andinos. Ecología de Saberes por la Protección de Nuestros Salares y Humedales (2021). Observatorio Plurinacional de Salares Andinos.
[click to view]

[1] Documento de presentación del proyecto Tres Quebradas, 2016. (Neolithium)
[click to view]

[2] En Tinogasta alertan por trabajos en un yacimiento de litio en una “zona de reserva”. Telam (10/10/2016)
[click to view]

[3] Polémica por el proyecto Tres quebradas. Diario el Ancasti (14/11/2016)
[click to view]

[click to view]

[5] Proyecto Tres Quebradas: ambientalistas cortan ruta en Fiambalá.

Sostienen que el proyecto de explotación de litio en cercanías al Pissis no cuenta con licencia social. (El Esquiu, 19/01/2017).
[click to view]

[6] Proyecto Tres Quebradas prepara informe de Evaluación Económica Preliminar. Portal minero (2/03/2017)
[click to view]

[click to view]

[8] Neo Lithium produce 99,9% de carbonato de litio de grado de batería. (Rumbo Minero, 17/6/2021)
[click to view]

[9] Tres Quebradas ya cuenta con la Evaluación de Impacto Ambiental (22/7/2021)
[click to view]

[10] Informe Minería Transnacional de litio en Lagunas Altoandinas de Catamarca: Caso Liex S.A.
[click to view]

[11] Reporte MINERO (2001) Expandirán piscinas de evaporación en Tres Quebradas.
[click to view]

[12] Neo Lithium reporta estudio de prefactibilidad sobre Tres Quebradas.
[click to view]

[13] Tres Quebradas demandará más de US$ 300 millones, según la pre factibilidad de Neo Lithium. (21/03/2019)
[click to view]

[14] Neo Lithium, y la actualidad en Tres Quebradas. 22/03/2019
[click to view]

[15] Programa emitido por ADN, canal C5N
[click to view]

[16] Para procesar el litio que se extrae de tres quebradas Evaluarán un polo industrial en Fiambalá (07/02/2018)
[click to view]

[17] Preparativos por seminario por el litio (06/06/2017)
[click to view]

[18] Reclamos por la avanzada en la explotación de litio“No comemos baterías” (15/02/2018)
[click to view]

[19] Fiambalá Despierta (17/08/2017)
[click to view]

[20] Se realizó la primera reunión latinoamericana en defensa del agua (23/09/2018, Cristina Barraza)
[click to view]

[21] Ruiz, Néstor Omar (2016)Los Glaciares tropicales jujeños y el Hombre. Editorial Dunken S.R.L./Argentina.

[22] Informe Preliminar de Actividades extractivas en la provincia de catamarca (recibido por el 24/05/2017). Elaborado por la Asamblea El Algarrobo (Andalgalá, Catamarca), Asamblea del Yocavil (santa María, Catamarca), Asambela de Vecinos Autovoncovados de Ancasti (Ancasti, Catamarca), Asamblea Autoconvocados Fiambalá (Tinogasta, Catamarca). Vecinos Autoconvocados de Antofagasta de la Sierra (catamarca). Con la Colaboración de la Lic. Laura Roda (Mayo 2017).

[23] Neo Lithiun Tweet (10/05/2021) “If the world hopes to battle climate change has to innovative breakthroughs in battery technology".
[click to view]

[24] Neo Lithiun Tweet (21/04/2021) “#EV help us fight against #climate disaster, if all cars in the UK were electric, the country’s emissions would drop by 12%”.
[click to view]

[25] Neolithium website
[click to view]

[26] Ambito Financiero “Catamarca será sede de una nueva reunión de la Mesa del Litio” (04 Octubre 2021)
[click to view]

[27] NeoLithium Tweet (24/03/2021): “Neo Lithium is in a solid position to benefit from the increase in demand caused by the shift towards the electrification of transportation”.
[click to view]

[28] NeoLithium Tweet (04/12/2020 ): “Excited to be covered in this #InvestorIntel article as one of the author's top 5 most promising #lithium miners. Supply constraints, increasing demand, surging EV sales & increasingly #green policies make the future look bright for lithium.” (24/03/2021)
[click to view]

[29] Neolithium website (investors) (10/2021)
[click to view]

[30] Argentina: Zijin Mining de China cocina acuerdo de US$737 millones para adquirir Neo Lithium. Articulo publicado en la Revista Energiminas el 11 de octubre de 2021.
[click to view]

[31] Litio en Catamarca: un peligro para las lagunas altoandinas y la producción local. Artículo publicado en Tierra Viva el 10 de junio de 2021.
[click to view]

[32] “South America’s Lithium Triangle and the Future of the Green Economy”. Informe del Ministerio de Desarrollo Productivo de Argentina (enero 2020).
[click to view]

[33] Mining Injustice Solidarity Network (2021). Digging into mining industry trends: reflecting on PDAC 2021.
[click to view]

Tinogasta por la vida
[click to view]

Neolithium Preliminary Feasibility Study (2019)
[click to view]

Mapa de Conflictos Mineros. Caso Tres Quebradas. OCMAL 2021
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Salvemos el pissis.
[click to view]

Video sobre Sistema de lagunas altoandinas e impactos proyecto 3Q
[click to view]

Explotación de litio en los salares de la Argentina (2016)
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Asamblea Fiambalá Despierta (Beatriz Perea), Fundación YUCHAN, Ejaltas (Mariana Walter)
Last update01/09/2021
Conflict ID:5620
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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