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Antofagasta: “este polvo te mata”, Chile

In Antofagasta, strong complaints against black dust from transport of exported copper concentrates. More cancers in proportion than any other city in Chile. Hence a direct action movement, with the slogan "Este Polvo te Mata"- this dust kills you.


Antofagasta in the north of Chile is a port city, there are complaints against black dust inhaled everyday by the inhabitants from the export of copper concentrates. There are studies that show the damage to the health of the population including babies. More cancers in proportion than any other city in the country. Hence a popular movement rose up, with the slogan "este polvo te mata" (this dust kills you), although it is ignored by politicians and government so far. The origin was the opposition to the building in the city of a new large industrial warehouse to gather large amounts of copper concentrate before shipping. One crucial moment was the stopping of trucks by a social movement. This is explained by one of the leaders or speakers for the movement (who insists it is a movement of different movements, not an organization). His name is Ricardo Diaz, who teaches at university. In his own words in Spanish, answering an interview [2]. /// -¿Cuánta gente, actualmente, forma parte activa del movimiento “Este polvo te mata”? ¿Cuánta gente compone actualmente el “Núcleo Duro” de Este polvo te mata? - El Núcleo duro debemos ser alrededor de quince. No más que eso.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Antofagasta: “este polvo te mata”, Chile
State or province:Antofagasta
(municipality or city/town)Antofagasta
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict: 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict: 2nd level :Pollution related to transport (spills, dust, emissions)
Mineral processing
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Specific commodities:Rubber
Chemical products
Sand, gravel
Project Details and Actors
Project details:

Antofagasta ha sido gravemente contaminada con desechos tóxicos, especialmente tras la instalación de un galpón de concentrado de Zinc (TEGM) de Antofagasta Terminal Internacional (ATI). Según estudios elaborados por el Instituto de Salud Pública (ISP), en el lugar se detectó una alta presencia de plomo y excesivo arsénico. Ahora se quería construir otro galpón para almacenar y exportar concentrados de cobre que vengan de la Minera Sierra Gorda en el Ferrocarril FCAB del grupo Luksic. Esto provocó un fuerte moviiento cívico, "Este polvo nos mata".

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Project area:9000
Type of populationUrban
Start of the conflict:06/06/2014
Company names or state enterprises:Minera Sierra Gorda from Chile
Ferrocarril de Antofagasta a Bolivia (grupo Luksic) (FCAB) from Chile
Relevant government actors:SMA (Superintendencia de Medio Ambiente)

Alcaldía de Antofagasta
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:"Este polvo te mata"

Colegio de Médicos

Conflict and Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Industrial workers
Informal workers
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Trade unions
Local scientists/professionals
translation missing: en.m.mobilizing_groups.fisher_people
Forms of mobilization:Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Spreading a viral video in the town, stopping trucks, and going in a demonstration to the harbour carrying candles ("velas" - hence, let us make a "velatón"). Also, legal appeals to the the environmental authorities, to the Supreme Court, and intervention of local politicians.
Impacts of the project
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Waste overflow, Other Environmental impacts, Soil contamination
Potential: Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Occupational disease and accidents, Other environmental related diseases, Other Health impacts
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Violations of human rights, Other socio-economic impacts
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Court decision (undecided)
Negotiated alternative solution
Development of alternatives:
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:There is a big popular movement "este polvo te mata" (this dust kills you) in Antofagasta, and it seems that the plan to export copper concentrates might be discarded. The Luksic railway company is thinking of exporting copper from the Sierra Gorda through the port of Mejillones.
Sources and Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Antofagasta: el flanco que incomoda a los Luksic, Revista Capital, 2 abril 2015 (buen reportaje, con antecedentes de contaminacion por plomo)
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Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

En la revista Minería Chilena, la empresa KGHM explica en mayo 2016 que no va a realizar inversión prevista en minería de cobre y molibdeno en Sierra Gorda
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[2] Ricardo Díaz, vocero del Movimiento “Este Polvo te Mata”, entrevista con ANA GONZALEZ, 31 agosto 2015
[click to view]

The industry's view point. Revista Kawésqar. Revista Sectorial Marítima. 20 sept. 2016.
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OCMAL, 27 febrero 2015, Antofagasta prepara marcha contra la contaminación
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El Mercurio, 7 Oct 2016, Fines by SMA to the company because of contamination from the copper warehouses confirmed.
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Mineria Chilena. Ferrocarril de los Luksic busca puerto alternativo a Antofagasta para sacar cobre. 10 Febrero 2016. Desarrolló opción para exportar concentrados de mina Sierra Gorda por Mejillones, lo que fue aprobado por la autoridad.
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Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

[1] 25 marzo de 2016 | Cruda carta de antofagastino marcó aprobación en el Congreso de informe por contaminación, Bio-bio.
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La alcaldesa de Antofagasta, Karen Rojo, pide limpieza del "polvo negro" (metales pesados) de las escuelas, 15 mayo 2016
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March in Antofagasta - blaming Luksic for the pollution. 9 Mar 2015.

Diez mil antofagastinos marcharon desde la explanada de la municipalidad. Agrupaciones sociales de toda la región y el colegio médico exigieron la salida de los concentrados de la Antofagasta. SMA detectó graves irreguralidades y ATI arriesga clausura.
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Other documents

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Ricardo Díaz
[click to view]

[click to view]

Meta information
Last update27/12/2016