Impacts of Mining

Mining has an enormous boom since the 90s. The combination of high commodity prices, new mining technologies that made it possible to exploit previous infeasible or non-economically viable areas, and the institutional reform of the sector and the whole economy, have made Latin America one of the most attractive areas for both national and international investors. Investing in mining is therefore very profitable, especially as the global demand continue to rise. Despite the current decline in commodity prices, governments remain firmly choosing for an economic model focused on export of raw materials.

Several Latin American countries have a policy of 'extractivism', a political, economic, cultural and legal system that allows the extraction for export. The large-scale exploitation of common goods - such as ores and minerals - is supported by a state that not only allow commercialisation and privatisation, but they also promote that. In her discourse, the message is given that the mining model is normal, natural and historical. Investments are protected at the expense of the rights of citizens. This mining model is expanding in several Latin American countries, with huge social and environmental impacts.

Europe also reinforces the extractivist economic model in Latin America, where export of raw materials is most important. For example the free trade agreements concluded with Peru and Colombia, the need to import raw materials to Europe and to secure the European investments in the region.

With the growth of the mining industry, the impact increases, both economic, environmental and socio-cultural level.

Proponents refer to countries such as Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom in order to demonstrate that mining can play an important role in the development of a country. However critics point to more recent examples such as Peru, Bolivia, Zambia and the DRC to demonstrate how economics rich in natural resources are doing less well than countries with fewer natural resources.