Mines & Territory – May 2020 edition

Mines & Territory – May 2020 edition

News comes and goes. With social media as the main outlet for civil society organizations in Colombia to get their stories heard, a story can be famous for a day after which it disappears in the mass information. Mines & Territory aims to register and share these stories for longer than just a viral thread. Mines & Territory collects the most remarkable events that have occurred in the past month regarding extractivist matters in Colombia and summarizes them in English so that the information is accessible to anyone interested and raises awareness internationally to the current eco-socio realities in Colombia.

Collection, summary and edition by Jonas Adriaensens, Karlijn Van Den Broeck and Dayana Corzo.

Mineralen voor de energietransitie: naar een koolstofarme samenleving zonder verliezers

Nieuw onderzoek toont limieten van ontginning voor de energietransitie

De Europese Commissie kondigde aan dat de Europese Green Deal het kompas zal zijn voor het economisch herstel na de COVID19-crisis, een belangrijke voorwaarde voor het behalen van de klimaatdoelstellingen. Maar de toepassingen voor hernieuwbare energie en elektrische vervoer die daarvoor nodig zijn, vragen grondstoffen en de ontginning daarvan zet in verschillende delen van de wereld – vaak in ontwikkelingslanden – druk op onder meer lokale gemeenschappen, watervoorraden en de biodiversiteit. Ontwikkelings- en milieuorganisaties 11.11.11, Broederlijk Delen, Bond Beter Leefmilieu, CATAPA, FairFin en Justice et Paix kaarten op basis van nieuw onderzoek aan dat de transitie naar een koolstofarme samenleving ook grondstofarm en met respect voor mensenrechten moet verlopen.

De organisaties lieten door de onafhankelijke onderzoeksbureaus VITO en Profundo berekenen wat de transitie naar 100% hernieuwbare energie en een mobiliteitsshift in België volgens verschillende scenario’s betekent voor de vraag naar grondstoffen. De vaststelling is dat er in alle scenario’s sprake is van een toename van de vraag naar cruciale energiemineralen, maar dat politieke en technologische keuzes een groot verschil kunnen maken om die vraag en dus de negatieve impact van ontginning te beperken. Het gevoerde beleid moet de samenleving in de richting sturen van een lager energie- en materiaalgebruik door maximaal in te zetten op circulaire strategieën, zoals een langere levensduur, deeleconomie, circulair ontwerp, meer hergebruik en recyclage.

Hoe dan ook zal er op korte termijn nog ontginning van grondstoffen als lithium en kobalt nodig zijn. Die ontginning leidt nu vaak tot schendingen van mensenrechten en milieuvervuiling, zoals het nieuwe dossier ook toont. Een eerlijk antwoord op de klimaatcrisis vraagt daarom ook regulering die garandeert dat ontginning gebeurt met respect voor mensenrechten en milieu en met toestemming van lokale gemeenschappen. De aankondiging van Europees Commissaris Reynders op 29 april dat hij volgend jaar bindende wetgeving inzake zorgplicht voor bedrijven zal invoeren, is dus een goede zaak. Een nieuwe verordening zou bedrijven verplichten om na te gaan dat hun activiteiten geen negatieve gevolgen hebben voor de mensenrechten en het milieu, en dat in de hele toeleveringsketen.

Lees het volledige rapport hieronder.

Ecuador: Extractivism in the midst of an Economic and Sanitary crisis – COVID-19

Ecuador: Extractivism in the midst of an Economic and Sanitary crisis (COVID-19)

Author: Kim Baert

Ecuador is one of the most affected countries in Latin America by COVID-19, after Brazil and Peru. At the time of writing (14 May 2020) the official figures show 30,502 confirmed cases and 2,338 deaths. These numbers are questioned from different angles, because they probably do not represent reality. Ecuador, but also other countries in Latin America, have a huge backlog in testing large parts of the population for the virus, and the death toll is expected to be much higher than indicated.

The epicentre of the epidemic in Ecuador is located in the harbour city of Guayaquil, the second-largest city in Ecuador. At the end of March, the first images appeared of corpses wrapped in plastic and left behind in streets and rubbish bins as well as images showing cardboard boxes used to store the bodies. These shocking images were shared all around the world. In March, the city counted more than 70% of all confirmed cases in the country, a number that has since fallen to 55%. Quito, the capital city (province of Pichincha) is the region hardest hit after Guayaquil, but like other parts of Ecuador has been spared of similar disaster scenarios.

Photo: Streets in Guayaquil and cardboard boxes, April 2020 (Photo © Ivan Castaneira)

Sanitary emergency plan vs. economic malaise

President Lenin Moreno came under heavy pressure. Numerous organisations and members of the civil society wondered how the government would deal with this health crisis. After all, COVID-19 is a major challenge for a country that is already in an economic and political crisis. The towering external debt and falling oil prices place Ecuador in a particularly vulnerable position.

The huge external debt and a scheduled repayment in March 2020 led to a petition from civil society and the Ecuadorian parliament to postpone the debt repayment to be able to spend more resources on the health system. The Ecuadorian government did repay $325 million on 24 March 2020. The most important creditors are the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and China. This repayment caused a lot of criticism in Ecuador because it made clear to many that the current Moreno government does not consider the health of its citizens a priority. After several negotiations between Ecuador and the creditors, other debt repayments were put on hold. Additionally, emergency financial assistance was requested from the IMF to deal with the current health crisis.

The falling oil price caused additional damage to an already fragile national economy, which is mainly dependent on oil exports. The sector has suffered quite some losses in recent months. The corona crisis, the falling demand for oil, and the subsequent conflict between Saudi Arabia and Russia, led to a fall in the global oil price and dealt a severe blow to all oil exporting countries, including Ecuador.

Moreover, the further course of the corona crisis has led to an historic event. On 20 April 2020, the oil price of the American WTI (West Texas Intermediate) fell to as much as – $37 per barrel, a price well below zero. The WTI serves as a benchmark for the oil price in Ecuador, where the same trend occurred. This negative price can be explained by a low demand for oil products and the lack of storage space to store the oil barrels.

Photo: The Corona Epidemic in Guayaquil © Ivan Castaneira

Oil spill in the Ecuadorian Amazon

On top of the crash in oil prices, the oil industry suffered another heavy blow with a major ecological impact. On 7 April 2020 – in the midst of the corona crisis – an oil spill caused serious damage to the northern Amazon of Ecuador, more specifically on the border between the provinces of Napo and Sucumbios.

The cause of the leak was the rupture of several oil pipelines, including the SOTE (Sistema de Oleoducto Transecuatoriano), OCP (Oleoducto de Crudos Pesados) and Poliducto Shushufindi-Quito. The rupture occurred because of erosion in the river Coca causing landslides and damaging the pipes.

The companies Petroecuador and OCP immediately announced the suspension of oil production. Now, a month later, they are increasing the production rates again even though no clear measures have yet been taken to remedy the social and ecological damage caused by the leak.

Photo: Oil spill in the northern provinces of the Ecuadorian Amazon (photo: campaign #DerrameCrudoAmazonía)

The region, where the oil spill occurred, is considered a high-risk zone. Already during the construction of the oil pipelines, environmental organisations such as Acción Ecológica and experts in geology had warned about the possible adverse ecological and social consequences. Indeed, the oil spill is considered a huge risk as its course is passing the active volcano Reventador as well as three protected national parks (Cayambe Coca, Sumaco Napo Gelaras and Yasuni). The social impact of the rupture is also significant: the spill’s course crosses populated centres and pollutes not only the Coca river but also its tributaries, leaving more than 35,000 people without clean water. A disaster that has become all the more critical during the COVID-19 crisis.

Mining in times of Corona

In response to the current economic and sanitary crisis, the Ecuadorian mining sector has put itself in the spotlight as the only salvation from this precarious situation. Compared to the long history of the oil sector, mining is a relatively new industry in Ecuador, although it has a similar social and environmental impact.

The government took fairly strict measures to protect public health from COVID-19 in mid-March, but they appear not to apply to everyone. The mining companies operating in Ecuador indicated that they would temporarily suspend their activities because of the COVID-19 outbreak. In practice, however, operations continued.

Moreover, the mining sector abused the quarantine measures in order to put material for further exploration and exploitation on their sites. This happened at various locations in the country. In the province of Pichincha and more specifically in the Pacto region (DMQ), a mining company used the emergency situation on 16 March to install new machinery. These developments would not have been possible under normal circumstances, due to resistance from the local population.

Photo: Installation of mining machinery during the first Corona measures in Pacto, located in the north-east of the Metropolitan District of Quito (DMQ), known for its great biodiversity (Photo: campaign #QUITOsinMINERÍA).

The mining and oil industries are considered strategic sectors in Ecuador and have therefore been given a ‘carte blanche’ to continue their operations. This provoked a lot of criticism because this way mining companies are putting local and indigenous communities at risk. According to MiningWatch Canada, mining camps pose a major risk to the further spread of the coronavirus, despite current measures. Moreover, the regions where mining takes place are often remote from adequate medical facilities and there is less access to safe drinking water. For example, the indigenous Shuar community, located in the southern provinces of Ecuador (Morona Santiago and Zamora Chinchipe), reported that the presence of mining companies puts them in a very vulnerable position.

The two largest mining projects in the country, Fruta del Norte (gold mining) and El Mirador (copper mining), which officially started the excavation and production of gold and copper in 2019, have reduced their number of employees on-site by more than half. Local authorities in the province of Zamora Chinchipe, where the projects are located, had called for a temporary suspension of production in order to reduce transport and relocation in and out of the site. El Mirador responded to this call and in the meantime decided to focus on building a second tailings dam (‘Tundayme’) to store chemical waste. Once the corona measures are lifted, El Mirador will again increase its production to full capacity.

Photo: 'El Mirador' project and the tailings dam 'Quimi' (right side of the picture), the second tailings dam 'Tundayme' is currently under construction (photo CATAPA vzw).

The recent collapse of the oil industry in Ecuador raises questions about the dependency on crude materials and the rigid adherence to non-renewable and finite energy sources. There are also concerns among environmental organisations about the rapid rise of the mining sector, which promises to lead the nation out of the crisis, but which, like the oil industry, is causing enormous damage to local communities and the environment. In the past decades, Ecuador has suffered enormous impacts because of its dependence on the extractive industry, a reality that has been confirmed once again by the current economic and sanitary crisis.

Read more about how the COVID-19 health crisis is affecting Peru, from the first Ten days of quarantine till the current situation in the Peruvian Amazon.

ESC Volunteer Vacancies 2020 – Become a Changemaker on Fair ICT

ESC Volunteer Vacancies 2020

Changemaker Fair ICT

Campaigning and Education



CATAPA is a volunteer movement which strives for a world in which the extraction of non-renewable resources is no longer necessary. The extraction of such materials always entails major social and environmental impacts and fuels conflict. In working towards global social and environmental justice, we focus on mining issues (ecological disasters, human rights violations, etc.) in Latin America, where we support local communities in Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru and Colombia who are threatened by large-scale mining projects.

Our main activities are:

  • Internationalisation of the struggle of our partners in Latin-America and capacity building
  • Awareness raising on the impact of metal consumption amongst Belgian population
  • Creating a movement for sustainable consumption and production
  • Lobby and research

CATAPA is a grassroots movement, which means that we are mostly dependent on the work of our volunteers – the Catapistas. As a grassroots movement, we also work together with other grassroots movements in our partner countries.

Fair ICT

Catapa is currently engaged in two campaigns at EU level and one at regional level, together with European and local partners. The main goal of these campaigns is to make the supply chain of ICT devices, which includes smartphones, laptops, etc. more sustainable and fair.

CATAPA focuses on the very first part of the global ICT supply chain: the extraction of metals and minerals. The first stage of electronic devices’ supply chain is raw materials extraction, since they contain a wide range of different metals and minerals. Extractivism causes devastating environmental impacts and human rights violations across the globe. Also the ICT production sector is characterized by inhuman and dangerous working conditions, strongly affecting workers’ physical and mental health. Both individuals and public consumers have an essential role in influencing the supply chain because they may make decisions and ask for policies that can change the current unsustainable system.

Catapa works to reach fair ICT through:

  • Awareness raising of the broader public
  • Advocacy towards public and private institutions for more sustainable ICT procurement (from purchasing to reuse policy)
  • Supply chain research
  • Lobby activities for better legislation
  • Searching and supporting solutions & alternatives
  • Supporting organisations to develop a more sustainable ICT purchasing policy

Who are we looking for?

We are looking for two ESC (European Solidarity Corps) volunteers to support the CATAPA movement, and in particular the campaigns about fair ICT. One volunteer to support with Communications and one volunteer to support with the Education and campaigning areas. The volunteers will be trained to think critically and spread knowledge of these issues and to encourage other young people to become active EU citizens. The tasks are flexible depending on your learning goals and the needs of the organisation.

You will mainly be working in our office team (4 part-time staff + 2 ESC volunteers + variable number of interns) which supports the work of the movement. Since CATAPA is a volunteer movement, you will be working in close collaboration with motivated and enthusiastic volunteers.

Possible tasks

Campaigning and Education

  • Organise awareness raising and training activities for a variety of target groups (training days/weekends, documentary screenings, workshops, info evenings, public actions…).
  • Develop educational tools and manuals.
  • Support volunteers and contribute with volunteer management tasks.
  • Participate actively in the Education working group and its activities.
  • Help out with organising our International Speakers Tour: Open Min(e)d.
  • Write, revise and proofread articles, educational tools and reports.
  • Possibility to help with research tasks linked to mining and/or the ICT supply chain.
  • Some administrative tasks related to the daily functioning of our office with the possibility to get an insight in the management of a non-profit organisation.
  • Contribute to the functioning of CATAPA’s movement.
  • Possibility to develop and implement your own projects.


  • Take part in our Changemakers programme
  • Write, review and proofread articles.
  • Assist with creating promotional material for social media and posters.
  • Help with the communication and promotion tasks for events.
  • Contribute in managing our social media channels (Facebook, Instagram,Twitter).
  • Help in keeping our website updated.
  • Participate actively in the Communication working group and its activities.
  • Support volunteers and contribute to volunteer management tasks.
  • Assist in the organisation of various educational activities (International Speakers Tour ‘Open Min(e)d’, training weekends, public actions, info-evenings, documentary screenings…).
  • Some administrative tasks related to the daily functioning of our office with the possibility to get an insight in the management of a non-profit organisation.
  • Develop and implement your own ideas (for activities) into the work of CATAPA.


Campaigning and Education


  • Motivated to work with volunteers
  • Interest in learning about the social and environmental movement and mining issues
  • Good command of English
  • Independent, proactive worker
  • Good communication skills
  • Will to contribute to positive change in the world we live in
  • Team player with a flexible attitude and plenty of humour
  • Age: below 31 years


  • Knowledge/experience on or interest to learn about:
    • Developing educational material (e.g. workshops)
    • Organizing educational events
    • Volunteer management
    • Circular and degrowth economy, environmental movements and/or international development
    • Implementation and coordination of campaigns
  • Good knowledge of Dutch and/or Spanish



  • Interest in learning about the social and environmental movement and mining issues
  • Good command of English
  • Independent, proactive worker
  • Motivated to work with volunteers
  • Good communication skills
  • Will to contribute to positive change in the world we live in
  • Team player with a flexible attitude and plenty of humour
  • Age: below 31 years


  • Knowledge/experience on or interest to learn about:
    • Circular and degrowth economy, environmental movements and/or international development
    • Volunteer management
    • Communication strategies
    • Design and layouting
    • Managing social media and websites
  • Good knowledge of Dutch and/or Spanish

What do we offer?

  • A warm welcome in our horizontally organized movement with plenty of learning opportunities and new connections
  • A young, motivated team of employees and volunteers
  • A monthly fee of 750 Euros to cover accommodation and daily expenses
  • Reimbursement of travel expenses from the country of origin and back, at the end of your volunteer placement (limited amount)
  • One language course (Dutch, English or Spanish) and options to follow trainings to develop your personal skills.
  • Work-related expenses are paid by CATAPA

This call is part of the European Solidarity Corps. It’s an European Union initiative which creates opportunities for young people to volunteer in projects abroad. This means Belgian people can’t apply for this vacancy.

The volunteer positions will start from the 1st of September, for a period of 12 months and 30 hours a week.


Interested or more information?

Please send your CV and motivation letter to communication@catapa.be before the 7th of June 2020. Please, remember to specify which one of the two positions you are applying for in the subject of the email and in your motivation letter. If you have any questions concerning these vacancies, don’t hesitate to contact us at the same email.

More information: www.catapa.be

Open MinEd – International Speakers Tour 2020

Open MinEd 2020:

The extraction of life, gold and oil

We again reached a record. The amount of material consumed by humanity has passed 100 billion tonnes every year*. At the same time the percentage of materials recycled is lower than the years before. In short, we are overconsuming. To satisfy our increasing demand of goods companies look for  the lowest production cost, which means bad labor conditions and the generation and accumulation of tons of waste only to get the highest amount of profit. Let’s think together about solutions before there are no resources left!

During the 11th edition of CATAPA’s Open MinEd international speakers tour we focus on the impacts of our constant demand for products and the resources we need to produce them. We will zoom on workers in China, producing our electronic devices in awful labor conditions. We will go to Colombia where everything starts with the extraction of gold, a basic resource in all our ICT products, creates all kinds of problems for communities. And lastly, we put the ecological and social consequences in the spotlight of one of our most important resources: oil. During the diverse events of the speakers tour we will look for answers, search for alternatives to our current way of producing and consuming, highlighting fair initiatives and inspiring movements.

We are glad to host three speakers, witnesses of exploitation and struggle, who are fighting for a just world:

– Lap Hang Au is a member of the Labour Education and Service Network in Hong Kong. He will talk about the workers’ conditions in ICT factories in China and he has specific expertise in the impact of lithium-ion batteries used for electric cars. These are considered fundamental for the Green Transition.  

– Antonella Calle Avilés is an Ecuadorian feminist and ecologist. She is active in our partner organization, Acción Ecológica, an environmental organization engaged in campaigns on the impacts of extraction. For years, Antonella has been an environmental rights defender and, at the moment, she is mainly focused on the oil extraction project in Yasuní national park, one of the most biodiverse places on earth.

– Yefferson Rojas Arango is the co-founder of our partner organization COSAJUCA in Colombia. It’s a youth collective successfully fought against a huge open pit-gold project called ‘La Colosa’. Now the collective and Yefferson are focusing on alternatives to mining in the region, such as organic farming. He is particularly interested in agro ecology and medicinal plants. 

From 8 – 15 March our international guest speakers will participate in events and lectures in different cities and universities of Belgium, telling their stories and sharing their knowledge. 



THURSDAY 5th March

Evening tbc | Opening exhibition: Activism and feminism | ES, NL
@Antwerp – Mundana, Paardenmarkt 74

SUNDAY 8th March

9:30 – 11:30h | ANTONELLA | Ontbijt met een Rebel (Belmundo) | NL
@Ghent – Bond Moyson, Vrijdagmarkt 10 (take the entrance through the door in the street ‘Meerseniersstraat’)

MONDAY 9th March

20h | ANTONELLA | GEC Talks (Belmundo) | NL
@Ghent – Lekker GEC, Koningin Maria Hendrikaplein 6

14:30 – 17h | ANTONELLA | Guest lecture | EN
@Ghent – Universiteitstraat 4, auditorium B

16 – 17:30h | AU | Guest lecture | EN
@Heverlee (Leuven) – KU Leuven Celestijnenlaan 200C-01.06 (aula D) (Campus Heverlee)

8:30 – 9:45h |YEFFERSON | Guest lecture | ES
@Gent – UGent, Abdisstraat 1, auditorium A410

13 – 14:30h | YEFFERSON | Guest lecture | NL
@Gent – Campus aula, universiteitsstraat 4, auditorium D (straatkant, vlak aan kalandeberg)

TUESDAY 10th March

11 – 12h |AU | Webinar from Fair ICT Flanders: Labour conditions in Battery factories in China | ES

14 – 15:30h | AU | Guest lecture | EN
@VIVES Brugge

18 – 19:30h | AU | Guest lecture | EN
@Gent – address + auditorium to be confirmed

20h | ANTONELLA | Cinema Belmundo, movie screening of By the name of Tania | NL
@Gent – Studio Skoop, Sint-Annaplein 63.

WEDNESDAY 11th March

12:30 – 13:50 | YEFFERSON | Spanish Class | ES
@Antwerp – Universiteit Antwerpen Stadscampus – auditorium tbc

THURSDAY 12th March

9 – 10:30 | YEFFERSON | Guest lecture | EN
@Leuven – KULeuven HIVA Parkstraat 47

13 – 17h | AU | Conference: “Green Transition Challenged by the Metal Supply Chain” | EN
@Flemish Parliament, Brussels https://kuleuven.sim2.be/registration-for-green-transition-challenged-by-the-metal-supply-chain/

FRIDAY 13th March

14:30 – 17:15h | ANTONELLA | Guest lecture: Political issues of sustainability: ecology, justice and North-South relations. The case of mining | NL
@Ghent – UGent, Universiteitsstraat 4, auditorium tbc

10:45 – 12:15h | AU | Guest lecture: Car technology & automotive engineering | EN
@Sint-Katelijn-Waver- KU Leuven Technology Campus De Nayer, Jan Pieter de Nayerlaan 5, ROOM A002

Evening tbc | ANTONELLA & YEFFERSON | Fun(d)raising concert |NL, ES, EN
@Gent – to be confirmed

SATURDAY 14th March

17:30 | ANTONELLA & YEFFERSON | Benefit Dinner Ecuador – Colombia | NL
@Gent – Louisaal (Buurtcentrum Macharius), Tarbotstraat 61A.

SUNDAY 15th March

Morning tbc | YEFFERSON | Brunch with Farmers |
@Brussels – address to be confirmed

Facebook event

*The Circularity Gap Reporting Initiative: a global score for circularity

Flemish buyers go for Fair and Circular ICT

Flemish buyers go for Fair and Circular ICT

On 9 December, the ‘Conference on Fair & Circular ICT’ took place in Ghent, organised by Fair ICT Flanders.  It was the first conference in Flanders to be entirely dedicated to the theme: “How can you, as an ICT buyer, do your bit towards a more sustainable world? With 110 participants, the conference shows that the theme is very much alive among buyers, sustainability employees and ICT professionals from public institutions and private companies.

Speakers from the Panel discussion

The power of responsible purchasing

The production of laptops, smartphones, servers… is accompanied by many human rights violations and has an enormous ecological impact.  With this conference, Fair ICT Flanders wants to provide concrete tools for large buyers of ICT hardware from the public and private sectors in Flanders. Through their purchasing policy, they can put pressure on the ICT companies and contribute to improving the local working and living conditions within the ICT supply chain. After speeches by Ghent Deputy Mayor Sofie Bracke and Chief Logistics Administrator of the University of Ghent Jeroen Vanden Berghe, Kim Claes, coordinator of Fair ICT Flanders opened the day: ‘There is a great potential. Purchasers in Flanders are still insufficiently aware of the power they have. Through their purchasing power, they can work for the protection of environmental and human rights. It is therefore good to look at what is happening in other European countries and to join forces here in Flanders.” Alain Linard, Head of Operations at Digipolis Gent indicated:

“We want to use people’s tax money in a responsible way. We do not want to contribute to human rights violations through our purchases and thus assume our responsibility.”

One of the Discussion Tables session, part of the afternoon part of the Conference.

Need for change

The Vietnamese Ha Kim Thi Thu demonstrated the urgent need for change by highlighting the serious violations of labour rights in Vietnam within the factories of suppliers to, among others, Samsung, Panasonic and Intel. The other speakers discussed the possible solutions to the problems mentioned, ranging from worker-driven monitoring of the chain, certification labels for ICT to an own tracking system (from Fairphone).  In the panel discussion, the speakers discussed with each other and it became clear that the challenges in the ICT chain require more than the standard social audits that are currently taking place. Peter Pawlicki, Director of Outreach and Education, of the NGO Electronics Watch, put it strongly:

“Employees are trained in what to say to auditors. These are the so-called ‘workers’ training courses’. An audit gives a false picture of the daily reality in the factory.”

In the afternoon, frontrunners from the EU and Flanders presented their good examples and the participants were able to enter into a dialogue with the invited experts.  Ideas and possibilities to work on fair and/or circular ICT were discussed at discussion tables. The participants went home with a lot of inspiration and new ideas. 

Fair ICT Flanders will offer 3 years of support to organisations that want to work on a more fair and circular ICT procurement policy. 

Panel Discussion session when the public could ask question to the speakers.

The programme can still be found via this link. More info or questions. 

Mining in Azuay: a David vs. Goliath story

Mining in Azuay: a David vs. Goliath story

Azuay, a province in the south of Ecuador with Cuenca as its historic and cultural provincial capital, has rapidly developed into an emblematic region in the fight against mining. 

In the canton of Girón, in the province of Azuay, a public consultation (Consulta Popular) was organized on the 24th of March 2019 about the large-scale mining project Loma Larga. An historic event, because it was the first local referendum in Ecuador on a mining activity. 

During the Consulta Popular in Girón, the inhabitants were asked whether they agreed with extracting gold in the Páramo of Kimsacocha, located in the Cajas National Park. A páramo is a fragile ecosystem in the Andes High Mountains that is vital for water supply in the region and in the country. 

The result of the referendum was convincing! 87% of the community preferred water to gold and said “si a la vida, no a la minería”. An important precedent in Ecuador, because after this victory, other provinces tried to follow suit. Imbabura and Carchi, two provinces in the north of Ecuador, recently submitted an application for a Consulta Popular, but unfortunately this has been rejected by the Ecuadorian Constitutional Court. 

Also in terms of political leadership, the importance of the province of Azuay should not be underestimated. In May 2019 the inhabitants elected Yaku Pérez Guartambel as the new prefect. Since then, he has led the autonomous government of the province of Azuay. 

Yaku Pérez is known for his strong statements against the mining sector and his ambition to legally clear the province of Azuay from metal mining, in particular by organizing referendum. Yaku Pérez quickly became a symbolic figure in the country. 

Yaku Pérez at the demonstration in Quito, 16 September 2019 © Iván Castaneira

A constitutional problem 

Following the victory of the referendum in the canton of Girón, Yaku Pérez called for a general referendum on mining activities in the province of Azuay. This question was submitted to the Constitutional Court, but after a hearing on the 17th of September 2019, this request has been rejected. 

Pérez clearly expressed his dissatisfaction with the nature of the hearing. According to him, the President of the Court must hold a public hearing before taking a decision, as is customary in constitutional matters. “We want a public hearing so that we can look the judges in the eye and speak from the heart. To demonstrate in a factual and legal way the need for a public consultation,” according to Pérez.

Demonstration in front of Constitutional Court in Quito, 17 September 2019 © Iván Castaneira

Moreover, there is a conflict of interests within the Court. One of the constitutional judges, Dr. Ramiro Avila Santamaria, was not allowed to take part in the hearing because of earlier statements against extractivism. Other judges, who clearly have ties with the mining sector, were allowed to participate. Judge Carmen Corral is a lawyer at Solines Asociados, a law firm that provides advice and support to mining companies. Another judge, Hilda Nugues, is a member of the mediation committee of the Guayaquil Chamber of Commerce, which has spoken out against the referendum. 

There is clearly a lot of pressure from the national government and the large multinationals. There is great concern about what happened in Girón and fear about the outcome of such referendum at provincial and national level.

'SOMOS AGUA', demonstrators from Azuay in Quito, 16 September 2019 © Iván Castaneira

Campaign against Yaku Pérez 

It was no coincidence that on the same day as the hearing, the pro-mining sector distributed a campaign on Twitter in which they attacked Yaku Pérez. 

They claimed that Pérez would have had mining concessions in the period 1999-2000 because his name was found in the mining register. 

Yaku Pérez disclaimed this argument. At the time, as a lawyer, he would have signed documents for the extraction of sand and stones for construction works in the province. This type of mining also is registered, but it doesn’t concern metal mining.

The battle continues 

Following the negative decision of the Constitutional Court, Pérez announced that he would step up the resistance and open a wider door by organizing a referendum at national level. 

The Ecuadorian Constitution recognizes the Consulta Popular as a legal citizens’ initiative. However, the mining industry and the Ecuadorian government argue that local consultations on mining cannot take place because the natural resources in the subsoil are a matter of national concern. 

'SOMOS AGUA', demonstrators from Azuay in Quito, 16 September 2019 © Iván Castaneira

Moreover, the constitution states that the powers of various policy bodies are not exclusive, but competitive. “You may be the owner of what is in the subsoil, but you have to pass over the soil,” says lawyer Verónica Potes, expert in environmental law and human rights. 

“It’s a battle of David vs. Goliath”, says Yaku Pérez, “There aren’t many of us, but we have the truth, the reason and the legitimacy to our advantage. We continue the resistance and if necessary, we will denounce this issue before the international courts.” 

CATAPA in de kijker

Dear Catapistas,

After the summer break we are back on track, feeling more enthusiast than ever and looking forward to seeing what the upcoming year will bring. And this time it comes with some breaking news!

Let me introduce you CATAPA in de kijker, the first edition of a series of updates on our movement, partners, activities, and most importantly, our awesome volunteers. We will try to bring this news fresh to your doorstep – or Facebook wall. And what a couple of months have been to begin with!

Last June our selfie-expert office team started with the first team-building activity. Studies show that co-workers who get along well are proven to yield more efficient results. So office productivity will skyrocket from now onwards🚀. Or maybe it won’t, and I have just made this up. But check how happy we look 😀


Beginning of July, some CATAPA representatives joined Make ICT Fair partner People & Planet’s Power Shift training in the UK. Some insightful days of workshops on justice struggle, collective liberation, campaign strategies, creative and non-violent direct action, grassroots organising, building a movement and reactive solidarity were followed by a direct public action on Divestment within their campaign #DivestBarcleys. Fists raised and #BarcleysCleanItUp! coming out of everyone’s mouth put an end to almost a week of energetic and fruitful encounters, which our CATAPA flag proudly witnessed…


During the same period, but on the other side of the world, our GECOs and partners from Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru gathered for the intercambio, a whole week full of exchanges and learning from each other and each other’s work that ended up with an even more solid and stronger international solidarity network. “Ayllu Masikunapa!”, roughly meaning “we are all one family and we have to take care of each other”, perfectly defines this beautiful experience.


As summer went on, our already traditional Vamos de CATAPAs social gathering was held during the Gentse Feesten in Ghent, to the sound of Peruvian band Los Wemblers de Iquitos. How often does it happen that a band straight from one of the very places where CATAPA works in Latin America brings some latino vibes all the way to Belgium! So we had to celebrate… And celebrate we did💃


And finally September begun. As usual our summer camp took place at the beginning of this month, and Catapistas gathered to discuss different topics. Important to mention a very intimate moment we shared with ourselves, each other and nature, thanks to a guided ritual that brought us back to the intercambio and our partners in Latin America.

Old and new faces came together somewhere in West-Flanders to set the direction of the movement for the upcoming months. And so we riverdanced our way into the new season.







Immediately after the Summer camp, on Monday 9 September, the learning pathway within project Fair ICT Flanders started with the first workshop. Catapa gave a presentation on the impact of the ICT supply chain. Saartje Boutsen (MVO Vlaanderen) taught us how we can create support within an organisation around sustainability. 22 organisations signed present👏! Towards a fair and circular ICT procurement policy in Flanders!






And the new season comes with new Catapistas. Our EVS volunteers Nóra and Laura sadly have to say goodbye to the office team😢. But it won’t be easy to get rid of them since as you all know, once Catapista forever Catapista. And these Catapistas are taking many good memories from this experience with them.

Let’s hope the new ESC volunteers can gather memories as least as good during their time at the office and in the movement. Martina and Daniela arrived a couple of weeks ago and can’t wait to see what this experience will bring!








With our brand new office team we will finish this first CATAPA in de kijker edition. We hope you enjoyed this innovative way of communicating our updates. Thank you for reading and ¡hasta la próxima!

New report: A just(ice) transition is a post-extractive transition

War on Want and London Mining Network, supported by the Yes to Life, No to Mining network, have launched a new report: Post-Extractivist_Transition

A just(ice) transition is a post-extractive transition

Centering the extractive frontier in climate justice

While the global majority disproportionately suffer the impacts of the climate crisis and the extractivist model, the Global North’s legacy of colonialism, the excess of the world’s wealthiest, and the power of large corporations are responsible for these interrelated crises.

The climate change mitigation commitments thus far made by countries in the Global North are wholly insufficient; not only in terms of emissions reductions, but in their failure to address the root causes of the crisis – systemic and intersecting inequalities and injustices. This failure to take inequality and injustice seriously can be seen in even the most ambitious models of climate mitigation.

This report sets out to explore the social and ecological implications of those models with a focus on metal mining, in six sections:

  • Climate justice, just(ice) transition locates the report’s contributions within the broader struggle for climate and environmental justice, explains the reasoning for the report’s focus on mining and emphasizes the social dimension of energy transitions.
  • Extractivism in the decades to come discusses projections for total resource extraction over the next four decades and raises concerns about the interconnected ecological impacts of increased resource extraction.
  • The transition-mining nexus section places in perspective the significance of renewable energy technologies in driving demand, by examining the share of critical metal end-uses that renewable energy technologies account for relative to other end-uses.
  • Greenwashing, political will and investment trends expose how the mining industry is attracting investment and justifying new projects by citing projected critical metals demand and framing itself as a key actor in the transition.
  • Metal mining as a driver of socioenvironmental conflict offers a sense of the systemic and global nature of the social and ecological impacts of metal mining.
  • Moving beyond extractivism offers a sense of possibility in suggesting different ways forward, by addressing both the material and political challenges to a postextractivist transition.


This report finds that:

  • Current models project that as fossil fuels become less prominent in the generation of energy, metalintensive technologies will replace them. The assertion that economic growth can be decoupled, in absolute terms, from environmental and social impact is deeply flawed.
  • Central to these models is the unquestioned acceptance that economic growth in the Global North will continue unchanged, and as such, will perpetuate global and local inequalities and drive the demand for energy, metals, minerals and biomass further beyond the already breached capacity of the biosphere.
  • The assumption that economic growth is a valuable indicator of wellbeing must be challenged. Scarcity is the result of inequality, not a lack of productive capacity. Redistribution is the answer to both social and economic injustice and the threat that extractivism and climate breakdown pose.
  • Reducing fossil fuel energy dependence on its own is not a sufficient response to the intersecting socio-ecological crises, the extractivist model as a whole must be challenged.
  • There is a need to address the extractivist model because mineral, metal and biomass extraction threaten frontline communities and the interconnected ecologies that sustain life and wellbeing.
  • This need is particularly urgent because the mining industry is driving a new greenwashing narrative by claiming that vast quantities of metals will be needed to meet the material demands of renewable energy technologies.
  • This greenwashing narrative serves to obscure and justify the inherently harmful nature of extractivist mining. International financial institutions and sectors of civil society that have embraced these assumptions are complicit in the mining industry’s greenwashing efforts.
  • Increased investment and political will for large-scale mineral and metal extraction is not an inevitable consequence of the transition, it is one of the fundamental contradictions within a vision of climate change mitigation which fails to understand extractivism as a model fundamentally rooted in injustice.
  • Around the world, frontline communities are pushing back the expansion of extractivism and offering solutions to social and ecological injustice. But unfortunately, their voices, demands and visions are far too often absent in climate policy and campaigning spaces and agendas.
  • Justice and equity need to be understood as cross-cutting issues that touch every aspect of the transition. These principles are fully compatible with ecological wellbeing and mutually enhance one another. Increasing access to energy, food and public services goes hand-in-hand with reducing excess consumption through processes of redistribution. The solutions are fundamentally social; technical fixes and increases in efficiency do not bring about justice or ecological wellbeing on their own.

iPhone 11 Illegally Produced in China: Apple allows supplier factory Foxconn to violate labor laws

iPhone 11 Illegally Produced in China
Apple allows supplier factory Foxconn to violate labor laws

“Over the years, China Labor Watch has monitored the working conditions at several Foxconn facilities and investigations have revealed a string of labor rights violations. In this year’s report, several investigators were employed at the Zhengzhou Foxconn factory, and one of the investigators worked there for over four years. Because of the long investigation period, this report reveals many details about the working and living conditions at the Foxconn factory.”

Among others, some of the labor rights violations registered at Zhengzhou Foxconn by NGO China Labor Watch are the following:

  • New workers have a probationary period of three months and if they wish to resign during this time, they must apply three days in advance.
  • During peak season, regular workers’ resignations won’t be approved.
  • After completing resignation procedures, factories will pay workers in around two weeks with no pay stub provided that month.
  • Some dispatch workers failed to receive their promised bonuses from the dispatch company.
  • The factory does not pay social insurance for the dispatched workers.
  • In 2018, dispatch workers made up 55% of the workforce. Chinese labor law stipulates that dispatch workers must not exceed 10% of the workforce. In August 2019, around 50% of the workforce were dispatch workers.
  • During peak production season, student workers must work overtime. However, according to regulations on student internships, students are not to work overtime or night shifts.
  • Chinese labor law mandates that workers must not work more than 36 overtime hours a month. However, during the peak production seasons, workers at Zhengzhou Foxconn put in at least 100 overtime hours a month. There have been periods where workers have one rest day for every 13 days worked or even have only one rest day for a month.
  • Workers have to receive approval not to work overtime. If workers do not receive approval and choose not to work overtime anyway, they will be admonished by the line manager and will not be working overtime in the future.
  • If work is not completed by the time the shift ends, workers must work overtime and workers are not paid for this. If there are abnormalities at work, they must work overtime until the issue has been addressed, and work done during this time is also unpaid.
  • Workers sometimes have to stay back for night meetings at work, and this time is unpaid.
  • The factory does not provide workers with adequate personal protective equipment and workers do not receive any occupational health and safety training.
  • The factory does not provide a single training class on fire safety and other relevant knowledge.
  • The chairman of the labor union is always appointed by the factory, not elected by the workers, and the chairman is always the department leader or manager.
  • The factory does not report work injuries.
  • Verbal abuse is common at the factory.
  • The factory recruits student workers through dispatch companies, as student workers sent by schools are subject to many restrictions.
  • The factory violates the “The Administrative Provisions on the Internships of Vocational School Students” which stipulates that student workers cannot be recruited by agencies or dispatch companies but only schools.

Read the full report here: Zhengzhou Foxconn