Verzet Wereldwijd: A night of resistance and solidarity!

What does saying ‘no’ mean to you? If a mining corporation decided to use your home for their new extractivist project – would you be able to stop them? And as well as saying no to extraction and pollution, how able are you to say yes to another way of living, that works with the natural world and within planetary boundaries?

On the 2nd December, environmental frontline defenders from Ecuador, Brazil, Ireland and Belgium came together in De Studio in Antwerp for a night of activities around the ‘right to say no.’

Organised by CATAPA in collaboration with CIDSE, Grondrecht and Fridays For Future Antwerp, the event was designed to share stories and experiences of frontline defenders, and build solidarity in the worldwide movement against extractivism.

The diversity of the speakers and of the event – which was held simultaneously in English, Dutch and Spanish – reflected both the diversity of the experiences of those participating, and the unity of a movement that transcends languages and geography.

The night kicked off with a speech by Jakob Cleymans, one of the founders of Fridays for Future Antwerp and of democratic supermarket Coop Centraal. He spoke of the importance of better including youth in discussions around climate action on a political level and the concept of MAPA – most affected people and areas.

Following this, we heard from a panel of female frontline defenders. V’cenza Cirefice, Irish ecofeminist researcher, artist and activist, and part of CAIM (Communities Against the Injustice of Mining). She spoke about the importance of viewing anti-extractivism through a feminist lens.

“At the forefront of the anti-mining movement in Ireland are women. It is women that are experiencing first hand the impacts (of mining), such as water pollution.” 

Ivonne Ramos, an Ecuadorian environmental and human rights activist who coordinates the national campaign of Acción Ecológica on the ecological and social impact of mining and the #QuitoSinMinería campaign, echoed this. 

“By working with women in both the urban and rural areas of Ecuador, we have created a kind of sisterhood of resistance.” 

We also heard from Hedwig Rooman, member of the Belgian organisation Grondrecht, a collective of concerned citizens demanding justice on PFAS pollution in their environment and its effects on themselves, their children and grandchildren. 

“We all have a right to the protection of our environment and health, thanks to the universal declaration of human rights. This right is enshrined in the Belgian Constitution.” 

After the panel discussion, artistic organisation Atelier Rojo led a collective imagination session to foster creativity and solidarity. 

The night rounded off with some live music by Roger de Bortoli and Arno Foppe, and empanadas courtesy of Antwerp business Monte Maiz. 

This event is just one of many upcoming opportunities to get involved and learn more about the Right to Say No campaign. Find out more about this new campaign on our website.

Article by catapista Cass Hebron – pictures by catapista Estefanía Moreno Amador

mining area in Kori Chaca Bolivia

The EU Raw Materials Week: time to dig in

The Brussels Way

The EU Raw Materials Week kicked off in Brussels this Monday, November 14. This summit, organised by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for the Internal Market, focuses on one fundamental question: how can we ensure that the European Union has enough raw materials to meet our prosperity and well-being?

Raw materials underpin our societies and economies. Grain is a raw material, which we use to bake bread and feed the population. Copper is a metal we mine, which we then use to make power cables that power households. The same goes for any product you have ever bought: a sandwich, a jar of peanut butter, a phone, laptop, fridge, car or a cargo bike.

Read more “The EU Raw Materials Week: time to dig in”

Gezocht: Communicatiemedewerker (70-75% VTE)

CATAPA vzw zoekt een
Communicatiemedewerker (m/v/x) 
70-75% VTE – onbepaalde duur

 

In het kort: 

  • Contract: 70-75% VTE
  • Deadline: 25 juli 2022
  • Indiensttreding: Zo snel mogelijk
  • Duur: Onbepaald
  • Meer informatie: www.catapa.be
  • Werkgever: CATAPA vzw, Kon. Maria Hendrikaplein 5, bus 401, 9000 Gent, België

CATAPA 

In haar streven naar een rechtvaardige samenleving waarbij mens en natuur in evenwicht samenleven, focust CATAPA op de negatieve impact van metaalmijnbouw op mens en milieu. CATAPA heeft een wereld voor ogen waarin de ontginning van metalen en mineralen niet langer nodig is.

Onze hoofdactiviteiten zijn: 

  • Campagne voeren over de impact van mijnbouw en duurzame productie van elektronica in Vlaanderen.
  • Ondersteuning van partners en lokale gemeenschappen in Latijns-Amerika die bedreigd worden door grootschalige mijnbouwprojecten.
  • Beweging creëren rond duurzame productie en consumptie van metalen.
  • Netwerking, onderzoek & stimuleren van alternatieven.

Gezien CATAPA een vrijwilligersbeweging is, zijn de ‘Catapistas’ (vrijwilligers en sympathisanten) betrokken bij alle aspecten van de werking; van strategisch tot operationeel. Om dit in de praktijk te brengen, werken we met een kantoorteam dat de vrijwilligers een professionele omkadering biedt.

 

Jouw rol binnen CATAPA

Als communicatiemedewerker (content manager) van CATAPA neem jij de externe communicatie voor CATAPA voor je rekening. Je geeft CATAPA een duidelijk gezicht, werkt het communicatieve luik van onze campagnes uit en weet het doelpubliek op een gerichte manier te bereiken. Je bent de drijvende kracht achter het bekend maken van onze verhalen en standpunten op onze sociale mediakanalen en digitale communicatie. Je zorgt ervoor dat ze worden opgepikt en mensen in beweging zetten. 

Als medewerker communicatie werk je in nauw contact met de twee collega’s die werkzaam zijn binnen onze socio-culturele werking en met alle andere medewerkers die werken op andere projecten. Je werkt zowel op strategisch als uitvoerend niveau.

 

Gewenst profiel

  • Je bent sterk in het vertalen van soms complexe inhouden in heldere en wervende boodschappen en verhalen voor het bredere publiek. Je past inhoud, toon en vormgeving aan aan de specifieke doelgroep
  • Sociale media kennen geen geheimen voor je: je kent de do’s en don’ts van Facebook, Instagram en Twitter en zet die strategisch in om onze campagnes en ons werk in de kijker te zetten. 
  • Je hebt inzicht in het voeren van campagnes. Het creatieve, communicatieve luik van campagnes uitdenken geeft je energie. 
  • Je bent flexibel en haalt deadlines. 
  • Je bent geïnteresseerd in de thema’s waarrond CATAPA werkt en zoekt opportuniteiten om gericht in te spelen op de actualiteit.
  • Je bent een teamspeler en kan een beperkt aantal mensen enthousiasmeren en aansturen (bijvoorbeeld freelancers en vrijwilligers)
  • Je hebt een goede kennis van het Nederlands en het Engels. Kennis van het Spaans is een meerwaarde. 
  • Pluspunt: Je hebt een netwerk met pers of kennis over het succesvol bereiken van pers.

 

Taakomschrijving

  • Je werkt aan een duidelijk en wervend verhaal voor onze organisatie. 
  • Je bouwt verder aan onze huisstijl.
  • Je beheert onze social media kanalen en voedt (in beperkte mate) mee de website en nieuwsbrief. Je ondersteunt of coördineert ook bij andere geschreven, visuele of audiovisuele communicatie.   
  • Je neemt het communicatieve luik van onze huidige ‘CTRL-ALT-DEL’- campagne en komende campagnes in de toekomst voor je rekening.
  • Je ondersteunt communicatief de activiteiten en reguliere werking van CATAPA.
  • Je werkt hiervoor nauw samen met collega’s en vrijwilligers. Je coördineert freelancers, collega’s en vrijwilligers voor alles met betrekking tot communicatie. 
  • Avond- en weekendwerk hoort bij de job.

 

Ons Aanbod

  • Een leerrijke job met ruimte voor eigen initiatief in een unieke, dynamische organisatie.
  • Een aangename werksfeer samen met zeven collega’s en vele vrijwilligers.
  • Een contract voor onbepaalde duur in geval van een positieve tussentijdse evaluatie.
  • Verloning volgens sectorbarema PC329.01, B1b.
  • Het werkvolume (70 of 75%) is onderling te bespreken. 
  • Werkplaats in Gent aan het Sint-Pietersstation.
  • Fietsvergoeding voor woon-werkverkeer of terugbetaling openbaar vervoer.
  • Combinatie werk-privé: flexibele werkuren & telewerk zijn mogelijk.

 

Selectieprocedure

Stuur je CV en motivatiebrief naar kim.claes[at]catapa.be met referentie “Sollicitatie communicatiemedewerker”, ten laatste op 25 juli om 17u.  Als je geselecteerd wordt, word je ingelicht op 28 juli. Je wordt dan uitgenodigd voor een korte schriftelijke proef die we je via mail opsturen op 29 juli die ten laatste teruggestuurd moet worden voor 30 juli om 17u.  Het selectiegesprek zal doorgaan in de eerste week van augustus. CATAPA maakt werk van diversiteit, inclusiviteit en gelijke kansen.


Meer informatie

Meer info over onze organisatie is te vinden op CATAPA.be. Neem zeker ook een kijkje op onze sociale media. Met vragen kan je terecht bij Kim Claes, kim.claes[at]catapa.be.

ESC Volunteer Vacancies 2022 – (Closed call)

ESC Volunteer Vacancies 2022

Campaigning & Movement

Communication & Social Media Campaigning

CATAPA

CATAPA is a 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 Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru and Colombia we work together with grassroots movements and support local communities who are threatened by large-scale mining projects. 

Our main activities are:

  • Campaigning on the impact of mining and sustainable production of electronics in Flanders.
  • Supporting partners and local communities in Latin America that are threatened by large-scale mining projects.
  • Creating a movement around sustainable production and consumption of metals.
  • Networking, research & stimulating alternatives.

CATAPA is dependent on the work of volunteers – the Catapistas. 

 

Two main campaigns

The Right to Say No – Mining activities cause devastating environmental impacts and human rights violations across the globe. CATAPA is campaigning on the Right to Say No. Communities opposing extractive projects face severe repression and human rights violations. A just transition requires local communities having the decisive say over extractive projects within their territories. 

CTRL ALT DEL – Stop Planned Obsolescence – Our current linear model of consumption and production is a driving cause of the climate crisis. In this “throwaway” model, electronic products are designed to make repair difficult or unfeasible with limited life spans. This is planned obsolescence. The infinite supply of electronics is at odds with planetary boundaries. We cannot continue extracting more and more metals and minerals. Through our Ctrl Alt Delete: Stop Planned Obsolescence campaign we are advocating for strict regulations to ensure electronic products are eco-designed, repairable, and made to last.

Our main campaigning activities are:

  • Raising awareness of the broader public: (social media) campaigns, educational activities, public actions, …;
  • Searching and supporting solutions & alternatives;
  • Collaboration & networking with other organisations that focus on mining issues, Degrowth and Circular Economy;
  • Advocating for an end to planned obsolescence via our Ctrl Alt Delete campaign
  • Collaboration with grassroots organisations in Latin America, defending the rights of affected communities via our campaign on the Right to Say No to mining.

Who are we looking for?

We are looking for an ESC (European Solidarity Corps) volunteer to support the CATAPA movement, and in particular the campaigns on the Right to Say No and Planned Obsolescence. The volunteer 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 be part of our office team (8 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 Movement

  • Helping with the development and actions of the 2 central campaigns.
  • Help with setting up awareness raising and training activities for a variety of target groups (training or movement days/weekends, documentary screenings, workshops, info evenings, public actions, …).
  • Support volunteers and contribute with volunteer management tasks.
  • Participate actively in working groups and their projects and activities.
  • Help to develop and implement our central campaigns. 
  • Help out with organising our Speakers Tour, bringing environmental defenders from affected communities to Belgium to spread their story and build international solidarity.
  • 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.
  • Write, revise and proofread articles, blogs, educational tools and reports.
  • Possibility to develop and implement your own projects.

Communication & Social Media Campaigning

  • Contribute in managing our social media channels and create input for those channels (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn).
  • Help with the communication and promotion for events. 
  • Assist with the social media aspects of our central campaigns. 
  • Help in keeping our website updated. 
  • Write, review and proofread articles. 
  • Create low-threshold graphic design (for example for a poster, a flyer or for a social media post). 
  • Build and support the Communication Working group of volunteers with the help of the Movement Worker. 
  • Help out with organising our Speakers Tour, bringing environmental defenders from affected communities to Belgium to spread their story and build international solidarity.
  • 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
  • Possibility to develop and implement your own projects. 

Requirements

Campaigning & Movement

Essential:

  • 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
  • Willing to contribute to positive change in the world we live in
  • Team player with a flexible attitude 
  • Age below 31 years, no residence in Belgium (this is a requirement of the ESC programme)

Nice to have:

  • Knowledge/experience on or interest to learn about: 
    • Implementation and coordination of campaigns 
    • Organising educational or training events
    • Volunteer management
    • Circular and degrowth economy, environmental movements and/or international development
  • Knowledge of Dutch and/or Spanish

Communication & Social Media Campaigning

Essential:

  • 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
  • Willing to contribute to positive change in the world we live in
  • Team player with a flexible attitude 
  • Age below 31 years, no residence in Belgium (this is a requirement of the ESC programme)

Nice to have:

  • Knowledge/experience on or interest to learn about: 
    • Communication strategies and campaigns
    • Design and layouting 
    • Circular and degrowth economy, environmental movements and/or international development
    • Volunteer management
    • Managing social media and websites
  • Knowledge of Dutch and/or Spanish
  • Movie editing skills
  • Ability to work with a camera

What do we offer?

    • A warm welcome in our horizontally organized movement with plenty of learning opportunities and new connections
    • A dynamic & motivated team of employees and volunteers
    • Monthly fee: cohousing accommodation of your choice (with a max. rent contribution of €450) and a reimbursement to cover daily expenses of €550.
    • A personal learning trajectory coached by one of CATAPA’s employees, one language course (Dutch, English or Spanish) and options to follow trainings to develop your personal skills.
    • Work-related expenses are paid by CATAPA

Important: This call is part of the European Solidarity Corps, a European Union initiative which creates opportunities for young people to volunteer in projects abroad. This means people based in Belgium can’t apply for this vacancy. If your current residence is in one of the countries in this list, then you are able to apply.

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 david.huylebroeck@catapa.be before 22h00 on the 5th of June 2022. If you have any questions concerning this vacancy, don’t hesitate to contact us. 

More information: www.catapa.be

Speakers Tour Student Event Ku Leuven

Speaker’s Tour Student Event – Citizens Council: Extractivism and KULeuven

Speaker’s Tour Student Event – Citizens Council: Extractivism and KULeuven

We do not eat gold, we do not drink oil.

(Rosas Duran Carrera, KULeuven Student Event)

During this year’s Speaker’s Tour CATAPA organised several events in student campuses across Flanders. On Monday 7th March Rosas travelled to KULeuven to deliver a striking testimony about the impact of several mining projects on his community and their collective resistance. 

In the second half of the event, students were challenged to question the links between extractivism and their university. For example, KULeuven’s SIM2 Institute works on ‘environmentally friendly’ mineral and material extraction and recycling. The institute works with various extractive companies, such as Nyrstar and Umicore, with a history of environmental and human rights violations and ties to Belgian colonialism.

Speakers Tour Student Event Ku Leuven

The enthusiasm in the room was electric. Students brainstormed several strategies around how we could take collective action to force KULeuven to divest from mining and provide greater transparency. We then planned a further meeting to turn these ideas into a concrete  campaign.

This event was part of the Speaker’s Tour 2022.

Written by catapista Connor Cashell.

Sources:

KULeuven Institute for Sustainable Metals and Minerals (2022) Industrial Sounding Board,
Available at: https://kuleuven.sim2.be/industrial-sounding-board/
[Accessed 22 March 2022]. 
 
KULeuven Institute for Sustainable Metals and Minerals (2022) Mission and Vision.
Available at: https://kuleuven.sim2.be/mission-vision/
[Accessed 22 March 2022].
 
Sanderson, Henry (2019) ‘Congo, child labour and your electric car’, Financial Times, July 7 2019.
Available at: https://www.ft.com/content/c6909812-9ce4-11e9-9c06-a4640c9feebb
[Accessed 23 March 2022]. 
 
Shepherd, Tony (2021) ‘In the shadow of Port Pirie’s lead smelter,
parents fight a losing battle against contamination’, Guardian, 3 September 2021.
Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/sep/04/
[Accessed 23 March 2022].
tin supply chain part I

The Tin Supply Chain Miniseries, Part I

Monitoring of the Tin Mines in Bolivia

Since autumn 2020, CATAPA vzw has been partnering up with Electronics Watch – an independent monitoring organisation with experts in human rights and global supply chains – and CISEP – Centro de Investigación y Servico Popular, a local Bolivian non-profit organization – to start monitoring tin mining cooperatives in the department of Oruro, Bolivia. This project was funded by Bread for All (BfA). This work is part of a bigger project organised by CATAPA’s Bolivia Working Group: investigating the tin supply chain, from raw material to end product.

Today we are presenting the first part of this research focussed on important findings related to working conditions and human rights (violations) in the Bolivian tin mines. Later on we will also present the findings related to the Bolivian smelters, the import of tin into the EU and the presence of tin in the electronics sector.

Most important findings of the monitoring of the miners

Infographic tin monitoring project Landscape Banner (3)

The interviews with the miners of the cooperatives indicate that:

  • Miners sometimes have to work below 70m depth (related issues: less oxygen, lung diseases, silicosis) without personal protection
  • Wages are calculated daily, but can become more fixed after time (depending on goodwill of the chief)
  • Cooperative miners are paid based on the amount of mineral extracted, wage levels are very untransparent (often only 1% of the gross value of production, which is very low)
  • The miners work long hours, mostly 6 days a week. Some work 12 to 16 hours a day
  • There is large inequality between male and female workers: females are being paid much less because they mostly get jobs outside of the mining galleries (as it is believed bad luck for women to enter the mines) where they search for value among discarded ore 
  • Occupational safety and health prevention systems are almost non-existent
  • There is no access to drinking water in the workplace

More details about the results and the background of the monitoring project can be found further down this page.

CISEP_Mineral extraction galleries
CISEP_Mineral extraction galleries
CISEP_Heavy machinery, in operation and without adequate protection, lack of physical spacers
CISEP_Heavy machinery, in operation and without adequate protection, lack of physical spacers

Conclusions and future steps

Legally it seems that the Bolivian national laws are not being violated, but rather circumvented, as cooperative workers are legally themselves their own employers. CISEP and Electronics Watch are planning to continue working on this project, ultimately aiming to contribute to improved wages and health and safety conditions for the workers. The next steps, amongst others, will include training the cooperative miners on the importance of prevention and the use of protective equipment. 

This is PART I of our miniseries about the monitoring of the tin supply chain. Once the tin ore is extracted, what happens with it? Stay tuned for part II and III: the findings about the Bolivian smelters and under which circumstances tin is imported into the EU and later on, how and when it ends up in the electronics sector.

CISEP_Wood reinforcement yielding to the weight of drilling malpractice (2)
CISEP_Wood reinforcement yielding to the weight of drilling malpractice (2)

More details and background of the monitoring project in the tin mines

20 surveys and 13 interviews were conducted between May and September 2021. Note that the majority of the interviewed cooperative mining workers were male, less than 28 years old and of Quechua origin. This profile is also the most common one, although some females also work there, and some of them have also been interviewed. The surveys and interviews have taken place in the workplace or at site, lasting approximately 30 minutes up to 1 or 2 hours. They were asked mainly about the following topics: form of income, remuneration, health and safety, possible forms of harassment at work (also in terms of gender), production and working hours. 

Also important to know: the main part of the monitoring took place during the Corona pandemic, which prevented a more constant and continuous monitoring because people outside the exploitation had reduced presence in the mining camp. The research might also have been limited by the fear of some of the interviewees to address certain topics like for example environmental issues.

Actually most of the workers are self-employed. This means that miners are not provided with protective and technical equipment or occupational health and safety, which … makes their work dangerous and unhealthy.

The mining cooperatives

The cooperative system is in practice a system of labour “flexibility” in Bolivia, which reduces labour costs within the internal supply chain. Although the cooperative law states that they are obliged to comply with the social laws (such as the general labour law), this applies only when there is an employee/employer relationship.

The cooperative system is in practice a system of labour “flexibility” in Bolivia, which reduces labour costs within the internal supply chain. Although the cooperative law states that they are obliged to comply with the social laws (such as the general labour law), this applies only when there is an employee/employer relationship.

In reality, mostly this is not the case: the cooperative structure is restricted to being a collective management organization for the purchase and sale of minerals, the administration of social security and the access to metal-rich sites owned by the state. So actually most of the workers inside the cooperative mining area are self-employed as cooperative members (employer-and-employee).

The consequences of this self-employment are that miners are not provided with protective and technical equipment or occupational health and safety, which, together with the lack of protective systems in the workplace, makes their work dangerous and unhealthy. The miners’ teams have to provide their own personal protection equipment: they buy their work tools, they pay for the use of the concentration plant and the machinery, they pay for basic services and for the administrative services provided by the cooperative management.

Also investments in new technology are very limited and maintenance services are practically nonexistent, although there is a mechanical workshop to replace parts of essential equipment. On top of that, equal remuneration among all members is not guaranteed due to this management model of the mining cooperative system in Bolivia.

Labour contracts for apprentices

The people who work in the concentration plant (instead of those inside the galleries) are paid a basic national salary: approximately US$300, although it is not sure if this coincides with the minimum necessary to live, since according to the interviewees the cost of living is approximately US$430. Regardless of this, the cooperative does not even apply the calculation of a minimum wage for all their employees, only to cooperative members who can’t work inside the mine due to their temporal obligation in specific functions (Directors or Supervisory boards) and the possible future associated workers who are working on trial.

On the one hand there is no guarantee that the wages received cover the minimum needs, nor is there any control that the hours per week are less than 48 hours, since the cooperative does not act as an employer, but rather as an administrative manager of the self-employment of its members.

There is also a large inequality between cooperative members and non-cooperative probationary workers (there is a minimum 1 year of external work before getting offered to become a member of the mining cooperative) . If you work under this “apprentice” system,you receive this national minimum wage for 8 hours of work, but you do not receive an increase for overtime or for working on Sunday or holiday, and it is not possible to verify if health insurance is paid by the cooperative.

It is also possible that there are infractions with the apprentice contracts and that there is an unofficial system of labor harassment by the cooperative members during the probationary year. On the positive side, the working hours of the probation workers are controlled and regulated, while the cooperative members work in a system of self-exploitation. 

The miners’ income depends entirely on luck: either they find enough metal-rich ores or they don’t.*

Wages for these workers are calculated daily. They can become more fixed after some first trial time, but this depends on the goodwill of the  person in charge of that new worker. Miners are paid based on the amount of mineral they extract, so the miners’ income depends entirely on luck: either they find enough metal-rich ores or they don’t*. Also the income levels are very untransparent: often it is around 1% of the gross value of the production in the international market, which is very low.

Payment insecurity and overtime

There is no transparent system that ensures equal remuneration amongst the cooperative workers, mainly when the production is delivered to the concentration plant on behalf of the leader of a miners crew. This leader is supposed to distribute the value equally among his/her crew, but here there is no evidence that this happens without discrimination. The crew system has another downside: because the crews are self-managed, the mechanisms for conflict resolution are dealt with within the crew. Only when cases are serious (which is also subjective), they go to the management or Supervisory Council, one of the two official upper organs in the cooperatives, together with the Board of Directors.

Working hours are extremely long for (potential) affiliates and there is a risk of involuntary overtime for all: because there is no control over work schedules there is a danger of overwork and overtime.

They mostly work 6 days a week. According to the survey 91% say that they have worked 7 days a week at some time … 33% say they work 10 hours and 16% say they work 12 hours a day. Since no one controls whether workers are working beyond their own strength, working hours could be lasting even longer than 16 hours.

Some of them argue that given the high price of minerals, they have been working sometimes 16 and 24 hours continuously, because of “their own will”. But since this “will” is linked to generating more income, you could argue that it is not necessarily “their own will”, but “forced” out of necessity. In the survey, 1 person said that they do not work voluntarily but that necessity forces them to do so.

Apparently there is also a recent obligation to work at least 15 days/month (this obligation is linked to the quota from the agreement they have with the local trading company that purchases their ore), and if they do not do so, they are sanctioned.

Next to these inconsistencies, there is large inequality between male and female workers. Women are paid much less. 50% of respondents indicate that women and men are not treated equally in the workplace. Women mostly get jobs outside of the mining galleries, as it is believed bad luck for women to enter the mines.

The women involved in Oruro’s cooperative mining activities are usually elderly widows who lost their husbands in the mines or in related activities, either young girls or single mothers with children. Active participation is limited for them, as it is traditionally believed that their presence inside the mine brings bad luck. Therefore, they mainly work outside, breaking up discarded ore blocks looking for mineral rests, or working in other fields with fewer opportunities to earn a living. In the sales process, it is mainly the women who are cheated and receive an unfair price. Many women work on an informal basis, even outside the framework of the cooperative, so they lack health insurance or a pension fund. In addition, they generally take care of the family and therefore almost always bear a double burden.*

CISEP_Concentrated mineral leaching into waters without environmental measures
CISEP_Concentrated mineral leaching into waters without environmental measures
CISEP_Acidic waters and tailings dam without safety borders
CISEP_Acidic waters and tailings dam without safety borders

Working Conditions: Health & Safety

The interviews that were conducted indicate that miners sometimes work without personal protection, even when working below 70m depth, since that lowest level is being exploited by the cooperative as a whole. It is part of the collective contribution for the cooperative, out of their traditional mining-crew system. They have to help with the common costs of the cooperative by putting their own work at least 3 days a month in this new deep gallery. So it is not only unsafe and unhealthy to work there, but they also feel forced by the cooperative management to work there as an extra, because while those days are paid, the members are required to work inside the mine besides the days they already had to work with their crew to provide for their own income.

That depth is critical because there is less O2 and higher risks for lung diseases and silicosis, among others. They have to work there a minimum of 3 times a month: if they miss 2 times they are penalized and if they miss a 3rd time they lose their affiliation paper (the certificate of contribution to the cooperative) and they have to leave the cooperative. This level is accessed by an elevator system without emergency exit systems.

The interviewees imply that there is no safety plan in place and that occupational safety and health prevention systems are almost non-existent, probably due to the lack of resources from the management. On the contrary there are safety and health officers, but their functions are related to managing accidents and subsequent events, not preventing them!

A physical check shows that the concentration plants are constructions that are more than 50 years old and that there is no proper signage and ventilation. In general there are almost no risk and hazard signs inside the mine, or they are in constant deterioration and there is no plan for replacement of these signs. 

The work inside the mine is excessively cold and humid. There is no access to drinking water in the workplace.They mention that each worker takes his/her own water for daily work. More than 75% of the respondents say they have to stand continuously, sometimes up to 6 or even 12 hours. 3/4 also note that they are exposed to strong vibrations due to rock drilling and blasting and that they have to use heavy machinery.

The drilling of the rock inside the mine is not controlled: it should be done with water to avoid the formation of mineral dust suspended in the air, but there is no water system that reaches all the sites due to the investment cost involved. 74% claim to be exposed to gases and dust from rock blasting.

CISEP_Entrance to galleries in wells without ergonomic conditions or emergency exits.
CISEP_Entrance to galleries in wells without ergonomic conditions or emergency exits.
CISEP_Wood reinforcement yielding to the weight of drilling malpractice (2)
CISEP_Wood reinforcement yielding to the weight of drilling malpractice (2)

Because of these circumstances some miners have developed silicosis (a form of occupational lung disease caused by the inhalation of dust** due to the lack of water in the mining drilling process), rheumatism (due to excess humidity inside the mine) and head tumors (because of sliding rocks inside the mine, due to a lack of reinforcement of gallery infrastructure).

91% say that chemicals are not handled properly and more than 83% claim that there is continuous exposure to unprotected toxic materials such as xanthate and arsenic and that they have been exposed to fumes from the underground, for example those generated by diesel minecarts. The lack of ventilation systems generates a lot of combustion smoke that, according to one interviewees, affects mainly the “older” miners.

66% of the miners complain about occupational safety issues. Since everyone buys their own personal protective equipment, there is no industrial safety and it is not ensured. In the description of personal protective equipment, all describe the use of hearing protectors, respirators (but without a continuous change of filters and limited to the drilling of the rock) and head and feet protection, but no one has spoken about the use of back protectors. This is especially important because the minecarts  are only present in the main galleries and from the undercuts they have to move the ore on their back in backpacks or sacks that carry a weight of about 40 kilos. There is evidence that they have to make walks of up to 30 minutes with this weight on top of them.

Within the mines there are no toilets or excreta disposal systems, therefore it is not allowed to relieve themselves inside the mine, for this they should wait for the change of shifts (7-13, 14-19).

On top of this the miners do not have clear and visible information about their rights within the cooperative: they do not receive an introduction, they lack information about their health insurance and they are poorly treated by the public health system, they are not trained in the handling of tools nor do they receive postural education, they are not taught to use personal protective equipment and so on.

Stay tuned for part II of our miniseries

This is PART I of our miniseries about the monitoring of the tin supply chain. What happens once the tin is extracted? Stay tuned for the findings about the Bolivian smelters and under which circumstances tin is imported into the EU and later on, how and when it ends up in the electronics sector.

References:

‘Greenwashing’ of the mining industry

‘Greenwashing’ of the mining industry

A warm nest, your own car and the latest smartphone; many of us are used to a life of luxury. However, continuing to meet these needs requires an energy transition. The highly acclaimed European Green Deal opens the door to ‘green’ alternatives such as electric cars and solar panels. But are these alternatives really so green and our needs so indispensable?

According to the global solidarity network YLNM (Yes to Life, no to Mining) they are not. They recently issued a press release “On the frontlines of lithium extraction” in which they sound the alarm. They particularly denounce the drastic expansion of mining in the name of green energy. Mining equals the violation of human rights and the destruction of crucial ecosystems. Anything but green.

“The EU needs to wake up and set an objective to reduce material use by two-thirds so that the European Green Deal does not become yet another footnote in the history of the destruction of the planet,” says Meadhbh Bolger of Friends of the Earth Europe.

Europe

The EU should reduce the extraction of natural resources by 65%. This is what Friends of the Earth Europe and the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) published in a recent study titled “Green mining is a myth”. Europe is already using a disproportionate amount of available natural resources. In fact, the EU’s material footprint currently stands at 14.5 tonnes per capita, approximately double what is considered a sustainable and equitable limit, and far above the global average.

Despite these revealing figures, the European Green Deal only takes mining further. The use of individual electric cars is absolutely no solution. The demand for lithium in the EU through batteries, required for electric cars, is expected to increase almost 6000% by 2050.

They come and destroy everything. They say they bring work and food. But that is only for today. Tomorrow we will be hungry again.

Empty Promises

The mining industry is often controlled by multinationals that care little about the rights of local people. In the video from the YLNM press conference, an indigenous woman says, ‘They come and destroy everything. They say they bring work and food. But that is only today. Tomorrow we will be hungry again.”

Indigenous people often set the example of a sustainable lifestyle. Yet it is precisely these communities and environments that are being abandoned in the name of ‘green’ energy. In many cases, lithium projects are forced on local communities. There is no transparency or democratic decision making. The mining industry is intertwined with local politics and often receives support from local politicians and international development organisations to promote ‘green mining’. But ‘green mining’ does not exist.

Water is worth more than lithium

Besides violating human rights, mining also destroys ecosystems.  Lithium mining and processing cause permanent and irreversible damage to water systems. The mines not only affect the watercourse and the water quality. They also fragment the landscape, rendering more sustainable livelihoods such as agriculture and tourism almost impossible. The Atacama Desert in Chile is gradually losing its last water resources due to the effects of lithium mining. Chile has half of the world’s lithium reserves and almost all of its exports are currently extracted from the Atacama Desert, the driest place in the world.

Need for behavioural change 

These are horrific findings. However, there is an alternative. Many action groups propose a number of concrete alternatives to limit mining and further damage as much as possible.

A drastic change in our habits and consumption, but also on production level, is crucial. The demand for energy and materials has to decrease significantly. This can be achieved by maximising public transport, providing alternatives to private transport and paying more attention to the repair, reuse and recycling of batteries and other products.

In addition, it is important to fully inform communities about the consequences of mining. Local communities must have the right to say no if they do not agree with the project.

Climate change should be addressed from a holistic socio-environmental justice perspective. Mining is destructive, not only ecologically but also in human terms. These elements must be recognised and policies must address them in a meaningful way.

Finally, the impunity of companies must end. Binding treaties must improve business and human rights. If they are not complied with, sanctions must follow. In order to ensure this, sensible environmental and social protection regulations are needed.

We should be aware that these ‘green’ approaches of the European Green Deal are often presented as innovations, but in reality they represent destructive models that promote an unjust and unequal transition. We must not let it get that far!

Article written by Catapista Helena Spriet

Photos by Sebastian Pichler via Unsplash

Take part in the free escaperoom Re-Connect!

Take part in the free escaperoom Re-Connect!

Always wanted to do an escaperoom, but never got around to it? Fond of your smartphone, but don’t know what’s inside? Then participate in the free escaperoom Re-Connect. Impress your friends by outsmarting them, solve the fun puzzles and riddles and find the tips to free yourself first. In this way you can learn more about the impact of your smartphone on people and the environment in a playful way.

Escaperoom-ReConnect -Bos plus Catapa

There are 3 escaperooms available. In each room you play with min. 4 and max. 8 people. From October 16 to November 27, the escape game will be on the CINOCO site, rue Pierre Van Humbeek 5, Molenbeek-Saint-Jean (Brussels). Registration is mandatory! Reservations can be made via this link. The escaperoom is in Dutch, so you’ll need at least one person that understands Dutch. But for most of the exercises you just need to think logical and a good command of Dutch isn’t necessary. 

A group of Catapistas already participated and set a record time! Can you do better? 😉

Escaperoom-ReConnect -Bos plus Catapa

Why this project?  

The average smartphone lasts 2.5 years. Half of the youngsters feel addicted to their smartphone. Moreover, that smartphone is full of materials that require mining. Disturbing figures, because mining is one of the 4 biggest drivers of deforestation. Read why here.

The supply chain of our electronics also causes many other environmental and social problems. A smartphone contains about 62 minerals and metals. Several of these are mined in vulnerable areas, with serious consequences for people and the environment: pollution by chemicals and heavy metals, deforestation, loss of agricultural land and biodiversity, human rights abuses and criminalization. The ICT sector also causes almost 4% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

So would you like to learn more about the impact of our electronics on people and the environment? Through riddles, discover which minerals are in your smartphone, where they are mined and who bears the consequences?

Don’t hesitate, register as soon as possible and try to beat the record time! Good luck!

reconnect-escaperoom_broei-3

Under the direction of BOS+, CATAPA and De Transformisten joined forces for the creation of this escaperoom, as part of the Re-Connect project. For its development, they called on #ANTcollectief.

Cajamarca Art and Unity

Art and unity in Cajamarca

Art and unity in Cajamarca

“What if we sing?”, she asks as she pulled a small paper with some scribbles that formed lyrics out of her pocket. She is one of the Defensoras de la Vida y la Pacha Mama from Cajamarca. We are in the middle of our latest workshop on citizen journalism and human rights and we are just chitchatting while lunch is being served. “What if we sing?”

And we sing. Not just to pass time waiting, but to get our message through, to come closer. Quickly the participants of the workshop gather together, have a look at the lyrics, and sing. About the beautiful lakes of Cajamarca, the mining projects destroying them, about their resistance, their fight and never giving up.

My mother and I wrote this song as we were protesting against Conga”, the woman tells us, “we sang it in the streets, we sang it everywhere. And it is still accurate

Human Rights

The song became the common thread during the rest of our workshop. We had come together in a training session organized by our partner organization Grufides in Cajamarca, Peru, together with Chaikuni in Iquitos, as part of a project financed by the province of Oost-Vlaanderen. It focuses on empowering rural and indigenous women for the defense of fundamental and collective rights in socio-ecological conflicts in both of these regions.

A big and important part of this project consists of organizing training sessions on two main topics: human rights and citizen journalism.

The first topic informs about human rights with the idea that “you can´t defend your rights if you don´t know them”. So that´s why for the last year and a half we have been working with people, mostly women, from different communities in Cajamarca on different matters: human rights, environmental rights, violence against women, intercultural health and so forth.

Coming together to talk about experiences in different communities is of great importance. It helps to know that people in other regions have to go through similar problems, to hear the outcome of similar struggles, and to know other communities support you in this fight to defend your rights.

Citizen Journalism

The second topic we work on during these training sessions is citizen journalism. How can these communities make sure the rest of the world knows what they are going through? How can they make sure everyone is aware of the cases they are fighting for?

Journalism and means of communication are important tools to address the violation of collective and fundamental rights in these communities. Nowadays, journalism can be one of the most powerful tools to defend your rights.

This is why during these sessions we focus on making videos, photographs, writing notes, making radio programs and radio spots. We learn about storytelling, how to use social media and hashtags and most importantly: we do this together.

Our main focus during the last few sessions was to work on a regional and national campaign between the different communities involved in this project. The participants themselves came up with goals for this campaign, with their target audience, and during this last session: their strategy.

Art as a strategy

The participants decided to focus on three specific cases for this first campaign and came up with four different strategies to reach their audience: a video, in which we could show a before and after related to the mining projects in their region, a study on the water quality, a key figure who can tell their story from their own perspective and last but not least, art.

We can paint. We can paint murals all over Cajamarca, all over Peru. We can sing, we can write more songs, like the one we just sang. We can use poetry. We can make theatre. We are all creative, we all have capacities. And we can use art as our strategy

The ideas on how to use art in our campaign kept flowing. “When Máxima Acuña was told to tell her story in the international press, she didn´t tell it. She sang it. And it was so much more powerful, it transmitted so many emotions. I still get goosebumps thinking about it,” someone said, “we can do this too. Our stories are powerful too. They just need to be heard.”

To end this day-long session, we asked the participants what they learned. “That together we are stronger”, someone said. “That we can use our art to let the world see our reality”, someone added. Art and unity. That´s what we learned today. Art and unity. We will stand together and sing. And our voices will be heard.

Ctr alt del logo

Ctrl Alt Del Campaign

Launch Ctrl Alt Del Campaign

Reset the system & stop planned obsolescence!

The earth is becoming exhausted.

Floods, forest fires, melting glaciers, …: we are increasingly confronted with natural disasters. The consequences are disastrous & undeniable: we are exceeding the limits of our planet. To keep our globe livable, we must wake up and take action. Action aimed at the system, because we urgently need to stop holding only citizens responsible: we need to address the system, the economic system that strives for eternal growth! A reset of that system, that’s what we need! Ctrl Alt Del!

Take, make, waste.

Our current linear model of consumption and production is one of the biggest causes of this climate crisis. In this “throwaway” model, the quality of those products is secondary to quantity, in order to drive consumption and sales, primarily of electronics, to the limitless.

More production = more mining

That infinite supply of products is not consistent with the finite nature of our planet; the earth is not a bottomless pit. We cannot keep extracting more and more metals from the ground. The demand for raw materials is already unsustainable, resulting in many catastrophes. Mining is not only associated with huge energy and water wastage, but also with the contamination of soil and water, through the use of chemicals. This causes biodiversity loss and thus the degradation of the earth’s ecosystem. On top of this, the mining sector is also responsible for 10% of global CO2 emissions, making it one of the most polluting sectors on earth.

Planned obsolescence: what is it and why will it destroy our planet?

Producing goods at top speed and at the lowest possible prices is the basis of our current economic system. Products are made with a limited life span (planned obsolescence) or the design makes repair difficult or unfeasible. Some products are even deliberately made with system faults, deliberately designed to be defective, so that the life span is short and more products are sold. This is part of a deliberate industry strategy to discourage users and to make us buy new devices quickly. That is the definition of planned obsolescence.

Time to take action for more regulation!

The solution to this lies at the policy level. The planet urgently needs strong politicians who do not allow themselves to be lobbied by the industry, but dare to subject them to strict regulation. Regulation can ensure that multinationals are obliged to make better products (eco-design) for consumers: repairable products, made to last, instead of disposable products made to break down quickly and be replaced. Logical right?

Join the Ctrl Alt Del Campaign!

Expect numerous workshops, lectures, actions, … on Planned Obsolescence in the coming months. Follow our Ctrl Alt Delete campaign closely and join Catapa in action: let’s force our politicians to take responsibility, stop planned obsolescence and reset the current system! 

#ctrlaltdel #ExpresDefect