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.


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].

Study and Lobby Working Group Launch

We are pleased to announce the launch of CATAPA’s new Study and Lobby Working Group. The Working Group will produce cutting edge research and lobby on the following themes;


Research Theme 1: Planned Obsolescence: Ctrl Alt Del Campaign

Our current linear model of consumption and production is a driving cause of the climate crisis. In this “throwaway” model, the drive for limitless production and consumption of electronics places quantity above product quality.

Products are made with a limited life span (planned obsolescence) or the design makes repair difficult or unfeasible. Some products are designed to fail, with system faults purposefully incorporated to reduce their lifespan. This is a deliberate strategy on behalf of the electronics industry to encourage users to purchase ‘new and improved’ products. This is planned obsolescence.

Ending planned obsolescence requires policy change on the Flemish and EU level. The planet urgently requires strong politicians willing to take a stand against the electronics industry and implement strict regulation obliging multinational companies to produce eco-designed products. Electronic products must be repairable and made to last, instead of disposable products made to break down quickly and be replaced. 


Research Theme 2: EU Critical Raw Materials

CATAPA strives towards a world in which the extraction of non-renewable resources is no longer necessary. Achieving this requires a fundamental transformation of our society and relationship to nature. 

Under the guise of ‘green mining’, the EU’s Critical Raw Materials list outlines a strategy for the resourcing of over thirty mined resources, such as lithium, deemed ‘necessary’ for the green transition.

Securing such an increased demand for raw materials requires an expansion of mining operations within the EU. More mining will lead to severe negative socio-environmental impacts, such as human rights abuses, pollution and loss of land. The transition to renewable energy must be just. 


Research Theme 3: Right to Say No

A just transition includes local communities having the Right to Say No to mining projects. Under the ‘social licence to operate’ (SLO), a non-binding voluntary commitment to ‘good practice’, corporations are able to greenwash their operations. Local communities have no legal instrument to oppose unwanted mining projects. 

Where local communities resort to direct action to resist mining operations, they are dismissed, labeled as terrorists and face severe repression and human rights violations. 227 environmental defenders were killed in 2020.

Additionally, the Investor-State Dispute Settlement system (ISDS), embedded in international trade agreements, enables corporations to sue states, predominantly in the Global South, over opposition to proposed mining projects.

The ISDS system must be dismantled. Fairer, democratic consultation mechanisms must be adopted. Local communities must have the decisive, legally binding say over the fate of mining projects. 


Research Theme 4: Alternatives to extractivism

We’re living in an age of crises. The current mantra and false solutions of endless growth, consumption and subjugation of nature is pushing the planet towards socio-ecological collapse.

So, what is the solution?

To meet this moment, we must dare to imagine and embody bold alternatives such as Degrowth. Our economy must be based on social and environmental justice. We must repair our relationship with nature and recognise our co-existence within the web of life. 


Get involved!

Joining the Study and Lobby Working Group provides you with a means to improve your research and lobbying skills. Your work will support CATAPA’s vision and mission, and will be published on the website and social media platforms. 

There will also be an opportunity within the Working Group to develop other projects, such as an Open Journal, Book Club, Symposiums and more!

Sign up: https://forms.gle/sw7i6tm2ZmNojxzm7 

Want more information? Contact connor.cashell[at]catapa.be

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.


‘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.


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

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.

Movement Weekend 2021

Movement weekend


Movement Weekend

October 1st – 3rd


Join us for our annual Movement Weekend that will take place from the 1st to the 3rd of October. It is an ideal event to learn more about CATAPA’s work and to get to know the Catapistas.

During this weekend, we will have interactive sessions focused on the research and work that our working Groups are doing, we will learn and discuss what is happening across Latin America, share our thoughts and improve our knowledge. All this while sharing moments with the volunteers and enjoying being surrounded by nature.

People that are new to CATAPA and are interested in getting involved are welcome to attend too.


The program will be shared here soon. If you put yourself as ‘attending’, you’ll receive a notification when the program is final.


GEKKOO Verblijf Weert
Appeldijkstraat 36, 2880, Weert België

Price (includes accommodation and food):

Regular 40€ or reduced (for people without or lower-income) 25€
*You’ll receive instructions for payment after the inscription.

Other important information:

*We will serve vegan food. If you have any allergies or intolerance please let us know in our contact email.
*We want this event to be accessible to anyone. If you encounter any financial, language or other barriers or if you have any questions about accessibility, please feel free to send an email to truike.geerts[at]catapa.be.
*In this training trajectory there is no room for sexism, racism, trans- or LGBT-phobia and other forms of hate.

Organized by Catapa
The EU can’t mine its way out of the climate crises

The EU can’t mine its way out of the climate crises

The EU can’t mine its way out of the climate crises

Today CATAPA joins 180+ communities, organisation and academics to tell the EU to abandon its plans to expand dirty mining as part of EU Green Deal and Green Recovery plans.

In 2019, the European Commission published its European Green Deal, an action plan outlining climate and environmental policies and initiatives to be taken forward in the coming years.

Despite laudable intentions, these plans have at their heart the damaging and illogical idea of ‘green growth‘ and assume ‘business-as-usual’ consumption of energy and materials in the EU.

In particular, as they stand, Europe’s Green Deal plans will lead to a dramatic increase in demand for mineral and metals that the European Commission intends to meet through a large number of new mining projects – both inside and outside the EU.

The EU can’t mine its way out of the climate crises

This planned reliance on mining to deliver the Green Deal is a cause of major concern for civil society around the world.

Mining companies are responsible for an enormous human and ecological toll on every continent. The sector is responsible for extensive human rights violations, conflicts with and within affected communities, and the exploitation of labour and exacerbation of socio-economic inequalities. It is also a significant contributor to climate change, global biodiversity loss and water stress.

Increasing material demand and the EU’s plans to meet it through new mining projects will escalate all of these problems. Mining-affected communities in Europe and their allies in civil society oppose the continuous expansion of the mining industry and challenge the dominant narrative of unlimited growth and policies which uphold it.

The EU can’t mine its way out of the climate crises

The release of this collective statement outlines a civil society analysis of the EU’s current plans and suggests how the EU can address the systemic issues underpinning endless extractivism and turn the tide toward a more just and sustainable future.

The recommendations include the critical need for the EU and Member States to realise in law communities’ right to free, prior and informed consent, including the Right to Say No, as well as to put urgent measures in place to achieve absolute reductions in demand for – and consumption of – raw materials in Europe.

We must urgently and rapidly transition our energy, transport and economic systems to renewables, but relying on expanding mining to meet the material needs of the renewable transition will replicate the injustices, destruction and dangerous assumptions that have caused climate breakdown in the first place. 

In other words, we can’t solve our problems with the same thinking that created them in the first place.

Together, in solidarity with allies in the North and South, we call for:

  • The Right to Say No for all communities facing extractive projects and respect for Indigenous Peoples’ right to Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC);
  • For the EU to set, legislate for and meet binding targets to reduce its overconsumption of materials, in line with planetary boundaries and its global fair share;
  • For just de-growth strategies, not ‘green growth’ or ‘decoupling’, to be placed at the heart of EU climate action;
  • For an end to EU subsidies to mining and undemocratic industry alliances.
  • To treat minerals and metals as common, public goods.
  • Action to remedy mining waste liabilities, to ensure all mining sites are properly restored so that they can no longer continue to contaminate and harm communities and their environment.
  • To ensure EU demand for raw materials does not impact communities and ecosystems in the Global South and that remedy is available when impacts and violations do occur…


Find out more by reading our collective statement, signed by 180+ communities, organisations and academics:

‘Driving Destructive Mining: EU Civil Society denounces EU raw material plans in European Green Deal’ – Written by the Yes To Life No To Mining European Working Group. 

The Colombian Government Responds with Extractivism and mining

15 Days of Protests, 40 People Killed, More Than 400 Disappeared: The Colombian Government Responds with Extractivism


15 Days of Protests, 40 People Killed, More Than 400 Disappeared: The Colombian Government Responds with Extractivism


After 15 Days of demonstrations and 40 homicides caused by police in Colombia, the government of Iván Duque presents a bill to strengthen the investment of those who intend to exploit gold in the Paramo de Santurbán.

Fifteen days of demonstrations have passed in Colombia against tax policies aimed at taxing the basic family food basket, even though the minimum wage of Colombians is below US$260 per month, and the unemployment rate in the pandemic has increased by 14%. There are currently 1 million more unemployed than at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020.

The government has invested money in war, and announced the purchase of 24 war planes costing more than 4.5 billion dollars, despite the fact that the figures for police abuses in the protests are on the rise, with more than 40 demonstrators killed and some 500 people missing. Congressman Wilson Arias has denounced the purchase of more than 14 billion pesos in weapons for the ESMAD (Mobile Anti-Disturbance Squadron), the police used to repress protest in Colombia.

Colombia is literally in flames, the national press is biased, the information is manipulated, the alternative press is violated in the streets, even a journalist has had a grenade thrown at his head according to the denunciation of the FLIP (Foundation for Freedom of the Press).

colombians citizens see army on the streets

…the Colombian government continues to strengthen it’s relationship with the government of the United Arab Emirates, a government that… has a controversial investment in the exploitation of GOLD and polymetals in the ecosystem of the Páramo de Santurbán, in northeastern Colombia.

The southwest of the country, where the strongest demonstrations are concentrated, has suffered power outages and the blocking of internet networks, making it impossible to broadcast the lives of the abuses occurring in the area. There has also been the appearance of civilians dressed in white clothes who call themselves “good citizens”, these people are heavily armed and there is no one to stop them, the police have escorted them on several occasions.

Not enough with this, on May 11, the national government has decided to propose bills 296 and 312 of 2020, through which the agreement signed between the Colombian government and the government of the Arab Emirates for the elimination of double taxation with respect to income and the prevention of tax evasion and avoidance and its protocols, signed in Dubai on November 12, 2017, would be approved. 

This means that the Colombian government continues to strengthen the relationship with the government of the United Arab Emirates, a government that so far has a controversial investment in Colombia and it is about the exploitation of GOLD and polymetals in the ecosystem of the Páramo de Santurbán, in northeastern Colombia.

This ecosystem supplies the water supply for more than 2,500,000 people in Santander and Norte de Santander, a department that borders Venezuela. For the past 10 years, citizens have been demonstrating against this type of projects, and to date, 3 mega-mining projects have been stopped in the Páramo de Santurbán.

people on rooftop with flags of colombia

MINESA has encountered the same panorama as the previous investors in Colombia: a people that reject mega-mining exploitation

Two attempts by the multinational Greystar, one for open-pit mining and for which its environmental license application was denied. And the second, where the same company changed its name to ECO ORO and presented a subway mining megaproject in the same place where it had presented the previous application.

The company has encountered opposition from the public. Its project goes against the principles of environmental protection in Colombian law, and in response to the denial of the company’s request, it has decided to sue the Colombian State before ICSID (World Bank) for more than US$764 million.

The third project corresponds precisely to that of the United Arab Emirates with its company MINESA, which belongs to the subsidiary of the sovereign wealth fund of the Emirate State: MUBADALA. MINESA has encountered the same panorama as the previous investors in Colombia: a people that rejects the mega-mining exploitation in Colombia and especially in the high mountains of the strategic ecosystems that supply water for the human consumption of 80% of the Colombian population.

So in January 2021 the National Environmental Licensing Authority (ANLA) has decided to archive this application for polymetallic exploitation, but the decision goes far beyond a technical equation of experts who consider totally risky and unfeasible a project of this scale in an ecosystem as fragile as the Páramos in Colombia.

It is not “only” the 9 million ounces of gold and other metals to be exploited by the Emirati prince’s fund. The decision is political. Previous Colombian governments (Alvaro Uribe Velez, Juan Manuel Santos) have made apparently “disinterested” transactions with the government of the United Arab Emirates, the most recent ones: a donation of 10 million dollars for economic reactivation in Colombia or the exorbitant sum of 150 tablets to “reduce the digital gap” in Colombia, a country with more than 50 million inhabitants.

Citizen complaints also go beyond ecosystem protection. So far, there is a regulatory vacuum regarding the delimitation of these ecosystems, and Santurbán specifically is not delimited. The scope of the environmental liabilities is not clear, nor is there any guarantee that the project will not impact the numerous populations living further downstream. 

CATAPA JOIN EEB to work on mining

CATAPA Joins Europe’s largest environmental network, the EEB


CATAPA Joins Europe’s largest environmental network


After several years of fruitful collaboration, CATAPA has formalised it’s membership as an associate member of the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) – Europe’s largest network of environmental citizens’ organisations.  

…agenda setting, monitoring, advising on and influencing the way the EU deals with issues.

The EEB brings together over 160 civil society organisations from more than 35 European countries, representing some 30 million supporters and members. It stands for sustainable development, environmental justice & participatory democracy.

CATAPA looks forward to working as an associate of the EEB to tackle Europe’s most pressing environmental problems by agenda setting, monitoring, advising on and influencing how the EU deals with these issues.

The core areas which CATAPA will be working on include; the economic transition, mining and waste prevention, ecodesign in the ICT sector as well as more broadly engaging in policy on climate change, energy, global supply chains, degrowth, Buen vivir, urban mining and resource reduction strategies.

CATAPA looks forward to bringing its expertise to the EEB, to keep the raw materials issue in all its complexity on the EU agenda…

While the primary focus of the EEB’s work is on the EU and its decision-making processes, it works also on wider regional and global processes, at the level of the UN and the OECD, particularly on the Global Agenda for Sustainable Development.

CATAPA looks forward to bringing its expertise to the EEB, to keep the raw materials issue in all its complexity on the EU agenda and to work for an economic alternative that puts well-being, not growth, at the centre of our society.

Escuela de Primavera: Catapa’s spring school on extractivism in Colombia


Escuela de Primavera: Catapa’s spring school on extractivism in Colombia

April 21st – May 29th, Online


Learn about the struggle against extractivism in Colombia through our ‘Escuela de Primavera’.

This year CATAPA are hosting a new online spring school which will include a series of online sessions with front line defenders and scientists from Colombia. The ‘Escuela de Primavera’ aims to inform the participants on the specific struggles of various regions and peoples in Colombia.

We will learn why communities are fighting in resistance, how they are organised and what we can do to contribute.

You can view, invite friends and share the Facebook event here

You can find the Registration form here



21 April: Geology for Dummies – A short history of the planet and the minerals in the Andes mountains.


29 April: Jericó, The threat of the mining district – How a gold multinational wants to exploit the South-East region of Antioquia, Colombia.


13 May: Cajamarca – The vibrant and continuous struggle of an unconquerable village for its lands.


27 May: Santurbán – Water, paramós and a resistance with no truce: The case of Santurbán.


29 May: Tribuga – Movie discussion on the struggle of the Pacific Colombian coast against the construction of a mega port. 

The Escuela de Primavera will take place online, don’t forget to register online in advance, as only registered participants will receive a zoom link.