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].
Right to Say No webinar poster

The Right to Say No: Insights and Experiences of the Global Struggle against Mining


The Right to Say No: Insights and Experiences of the Global Struggle against Mining

4th August, 2021

Last week The Thematic Social Forum on Mining and Extractive Economy explored the “Right to Say No” to mining projects all over the world during a global webinar. Speakers from four different continents were invited to speak about their own insights and experiences around the Right to Say No (RTSN).

(You can watch the full webinar on youtube here).

First up was Farai Maguwu from Zimbabwe (Centre for Natural Resource Governance CNRG), followed by Aung Ja from Burma, Hal Rhoades from Northern Europe (Yes to Life No to Mining – YLNM) and Karina from Brazil (Movement for Popular Sovereignty in Mining – MAM).

The Right to Say No has never been more pertinent. In the name of economic growth, mining projects are causing damage and pollution everywhere. Natural resources are being exploited and local communities are being devastated. Natural resources are being plundered and people are losing access to clean water and fertile land, which is impacting their livelihoods, health and wellbeing. The divide between rich and poor, the ones benefiting from the extractivist/capitalist model and the ones suffering from it, is getting bigger and bigger. This in a world where there has never been more wealth and abundance. On top of that there is the urgent reality of climate change, with this model pushing the bounds of our planet.

We also note the resistance of local communities who demand the ‘Right to Say No’ on these extractive activities. During the webinar, case studies from Africa, Asia, Europe and South America were presented, in which the ‘Right to Say No’ was the focus of this collective fight against mining.

"If not now, when? There is no planet B" sign black and white

We don’t have to reinvent the wheel in the fight for our common cause.  Local communities are resisting these mining projects and asserting their Right to Say No. These local actions are providing the foundation for strategies and alternatives needed to challenge the system. There are different contexts to be dealt with but we can definitely learn from each other’s struggles and victories and apply them to our own situation. As Hal pointed out during his talk, currently there is no real ‘Right’ to Say No. This is something we are asserting, not something we can (yet) claim.


Historical context

Many mining projects are a display of the historical hold of colonial power and foreign influence. Countries with a colonial past – for example the UK, which houses a lot of these large mining corps – are the same that are now putting pressure on more extraction projects. The end destination of the profits from these projects go to developed countries, the former colonizers, and not the countries that are the home to these resources. On top of that, Europe is also the main over-consumer of minerals and energy. Whether directly involved or not, these countries are the ones benefiting from it, while the countries from the Global South where these projects happen are the ones being exploited.


Current context

In certain countries there is the problem of limited democratic space because of repressive or military regimes. We heard from Farai and Aung Ja about the struggles people and communities face in Zimbabwe and Birma respectively. People in power are working hand in hand with corporations and investors from different countries (Australia, India, China, Bulgaria, UK,..) against their own population. The people face eviction from their lands and violence or punishments if they stand up for their rights. Protesting these actions of governments and mining corporations is an act of courage in the face of these threats.
The current European Green Deal also poses a big problem as it will incentivize and support mining expansion (read more on this subject here).


Common Ground

We need to be plural and refrain from taking a one size fits all approach (which is an extractive, capitalist idea) – to each situation there is a specific context. The RTSN movement is a heterogeneous collection of organizations, people and cultures. But there are certain principles that give the variety of organizations that are a part of the movement common ground (derived from Hal’s presentation):

  •  Questioning the nature of democracy: who benefits, who shoulders the burdens long term? Who defines where mining takes place, who decides the value, who benefits and who suffers…? 
  • Rejection of the instrumental relations with nature: “Nature” is a much better term than “environment” or “natural resources” as it has integrity. Right to say no is premised on ensuring quality of life
  • Advocating for local, low-impact ways of life.
  • Challenging the extractivist and growth oriented meta-politics or narratives.



 (As derived from Aung Ja and Karina’s talk.)

  • Firm and strong regulation of corporations on behalf of the people; we demand no harm to people, planet and our social wellbeing and livelihoods.
  • Affirmation of the society and not the interest of the state and the capital, there needs to be a people centered governance. Communities need to have authority and sovereignty. They decide what is best socially and culturally for their lifestyles. They must control their natural resources/common goods and not the governments. Because it impacts their livelihoods and their future generations.
  • A just transition and full restitution. Compensation for the degradation of the territories. The process of restitution must include the responsibility of the state and the corporations. They have to be held accountable. The transition must be diverse in how to approach this on many levels.
  • Mining free territories: If certain areas are classified as protected areas no mining should be able to go ahead. Same goes for respecting indigenous land rights.
Protester on street blowing a whistle

A rich repertoire of strategies and interventions

Here you can explore some strategies and interventions that can be utilized to assert the RTSN (collected from the different speakers). A lot of these strategies can be combined into a larger strategy (or are a necessary step eg. doing research). Keeping in mind that there are different contexts (political, cultural, …) to be accounted for that will determine which ones you use.



Farai proposes that the first intervention is doing research: who is involved, who is going to be affected, what are going to be the likely environmental impacts, and so on.


Documentation, evidence and argument

It’s important to document the struggles, to document what is going on and spread this information so we can learn from each other. We need more research and documentation of the current cases. To ask ourselves what could support the RTSN campaign? An idea could be to develop a model legislation/process that could be adapted to the local/regional levels.


Document reviews

The environmental impact assessments that mining companies put on the table are often fraudulent documents, so there is a need to investigate those. Also in certain cases people are being tricked to meetings, signing an attendance register which is later used as a consent form.

Capacity building

Building the capacity of the people and communities. Educating them about their rights.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela


Popular Consultations/Referendum

We heard Faraj talk about this strategy, and we know this is also used in Latin American countries. It is rarely used in Europe, but there has been a case in Trun, Bulgaria where a gold project was rejected successfully and unanimously.


The Legal Process

The Legal framework is often in favor of corporations, but there are also certain loopholes in laws or constitutions that can be used to our advantage. This can often be used as a delaying strategy to give some breathing space to other strategies. We can also work on fixing the laws and loopholes the corporations are using.


Declaring the Rights of Nature/Community

We heard the example of Ireland / Greencastle, where the community and local governments declared the rights of Nature to apply and put this in local legislation. As mining is not compatible with the Rights of Nature. 



Petitioning parliament to intervene and hold fact finding missions. Farai explained they do this by going to the affected community, raise a campaign and reach out to the media. Then the parliament is left with no choice but to intervene and they are forced to listen to the complaints and recognize the rights of communities.


Direct Action

We can use our bodies by placing ourselves in between – this is the most visceral and dangerous form of strategy.

Turkish woman with walking stick standing in front of police barricade

This powerful photo was shared on the day of action by allies in Turkey for the #GlobalDayAgainstMegaMining. Communities in the Kaz Mountains are resisting gold mining companies from deforestation and digging up their lands.

We can ourselves stop (or pressure our country to stop) investing by not committing trade, and by applying sanctions and boycotts. For example in regards to the current situation in Burma (or other repressive regimes) until there is a democracy that at least respects human rights.

Make it public

  • Hold public meetings, demonstrations or protests to drive media attention and create awareness in the public mind to what is happening. Mobilize public opinion in our favor.
  • Secure support of prominent, highly credible and influential leaders. These can be judges, political leaders, or even corporative leaders. Without compromising our fundamental principles.


Use the Media Creatively

  • Use the media: hold your own media campaign. Identify journalists who can amplify the community struggles so local can go global in terms of media awareness. We are no longer weak, voiceless or faceless. Defend the press and media from authoritarian governments.
  • Popularize our struggles using media (traditional, mainstream and social media). Harness the power of the internet and the digital lifestyle. Reaching millennials. Youth must. Inform and educate mainstream media why RTSN is important.


Solidarity strengthens

  • Exercise and enhance solidarity, building big national and international networks and alliances. We need an international movement to amplify our struggles. Popular community organization and permanent actions of solidarity that strengthen emancipation are essential.

“Solidarity was the movement that turned the direction of history, I think.” – Jeane Kirkpatrick 


  • Putting international pressure on repressive governments, fe. the Bolsonaro regime in Brazil. Popular engagement and organization is so important in these situations.

Company Engagement

  •  In Selkie (Finland) the community contacted multiple companies that were prospecting the area and told them “we reject this outright so save your money and go away”. This worked in their case but it has a very specific context.
  • Holding community engagements meetings between communities, corporations and governments.

Propose alternatives

There are better options possible that are already currently existent or that exist as potential opportunities. We can’t continue in the same way as has been happening in the patriarchal capitalist system. There is small-scale farming, fishing, eco or nature based tourism. Karina also proposes to use the inputs of women and youth, to employ their creativity for coming up with new economic alternatives and ways of living.
Restoration of nature can provide new options for people. Nature recovery is so necessary. Good examples are Finland or Northern-Spain.

Check out some examples of community-led post-extractive ‘alternatives’.

“The environment and the economy are really both two sides of the same coin. If we cannot sustain the environment, we cannot sustain ourselves” Wangari Maathai 


Challenging the narrative

  • We need to call out the narratives that are being told. Pointing out the irony in justifying demolishing rural communities that are already low-impact and sustainable in the name of climate action and so-called ‘sustainability’.
  • Calling out the Green Deal’s greenwashing tactics. RTSN as a response to the green washing narrative.
  • Questioning the ‘economic recovery of Covid’ story. Often this is used as a reason to start up mining projects as a way to reactivate the economy.
  • Mining happens because there is demand that comes from the growth narrative. We need to move towards a narrative based on wellbeing instead of the illusion of continuous growth.
  • Nature is being reduced to commodifiable minerals. There is a clash between short term, instrumentalist view of nature as a collection of dead commodities to be extracted for the greater good. We need a longer-term vision of Nature which is holistic and takes in account the  cultural and spiritual relations with a territory.
  • Understanding free territory not just as a physical space free from extraction and mining. But also the non-material reality of the territory. The full spectrum. The bodies, spirit, culture, ways of living and thinking.

“We don’t inherit the earth, we borrow it from our children.”Chief Seattle 

We hope you got some inspiration from this collection of strategies and interventions collected from the different speakers from The Right to Say No Global Webinar!

You can check out the final declaration of the Thematic social Forum on Mining and the Extractivist Economy who organized the webinar  here.

If you have some other interventions or tactics that can be useful feel free to share them with us in the comments, via the contact form or e-mail info@catapa.be

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.

The El Tingo case

The El Tingo case

Water pollution caused by toxic mining waste has radically transformed the regional ecosystem, poisoning the land.

Author – Giacomo Perna

During one of his visits to Macondo, Melquiades and his gypsies presented to the people what they declaimed to be the eighth wonder of the world of the wise Macedonian alchemists. It was a magnet. By means of this device, José Arcadio Buendía hoped to be able to dig up all the gold in the earth by simply dragging his ingots through the village. If only it really worked, for the world would have been spared centuries of pollution caused by mining. If it did, the lives of the people of El Tingo might be better today.

The community of El Tingo is currently without water. It’s such a controversial situation. Even though the area is rich in rivers and streams, nowadays every spring and water source is in a critical state of contamination, according to university studies and CATAPA’s report. Pollution has reached exasperating levels: it is so high that plants are burned due to the excess acidity of the waters.

The El Tingo community was born as a peasant community. The local economy has always been based on crops and livestock. The current situation prevents these activities from being carried out without risk. As a consequence of water contamination, cases of disease have increased significantly, dangerous amounts of heavy metals have been found in the blood of the inhabitants, and previously unseen malformations have started to appear in newborn animals. And it all happened because of the mining action that affected the territory

Sheep grazing around the Gold Fields mine. The lagoon that used to be a fishing spot is now part of the mining project. © CATAPA

Every water source in the region is contaminated. Lack of resources and income afflict the area. Socio-economic growth promises made by the mining companies did not materialize.

The mining history of the region of El Tingo goes back many years. Environmental liabilities from mining projects of yesteryear still afflict the territory, threatening the well-being of local flora and fauna. Among them is, the San Nicolás project, started in 1972, whose remains represent a still open wound that scars the local environment.

The entire geographical area is seriously affected by excavation and mineral processing. The main reason is that the plans to minimize and neutralize the effects of the toxic waste were – and, according to the local community, still is – not respected and, today, the inhabitants of the area suffer from a lack of resources and income, in addition to directly experiencing the harmful effects of the mining waste.

Remnants of the San Nicolás mine. Despite having been abandoned years ago, toxic wastes from the mine continue to be a problem for the environment. © CATAPA

The community of El Tingo is located in the district of Hualgayoc, in the region of Cajamarca. The area is rich in raw materials and minerals, which does not favor the well-being of the communities. In fact, El Tingo is located between two active mining projects that directly influence the development of life in the community: the Cerro Corona project, started in 2005 by the South African mining company Gold Fields, and the Tantahuatay project, started by the Peruvian company Coimolache, affiliated with the Peruvian company Buenaventura, which discovered the mine in 2010.

These companies have settled in the territory to exploit the huge mineral reserves present in the subsoil: gold, silver and copper. Initially, both companies arrived in the area promising improvements and development, signing social agreements and agreeing to promote socio-economic growth. Unfortunately, they did not live up to their words.

The curious thing is that Peru has a mine closure law. According to regulation passed in 2003, the state obliges companies that own mining projects to ensure the protection of the environment and to cease their activities in areas where mining action could cause environmental risks, but neither the government nor the companies have made any effort to respect – and enforce – this law.

The grass burns due to the high acid concentration of the waters. People and animals suffer from the diseases caused by the environmental pollution of the mining.

It is also worth mentioning that the region is subject to periods of heavy rainfall. On several occasions these rains have caused the tailing dams to overflow, leaking mining waste into the surrounding pastures and water basins and generating catastrophic consequences. An infamous example, is the case of December 2018, where a tailings spill caused the death of 17,000 trout present in the fish farm ‘La trucha de oro’.

Video report of the tailings spill that occurred in 2018. Despite the complaints urged by the local community, the Gold Fields company classified the event as an accident. © Bambamarca Televisión

The problem of pollution does not only affect the El Tingo area. The streams that traverse the territory flow into other rivers. Among them is the El Tingo-Maygasbamba river, which flows into the Amazon river and then crosses the continent to the Atlantic, carrying its poisons for thousands of kilometers.

On the economic side, the promises made by both Coimolache and Gold Fields company were not kept. According to the community, the agreements stipulated were not respected. Despite the promise not to bring foreigners into the region, companies soon began to hire outsiders to work in the mines. In addition, local workers often suffered violations of their labor rights: firing a local worker seems so much easier than firing a foreigner. Furthermore, the promises of prosperity did not materialize and no improvements were made to the roads, which are in a critical state. Even the local architecture suffers from the consequences of mining. Excavations to expand the mines are carried out through continuous detonations in El Tingo, which over time affects the integrity of community buildings. As a result, cracks and scratches populate the walls of many houses, jeopardizing the structural stability of the homes.

Local growth was not improved. The mining presence caused conflicts and social tensions. 

Cows grazing around the Gold Fields mine. The land that for generations has been used to feed livestock is now occupied by mining companies. © CATAPA

The local community has resisted against the injustices from mining in the territory, evidenced by the social tensions that have been documented since 2008. Indeed, the people of El Tingo have risen up against mining servitude and exploitation. Protests and strikes have taken place over the years, demonstrating the commitment of the local community to defend their land and water.

The people of El Tingo have been organizing themselves autonomously in opposition to the mining industry and have also asked for assistance to publicize their struggle and finally be heard. It was for this reason, that CATAPA became actively involved in the territory together with its partner Grufides, conducting dozens of interviews and collecting water samples from the springs. The tests demonstrated a high level of contamination of the rivers and streams that cross the area. Through the interviews collected, a documentary was produced about the case of El Tingo, to give voice to the testimony of the local community. In addition to this, a webinar and a social media campaign were organized. Today, Grufides’ lawyers continue to fight alongside the communities legal representatives, to support the fight for justice.

The El Tingo history is a tale of unfulfilled promises and abuses. The pressure from the central economy is pushing the development of underdevelopment in the region, relegating the community to a situation of irreversible dependence. The area has become an oasis for mining extraction, a locus amenus where the West found the answers to its expansionist demands. It is hard to believe that such abuses are taking place today. The situation in which the inhabitants of El Tingo find themselves is intolerable, and CATAPA’s aim, together with its allies and the community, is to bring justice to a people who for decades have suffered the ravages of dispossession.

Watch: The Case for Degrowth


Watch: The Case for Degrowth

27th February, 2020

Join expert and author Federico Demaria as he presents his new book ‘The case for Degrowth’.

On Friday 19th February CATAPA in partnership with Oikos and The Centre for Sustainable Development, Gent University saw over 100 participants join the Book Lecture: The Case for Degrowth with Author Federico Demaria.

Watch now, The Case for Degrowth on Youtube. 



Federico opened by presenting his book and making a compelling case for degrowth economics. This was followed by an interesting panel debate featuring Hanne Cottyn of CATAPA, Irma Emmery of Centre for Sustainable Development, Gent University and Dirk Holemans of Oikos in conversation with the Author Federico Demaria.

The panel discussion ranged from, key and critical reflections on the book, the role of the state in a degrowth economy, the commons and much more.

To close, there was an audience Question & Answer session, after which the panelists gave their final thoughts on where can we find inspiration for a future in which degrowth is part of the transformation needed to tackle the contemporary challenges of ecological and climate breakdown.

You can watch the full recording here.

10 Ways CATAPA Took on the Mining Industry in 2020

10 Ways CATAPA Took on the Mining Industry in 2020


Its been a challenging year across the world with the Covid-19 pandemic not least for communities facing down mining projects trying to exploit the situation we now find ourselves in.

Despite these new challenges here are 10 Ways CATAPA Took on the Mining Industry in 2020:

1. Uncovering the exploitation of Bolivian miners in European supply chains

In 2020 CATAPA produced a research article uncovering how the rare metal Indium exchanges hands without being paid for, as it travels through the supply chain, from Bolivian mines into the hands of European Industry. This followed up the first investigation on polymetal mining in Bolivia earlier in 2020 which assessed the impacts of mining in the region of Oruro. The research mapped the local and regional actors involved in the Bolivian supply chain, to better understand what “Making ICT Fair” could look like in a Bolivian context.

2. Supporting the #WhoIsKillingThem Campaign

Colombia is the most dangerous region worldwide for people defending the environment. This is why CATAPA, led by CATAPA Colombia activists launched the campaign called #WhoIsKillingThem to raise awareness about the impacts of mining and the increasing number of environmental and social activists being assassinated in Colombia.

3. Empowering Water Guardians in Peru

The ‘Guardianxs del Agua’ project involved providing water monitoring training to 5 local ‘water committees’, whose fresh water sources are in danger from current and potential mining projects in Cajarmarca, Peru.  The series of workshops and trainings provided the “Guardians of Water” with the capabilities to better identify any signs of contamination and document the quality and quantity of local water supplies.

A social media campaign called “Guardianxs del Agua”, drew attention to the work of the water monitoring committees and the importance of protecting these last sources of clean water. The campaign also raised national attention around a new law proposal, which would protect environmental committees. The project and campaign ended with the publication of a short documentary Guardianxs del Agua.

4. Hosting an International Webinar Series on sustainable and responsible electronic supply chains

In 2017, eleven European partners joined forces to create the project “Make ICT Fair – Reforming manufacture and minerals supply chains through policy, finance and public procurement”. Organized by CATAPA, the Make ICT Fair international webinar series drew hundreds of participants from multiple continents with the aim to improve the lives of workers and local communities impacted along the ICT supply chain through research, capacity building and campaigning. 

5. Adapting mining activism during a Pandemic

CATAPA’s largest annual event, the Open Min(e)d Speakers Tour, included guest speakers from Hong Kong, Ecuador and Colombia before being moved online by the start of the pandemic. 2020’s changemaker trajectory saw 30 changemakers complete our tailed programme on Extractivism, Degrowth and Buen Vivir with various trainings, including on how to run impactful social media campaigns.

Partnering with universities Catapistas gave lectures to students on issues such as resource conflicts and human rights violations in Latin America. Every year CATAPA supervises several students writing their thesis about mining related issues & ICT procurement and ‘Thesis 4 Bolivia” provided a space for graduates and researchers to share their experiences of conducting research abroad. 

2020 also brought new opportunities as CATAPA delved into the world of Deep Sea Mining with a webinar and the formation of an action group. Once the first wave subsided, covid safe Summer’s End Sessions were created, allowing the Catapistas to further build and develop the movements strategy for 2021.

CATAPA put on Doculatino and Cinema Peru, an online series of film screenings which highlighted the stories of the featured communities impacted by extractive industries. Bar Circular saw hundreds tune into a series of ICT workshops taking place online, covering topics on digital health, repair and how to extend the lifespan of your digital devices.  


6. Challenging the European Commission’s Green Mining Agenda

CATAPA joined over 230 civil society organisations, community platforms and academics in releasing an open letter to call on the European Commission to urgently reassess its plans to drive a new resource grab both in the EU and the global South.

Instead of expanding and repatriating mining destruction which will threaten communities, biodiversity & the planetary life support systems – we called for:

1. Absolute reduction of resource use and demand in Europe

2. Recognition and respect for communities’ Right to Say No to mining

3. Enforcement of existing EU environmental law and respect for conservation areas

4. An end to exploitation of Global South nations, and respect for human rights

5. Protection of ‘ new frontiers’ – like the deep sea- from mining.

7. Raising the profile of ‘El Tingo’

The community of El Tingo is one of the most affected by mining in Cajamarca (Peru), as the community is located between two mining projects. Despite mining companies Gold Fields and Coimolache signing social agreements with the community, the mining projects brought the community water contamination, loss of agriculture and livestock, property destruction, heavy metals in the blood of the community members and empty promises of work in the mines.

In 2020 the community of El Tingo decided to speak out. This project resulted in the powerful documentary ‘El Tingo: una comunidad bajo dos proyectos mineros’ and has been viewed over 22,000 times to date.

8. Securing recognized Socio-Cultural Status

We secured social-cultural organizational status, allowing us to increase the number of paid staff we have and finance more exciting projects and initiatives from 2021 onwards. This was really important to secure structural funding especially in the current economic context – allowing us to carry on fighting for a socially and ecologically just planet.

9. Piloting worker led monitoring of the mining industry

CATAPA entered into a new partnership in 2020, which will see the extension of worker-driven monitoring of mining operations across three continents. CATAPA supported the delivery of monitoring trainings with Electronics Watch and CISEP to start building the local foundations needed to begin the monitoring of Bolivian Tin mines. The end goal of worker driven monitoring of these mines, will be an important step-change in the transparency of these global supply chains.

10. Encouraging Public and Private bodies to clean up their ICT

The links between mining and ICT products are clear. The average smartphone contains 60 different elements, many of which are metals. Without the extraction of metals many of the technologies used in offices across Belgium would not exist. This year the Fair ICT Flanders project set up a learning network with 30 large buyers of ICT hardware and actively supported  6 pilot organisations in Flanders to make their purchasing policies more sustainable. The first Fair ICT Award was given to the KU Leuven. They were recognized for their commitment to ‘ Human Rights Due Diligence’ and life extension of their ICT devices. In this way, they hold the ICT industry accountable and contribute to less (over)consumption and mining.’

If you want to get involved in CATAPA’s activism and find out more about what we have in store for 2021, you can contact us to sign up for email updates here – and if you can afford it, please donate to support our efforts to stop mining here.

Woman Smashing Rocks

Worker Driven Monitoring of the Mining Sector


Worker Driven Monitoring of the Mining Sector


CATAPA is entering a new partnership which will trial worker-driven monitoring of mining operations across three continents. 

A new pilot project has been launched, in which Electronics Watch will be cooperating with CISEP and CATAPA to establish worker-driven monitoring in the tin mines in Oruro, Bolivia.

The goal of this project is to put in place a monitoring tool for public procurers to check their supply chains from the mining stage. Using a bottom-up approach the ambition is to improve working conditions for miners and stop further environmental degradation to those areas that directly affect communities downstream.

As a first step in the process, Electronics Watch with linguistic support from CATAPA provided 4 monitoring training sessions, focusing on:

  • The strengths of public procurement and the Electronics Watch model
  • Methods for worker-driven monitoring
  • Analysis of results and options for remediation
  • Reporting the findings and engaging companies

Similar monitoring projects are also being set up by Electronics Watch with partners in the Philippines (nickel mines) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (cobalt mines), in addition to Bolivia (Tin). These three metals are essential resources needed for the manufacturing of electronics and batteries. 

The end goal of worker driven monitoring of these mines will be an important step-change in the transparency of global supply chains and we look forward to working with our project partners into the future. 

Thesis 4 Bolivia


Thesis 4 Bolivia

27th October, 7-9pm, Online



We invite you to an evening of presentations to hear from researchers and graduated students on the results of their thesis conducted in Bolivia.

Learn about their motives, challenges and results from their research and have the opportunity during the Q&A to ask for advice for your own thesis and research proposals.

The topics are very broad, from environment to anthropology and sustainable development.

Are you interested to learn more about Bolivia – a vibrant and diverse country which spans from the South American Andes mountains, down to the tropical lows of the Amazon?

Perhaps you are even interested in carrying out your own research project / thesis?


Join our evening and get inspiration for a thesis!

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

You can find the Registration Form here

[Only registered participants will receive a joining link]

What is CATAPA?

CATAPA is a social and environmental volunteer movement which works towards social and environmental justice focusing on mining related issues in Latin America. We conduct research about mining issues, organise sensitizing events on the impacts of mining and support our local partners in Latin America by capacity building and internationalising their struggle for environmental and social justice.

Each year we supervise several students writing their thesis about mining related issues and about ICT public procurement.