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A few weeks after Uruguayan president Jose Mujica announced that the investment agreement between Uruguay and Indian mining company Aratirí will be signed in February, REDES-Friends of the Earth Uruguay expressed its rejection of the agreement.
This is “another step towards the consolidation of a transnationalization of the main production chains of the country”, stated the environmental federation in a press release issued Monday, titled “Too much future at stake to trade for beads and mirrors”.
Real World Radio interviewed REDES – FoE representative Maria Selva Ortiz to learn more about the position of the organization.
According to Aratiri´s website, subsidiary of Indian company Zamin Ferrous, the iron extraction project in Valentines, to the north of Treinta y Tres and Florida departments, would make it possible to exploit the deposits of the area for 20 or 30 years, with an average export level of 18 million tons of iron ore annually. The mining project implies the building of an ore pipeline and a deep-water port.
In their press release, REDES – FoE denounced the unconstitutional nature of the new large scale mining law, which governs the investment agreement with Aratiri, because it directly violates Article 47 of the Uruguayan Constitution. Since the Constitutional Amendment approved through the water plebiscite of 2004 that had the support of over 64 per cent of voters, this Article establishes the priority use of water for human consumption, in addition to participatory management of basins and criteria for citizen participation in terms of territorial management.
“We reject large scale transnational mining because it represents a serious environmental and social threat to Uruguay, because of its impacts on lands and water and the displacement of small family farmers, already severely affected by the agribusiness model established in the country”, reads the press release.
The Aratiri project “was not consulted, no place was given for a national debate and it does not have the support of the National Environment Directorate. This way, the country is taking one more step towards the primarization of its economy…” (Press release available (in Spanish) here: http://www.redes.org.uy/2014/02/10/no-a-la-gran-mineria-transnacional-no-a-aratiri/).
“Este triunfo de Uruguay debe ser un llamado urgente a analizar, revisar, renegociar o anular cuando corresponda todos los tratados bilaterales de comercio y de protección de inversiones que ha suscrito el país, antes de exponernos a nuevas demandas en las que podemos correr con distinta suerte que en la recién finalizada”.
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