13 March: Stunning New Setback for Ascendant Copper Corporation

By , March 13, 2006
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Zona de Intag 12 March 2006

This time it was a meeting Ascendant had called in the village they considered “theirs” – Chalguayacu Alto, where Ascendant and Daimi Services thought it was safe to hold a meeting to socialize the Environmental Impact Study. It seems the natives were not as friendly as they imagined.

Anti-mining activists rose earlier than the pro-miners and split into two groups this Sunday. One took control of the Loma Negra-Chalguayacu Alto road, and the other group waited in Chalguayacu Bajo peacefully blocking access to Chalguayacu Alto. Both groups waited patiently for Ascendant’s officials, who chose not to show. The activists in Chalguayacu Bajo stopped a police patrol by forming a human chain across the road. Another car was stopped when it tried to access Chalguayacu Alto to take the food prepared for the meeting to the new meeting place they chose at the last minute.

It’s revealing that it was unnecessary to call upon anti-mining activists from other parts of Intag. This highlights, once again, the extent and determination of the resistance to Ascendant’s mining project. Seeing the firm opposition in their own backyard, the meeting was changed to the Villadora farm, which has lately become Ascendant’s center of operations after the break with CODEGAM. Villadora is far away from the mining area, so any socialization of the project was to people who do not stand to be directly impacted by the mining project. In other words, a meaningless meeting. However, if Ascendant was expecting a warm reception at their new center of operations, they were wrong. It was there that dozens of disgruntled CODEGAM members confronted the mining company and Daimi, to vent their anger and frustration at being lied to and taken advantaged of. From reliable eye-witnesses reports, no one was hurt and there were no arrests.

Many CODEGAM followers have expressed a desire to join forces with the Junín anti-mining group to, in their words, “kick out Ascendant once-and-for all”.

What is clear after this latest disastrous turn of events for Ascendant is that they and Daimi profoundly underestimated the level of resistance in Intag. Coming on the heels of recent and major setbacks, including the burning of their camp in Chalguayacu Bajo in December and the detaining of three Daimi employees in early March by community anti-mining activists, it can only confirm disaster for the future of this project.

On the other hand, on Thursday March 9th, presidents from all of Intag’s Parish Government Townships joined representatives of most organizations working in the region and community presidents to ask the central government to institute a 5 year moratorium on mining activities in the area. The moratorium would also affect companies like CODEGAM and DAIMI Services. The government is studying the request, and community members are hopeful it will be approved.

Meanwhile, and to illustrate how much Ascendant is really wanted in Intag, DAIMI Services employees have been forced to be accompanied by fully-armed bodyguards whenever they go to communities to talk about the wonders of mining and Ascendant.

You’d think they’d get the message by now.

Carlos Zorrilla
DECOIN

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