Questions for Anglo American

Apr 29, 2021 | 

The following questions have been submitted to Anglo American in advance of its 2021 AGM on 5 May on behalf of communities affected by its operations in Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Peru.

QUESTIONS ABOUT MINAS RIO, BRAZIL

Anglo American’s first operating license, including the tailings dam structure, was granted in September 2014. On 12/20/2019, the Operating License was granted for the 1st heightening of the tailings dam and expansion of the waste dump.

On February 27, 2020, the State Prosecutor’s Office, represented by four attorneys of different competences and jurisdictions, filed a Public Civil Action against the State of Minas Gerais and the company Anglo American Minas Rio Mineração.

This Action refers to the granting of the operating license to the company on December 20, 2019 by the State Environmental Policy Council, authorizing the operation of the raising of the dam of Mina do Sapo. This concession violates Law 23,291, of February 25, 2019, which prohibits dam raising when the existence of communities is identified in the self-rescue zone, as is the case of the communities of São José do Jassém, Água Quente and Passa Sete, which are downstream of the dam.

Permission for a 2nd heightening of the tailings dam was requested on April 30, 2021 and the communities are still in the self-rescue zone. We are experiencing a superposition of risks. The dam was built less than 10 years ago, the first heightening was built in 2019 and a second heightening in the sequence, with less than two years between one and the other.

1. How does the company’s interpretation of this law guarantee the principle of the centrality of the affected communities? Why does Anglo insist on not complying with a safety precept that has already been imposed by law and why does it not meet the demands of families to be moved to safety? What is the proposal for communities forced to leave because they are downstream of the dam, regardless of what the law establishes? It is unreasonable to say that through legal procedures it is possible to override the security required by law.

Throughout the licensing process, communities have participated in public meetings (including the one held in December 2019) before the licensing bodies and have spoken about illnesses which have developed as a result of fear of the dam breaking.

2. How does Anglo American deal with the fact that there are communities that suffer because they live below the tailings dam or the fear of breaking the dam? What is the Company’s proposal for the communities?

3. What is the purpose of independent technical advisory organizations for affected people? With the independent evaluation of the studies, will the company adapt its programs if they are considered insufficient by the communities?

QUESTIONS FROM CHILEAN COMMUNITIES

I. Communities neighboring the ‘Los Bronces’ mining operation, Lo Barnechea, Metropolitan Region, Chile.

  1. In the observations made to the ‘Los Bronces Integrados’ project presented by Anglo American, the General Water Management Board of Chile (‘Dirección General de Aguas’) indicates that the project is not considering having a monitoring system during construction  and operation phases to check for the presence of particulate matter on the nearby white glaciers, nor carrying out consistent albedo variation studies to ensure that the particulate matter does not affect the natural reflectance of glaciers found in the upper part of the ‘Yerba Loca’ estuary valleyQuestions: Why isn’t AA monitoring its potential harm? How can we know how much dust they produce if there is no independent monitoring? Does AA commit to funding independent monitoring?
  2. The Environmental Impact Assessment of the ‘Andina 244’ project acknowledged that trucks and explosions not only produce dust: 50 dumper trucks consume 176 liters of oil per day and produce 500 tons of CO2; and black carbon gets deposited on glaciers (10 grams of dust per square meter of glacier increases their melting rate by between 74 and 93%) Questions: How do you quantify the damage of the current operation and, if approved, how much damage do you estimate Los Bronces Integrados will generate?
  3. AA has been and still is an undesirable neighbor. The Environmental Impact Assessment presented as part of the ‘Los Bronces Integrados’ project circumscribes the project’s area of ​​influence to a few glaciers, and does not include all the glaciers that will be affected, such as those within the Yerba Loca Nature Sanctuary (‘La Paloma’ and ‘Olivares’ glaciers among others). Questions: Why does AA lie and hide the truth from the communities, but at the same time invest a lot of money in laundering its image?
  4. Water is a basic human right, but in Chile water rights are privatized and many communities such as ‘El Arrayán’ and ‘Camino a Farellones’ do not have access to drinking water. Water scarcity does not affect us all equally. Needing water to live is not the same as requiring it  for industrial processes like AA’s mega mining. In 2020, AA stated that on average ‘Los Bronces’ uses 780 l/s of water, which mainly comes from rivers; Questions: is this still the case? Our calculations indicate that it is at least 1,380 liters per second, that is, 119 million liters of water per day. Have you considered using sea water?
  5. According to the information provided by the National Monument Council (‘Consejo de Monumentos Nacionales’), within the Yerba Loca Nature Sanctuary there are “more than 100 archaeological sites and artefacts dating from 8,000 to 6,000 B.C. and different areas of great archaeological importance such as ‘Casa de Piedra Carvajal’, lithic workshops, stone walls and ‘piedras tacitas’”. Indigenous communities have lived in this area since 1,500 BC, such as the Chiquillanes and later the Incas, for whose people this territory was sacred and contained one of their guardian hills, El Plomo, declared a World Heritage Site in 1998. According to the information in the Technical Report on Environmental Inspection by the Superintendency of the Environment published in March 2019, “there is no certainty over whether the construction of the ‘Socavón los Sulfatos’ project  needs to comply with the Environmental Impact Assessment System. As indicated in the Regulation of the Environmental Impact Assess System (RSEIA), the Environmental Assessment Service’s (SEA) Executive Board should be consulted. Has the SEA Executive Board been consulted? If so, what was their response?

II. Communities neighboring the ‘El Soldado’ project, located in the municipality of Nogales, Valparaíso, Chile.

  1. As your company puts it, the challenge for Chile is to revive its economy after the pandemic. It is essential to create new jobs, but our people are not the beneficiaries. Why can’t our residents and surrounding communities receive a preferential job opportunity in your company? Why do we only get the negative impacts and not the opportunities?
  2. We are in the midst of the health crisis, where family incomes have decreased due to lack of job opportunities. Despite the fact that copper is increasing in value, why did the company reduce compensation benefits to students from neighboring communities? It is worth asking ourselves, why do we suffer so much misery from a company that has benefited from our territory? You benefit from the high price of the copper that you steal from us every day. You benefit from the silence of the authorities and representatives because you buy them with the money you make from our land. This compensation is a minimum for all the years we have suffered.
  3. The report presented by Fundación Relave in April 2019, on water samples from the El Melón community, Nogales commune, 5th Region, indicates that manganese, iron and sulphates have been detected in the groundwater in concentrations above legal regulations. Taking into account that, as the years go by, the concentration of sulphates will increase and that this is induced by the infiltration of tailings water into the aquifer, recent analysis also indicated that the sulphate levels once again exceeded the parameters of the water quality standard for rural drinking water wells in Los Caleos. We ask you the same question we asked at the AGM in 2020. Will you pay for cancer doctors to help deal with the effects of contamination in the population?
  4. The recently approved ‘Operational Continuity of the El Torito Tailings Dam at El Soldado’ project involves an environmental impact mitigation measure that seeks to reduce the mobility of pollutants downstream of the dam. It also suggests injecting fresh water into the downstream aquifer of the dam sand wall, with the aim of creating a hydraulic barrier that controls the infiltration of water from the dam. This filtration and drainage system aims to mitigate water pollution. If this process is being carried out, it has not been effective due to the high levels of sulphate in the water. We request the data regarding the progress of this project, the results of the mitigation process, as well as the effectiveness rates with which they are being measured.
  5. Anglo American says that it has a centre in Los Caleo monitoring particulate matter emissions from blasting. However, this plant is not adequate for the community, since the population has expanded, and people currently live in the centre of town. For this reason, the plant, which is located in the rural area, does not represent the bulk of the population. Can Anglo American finance another plant that is closer to and more representative of the entire population?
  6. Regarding Landslides, Anglo American has said it is developing an evacuation and emergency plan. However, initiating the plan would be linked to the company calling and decreeing a state of emergency. As Anglo American would be responsible for both a potential collapse and for initiating the emergency response plan, we believe that an external body should be responsible for initiating the plan, as people fear that the company could fail to declare an emergency in the event of one. Is it possible for Anglo American, together with local authorities and the community, to review those responsible for actioning the emergency plan?
  7. The inhabitants of El Melón filed a protection appeal demanding their right to water. An Anglo American report and a municipal report have both shown that the town’s hydraulic networks do not have enough capacity to supply El Melón with water. Anglo American was providing cistern trucks for the supply. However, the failure of the protection appeal obliges the State of Chile to manage the tanker trucks, meaning it would no longer be necessary forAnglo American to provide this item. However, can Anglo American finance and commit to a fixed monthly amount (UTM, Monthly Tax Unit) for the injection of resources into the water supply?
  8. Regarding landslides, the inhabitants of El Melón are deeply concerned due to past landslides and the clear danger posed by the company’s tailings. Can Anglo American finance a census to find out how many people live in El Melón? This would have the aim of finding out how many people live there and the magnitude of a possible evacuation. This would make it possible to determine the evacuation zones and the resources that should be available in the event of a possible collapse of the tailings dam.
  9. Anglo American began a water desalination project between Ventana and one of its sites. The water transport lines pass through the commune of Nogales, in the La Peña sector. Couldt Anglo American donate some of this water to the town of El Melón and to the farmers of the La Peña sector (areas which have been  declared as disaster areas due to water scarcity)?
  10. In 2020, after a community takeover of one of the company’s wells, Anglo American committed to  providing a bypass to deliver water to the municipality. The bypass is mentioned in a business report related to a 2020 protection appeal. The municipality does not have the data of the amount of water delivered. Anglo American had committed to making this information transparent. Can Anglo American be clear about how much water it delivers by well 9 and well 4 to the municipality?
  11. In 2020, the operational continuity of Anglo American’s sites was approved. By voluntary commitment and also as compensation, an area of ​​the river has been declared as a refuge for aquatic and cryptic species. This stretch of the river was affected by the company in 2014, as it  did not comply with the reforestation plans, for which it received a fine of 5299 Monthly Tax Units (UTM) Can Anglo American ensure that waste rock deposits are not affected by the current commitment? What are the details of the progress of this commitment? 
  12. In the operational continuity plan, approved in 2020, Anglo American has declared an impact on cultural heritage in paleontological areas. As a voluntary commitment, Anglo American says it will conduct workshops and training for workers. Can the El Melón community openly participate in all training and workshops? Can Anglo American finance a museum to store archaeological and paleontological remains?
  13. In 2021, the operational continuity plan was approved for phase 5 of El Soldado; a project that was drawn up without  an Environmental Impact Study. To carry out the process of phase 5 El Soldado will require building a water channelling system, located at a higher elevation than the area of exploitation. As a consequence, it will divert the water, preventing its entry into the exploitation area. If  you are considering diverting the area’s water resources, why did this phase not go through an environmental impact assessment ? How much water will be captured by this method? Can Anglo American verify that this catchment does not affect the final trajectory of these waters? Can you verify that this method will not dry out the zones and sectors downstream?

III. Communities from Colina, Lampa and Til-Til

  1. In January of this year, residents observed foam in the Colina River. Expert analysis indicated that the levels of some heavy metals were well above the norm. However, Anglo American  denied outright that this could be caused by its processes. The information has been disseminated through videos and photographs. How can Anglo  that they are only river sediments before the results of a laboratory analysis have been published? Isn’t it the responsibility of the company to prove to the community – through reliable data – its supposed lack of culpability?
  2. The ‘Las Tórtolas’ tailings dam currently exceeds the urban area of ​​the municipality of Colina. By the year 2040, it is projected to reach 800m above sea level. In the areas near this sleeping giant, the tailings dust is evident on the surfaces of the houses. Why are there no monitoring zones for tailings dust in Quilapilún, Huertos Familiares, Santa Matilde, Til Til, Colina and Lampa? Could you invest in lung tests, among others, for people who live a few kilometres from the dam? Do you have any information on the increase in cancer cases and its possible relationship with tailings dust in areas like Til Til? Why hasn’t Anglo American formulated Emergency and Early Warning plans? Why hasn’t Anglo American developed awareness plans and campaigns regarding the impact that a possible collapse of this tailings dam could have, considering the fact that, globally, several such dams have produced fatal accidents, and also considering that we are a seismically active country? Why, last year, were we able to observe tailings runoff, of which we have evidence, without any soil protection?
  3. In relation to the profits you make from the minerals extracted from our country: Do you understand and/or are you interested in Bioethics? When will Anglo American stop lobbying the Chilean government to not pass a glacier protection law? When will you stop giving money to our communities (obviously because you have interests in the communes we live in) to disguise your disastrous socio-environmental impact as solidarity? Do you really think that we still believe your operations are ‘harmless’ for ecological preservation areas, whenthe enormous damage you do is so evident in your new expansion project, which, as one example, involves the destruction of a wetland in Peldehue in order to put in new power lines?

IV. Board of Directors ‘Movimiento No + Anglo’

  1. On the “pioneer model”: how is this monetized and/or what economic, social and environmental benefits does this model have for Anglo American? 
  2. In 2019 there was social upheaval in our country. The people, out of desperation due to the critical lack of water, took over Well No 9, owned by Anglo American, in the community of El Melón. During this occupation, the company agreed to provide a water bypass, potentially delivering just 15 litres of water. Given the hydraulic conditions, Anglo American fills the area’s water tanks with water brought from more than an hour away by tanker trucks. It was suggested to the Anglo American technical team that you draw water from the bypass to reduce the cost of water transfer. The company did not listen and did nothing about it. Why does Anglo American prefer to spend more money on moving water, instead of taking it directly from Well No 9? Why did the company abandon the Well No 9 negotiations?
  3. What is the quantity and what are the characteristics of the dust emanating from the El Soldado site (e.g., mps, mp10, mp 2.5 or similar)?. How far does this cloud of dust travel? 
  4. Have you found fossils in the ‘El Torito’ and ‘Los Bronces’ extensions?
  5. How do you quantify the profit, whether in social or financial terms, of the contamination of the ‘El Cobre’ estuary groundwater in Nogales?
  6. What is the total expenditure on advertising in community projects in Nogales, Colina,  Lampa, Til Til and Lo Barnechea?
  7. How do you plan to respond to the decrease in water resources in ‘Nogales’ and other affected territories? In the future, water production will become more complex; how do you plan to approachthis situation?
  8. Could you please detail the implementation of the HDS project described onyour website: https://chile.angloamerican.com/operaciones/el-soldado.aspx?
  9. How do you mitigate the damage to human and animal health? And how will you restore the natural resources destroyed in Nogales, El Melón and Lo Barnechea?
  10. By way of transparency, please detail the projects developed in partnership with Chilean universities. We are interested in knowing a) Name of the project; b) Financing; c) Year of implementation; and d) Associated university.
  11. What measures have you taken and how will you improve tailings dams to avoid situations that could affect nature, people and animals, considering that much of the fauna dies as a result of drinking dam water? There is also the risk that toxic chemicals infiltrate the water sources if a structure gets damaged..
  12. In the last 20 years, have you contributed to any political campaign for the elections of representatives in Chile? We are interested, by way of transparency, to know a) Name of the candidate; b) Financing; and c) Projects developed together.

V. Mining tailings

Chile is one of the most earthquake-prone countries on the planet. Yet, in Chile, mega tailings are being built that constitute a serious danger to the human population, as evidenced by the disasters that occurred in Brazil, Canada and others.

  1. Why does Anglo American build and own tailings dams,  underwriting the problem and the costs to future generations?
  2. Why does Anglo American in Chile not take charge of recycling this waste, and the costs involved?
  3. The danger of tailings dams has been demonstrated in countless tragedies.

Why doesn’t Anglo American do simulations with the most modern artificial intelligence tools, which could allow us to know where the tailings will travel, at what speed, for how long and how far they will go in the event of a total collapse?

  1. Knowing the danger to the lives of the people who live downstream of a dam, why aren’t there evacuation drills in case of a collapse, as is done with tsunamis and other disasters? 
  2. Why are emergency plans downstream of the dams not set out with early warning systems, hospitals, rescue teams (ambulances, helicopters, etc.), escape routes, security zones and other measures, as is done for tsunamis?.
  3. Why does the company continue to build mega dams in Chile, which cannot be built in other countries such as Australia, and why does it not take responsibility for recycling useful waste materials?

VI. El Torito tailings dam. Commune of Nogales, Valparaíso, Chile.

  1. In 2003, during the citizen participation process for the first expansion of the El Torito tailings dam (TRET), the community noted the contamination of the underground waters that the company had caused. Anglo American denied this. 15 years later, the sulphate contamination of the waters is verified, mainly in the water provided by the Los Caleos Rural Potable Water facility (APR), which supplies three towns with about 1000 inhabitants. In the last TRET expansion project, Anglo American’s 2019 Environmental Impact Assessment,  committed it to carrying out mitigations in order to deliver uncontaminated water to the local communities. However, analysis from February this year shows sulphate levels above the allowed level. Anglo American has acknowledged contamination of the waters. How long should the community wait for the company to fulfill its commitments? What will the mitigations be? How will the community be compensated for this impact?
  2. It was also stated in the Citizen Observations on Pollution caused by particulate matter from the TRET, that: “the activity of the Anglo American company, El Soldado and its TRET would generate more pollution and PM10 and Pm2.5 in the  area immediately around the project than in the rest of the province of Quillota. 15 years later, the province of Quillota has been declared a saturated area for particulate matter”. What does the company think about this? How will it mitigate these terrible impacts on the community and the environment?

QUESTIONS ABOUT CERREJON COAL, COLOMBIA

Since your last AGM, Anglo American and the other shareholders in Cerrejón Coal have received the English translation of court ruling T-614. This ruling ordered the protection of the health and environment of Wayuu communities in La Guajira. It said that they are affected by mining exploitation.

Do you consider that the construction of a health post, and washing the roofs of the houses in the indigenous reservation of Provincial, is an effective measure to control the health risks that the children of this community have suffered due to mining contamination mining, as reported by their indigenous mothers?

If the CARBONES DEL CERREJON company claims to respect the judicial rulings, why does it distribute advertising pieces stating that the effects on air quality and health due to the mining operation are a myth, after the Colombian Court made a judicial call to it to stop denying and discrediting complaints?

Does ANGLO AMERICAN have any statement on the complaint filed with the OECD in January of this year for the violations associated with the coal mine in Colombia?

In addition to Colombia, in which other countries and mining operations in which ANGLO AMERICAN is involved, have there been complaints and petitions regarding health problems caused to communities near the mines? Does the company have a consolidated study on this subject?

In the company’s transition plans for the coal business, what plans are in place so as not to evade its responsibility for environmental and social liabilities that still remain unremediated at the time of its departure?

In the diversion of the natural channel of the Bruno stream in La Guajira, Colombia, has the spiritual effect caused to the Wayuu and African descent communities been considered?

What do you have to say regarding the complaints of the lack of comprehensive reparation to the African descent community of Tabaco in La Guajira, which, according to Constitutional Court’s Sentence T-329/17, has not been justified by the Carbones del Cerrejón company, despite the actions that it claims to have carried out?

Questions from mine workers’ union Sintracarbon

The Death Shift

During 2020, the Carbones del Cerrejón company tried to impose a shift that abruptly increases the number of working hours, and therefore, the stress of workers for performing a high-risk job consecutively for seven days. Additionally, the shift implies the loss of direct contact with their families for very long hours, which is detrimental to the mental and physical health of the workers. In turn, the shift affects the employability of more or less 700 workers, since it reduces the total number of employees by 25%.

Sintracarbón resisted the imposition of this shift with a 91-day strike and a month of negotiation. However, the company insists on imposing this shift on its workers.

Why does the multinational mining company Anglo American use, as an economic strategy for the sustainability of the company, the reduction of the labour rights obtained by Cerrejón workers through years of negotiation and putting the employability of around 700 workers at risk?

Unjustified dismissal of workers

Within the framework of the same economic strategy, in February 2021, the company, unjustifiably and without consulting the workers, carried out a massive dismissal of more than 200 workers. Sintracarbón has sought legal help to respond to this violation of Colombian and international labour laws with legal actions. Sintracarbon demands the immediate reinstatement of all employees dismissed from their positions and has managed to reinstate 9 of them by legal means.

If there are already 9 workers reinstated by legal means, how does Anglo American recognize its responsibility in the massive and unjustified dismissal of more than 200 workers in the midst of a global pandemic?

Stigmatization of communities affected by the mine in claiming their rights

The company’s economic strategy proposes the expansion of the mine. Communities affected by such expansion have claimed their rights to a clean environment, health and water.

Why has Anglo American stigmatized the communities that have made claims, many of them protected by court decisions, making them seem the cause of the company’s economic problem?

Just transition

Sintracarbon sees the need for an open dialogue regarding just transition, with a recognition of labour, social and environmental liabilities. This is part of the social responsibility of the company.

How willing is Anglo American to engage in an open dialogue with communities and workers in the face of a just transition joint construction?

QUESTIONS ABOUT QUELLAVECO, PERU

On water consumption 

Background: One of the main concerns regarding the Quellaveco project has to do with the high water consumption that the operation projects (22 million m3 of freshwater per year). Anglo American told us in their 2020 AGM responses that the water sources for Quellaveco include the Titire River as the main source and the Vizcachas dam as an additional source.

We are concerned that the water is being “undermined” in the sense of making it a non-renewable resource, which is overexploited beyond its capacity for natural recharge and regeneration.

Question: We would like to know what kind of permissions you have from the authorities in Peru for the use of these waters. What kind of concessions are they?  Do you have any other complementary source, be it superficial or underground?  What is the payment that Anglo American makes for the use of this water to the Peruvian State and to the farming communities that depend on rainfall and underground and surface water courses? Could you provide us with the Water Management Plan of Quellaveco?

Background: About the Vizcachas dam, Anglo American said that this dam “will maintain water levels” in the Tambo river basin and that it will even “improve its quality”.

Question: Have you considered that the construction of a dam and the diversion of a river could cause environmental impacts and affect the hydrological cycle, in this region where the driest desert in Peru is located? Have you taken into account the warnings of the Peruvian Ombudsman, who has issued warnings and identified the situation in the region and the future impacts of the Quellaveco project as a source of possible conflict, since it could exacerbate the scarcity of water resources in the Tambo river basin?   

About Hydrological imbalance in the region 

Background: Some observations on the first Environmental Impact Study suggest reviewing the water situation of the region in a comprehensive way because the region belongs to a desert ecosystem. 

Anglo American told us that the Quellaveco project has in mind the use of “surplus water from the Tambo basin in rainy weather.” The company argues that these waters have no agricultural or domestic use and that each year more than 500 million m3 of water are “lost” in the ocean. However, following the basic concepts of hydrological cycles, it is important to point out that the “water cycle does not have a beginning and an end” and that surface water courses and their runoff or surpluses in rainy weather fulfill a series of environmental services, such as recharging underground aquifers and regenerating natural flora, among several others.

What the next paragraph describes is the natural process of interactions between nature and living beings. 

The water that is on or very close to the soil surface evaporates under the effect of solar radiation and wind. Water vapor, which is formed in this way, rises and is transported through the atmosphere in the form of clouds until it condenses and falls towards the earth in the form of precipitation. During its journey to the surface of the earth, the precipitated water can evaporate again or be intercepted by plants, then it flows through the surface to streams or infiltrates the ground. Of the infiltrated water, a part is absorbed by the plants and is later transpired, almost entirely, into the atmosphere. Another part flows under the surface of the earth towards streams, the sea or other bodies of water, or to areas deep in the ground to be stored as groundwater and then emerge in springs, rivers or the sea. ” 

We cannot say that water is lost in the sea, because it plays a role in the hydrological cycle of the region.

It is also important to point out that the fresh water that comes from the rivers to the sea fulfills a function, because it is part of the natural process known as the “water cycle”. In this sense, the discharge of these waters into the ocean is very important, because: (a) it contributes nutrients and consequently to the preservation of coastal biodiversity, (b) it preserves the geography of estuaries and fjords, and (c) it maintains the normal functioning of ecosystems through the circulation of brackish and seawater.

Question: Has Quellaveco established an “ecological flow” which ensures a sufficient amount of water in the flows for the correct functioning of ecosystems, the preservation of biological resources and biodiversity, the sufficient supply of nutrients, the dilution of pollutants, the decrease of the impacts caused by extreme events and the preservation of the landscape? We would like to know if Quellaveco has carried out a comprehensive evaluation of the potential impact of the future extraction of water from the rivers that flow into the sea, taking into account both the social and natural needs.

Regarding the deviation of the Asana River

Background: Anglo American said that the Quellaveco Project will protect the Asana River through complete isolation from their mining operations. The plan is to divert the river through an 8 km long tunnel  and the Asana barrier.  We think that these explanations separate the management of water, the surface resource from the subterranean. It is important to say that underneath a superficial basin, there is an underground basin, whose shape is similar to the superficial one.

Question: So, what will the impact be on the relationship between surface and groundwater as a consequence of the diversion of the Asana River? What will happen to the springs located along the Asana river as a result of the diversion of its channel? Some research says that there are 5 lagoons in the surroundings that naturally benefit from the Asana River, and that they would inevitably be affected by the diversion. 

Could you provide us with the updated Environmental Impact Study of the Quellaveco project?  

We need to know with certainty the predictions regarding variations in the quality and quantity of surface and groundwater produced by the diversion of the Asana River. We think it is important to determine the  negative impacts on the quantity and quality of the water in the affected regions and the basins involved, as well as simulation scenarios regarding the possible release of pollutants from tailings.

Background: We are very concerned because the diversion of the Asana river seems to respond to a pattern of behavior of mining companies that modify nature to make their projects viable. It must be remembered that Cerrejón, in which Anglo American has a stake, has already been responsible for diverting a river in Colombia to expand its coal operations. This is the diversion of the Arroyo Bruno  in La Guajira, Colombia.

Cerrejón built an artificial course to divert the Arroyo by more than 3 kilometers. The idea was to divert the stream through an artificial channel so that later it meets the natural course again. Despite the fact that the company affirms that this engineering work will guarantee the health of the Arroyo Bruno and the stability of the ecosystem, when communities made visits to the stream they confirmed that this was not the case and that the stream was dry, something that has never occurred before.

In this case, the company has also not investigated the behavior of groundwater in the Arroyo Bruno basin, nor has it taken into account the outflow of water from the fractures of the rocks that feed the stream on its way. It has been ignored that below the earth layers are the aquifers that communicate harmoniously and form complex ecosystems. The communities affirm that a natural channel that has been formed for thousands of years cannot be replaced with an artificial channel. No engineering work can replace what took nature centuries to build.

Question: Can you guarantee that this exercise in altering nature will have no long-term consequences in the Asana River, as happened in Colombia with Arroyo Bruno? In the case of Quellaveco, the 8-kilometer tunnel that has been built to divert the Asana river, modifies the river channel forever and will require life-long maintenance. How does Anglo American guarantee that maintenance? Can Anglo American guarantee  that the quality and quantity of the river water will be maintained for domestic and agricultural use by the local population?

About the Tumilaca Working Group

Background:  In November 2019, the government formed the Tumilaca Working Group, made up of national water and environmental authorities and civil society organizations. The objective of the Working Group is to review the Quellaveco environmental impact study and to carry out new studies to determine if it is causing contamination of the Asana-Tumilaca River, among others.

Question: Is there any news about this working group? Are there any public conclusions they have reached? What topics has the group worked on?

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SOURCEhttps://londonminingnetwork.org/2021/04/questions-for-anglo-american-2/

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