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Siding With 'Those Who Defend Mother Earth,' Chile's Top Court Halts Mine

New consultation with indigenous community must take place, court finds

The Atacama Region in north-central Chile, where the El Morro mine is located. (Photo:  Pablo Diaz/flickr/cc)

Siding with the local indigenous community, Chile's high court has halted a gold and copper mine.

The ruling issued Tuesday from the nation's supreme court, which overturns a ruling by a lower court in April, is the latest development in years of legal battles over the El Morro mine.

Canada-based Goldcorp owns 70 percent of the mine. The local Diaguita community has charged that the mine threatens to pollute a river.

For the project to continue, a "fresh consultation, based on an International Labor Organization convention," must take place with the Diaguita, Reuters reports.

"The Diaguita people are happy that justice is on the side of the humble, of those who defend Mother Earth, our water resources and our indigenous land," the Associated Press quotes Diaguita leader Maglene Campillay as saying following the ruling.

A Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal held in Montreal earlier this year found that mining projects are often “undertaken without respect for the right of self-determination of affected peoples and for the right of people to define for themselves their ways of life and their future,” watchdog group MiningWatch Canada noted.

The Tribunal also found that the Canadian state as well as five mining companies, including Goldcorp, were guilty of human rights violations in Latin America for their actions to fuel and protect the mining industry.

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