Vol 62, Núm. 1, 2010, p. 109-122

Cooperación en el campo de la pequeña minería en Sudamérica: El papel de las ONGs

Cooperation in small mining projects in South America: the role of NGO's

Claudia Mesa1,*, Pura Alfonso1, Eva Monterde1, Marc Costa1

1 Departament d'Enginyeria Minera i recursos Naturals, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya. Av. de les Bases de Manresa, 61–73 Manresa, 08242. España.

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The trajectory of NGOs has been evolving throughout their history of cooperation and during the last century the "vertical aid" programs of these organizations have given way to a new generation of NGOs that work for and with the communities with which they cooperate. Nowadays, a project, from its birth up to its execution, has to be part of the community.

The mining industry is one of the sectors that has the least amount of foreign investment in South America among all the fields of activity of international cooperation, either because of a lack of knowledge on this subject or because of the negative image held by many people on mining, particularly in the developed countries. Nevertheless, the technical NGOs can collaborate with the small mining industry according to the needs required in each phase of the cycle of mining exploration and exploitation: exploration and research, calculation of reserves according to free market laws, the ideal design of exploitation, which minimizes risks, maximizes earnings and causes as little harm possible to the environment, the design of an acceptable land restoration plan and the corresponding environmental impact studies. These projects develop as part of programs that include different aspects: technical, productivity, social and cultural, gender, child labor, community, organizational, environmental, health and safety, legal, formalization, labor practices, economic, financing and business management. The main objective of these programs is the improvement in quality of life of all the people linked with the work in the small–scale and artisanal mining industry and the development of their mining communities.

Keywords: South America, artisanal mining, cooperation, development, NGO.