Gold, silver, coltan, copper: metals and minerals are processed in all sorts of ways into products we daily use and because of that are massively extracted by the mining industry from Northerns countries. These natural resources are mainly found in the South, where governments do not regulate strongly and the financial climate is beneficial for mining activities. Hence, investing in mining is enormously profitable, moreover as global demand for raw materials keeps increasing, so do prices. More on globalisation, free trade and mining here.
Impact of mining on local communities is immense: farmers lose their land, while mining companies sometimes acquire the rights to these lands for a bargain.
The technology applied for extraction of minerals uses extremely toxic, chemical products like cyanide, that often seep into the groundwater having a big ecological impact on local farming production.
The local population does not agree with these kind of practices and revolt: all over the world examples of mining conflicts can be found, just like in Peru and Bolivia, so called 'traditional mining countries'. Such conflicts tend to escalate into violent conflicts between police and farmers – deaths are no longer an exception.
The arguments of these local communities against the large scale mining industry can be summed up as follows:
Mining concessions are granted without participation of local communities and their traditional leaders, and thus are essentially illegal.
These mines contribution little of not at all to development of the local economy of these communities
Mining companies are a big threat to the environment and the existence of agriculture, due to pollution of water sources and devastation of existing ecosystems.
Mining activity contributes to loss of culture, divides communities and increases the gap between the rich and poor.