An influx of mining investments throughout Latin America is bringing badly needed investment, but is also causing tensions in some communities, pitting those who see mines as job creators against those who view them as predatory, in some cases threatening scarce resources like water. Here in the Ocotlán valley in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca, two outspoken opponents of a subterranean mine run by a small Canadian firm, Fortuna Silver Mines Inc., were killed in separate incidents in the past year. Dozens were beaten or threatened. Two local government officials who approved the mine, including the then-mayor, were killed by an anti-mining mob.
From 2006 to 2011, mining exploration investment in the region jumped 150% to $4.55 billion, top in the world and equal to one in every four dollars, according to the mining industry information company Metals Economics Group. The investments are creating jobs, roads and other benefits in some of the most neglected corners of the developing world. But it is also creating tensions in a region with a long and complicated history with mining.