Bolivia’s foreign minister has joined protesters accusing a Japanese mining subsidiary of “plundering” natural resources. Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca told local media that San Cristobal, a company owned by Japanese trading giant Sumitomo, “doesn’t pay a cent” for its consumption of some 600 liters (158 gallons) of water per second for its metal mining operations.

The company is “a multinational that steals our natural resources, plundering tonnes of minerals every day but does not pay” for its water usage, he told La Prensa newspaper.

Choquehuanca lamented that previous governments passed legislation favorable to foreign mining concerns, and said the administration of socialist President Evo Morales was working to change the laws.

San Cristobal’s offices in the region of Lipez, 500 kilometers (310 miles) south of the capital La Paz, were seized Friday by protests following blockades of mine railway lines last Monday.

The San Cristobal mines apparently produce about 600,000 tonnes of lead and silver concentrates per year. The operation is one of the core areas of concern for the ’18th Table’ which is effectively an unofficial working group adjacent to the conference.

Posted via email from World People’s Conference