McGill Research Group Investigating
Canadian Mining in Latin America


McGill Research Group Investigating
Canadian Mining in Latin America

Established in 2007, MICLA is a research collective based at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. It aims to resource public research and debate on Canadian Mining in Latin America. Composed of students and faculty, MICLA is part of the University’s on-going effort to link teaching with research and to connect these to the public interest. The group receives no external funding. It actively collaborates with organizations and researchers across Canada and Latin America.

Over the last twenty years, Canadian miners have become the most influential group within the continent’s mining sector, developing between 1200 to 1400 projects in any given year. This presence has important consequences for hundreds of Latin American communities and countries that host these projects, but also for Canadian citizens whose government provides vital support for the industry and whose pensions and investments help capitalize its work.

The current mining boom in Latin America is not without its controversies. The industry and a number governments argue that mining can act as a powerful agent for regional and national development, generating jobs and revenue. On the other hand a growing number of communities, organizations and observers note that the current mining model undermines local development objectives, produces unacceptable environmental threats and erodes human and political rights.

MICLA’s approach is mainly empirical: gathering together data on different issues and making these available to the broader public in an accessible and intelligible form. Much of this research went into the development of this web platform. Other pieces include papers, maps, GIS layers and other resources that can be found here.

For students who’d like to get involved:

Students have always been a vital part of MICLA’s work. They contribute actively to setting each year’s research agenda, undertake primary research and are participate in the production and presentation of findings. Experienced members of the group also help train and coach incoming students.

Student members come from across the Faculties and Departments at McGill – Environmental Studies, Mining Engineering, IDS, Geography, Architecture, Anthropology and History. This breadth reflects the multi-faceted nature of mining in Latin America and helps contribute to cross-disciplinary learning and research.

Past members of MICLA have gone on to pursue studies and careers in journalism, mining, watershed and environmental management, advocacy, and politics.

Current student members, 2017-2018:

A former student member writes back:

“Involvement in the group exposed me to a broad network of people and organizations working to understand mining and its impacts; I attended conferences, talks, even meetings with parliamentarians in Ottawa. I spent many hours thinking about what I wanted my contribution to be rather than having to figure out what someone was telling me to do. That was the scariest part: “You mean, you’re not going to tell me what I should be doing?” It meant that in the end, I formed my own questions and answered them with the support of many others.”

Kathleen Whysner (B.Sc., 2011),
M.Sc. Candidate, Colorado School of Mines



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