RCE Galicia - 2019

"A mina contamina" (The mine pollutes)
Basic Information
Title of project : 
"A mina contamina" (The mine pollutes)
Submitting RCE: 
RCE Galicia
Contributing organization(s) : 
- RCE Member organizations: Fundação Montescola, University of Santiago de Compostela, Sociedade Histórica e Cultural Coluna Sanfins, Comunidade do Monte Vizinhal em Mão Comum de Frojám, Associação Sócio-cultural O Iríbio, Comunidade Vizinhal de Vilar.
- Non-RCE organizations: Verdegaia, ContraMINAcción, Plataforma pola Defensa de Corcoesto e Bergantiños, Plataforma en Defensa do Mar (PLADEMAR), Guerrilla Foundation, Asociación Senda Nova, Colexio de Educadoras e Educadores Sociais de Galicia
Focal point(s) and affiliation(s)
Lucia R. Cao
Organizational Affiliation: 
RCE Galicia and Fundação Montescola
Format of project: 
paper, digital PDFs, audiovisuals, PowerPoint, puppets, etc.
Language of project: 
Galician and Portuguese (translations forthcoming)
Date of submission:
Saturday, June 1, 2019
Additional resources: 
- Documentary film "San Finx 1960": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zv_z2EEn_V8
- "A mina contamina" children's book (in Portuguese and Galician), see links below
- Curriculum guide, 6-12 years (in Portuguese and Galician), see links below
- Curriculum guide, +12 years (in Portuguese and Galician), see links below
- Slides for "A mina contamina" play and puppet show, see link below
- Puppet show / toy theatre
Geographical & Education Information
Address of focal point institution for project: 
Fundação Montescola
Frojám 4
Lousame 15212
Corunha (Galicia, Spain)
Socioeconomic and environmental characteristics of the area : 
Since 2009 a surge of new mining projects has taken place in Galicia after significant rise of metal prices, leading to interest in marginal deposits through so-called "low cost" mining operations. While activists have focused mostly on legal battles and public information, the mining lobby has been attempting to build a “positive” and “sustainable” image of this kind of speculative and low cost mining. To convey this message, mining lobbies have targeted schools, with an explicit focus in conditioning youth to become uncritical and favourable to massive mining in the near future.
Description of sustainable development challenge(s) in the area the project addresses: 
UN Environment’s Global Resources Outlook 2019 warns that "extraction and processing of materials, fuels and food contribute half of total global greenhouse gas emissions and over 90 per cent of biodiversity loss and water stress", while resource extraction has more than tripled since 1970. The rise of metal prices has lead to renewed interest in speculation-driven projects that place little care in how communities and critical resources and services (including freshwater and biodiversity) are placed at risk, destrorying sustainable local livelihoods such as those based on agriculture, forestry and fisheries and sectors dependent on biolcultural heritage.
April, 2019
The mining lobby in Galicia has been targeting schools with an explicit focus in conditioning youth to become uncritical and favourable to massive mining in the near future, particularly when attempting to achieve 'social licence' for low-cost and destructive projects. In January 2019 the lobby released short curriculum guides for kindergarten, primary school and secondary school, activity books for the same age groups, and associated videos. It also developed a children’s illustrated story-book (“O tesouro das estrelas”) aimed at 6-12 year olds, and started to send a mining stand/playground to various educational events. While social opposition and awareness to destructive unsustainable mining is growing, little was being done to bring the issue into learning environments through an ESD approach. The apparent technical complexity made that social understanding of crucial aspects of mining operations and their impacts (acid mine drainage, heavy metal pollution, bioaccumulation, etc.) was absent within the same communities that were to take part in the public participation procedures, while the lobby was producing large-scale misinformation to mislead the public.
As part of this project, several sets of interconnected but autonomous materials have been created, that can be used in different settings, combined or alone, and that can also be adapted to specific situations and learning environments. For example, the 50-minute documentary film works as a stand-alone product for general audiences, but also serves as the thread for the +12-year-old didactical unit, going beyond the film and exploring many other avenues of research and learning. The same is true for the children’s book, which can be used autonomously (i.e., by families at home) and has a small set of activities at the end, but again is also the threat for the 6-12-year-old didactical unit.
A mina contamina is a social sensitization initiative tackling the environmental and socio-economic impacts of mining extractivism. The need for sensitization and knowledge dissemination regarding ming from alternative points of view that are based on historical and scientific evidence has become crucial considering the intense activity of the mining lobby to create “a favourable state of opinion” that suppresses all the negative impacts caused by extractivism. This programme is the result of the active engagement of environmental educators, primary, secondary and university teachers, environmental activists and historians. By applying the views of education for sustainability (ESD), the programme’s goal is to generate a critical and reactive attitude towards the vision of mining that both the mining lobby and the administration seek to generalize (“Galicia is a mine”). This attitude is to empower society in the defence of its land, health and future.
Learning outcomes include:
1- Promote emotional connectedness with areas affected by mining, acknowledging such contexts globally as sites with significannce in people's lives.
2 - Contribute to identify pollution associated to irresponsible mining activities.
3- Reflect on the causes of such impacts, local level consequences and contribution to global problems os sustainability.
4- Promote a constructive debate as a pathway to find solutions to such problems, seeking a sustainable equilibrium between human interventions and ennvironmental protection.
5 - Aid in the development of a critical and engaged attitude regarding environmental issues, including tools for public participation and action.
Activities and/or practices employed: 
1. DIDACTICAL UNITS. Two didactical/curriculum units were created and made available: one focused on the 6-12 age range (roughly primary education, with 19 pp.) and another one focused for the +12 range (including secondary education and adult learning, with 52 pp.). Both didactical units have versions in Galician and Portuguese available. Both include a justification for adult facilitators and are built around four phases: 1. motivation and sensitization; 2. research and knowledge; 3. reflection and criticism; and 4. action and communication. Learning objectives are defined as well as the contents, attitudes, values and norms to be adquired.
2. CHILDREN’S STORY BOOK. “A mina contamina” children’s book (58 pp.) is intended to be used in formal learning environments through the didactic unit, but also independently (i.e., by parents at home). The book tells the story of a drop of rain water that becomes polluted by heavy metals as it falls in and underground mine. The story is told dialogically, in a conversation between the drop and a white wagtail (Motacilla alba) that is warned of the perils of drinking water from the stream, learning about the processes of acid mine drainage and bioaccumulation, but also of the human greed and unsustainability behind mining pollution. The book also includes 10 proposed activities, that can be done at home (self-guided or with parents) or at school, further developing the concepts
and problems presented in the story. Finally, the book includes a play that can be represented at school or at home (in fact, we tested it first at home with a small amateur theatre ensemble). The annotated play is preceded by an explanation on how to take it to stage, and link to all the materials made available for that purpose: including music piece with their authors permission, images, ...
3. "SAN FINX 1960" DOCUMENTARY FILM. The 50 minute documentary set out to recover the “historical environmental memory” of the 1960 San Finx mine tailings disaster, using the river as a thread to explain the different impacts that a mine produces, from land grabbing in surrounding communities to river pollution, heavy metal release, bioaccumulation in organisms and ecosystem damage at the marine estuary levels. The documentary’s première took place on March 28, being released in April for live television broadcast and public viewings.
3. TEACHER TRAINING. Several training sessions to use the materials have sofar been organized: at the 33rd Annual Galician-Portuguese Gathering of Peace Educators (May); at the Faculty of Education of the University of Santiago in collaboration
with the Environmental Education Research Group SEPA-Interea (May); and at the Galician College of Social Educators (June). Several additional sessions are on the agenda.
4. PILOT USE. Before the final materials were ready to distribute, pilot test interventions with some of the teachers that had been supporting the work to build the didactic units started in May. This allowed incorporating improvements and criticism before the final versions were released.
Size of academic audience: 
Dozens of environmental organizations, community groups, teacher's unions, parents associations and other collectives have been using the materials since their release, organizing film screenings, debates, puppet shows, story-telling sessions, etc. 43 schools (kindergarten to secondary) started to use the materials in the 2019/20 school year and more have shown interest. 2,000 printed copies of the children's book were made in June to be freely distributed across schools and libraries per request. The initial print round has been exhausted and a new edition is about to be released.
The documentary film has had an extraordinary success considering the genre and audience. It has been aired in two television channels, seen in more than 20 public screening events (not counting those in schools and educational institutions or trainings) and the YouTube version has over 4000 views. It has also received media attention in cultural TV programmes and newspapers, and positive criticism as an innovate example of "environmental remembrance".
Lessons learned: 
The project showed how it is possible for a multisector stakeholder collaboration to develop new and innovative ESD materials based from perceived needs and requests coming from environmental groups, civil organizations, teachers, trade unions and affected communities. It also showerd how ESD materials can be designed for multipurpose use, both for formal educational settings and society at large. Although affected communities, parents and their schools were quick to pick up the materials, it still remains challenging to reach out to the wider educational community, particularly when ESD topics are stil regarded as marginal. However, growing interest for social-environmental issues such as mining allows to introduce larger questions of ESD in formal and informal educational settings.
Key messages: 
"A mina contamina" is a social sensitization initiative tackling the environmental and socio-economic impacts of extractivism. ESD is used to explain the impacts of mining from alternative points of view based on historical and scientific evidence, seeking to empower society to defend the sustainability of land, health and future.
Relationship to other RCE activities: 
The projects builds from the founding "Montescola" project of the RCE, a School‐Community Twinning Programme focused on building interest and active engagement around common land management and sustainable usage of natural resources, or "gifts", as traditionally considered. The Programme consists of pairing a common land community (there are 2,800 common land communities in Galicia, with territories ranging from 10 hectares to several thousand hectares) with a primary or secondary school, preferably a school in the same municipality or from a nearby town or city. The programme seeks to develop a long term connection between children/adolescents and their families with the land and its sustainable development. As several common land communities participating in the RCE were directly affected by mining and their existing ESD projects were addressing their impacts, there was a need to create materials that could be used.
Funding from the Guerrilla Foundation for the development of the core materials is acknowledged.


File Name Caption for picture Photo Credit
Image icon 2019_livro_a_mina_contamina.jpeg (265.01 KB) "A mina contamina" children's book Montescola
Image icon a_mina_contamina_puppets.jpg (39.41 KB) "A mina contamina" puppet show characters "Pinga" & "Lavandeira" Montescola
Image icon ud6_12-180x300.png (73.06 KB) "A mina contamina" 6-12 year olds curriculum guide Montescola
Image icon ud_mais12-183x300.png (67.04 KB) "A mina contamina" +12 year olds curriculum guide Montescola
Image icon sanfinx.jpg (45.7 KB) Public screening and debate of the San Finx 1960 documentary film Montescola
Image icon aminacontamina.jpg (113.8 KB) Teacher training workshop Montescola
UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
(https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs) and other themes of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)
SDG 2 - End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture 
SDG 3 - Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages 
SDG 4 - Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all 
SDG 6 - Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all 
SDG 8 - Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all 
SDG 9 - Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation, and foster innovation 
SDG 11 - Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable 
SDG 12 - Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns 
SDG 13 - Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts 
SDG 14 - Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development 
SDG 15 - Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification and halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss 
SDG 16 - Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels 
Disaster Risk Reduction 
Curriculum Development 
Plants & Animals 
Global Action Programme (GAP) on Education for Sustainable Development – Priority Action Areas
Priority Action Area 1 - Advancing policy 
Priority Action Area 2 - Transforming learning and training environments 
Priority Action Area 3 - Building capacities of educators and trainers 
Priority Action Area 4 - Empowering and mobilizing youth 
Priority Action Area 5 - Accelerating sustainable solutions at local level