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Imider Silver Mine

Operational Mines

Imider is the biggest mine on the African continent, and 7th largest producer of silver in the world. It is also home to a 5-year long fight (preceded by decades of mobilizations), as a group of protesters has been living on Mount Alebban, about 300km east of Marrakesh, since August 2011. The mine is run by Societe Metallurgique d'Imider (SMI), founded in 1969. SMI started extracting silver in 1978. Some protests took place in 1986 against the digging of a well which would have had a negative impact on local inhabitant and farmers. Leaders of the protest were imprisoned and wells were dug, to the detriment of the local community.

In 1996, SMI was privatised. That same year, a 45-day-long sit-in was held on the national access road. The sit-in was eventually violently repressed, culminating in the drowning of the camp. In 2004, SMI dug an illegal well in the mountains, which had a dramatic impact on water access for the local Amazigh population, pumping the aquifer dry.

In 2011, protests resumed and a camp was set up after some youths were turned down for temporary jobs at the mine. The activists who refer to themselves as the "Movement on the Way of 96". Since then, those in the protest camp, mainly subsistence farmers and migrant workers, have kept shut the valve to one of the mine's biggest wells, to stop the use of the village's groundwater.

Impacts from the mine include chemical pollution, new diseases such as cancer, decreased in agricultural production.

Imider residents - who are mostly ethnic Amazighs - say the mine has drained their water reserves for decades and devastated their agricultural community, using 1,555 cubic metres of water per day, 12 times the village's daily consumption.

Last Updated on: 2021-08-23