Human rights activists demanded today that mining giant BHP Billiton cough up compensation for Colombian communities it had forced off their land.
Protesters picketed the firm's AGM in London and were joined by Felipe Ustate, one of the Colombians forced out of Manantial in the La Guajira region to make way for a Latin America's biggest open-cast coalmine.
They claimed that the Anglo-Australian company's plan to divert a river to access coal deposits risks polluting and reducing the drinking water of 115 communities that live downstream.
Mr Ustate said: "Numerous communities in our part of Colombia have disappeared as a result of coalmining.
"We were uprooted and the social fabric of our communities was destroyed, without any help to live a dignified life.
"BHP Billiton is one of those now responsible for relocating these communities because it bought into the mine with a commitment to respecting the rights which had been ignored by the Colombian state and by the former mine operator."
War on Want international director Graciela Romero said BHP had a responsibility to act on displaced people's demands and scrap any plans for further exploration as locals hadn't agreed.
A BHP Billiton spokesman said it hadn't made a decision about diverting the river and would only expand the Cerrejon mine in the future after making a "full study of the social and environmental" effect and talking to the local community.