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NEWS: Pascua Lama set to proceed in 2013; mine opponent to speak at ‘Shout Out’ this June

The Latin American Herald Tribune reports, “Canada’s Barrick Gold expects to finish earthworks construction this year at the Pascua Lama open-pit gold and silver mine project on the Argentine-Chilean border with a view to inaugurating production in 2013, an Argentine government official said. …Pascua Lama, the world’s first bi-national mining project, straddles a border area that encompasses parts of the western Argentine province of San Juan and of Chile’s Atacama region… The project has received strong bi-national government support, although it has been staunchly opposed by environmental groups.”

Shout Out Against Mining Injustice!
The ‘Shout Out Against Mining Injustice’ conference this June 1-2 in Vancouver will feature as a speaker Sergio Campusano Villches, the president of the Comunidad Agrícola Diaguita Los Huascoaltinos/ the Diaguita Huascoaltinos Indigenous and Agricultural Community in Chile.

In their May 2009 submission to the Parliament of Canada, the Diaguita Huascualtino community stated, “Barrick Gold seeks to extend the Pascua Lama project to the top of the Pachuy Ravine, which is located within the grounds of the Community lands recognized by the 1997 domain title. Although the Diaguita Huascoaltinos have decided to deny Barrick entry to our land, the Mining Code requires us to let them take over our ancestral lands. …Although the mining work has not begun to date, there have been roads built by the mining company, and the exploration activities carried out in the high mountains have created severe deterioration of some wetlands and large-scale landscape deterioration. This is especially critical as the landscape determines the drainage capacity of the rock formations and defines microclimatic conditions.”

They add, “Between 1997 and 2005, we had intensive discussions to develop a plan that would allow us to protect the natural balance of our land as our ancestors did, while maintaining our way of life and traditional customs. In 2005, we decided to make our Community lands a Private Wilderness Protected Area. …Given that our lands hold the main reserves of fresh water for the Huasco Valley, by preserving the supply of water and ecosystems at the top of our territory, we will ensure the life and livelihood of all who inhabit the bottom of the valley, whether or not they are part of the Huascoaltinos community. …Environmental conservation and mega mining projects are not compatible. We just want this company to leave and let us develop our projects in peace.”

At the Peoples World Conference on Climate Change and Mother Earth in Cochabamba, Bolivia in April 2010, Sara Larrain of Programa Chile Sustentable said, “Glaciers are important for Chile. They feed our springs and rivers. Without the glaciers we will be left without recharge for the rivers. Our vulnerability will increase for the cities and the rural areas. …The Canadian company Barrick Gold wanted to destroy a glacier for the Pascua Lama mining project. Mining covers the glaciers with dust which makes them melt faster, but also mining companies destroy glaciers directly. Mining is taking away the future of water. They are climate criminals. They must be sued, taken to the Climate Justice Tribunal.” That can be read at http://canadians.org/blog/?p=2948.

In October 2010, Agence France Presse reported, “The measure, approved in the Senate by a vote of 35 to 33 with one abstention, prohibits mining near glaciers along Argentina’s 5,000 kilometer (3,100 mile) border with Chile. …Analysts say the law could make it more expensive or even impossible for Barrick to develop its huge Pascua Lama site high in the Andes.” It had been speculated that Barrick “could demand hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation from the Argentine government because these mining activities were not banned when they made these investments.” Reuters has reported, “Proponents say it is crucial to ensuring Argentina’s water supplies into the future. The bill, which also bans oil drilling on the country’s glaciers, is aimed at safeguarding Argentina’s freshwater reserves. It sets standards for protecting glaciers and surrounding areas and creates penalties for companies that pollute or damage ice fields.” More on that at http://canadians.org/blog/?p=4150.

And in an April 2011 media release, “Friends of the Earth International calls in to question the necessity of the Canadian-owned corporation’s gold mining operations. With the vast majority of gold used for jewellery, Barrick’s gold mines on average use more water than the entire bottle water industry in Canada, and this water is polluted with mining waste products such as cyanide, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, selenium, and sulphides.” That’s at http://www.foei.org/en/media/archive/2011/barrick-gold-clean-up-your-act-right-to-life-over-gold-profits.

To register for ‘Shout Out Against Mining Injustice’, go to http://canadians.org/shoutout.