Argentinian lawmakers pass glacier protection lawPublished by MAC on 2010-10-04
Source: Reuters, statement, AFP (2010-09-30)
Despite concerted industry opposition and conflicts within parliament, social movilization helped secure passage of a law to protect the country's glaciers.
Environmentalists now wait to see how far the legislation will actually restrict mining projects, and whether the companies will sue for "compensation".
[Photo credit: Mendoza Assembly for Pure Water (Argentina)]
Argentine lawmakers pass glacier law to curb mining
30 September 2010
BUENOS AIRES - Argentina's Senate passed a law on Thursday that curbs mining on the nation's glaciers, a measure praised by environmentalists but criticized by supporters of the industry as a deterrent to investment.
Senators approved the law with 35 votes in favor and 33 against after hours of debate, eventually agreeing to accept changes made in the lower house that pro-mining provinces had opposed.
President Cristina Fernandez, who angered green campaigners by vetoing a similar law two years ago, has indicated she will sign the law this time around. She blocked it previously on the grounds it would hamper the growth of provincial economies.
Analysts say it could make it more expensive or even impossible for the world's biggest gold producer Barrick Gold Corp (ABX.TO: Quote) to develop the huge Pascua Lama site high in the Andes, although the company says the ore body it has permission to mine does not lie on a glacier.
Mining-friendly provincial governments such as northern San Juan might try to challenge the law in the Supreme Court, arguing that it is their responsibility to decide how to manage their natural resources.
Anti-mining sentiment is strong in the South American country, making the debate over the glacier law a sensitive political issue a year from the next presidential election.
The Glacier Law is a Victory with a capital "V"
Union de Asableas Ciudadanas (UAC - National Assemblies Union)
30 September 2010
Buenos Aires - Without a doubt this is a victory of the people that fight to impose, with dignity and passion, a road towards a better world, towards a habitat that allows for a sustained future for generations to come. This great step is fruit of the efforts of our colleagues as they took actions in the hallways of Congress, in the offices of congresspersons and senators, in the streets and with the media, in far away cities with people who face persecution.
But let's take it further. This law comes alone and helpless. We must protect our collective action and at the same time attempt to obliterate the current system of plunder that hands over our riches and demand a new mining legislation to replace the current one and force the expulsion of the transnational companies.
We know and do not forget that the authorization to enforce laws in the territories where transnational mining companies operate is controlled by people in the government that are partners with corporations. The struggle will continue as strong as ever because we must defend what we have achieved up to now and will continue to fight until we have the country of our choice, through a tough and difficult road, but not an impossible one.
(Translation by MAC-editor)
Argentine Congress votes to restrict mining near glaciers
30 September 2010
Argentina's Congress passed a law early Thursday that seeks to protect environmentally sensitive glaciers by imposing strict limits on mining, potentially affecting foreign investments.
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.
The senate also rejected a less restrictive version of the bill which was supported by provinces whose economies depend on mining.
President Cristina Kirchner vetoed a 2008 bill to protect glaciers, which was instrumental in clearing the way for a mega project by Canadian company Barrick Gold.
Development of the Pascua Lima project, one of the world's biggest untapped gold mines, involves a three billion dollar investment over 25 years in the Andes along the Argentine-Chilean border.
Environmentalists have opposed the project as a threat to the region's glaciers.