MAC: Mines and Communities

Is mining in Argentina going Back to the Pact?

Published by MAC on 2016-09-06
Source: Reuters, Noalamina.org (2016-09-01)

Foreign miners abhor the fact that provinces are governed by their own peoples

Unlike Chile and Peru, Argentinian provinces are governed by their own constitutions. According to the National Constitution, the Provinces are the owners of the natural resources existing in their territories. Therefore, each of them acts as "mini-countries", in terms of mining property and concessions.

This fundamental principle was overruled by the signing of a Federal Mining Pact in 1993, with the support of World Bank onerous grants aimed at "opening" the sector to foreign private investment.

But... Chubut province has led the social movement against big mining in Argentina since 2003, when the town of Esquel became the first to hold a referendum and pass a resolution rejecting Canadian miner Meridian Gold's open pit gold-silver project.

This successful civil action was mirrored by several social movements in other regions. As a result, to date nine provinces have enacted laws that limit or prohibit mining, thanks to the support of widespread social mobilization.

Through the years, business promoters have challenged anti-mining legislation in the courts, but its constitutionality has been confirmed by the national Supreme Court of Justice, in the case of Chubut, and by the highest provincial courts in Cordoba and Mendoza. Only two of the nine were repealed: La Rioja in 2008 and Rio Negro in 2011. See: Update on anti-mining laws in Argentina

The Argentine government now wants (again) to unify mining regulations under a proposed federal law that would permit open-pit mines to operate throughout the country, as part of an effort to "jump-start" investment in the sector.

President Mauricio Macri, a free-minerals advocate, appointed Geologist Daniel Meilan as Mining Minister. The same guy held the post of Secretary of Mining in 1993 and also Ministry of Mines from 1995 to 1999, and was a key figure in getting the Mining Federal Pact signed back in the nineties. See: Is mining up for change in Argentina?

By its part, the assemblies in Chubut raised the claim for the approval of a new bill to ban mining, introduced two years ago through the Popular Initiative mechanism. The proposed legislation is tougher than the actual 5001 law, passed after the Esquel referendum, as explicits the negative impacts of mining and includes specific dangerous minerals, such as uranium.

More information available on the campaign website: They owe us a law - Campaign for the discussion and approval of the bill to ban mining in Chubut.

Se previous on MAC:

2016-05-12 Argentina: Court says Yamana Gold cannot open an office in Esquel

2012-12-04 To mine or not to mine - the burning question for Chubut, Argentina

Argentina seeks to unify regulations to spur mining investments

Juliana Castilla

Reuters - http://www.reuters.com/article/us-argentina-mining-idUSKCN1175S9

Sep 1, 2016

The Argentine government wants to unify mining regulations under a proposed federal law that would permit open-pit mines to operate throughout the country as part of an effort to jump-start investment in the sector, a government official said.

Argentina has fallen behind its mineral-rich neighbors Chile and Peru in mining investment, despite containing rich deposits of copper, gold, silver and zinc. Local regulations are tough, and seven of the country's 23 provinces prohibit open-pit mining altogether due to environmental concerns.

"We have decided to invite the provinces back into the system by way of a federal agreement," Argentine Secretary of Mining Daniel Meilan said in an interview last week. The government plans to send its mining bill to Congress early next year, he added.

The country's mining sector attracted scant investment under the 2007-2015 government of Cristina Fernandez, who increased the state's role in Latin America's No. 3 economy.

She was succeeded by free-markets advocate Mauricio Macri, who has eliminated mining sector export taxes.

He also lifted Fernandez's prohibition on foreign mining companies sending profits made in Argentina out of the country.

Analysts say there is some $400 billion worth of untapped mining resources underground in Argentina.

Ricardo Martínez, head of Buenos Aires-based mining consultancy Viento Andino, said Peru and Chile are each expecting $30 billion to $50 billion in mining investment over the next five years, dwarfing current expectations in Argentina.

The lack of a nationwide mining law "is perhaps the only impediment to investment" in the sector, said Hugo Nielson, secretary general of the Latin American Mining Organization, a regional grouping.

Gaining the backing of provincial governors is expected to be challenging, as many local officials prefer not to cooperate with the sector, mining sector experts said.

Meilan said details of the proposal will be hammered out with local officials before the bill is sent to Congress.

The first step will be to draft the bill with input from the Federal Mining Counsel (Cofemin), a grouping of regional mining officials.

"Then we we'll sit down with the governors and negotiate an agreement of the proposal that will be sent to Congress," Meilan said.

(Writing by Hugh Bronstein; Editing by Matthew Lewis)


Chubut Assemblies demand approval of the People's Initiative bill to ban megamining

“They owe us a law” is the motto of the campaign in support of the legislation proposal introduced in 2014.

Noalamina.org - http://www.noalamina.org/mineria-argentina/chubut/item/16154-las-asambleas-de-chubut-reclamaron-el-tratamiento-de-la-iniciativa-popular-para-prohibir-la-mineria

31 August 2016

The assemblies of the province of Chubut raised the claim for the treatment and approval of the bill to ban megamining presented through the mechanism of Popular Initiative two years ago, at a meeting with the Committee on Economic Development, Natural Resources and Environment of the Legislature.

A group of representatives from the Union of Citizen Assemblies of Chubut (UACCh) were present at the provincial Legislature on August 29, to attend a meeting with the Chairman of that committee, legislator Alfredo Di Filippo, his secretary and an adviser.

The bill is identical to the one that was demeaned in a disgraceful legislative session dated 26 November 2014, which eluded its treatment despite being backed by 13,000 signatures and the wide support of popular mobilization.

The Assemblies introduced the bill proposing the banning of megamining in Chubut through the mechanism of Popular Initiative provided by the provincial Constitution.

The proposed legislation is tougher than the actual 5001 law, passed after the Esquel referendum in 2003, because explicit the negative impacts of mining and includes specific dangerous minerals, such as uranium.

The provincial legislature passed the bill, but with questionable modifications that diluted its effectiveness. At that scandalous session, a provincial legislator was photographed by an assembly member receiving instructions on his mobile phone from the manager of the transnational mining company Yamana Gold, who told him by text message how the law should be written.

According to a UACCh statement released days after the session, “the photo of the legislative fraud ran the country's newspapers because it was the strongest proof of something already known but never before seen so plainly: transnational mining companies write the laws of plunder and pollution”.

The so called "fraud law" has been repealed by the current government, while the assemblies claim that the original version should be considered again.

With the launching of the campaign "They owe us a law," the assemblies began a series of meetings with provincial legislators of this new institutional period, to demand respect for the popular will, honor the provincial Constitution and debating again the bill originally proposed.

Legislator Di Filippo said at the meeting with UACCh members that "no one can control oil extraction, nor ALUAR, nor big fisheries ... That's the big problem, there are no guarantees for overseeing megamining".

In his words, "the group of FPV deputies are mostly against this type of exploitation". In addition, he expressed interest in knowing more about the bill introduced by the Assemblies, to determine how to move forward.

Assemblies proposed a further meeting with all members of the Commission, to advance not only with the debate on megamining, but also the discussion of the popular initiative “that the Legislature owes the people of Chubut”.

More information available on the campaign website: They owe us a law - Campaign for the discussion and approval of the bill to ban megamining in Chubut. [Spanish]

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