MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Argentinian province promises key anti-mining move

Published by MAC on 2020-01-12
Source: mining.com

Last act of 2019

Massive protests force Argentinian governor to abolish mining law

Valentina Ruiz Leotaud

mining.com

29 December 2019

Following a week of protests, the governor of Argentina’s central
province of Mendoza, Rodolfo Suárez, announced that he will send a bill
to the legislature to abolish Law 9209, which allowed for cyanide and
sulfuric acid to be used in mining operations and which modified its
predecessor Law 7722.

The new law was swiftly approved last week and it sparked massive, daily
protests across the province. Some rallies caused transit disruptions on
roads that connect Argentina with neighbouring Chile.

Protesters, many of them from left-wing opposition parties and
environmental organizations, argued that the new law threatened the
province’s waterways and water supply.

After a week of unrest, on December 26th, Suárez said that the
legislature was not going to work on the regulations that would make the
law effective until a social consensus was reached. In a press
conference reported on by local media, the governor said he was even
thinking about the possibility of calling a referendum on the law.

But Suárez’s attempt to save 9209 didn’t work as rallies continued to
take place with 10,000 people marching on Thursday, according to Clarín
newspaper. Thus, his office announced that a bill to abolish the law
will be sent to the provincial legislature this Monday.

The governor, however, said he still believes that allowing mining
activities is key for Mendoza’s economic development. At present, the
province has 19 mining proposals waiting for approval. Most of them
focus on copper extraction but there are also gold, silver, lead, zinc
and uranium projects on the drawing board.

Of those, only one project has received the necessary approvals to go
ahead. It is Alto América’s Hierro Indio iron ore operation, located
near the municipality of Malargue where a new wave of protests is taking
place but, in this case, in support of Law 9209.

Pro-mining activists in Malargue said over the weekend that they will
ask the governor to apply the new legislation in their town, even if it
is abolished in the rest of the province.



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