MAC: Mines and Communities

30,000 signatures for the protection of water in Chubut, Argentina

Published by MAC on 2020-10-20
Source: Asamblea Puerto Madryn, ANRed, Radio 3

The Citizens Initiative is a right included in the provincial Constitution.

The Union of Assemblies of Communities of Chubut (UACCh) presented the Second Legislative Initiative bill at the Electoral Court of the capital of the province of Chubut, Rawson, aimed at establishing parameters of environmental sustainability in mining operations and reinforcing the ban on open-pit mining passed in 2003. This is the culmination of a several months campaign carried out by Chubut neighbors of Camarones, Telsen, Facundo, Lago Rosario, Sierra Colorada and Lago Puelo, among a total of 48 provincial localities, in a situation of extreme difficulty, due to the restrictions imposed by the government and the pandemic.

The same week, the Assemblies submitted a number of petitions to the Provincial Water Institute opposing the granting of water rights to Minera Argenta. The writings include a wide range arguments to oppose Pan American Silver subsidiary being authorized to exploit the Sacanana aquifer for the Navidad Project, which is in fact prohibited by law. "The water is for our people, not for a Canadian mining company," an assambly spokesperson said.

Toronto-London listed Yamana Gold is the owner of the Suyai gold project and Toronto-New York listed Pan American Silver is the owner of the Navidad silver-lead project in Chubut. These companies are trusted by the current Argentina's highest legislative authority, whose family has governed the neighbour province of Santa Cruz for the last three decades.

Esquel residents have been marching in defense of water, life and in opposition to large scale gold mining on the 4th day of every month for the last twenty years. They don’t even allow Yamana Gold to have a commercial office in the town. The monthly march is now replicated in the capital Rawson and the towns of Trelew, Puerto Madryn, Dolavon and Comodoro Rivadavia, as well as the rural communities.

See also:

Canadian Mining Companies Beware: Communities in Chubut, Argentina Launch Second Campaign for Law to Protect Water Against Mining, 25 June 2020

Canadian Mining Lobby Pushes to Amend Environmental Legislation in Chubut Province, Argentina, 26 November 2019

2016-05-26 Updates on anti-mining laws in Argentina

2013-04-22 Pope Francis's new chalice: A "redemption" for Pan American Silver?

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

2010-06-11 Declaration of the Indigenous Communities of the Central Plateau of Chubut


Chubut: Presentation of the Second Popular Initiative for the protection of water and the territory, with the endorsement of more than 30,000 signatures

Peoples Correspondent for ANRed signatures-for-the-protection-of-water-and-the-territory /


Yesterday, at the Electoral Court of the capital of the province of Chubut, Rawson, the Union of Assemblies of Communities of Chubut (UACCh) presented the Second legislative Initiative bill to establish parameters of environmental sustainability in mining operations.

This citizen right is included in the provincial constitution: with the endorsement of a percentage of signatures of registered voters, initiatives can be presented for consideration in the Legislature. The percentage required by Law for the said presentation (3% of the citizens who are registered in the electoral roll of used in the last general elections) was doubled, and now it only remains to be seen when the project will be discussed by the legislators.

Both the bill and the collection of signatures were carried out by the neighbors, in a very difficult context of pandemic, extreme weather conditions and the criminalization of assembly members. After 18 years of struggle against  mega-mining projects in the province, the Popular Initiative is once again presented, seeking to expand the environmental protections established by Law XVII-Nº 68, former 5001, and prohibit large-scale metals mining, known as mega-mining, with the use of any polluting, toxic or dangerous chemical substance in all its stages.

Here we share the document of the Union of Assemblies of Communities of Chubut (UACCh), when presenting the bill, read at a press conference in Esquel.


Today, October 16, 2020, the assemblies that form part of the Union of Assemblies of Chubut present ourselves here, before the Electoral Tribunal, to deliver the 30,000 signatures of citizens of Chubut endorsing the Second Popular Initiative.

Since its launch, and without giving up the conviction that we have maintained for 18 years, we have joined forces throughout Chubut and began to walk. We have encountered innumerable difficulties, in the worst possible scenario: in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic that brought with it social, preventive and mandatory isolation (ASPO); that forced us to develop community care protocols for the collection of signatures; that prevented us from meeting in provincial assemblies and raised a specter of criminalization over our assembly practice and activism. In the midst of the pandemic, while we were looking for ways to take care of ourselves as communities in struggle, the different forms of extractivism were enabled as “essential activities” and we had to endure the transit of machinery and mining contingents through our territories.

The province of Chubut is mired in a deep and prolonged crisis, with a government that owes salaries, which tries to negotiate rights while repressing the just demands of the people. We will not cease to point out that more and more sectors are joining in this direction: This crisis has been designed by the ruling classes in order to impose mega-mining under discourses of "sustainability" and "expansion of the economic matrix."

This dignified and conscious people managed to gather much more than double the signatures required, in less than half the time, of those that were collected for the first Popular Initiative, the one that was bastardized by the Legislature in 2014. Since its launch, the wheel of community decision started rolling and nothing could stop it. Networks were woven and strengthened at the most diverse places and signatures were collected throughout the territory: Camarones, Telsen, Facundo, Villa Futalufquen, Lago Rosario, Sierra Colorada, Lago Puelo, Cushamen, Esquel, Trevelin, Corcovado, El Hoyo, Epuyén, Cholila, El Maitén, El Escorial, Dique Ameghino, Alto Río Senguer, Aldea Apeleg, Aldea Beleiro, José de San Martín, Paso de Indios, Las Plumas, Paso del Sapo, Gualjaina, Los Altares, Tecka, Vuelta del Río, Cerro Cóndor, Chacay Oeste, Yala Laubat, Gan Gan, Gastre, Gobernador Costa, Ricardo Rojas, Facundo, Gaiman, Dolavon, Trelew, Rawson, Playa Unión, Comodoro Rivadavia, Rada Tilly, Sarmiento, Río Mayo, Río Pico, Puerto Pirámides y Puerto Madryn.

Now it is the turn of the legislators. We know that the mining lobby has been present at all levels of the State and that we are fighting against a transnational power that buys wills all over the planet. The province's already weakened democracy is at risk. This designed crisis will continue to explode in their faces if they don’t listen to the people. We will continue in the streets and calling on all of Chubut to continue defending this participatory and democratic tool.

The Union of Assemblies submitted petitions to the IPA opposing the granting of water rights to Minera Argenta

Representing different communities, Pablo Lada submitted the writings at the Provincial Water Institute with ample arguments to oppose Minera Argenta being authorized to exploit the Sacanana aquifer for the Navidad Project, which is prohibited by law. "The water is for our people, not for a Canadian mining company," Lada said.

Radio 3 Cadena Patagonia

October 14, 2020

"These are notes that we present to the Provincial Water Institute in opposition to the water permit for Minera Argenta, which is the subsidiary of Pan American Silver (PAS), owner of the Navidad Project," explained the spokesperson.

“There is a common axis in this opposition, but it is argued from different perspectives; from the right to health, that of indigenous communities that are very close to the territory. You want to give water to a mining company for an activity that is prohibited by Law 5001? There is opposition in defense of tourism, for the right to production, and all this leads to an argument, documented by institutions such as the Inta for example, on the affectation of water," he stated.

"The activity is clandestine, there is no environmental impact assessment, our lawyers understand that to authorize the use of water there must first be an environmental impact assessment, by virtue of what is the permit being given?" Lada questioned.

"This has been presented in court, an appeal has been made before the Superior Court, understanding that there is manifest illegality, in addition to the opposition of thousands of neighbors and communities," he emphasized.

"As the poster here says, the water is for the people and not for a Canadian mining company," Lada confirmed.

"The notes are coming from the entire Province, although today we are delivering those from the area," he said.

“The water they are asking for is from the Sacanana aquifer, and many  arguments explain the possible connections with the Chubut River, to which the entire population depends upon. You have to understand that the basins are not completely closed”, he considered.

“But the mining company, through the private consulting firm Hidroar, insists in that we do not need worry because the Chubut River will not be touched, the Sacanana is very important because it is a fossil water aquifer that takes many years to recharge and is vital for life in that area ”, he warned.

"Today, in a newspaper, Conicet researchers came out saying that climate change will cause the Chubut River to fall by 40 percent in the next few years," Lada warned.

"If that is not a reason to be alert and say that we do not want mega-mining in this Province and that we have to rethink productive activities by virtue of what is coming, which is not a delusion, it is a concrete reality that the planet is debating" he replied.

"This is the conscience of the community and we ask that the institutions measure up to their community, which also includes scientists, not just the general population," Lada demanded.


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