MAC: Mines and Communities

Barrick Accused Of Covering Up Information About Glaciers In Argentina

Published by MAC on 2006-03-04
Source: La Séptima Digital


Barrick accused of Covering Up Information About Glaciers in Argentina

by La Séptima Digital, San Juan, Argentina

4th March 2006

While the people of Chile are mobilizing because the mining project Pascua-Lama is putting three glaciers in jeopardy, in the Province of San Juan, Argentina, the population has not been warned about the serious risk of losing their principal sources of water in the Andes range. The legal representative of the Independent Citizens Foundation (FUCI), Guillermo Toranzo, explained that "it has been discovered that in the Veladero project, there are bodies of ice called active and non-active rock glaciers, and that these glaciers of rock are frozen reserves of water."

The lawyer Toranzo emphasized that "any type of work that humans do on these types of glaciers, when some are uncovered, others under the ground, the rock glaciers, run great risks and are impacted directly and indirectly." It is understood that if Pascua-Lama is an open-pit mine, that is to say, [by] dynamiting the Andes, these glaciers will be totally destroyed, such as already happened with others, including Filo Federico of the Veladero mine.

For Toranzo, these are water reserves that not only benefit San Juan: "These are reserves of Argentine water; it is not known where these waters, from the glaciers towards the East, end. It has been established that some of these waters arrive in the Río Desaguadero, and where does the Río Desaguadero end? It ends in the Río de La Plata, and the Río de La Plata ends in the Atlantic Ocean. Therefore these aren't only freshwater reserves for the people of San Juan, they are reserves for all of Argentina."

According to the complaint filed by the FUCI, information is being hidden. The official organizations which are supposed to oversee are not doing that. The Provincial government is stubbornly determined to back the mining projects and is not protecting its natural resources. The water is sacred to the subsistence of humans and life on this planet: However in all of the environmental impact studies which Barrick has presented for the exploitation of gold in Veladero, there is no talk about the preservation of the glaciers, but rather, their destruction, because beneath these glaciers are the minerals that they are seeking."

Toranzo says that "the studies that Barrick did, and the tables that they show in the Environmental Impact Report are not developed, and neither are those of the Veladero project. In the Pascua-Lama project we can read that there is a great, great impact, directly and indirectly, upon almost 40 glaciers which exist in the zone where Veladero is also located."

Toranzo clarifies that the study is "created, cooked up and presented by the same company Barrick, through a consultant called BGC, of Vancouver, Canada. The distance between Veladero and Pascua-Lama is almost 30 kilometers. If we of FUCI are demonstrating that the plan presented for the Veladero project is the same as the plan presented for the Pascua-Lama project, and that today the company declares that there are some actual glaciers that were not disclosed before, then we are confirming a cover-up in the first report, presented in Argentina. [This] hasn't been a real report about what in reality is the impact or the danger to the frozen water reserves present in the zone."

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