MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Villa Las Rosas Prohibits Mining

Published by MAC on 2007-05-06

Villa Las Rosas Prohibits Mining

Córdoba, Argentina

6th May 2007

By Miguel Ángel Ortiz -- La Voz del Interior newspaper

www.lavoz.com.ar

Villa Las Rosas. This tourist town declared itself "free of mining operations, non-toxic and environmentally healthy" through a municipal ordinance unanimously approved. The decision, which arose through complaints of residents for the explosions of nearby mining activities, could contradict national laws which support mining, an activity intensely practiced in the region. Aside from the environmental impact generated, the explosions have altered the lives of residents and the stability of their homes. The municipality is seeking a limitation on the use of explosives and a seismograph to monitor and control the activity. One of the mining firms says that there is no environmental impact and that the activity is controlled by the province.

In other articles, the new municipal law declared the landscape, archeological and natural resources of the locality and surrounding area "protected." "The idea is invite other municipalities and commons of the area to join in this proposal so there can be a real impact," said Daniel Brito, one of the residents pushing the modification of the law.

Villa Las Rosas has almost four thousand residents, and a similar amount of persons who live in the surround area, the majority of whom base their living in activities related to tourism. The locality has a high percentage of residents who have relocated there from large cities. "Quiet Countryside" is the slogan for tourism promotion which the town is diffusing throughout the country, and the townspeople see their attractions threatened by the nearby large-scale mining activities.

Town mayor Enrique Rébora says, "Living with the explosions and daily transit of trucks filled with minerals is a form of violence, but the most serious thing is that this is scaring off the tourism, which is our means of living - nobody can relax in the middle of explosions." Declares Rébora, "We are working to not contaminate and to preserve this place. We are not against subsistence mining, of the small quarries, which provide for a family level subsistence, but we are against the use of explosives and the large-scale operations."

There has been mining activity in the region, centered mostly in Las Tapias, located alongside Villa Las Rosas, where products such as quartz, feldspar and mica are extracted. But the complaints of residents began when a businessman tried to forcibly enter onto the property of Gustavo and Liliana Doratto in order to reach his mine. "A woman came with the mining police and told me that I was obliged to let them pass over my property in order to access their mine," said Ms. Doratto. "The mine is not on my land, but they say that I have to let them go wherever it is most convenient for them." Since then, and after having files some six claims for gold mines in the area, the locals demanded a limitation of the activities.

"Here almost all the people live from tourism, not from mining operations. Mining could make some people rich, but here the majority want another thing," emphasized Marcelo Primicia, another of the residents. The National Mining Code states that a landowner cannot impede mining operations that another person is carrying out on their own property. In this they have spoken of finding veins of gold, and there are residents that are afraid of the use of cyanide and mercury in their exploitation, which is happening in other locations.

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