MAC: Mines and Communities

Argentina- Expert: La Rioja Must Reverse Anti-mining Bill

Published by MAC on 2007-04-25
Source: BNAmericas ()

Expert: La Rioja must reverse anti-mining bill - Argentina

BNAmericas

25th April 2007

The new governor of northeast Argentina's La Rioja province will be forced to reverse the ban on open-pit mining recently approved by the provincial lower house to avoid political problems, according to a local attorney specializing in mining.

"You have to consider that 95% of La Rioja's budget comes from federal contributions and if the province doesn't generate its own resources, it is going to have a serious political problem," Carlos Saravia Frías of Buenos Aires-based law firm Schwarzberg Arrizabalaga told BNamericas.

"I think that in the short term, the current La Rioja governor [Luis Beder Herrera] has to realize that although mining maybe cannot be the central focus of economic activity, it is an important alternative," Saravia said.

Herrera, who promoted the anti-mining bill and dismissal of governor Ángel Maza, took office in March on an interim basis and announced he will call for elections and a referendum on July 29 to approve the bill.

For now, the measure does not affect any projects being developed, "but it does cause a big commotion on an international level because there are companies exploring to eventually mine," La Rioja mining director Juan Carlos Navarro previously told BNamericas.

Saravia - previously Argentina's deputy mining secretary - believes that the damage these political decisions are causing to mining provinces right now will be very difficult to reverse.

The decision by the La Rioja lower house led Canadian miner Barrick Gold to suspend exploration activities at the Famatina gold project, where it holds 70% in a JV shared with local company Yamiri, which controls 30%.

By Harvey Beltrán Business News Americas

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