MAC: Mines and Communities

Ingeniero Jacobacci reaffirms their NO to gold mining with cyanide

Published by MAC on 2005-06-23
Source: Río Negro Newspaper

Ingeniero Jacobacci reaffirms their NO to gold mining with cyanide

Nadina Moreda, Río Negro Newspaper, and CAI

Junes 12, 2005

INGENIERO JACOBACCI, ARGENTINA - Representatives of diverse social organizations met yesterday in Ingeniero Jacobacci, province of Rio Negro, Argentina, to analyze the situation in the wake of the Rio Negro provincial government rejection of the use of cyanide in mining. Environmentalists, campesinos, professionals and community members from all over Patagonia came together to intensify their struggle against open-pit mining utilizing toxic substances, to strengthen the defense of the earth and environment, and to work to ensure that regional economies enjoy the same economic and legal benefits as foreign mining companies. The meeting, held as "Assembly of Community Groups for NO to Mining Gold Using Water Mixed with Toxins in Patagonia," drew 800 persons to the town. They ratified a position respecting the decision recently made by provincial governor Miguel Saiz to prohibit gold mining with cyanide.

"The governor's decision is corageous and it signifies an advance, but much remains to be done," stated the assembly. They consider it imperative that the posture of Governor Saiz be promoted and carried out throughout Patagonia and the rest of the country, and are urging legislation which would prohibit future possibility of this type of mining or any other utilizing water mixed with toxins, and the immediate suspension of authorization of prospecting and exploration work because of the associated environmental damages. They also rejected and denounced current national mining laws as detrimental to the interests of the Argentine people.

The meeting lasted more than four hours. Testimonies were heard from former mining company employees, from members of indigenous communities and from engineers presenting about cyanide and its use and dangers.

The meeting was opened by a theatre piece put on by Murga Trocha Mocha, a community theatre group composed of childen and youth of Jacobacci, who parodied the situation in the community and the promises which have come out of the mouths of the Canadian mining company Aquiline Resources.

Community member María Torres opened the discussion in her native tounge of Mapuche, welcoming and saluting those present for having traveled far to attend: "We are going to tell them NO to the mines. I am a small producer, and I feel hurt... I am going to defend the earth as far as I can. These brothers who have sold out the earth -- it is like they had sold their own mother, and no-one would could possibly sell their own mother..." she said emotionally.

There followed testimonies by ex-employees of Aquiline. "I worked with Cuguru (a geologist in charge of the Calcatreu project) and he promised me work but in the end he didn't carry out his promise."

Humberto Kadomoto, member of the Autonomous Neighbors of Esquel, based his presentation on the impact produced by large-scale mining activity in Argentina. "They have guaranteed a program of economic benefits and very low taxes to mining firms, such as tax breaks for 30 years and a 3% maximum in royalties. In play are 25 million ounces of gold, which adds up to $10 billion dollars, which is 582 times the budget of Bariloche or 980 times the budget of Esquel. The companies promise $750 million in investment, and with extraction costs averaging $133 per ounce, this leaves them with expected earnings of $6.5 billion dollars. We have the moral obligation to prevent them from taking this away, and to make them to leave..." he reflected.

Andrés Dimitrui, professor and researcher at Comahue University, said that "Gov. Saiz did what all politicians should do, he did what the Community Assembly called for, we ourselves must show the politicans the steps they must take in order to stop this plunder. As we have seen here, cyanide isn't the only problem: This idea that plundering gold is something good, it has to be turned around. We keep contributing to the wealth and happiness of foreign stock-markets, this hemorrhage must be stopped, this stage must be made history, and we have to stop the other forms of plunder to which we have almost become accustomed."

On it's part, the CAI (Consejo Asesor Indígena, or Indigenous Council), issued a communique affirming that "Governor Saiz has officially expressed the rejection of mining with cyanide. With this in mind, all the different sectors and organizations here must be alert to any of the forms of deception and trickery which might be used to fool us. But in the face of advances of the mining companies, supported by governments, a surge of distinct and varying expressions, and actions of resistance are emerging, and these are crucial for building consciousness and organization. We believe that this is the path that we must keep following together, all of the groups and sectors which have suffered from the politics that have tried to pillage us."


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