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Legal Demand To Suspend The Use Of Alumbrera's Mineral Pipeline

Published by MAC on 2007-03-22


Legal Demand to Suspend the Use of Alumbrera's Mineral Pipeline

22 March 2007

It is up to Federal courts in the province of Tucumán to decide if operations of Minera Alumbrera's controversial mineral pipeline should be suspended, after a legal claim filed for possible contamination caused by a leakage of mineral concentrate in lands near the town of Alpachiri, Chicligasta, northern Argentina.

In a stop-order request presented this past Friday before Federal judge #2 Mario Racedo, claimants requested both that the mineral pipeline be raised above ground throughout the entire extension of the province, as well as the extraction of mining wastes buried in Villa Lola (Alpachiri) by the mining firm Minera Alumbrera (operated by Xstrata).

The claim was presented by lawyer Leandro Juárez, and made on behalf of José, Miguel and Carlos Aranda, three brothers and farmers from Concepción who suffered large losses in their harvests. According to their complaint, the River Las Cañas flooded in 1999, causing a rupture in the mineral pipeline in a mountainous zone difficult to access. The mining company transferred the spilled mineral concentrate to a site near a reservoir in Villa Lola where it was to be stored until it was shipped to "Plant C", located near in Andalgalá, in Catamarca provience. However, according to the complaint, the necessary transferal of the mineral concentrate was never carried out.

On April 22, 2005, some sixty meters from the shore of the reservoir, in an operation in which Primera Fuente was the only media witness, members of the provincial environmental and health commissions and legislators took samples to test the supposedly contaminated soil. Later, a study carried out this past September by the National Commission of Atomic Energy revealed that water in the area contains high concentrations of mercury in levels above the limits established by the National Alimentary Codes for drinking water.

The water samples, taken from the Plaza Abel Peirano, in the neighborhood El Nevado in the city of Concepción, also showed the presence of cobalt and strontium. Environmental groups sustain that the presence of these elements in the drinking water is linked to a series of spills caused by ruptures in the more than 200 KM mineral pipeline of Minera Alumbrera.

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