MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Statement of the Latin American Observatory of Environmental Conflicts (OLCA) in face of the Approva

Published by MAC on 2006-02-15

Statement of the Latin American Observatory of Environmental Conflicts (OLCA) in face of the Approval of the Pascua Lama Project

15th February 2006

The Latin American Observatory of Environmental Conflicts considers that the approval of the highly debated and resisted Pascua Lama project serves to considerably heighten the environmental debt of the Government of Concertation. Through the long-running conflict, characterising the Environmental Impact Evaluation process, the impracticality of the gold, copper and silver project, was made manifest, on social, environmental, as well as economic terms, for the III Region of Chile.

Environmentally, what Barrick asserts is impossible: that the mining exploitation recently approved "with conditions" will not have negative impacts. Mining with chemicals in the headwaters of rivers has already produced terrible consequences for water resources, both in the quality as well as the quantities of water. Socially, the project will not generate the employment and local benefits promised. On the contrary, it puts other activities in the valley, such as agriculture and tourism, at serious risk. The health of the population is also jeopardised by the operation of the project. Economically, mining does not support local development, and nationally, the taxes paid to the State in no way correspond to the profits earned by the companies - this project will not be an exeption.

The approval of the Pascua Lama project by the Government of Concertation is unacceptable, and at the same time is a clear sign that the care and protection of the environment continues to be a very low priority, leaving the door open for other initiatives that will damage the environment and put at risk the security of the population.

In the view of the citizens and communities affected by the recently approved project, the government just ends up losing all environmental credibility and confidence. This will only serve to generate more and more similar environmental conflicts in the future.

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