MAC: Mines and Communities

Latin American Update

Published by MAC on 2006-07-23

Latin American Update

23rd July 2006


Chilean organizations Urge Minister of Foreign Relations to Anull Decree

Establishing the Specific Protocol for Pascua Lama


20th July 2006

Organizations of the Huasco Valley Opposed to Pascua Lama Mining Project, with Help of OLCA, Urges the Minister of Foreign Relations to Anull Decree Establishing the Additional Specific Protocol for Pascua Lama

On Wednesday July 19 at 11:30 am, Mauricio Ríos, President of the Council for the Defense of the Huasco Valley, Luis Faura, Councilperson of Alto del Carmen and Lucio Cuenca, Director of Latin American Observatory of Environmental Conflicts (OLCA), delivered to the Minister of Foreign Relations of Chile, Alejandro Foxley, a card urging him to annull the decree legislated as the Additional Specific Protocol which created the legal framework and justification to make possible the development of the Pascua Lama project. This decree established the Area of Operations of the mining project, within the Mining Integration and Complementation Treaty with Argentina.

Mining company Minera Nevada Ltda, subsidiary of Barrick Gold Corporation, is waging a dispute over the ownership of mining concessions with Rodolfo Villar, and the courts hosting this battle ruled in 2001 with a preliminary ruling over the concessions. However, this ruling was never supposed to have been incorporated as part of the area of operations of Pascua Lama.

Furthermore, the recent ruling of the 14th Civil Court of Santiago, ordered the restitution of the ownership of the disputed mining claims to Mr. Villar. Upon this basis, it is founded that the Decree enacted by the Additional Specific Protocol is fundamentally flawed and therefore should be nullified by the authorities who drafted it.

Communications: OLCA - Latin American Observatory of Environmental Conflicts Providencia 365 Office 41 - Santiago de Chile


Support Anti-Mining Protesters / Ecuador

Global Response

18th July 2006

To: Members of Global Response's "Quick Response Network,"

This week, an estimated 700 people from a remote cloud forest region of Ecuador carried their anti-mining protests to Quito, the capital city.

They are asking citizens around the world to defend their rights and help them prevent the relocation of several communities and the destruction of a cloud forest region known for its biological diversity. Please support them at this crucial time by writing to the president of Ecuador today (see the model letter below).

The rural Intag communities have been resisting copper mining initiatives in their region since 1996, and Global Response has supported them with many rounds of letters since that time. Our first success came in 1997, when local and international opposition forced the Bishimetals mining company to withdraw from Intag.

Now the residents of Intag are battling for the life of their community against a Canadian company, Ascendant Copper Corporation. County governments in the region have passed laws prohibiting mining and other environmentally destructive industries, and thousands of people have engaged in protests, but Ascendant remains, with the acquiescence of the federal government. Community life has degenerated into violence, threats, fears and accusations so serious that a group of International Observers released a report this week stating, "we have observed a rapid escalation of paramilitarization in the area. We believe that there is the possibility for dangerous encounters, with the potential for violence or death in the following days."

In spite of these fears, around 700 women, men and children from Intag traveled to Quito on July 13, filled one of the main streets with their colorful signs and shouted anti-mining slogans. A participant wrote:

"The crowd demonstrated in front of the Ministry of Energy and Mines until the Minister accepted to meet with a delegation composed of Cotacachi's Mayor, presidents of the Local Parrish governments of Intag, and community activist Polibio Perez. The Minister pretty much accepted that Ascendant will have to go, in that he promised to strictly abide by the law, and said that if he discovered any illegalities, the company's concessions will be revoked. Since there's no doubt at all there are illegalities, in one month we should see an Intag free of Ascendant! The crowd also delivered a letter to the Ministry of the Environment urging them to take action to protect the area's forests and threatened wildlife imperiled by the project. Later, we continued to the office of Ascendant Copper, where the crowd continued their protest, and glued large red "Shut Down for Violating Community Signs" across the main entrances to the building and some windows. There were no arrests, and the crowd was at all times peaceful."

This is a crucial moment, when international support can tip the scales for justice and environmental protection in Intag. Please write your own letter, or send this model letter to the president of Ecuador today!

For more information and photos, see

Doctor Alfredo Palacio
Constitutional President
Republic of Ecuador
Plaza de la Independencia,
Quito, Ecuador

Re: Junín Mining Project (Ascendant Copper Corporation): Concern over Human Rights Situation

Dear Mr. President,

I am writing in support of Ecuadorian citizens of the Intag region who oppose copper mining in this area of extraordinary ecological value. As you know, hundreds of people from Intag travelled to Quito on July 13 and demonstrated for their human rights and their environment. In their meeting with the Minister of Energy and Mines, the Minister assured them that your administration would strictly abide by the law. The Minister said if any illegalities in the activities of Ascendant Copper Corporation are discovered, the company's concessions will be revoked.

I am concerned with threats posed by the Ascendant project to the human rights to food, water, housing and health, as well as the safety of those defending these rights in the Intag region. I am also concerned that decisions by democratically elected local and regional bodies are undermined by the actions of the company.

I urge your government to investigate the denunciations coming from the Intag area, its residents, and some of the Quito-based human rights groups regarding possible human rights violations of the company and its contractors, including Daimi Services. I also ask you, given the opposition of the democratically elected local and regional bodies to the mining project, to consider the revocation of any licences awarded to the company (in May of 2006, all of Intag's local governments publicly asked the company to leave). And I ask you to determine whether Ascendant Copper and the Ecuadorian government are complying fully with international treaties signed by Ecuador, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Thank you in advance for taking action to protect all human rights (civil, cultural, economic, political, social) as well as environmental rights in the Intag area. Please inform me about any action you have taken in this regard.



*Organizaciones del Valle del Huasco opositoras al Proyecto Pascua Lama, con el apoyo de OLCA, exigen al Ministro de Relaciones Exteriores anular Decreto que promulga el Protocolo Adicional Específico para Pascua Lama*

Hoy 20 de julio de 2006, a las 11:30 de la mañana, Mauricio Ríos, presidente del Consejo de Defensa del Valle del Huasco, Luis Faura, Concejal de la Comuna de Alto del Carmen y Lucio Cuenca, Director de OLCA, entregaron al ministro de Relaciones Exteriores Alejandro Foxley, una carta donde se exige anular el decreto que promulga el Protocolo Adicional Especifico que constituye el marco jurídico mediante el cual es posible desarrollar Pascua Lama, este decreto establece el Área de Operaciones del proyecto minero. Esto, en el marco del Tratado sobre Integración y Complementación minera con la República Argentina.

Compañía Minera Nevada Ltda., filial de Barrick Gold, mantiene disputa por la propiedad de concesiones mineras con Rodolfo Villar, el tribunal que lleva este juicio dictó el año 2001 una medida precautoria sobre las concesiones. Por lo tanto, nunca debieron ser incorporadas como parte del área de operaciones de Pascua Lama. Además, el reciente fallo del 14° Juzgado Civil de Santiago, ordenó restituir la propiedad de las concesiones en disputa a nombre del señor Villar. Esta es la base para fundamentar que el Decreto que promulga el Protocolo Adicional Especifico de Pascua Lama tiene un vicio de nulidad debe ser anulado por la autoridad que lo dictó.

Comunicaciones - OLCA

Observatorio Latinoamericano de Conflictos Ambientales

Providencia 365 Oficina - 41 Santiago

Santiago, 19 de Julio del 2006


Alejandro Foxley

Ministro de Relaciones Exteriores de Chile


De nuestra consideración:

Como es conocimiento del Sr. Ministro, el año 1997 los gobiernos de Chile y Argentina firmaron un "Tratado sobre Integración y Complementación Minera" cuyo ámbito de aplicación, está referido a zonas fronterizas cordilleranas y constituye el marco jurídico que regirá el desarrollo del negocio minero. Dicho marco de carácter binacional permite la existencia del proyecto Pascua Lama de la Empresa Minera Nevada Ltda. filial de Barrick Gold Corporation.

El Tratado Minero establece que, a petición de los inversionistas para tener facilitaciones fronterizas, las partes deben suscribir un "Protocolo Adicional Específico", donde se determina el "Área de Operaciones" y los procedimientos para cada proyecto.

Para el caso Pascua Lama este protocolo se firmó el 13 de Agosto de 2004 y fue promulgado por Decreto del Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, el 11 de Diciembre del mismo año. En este protocolo -entre otras cosas- se establecen los límites del área de operaciones y se publica la nómina de 193 pertenencias mineras "ya constituidas" y 8 "en trámite" de la Compañía minera Nevada Ltda. En este listado Figura "Amarillos" de 3600 hectáreas y "Tesoros" de 2100 hectáreas, concesiones mineras que desde el año 2001 se encuentran en disputa en el 14º juzgado civil de Santiago y con una medida prejudicial precautoria (Causa Rol Nº 1912-2001).

Llama poderosamente la atención que la autoridad del gobierno chileno halla promulgado este Decreto, existiendo antecedentes de un proceso judicial que la autoridad no podía ignorar. La medida precautoria sobre las pertenencias en disputa ordena: "prohibición de celebrar actos y contratos y/o de gravar y/o enajenar sobre cada una de las pertenencias mineras antes señaladas"). Por lo tanto, era suficiente pedir un certificado de dominio vigente en el Conservador de Minas de Vallenar.

A esto se suma el reciente fallo del 14º Juzgado Civil de Santiago que revirtió la compraventa realizada en marzo de 1997, en la cual el minero Rodolfo Villar García cedía a Compañía Minera Nevada – filial de Barrick Gold Corporation en Chile- los derechos de propiedad minera donde se pretende desarrollar el proyecto Pascua Lama. La jueza, declaró la nulidad absoluta del contrato de compraventa que había celebrado Villar con la compañía y dió orden de revertir las inscripciones de dominio que existen en las propiedades Amarillo Norte y Tesoro (en esta última se ubica Pascua Lama), restituyéndose a su estado anterior, cuando el minero Rodolfo Villar era el propietario de estos derechos.

Al momento de la firma y promulgación por Decreto del Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores del Protocolo Adicional Especifico para el proyecto minero "Pascua Lama", existía el antecedente judicial que consta en anotación al margen del Registro de Propiedad del Conservador de Minas de Vallenar, por lo que se puede concluir que existía la imposibilidad legal para que la Compañía Minera Nevada Ltda. incluyera las pertenencias en disputa en su "área de operaciones", por lo tanto el decreto que promulga este acuerdo contiene vicios de nulidad.

A este antecedente, hay que sumar el reciente fallo del 14º juzgado Civil de Santiago que restituye la propiedad de las concesiones mineras mencionadas al señor Rodolfo Villar, o sea estas concesiones nunca fueron de propiedad de la Compañía minera.

Atendiendo al principio de invalidación, articulo 53 y siguientes de la ley de procedimientos administrativos (Ley 19.880) que regula los actos de la autoridad que dictó el Decreto, solicitamos a Ud. derogar de oficio en Decreto del 11 de Diciembre del 2004 que promulga el Protocolo Adicional Especifico al Tratado sobre Integración y Complementación Minera con la República Argentina para el proyecto minero "Pascua Lama", por existir un vicio de nulidad.

Solicitamos también, se ordene los procedimientos pertinentes para determinar las responsabilidades por la tramitación negligente de este Decreto.

Mauricio Ríos Navarrete
Consejo de Defensa del Valle del Huasco

Luis Faura Cortes
Municipalidad de Alto del Carmen

Lucio Cuenca Berger

Observatorio Latinoamericano de Conflictos Ambientales-OLCA

CC./ Jorge Enrique Taiana, Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, Comercio Internacional y Culto de Argentina

Documentos adjuntos:

- Fotocopia de página Nº 8 de Diario Oficial donde se promulga el "área de operaciones" y aparece lista de concesiones en Chile.

- Fotocopia de Medida prejudicial precautoria. Causa Rol Nº 1912-2001


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