MAC: Mines and Communities

In Northern Chile glaciers to be moved to allow gold mining.

Published by MAC on 2004-12-15

In Northern Chile glaciers to be moved to allow gold mining.

After a visit by Chilean congressmen Horwath and Prokurica to the location where Barrick Gold is planning to exploit a gold and silver deposit, both members of parliament endorsed the "transfer" of Andean glaciers to give way to the mining operation that will be located on the very site where the rivers that bathe the fertile Huasco Valley are born. Among other substances, the company will use large quantities of cyanide, which will be transported through serpentine roads to the high mountain, along the rivers that make agriculture possible in that northern and otherwise dry region.

The communities of the Huasco Valley are aware that mining produces serious pollution and frequent accidents. This is the reason for their opposition to the sacrifice of a fertile agricultural valley and their refusal to accept the nightmare lurking behind the gold and silver mining venture. The glaciers are a valuable patrimony of the valley and they sustain the ecosystem of the high mountain and of the whole valley - reason enough for the communities to consider those glaciers untouchable.

OLCA (Observatorio Latinoamericano de Conflictos Ambientales), Santiago, Chile December 2004

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