MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Chubut province is Canadian

Published by MAC on 2005-07-14
Source: Radio Mundo Real

Large silver and lead deposit in Argentina deposit is disputed by two Canadian mining companies.

Chubut province is Canadian

Thursday, July 14, 2005

http://www.radiomundoreal.fm/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=6360

In the Argentinean province of Chubut, there is one of the world’s largest deposits of silver and lead, called Navidad. It is worth nearly 3.5 billion dollars. This deposit, where open air cyanide extraction is legally banned, is disputed by two Canadian mining companies. Although the resources are in Argentinean soil, their future owner will be decided by a Canadian court.

The two Canadian companies interested in Navidad deposits are IMA Explorations and Aquiline Resources, both having a record in Argentina. Aquiline Resources worked in Ingeniero Jacobacci, Río Negro province, in gold and silver mines, within Calcatreu mining project.

A report written by Luis Manuel Claps, published in Oro Sucio website in July reads “project Navidad has 339 million ounces of silver and 1.1 million tons of mercury. According to the current prices, it is worth $3.7 billion dollars; and it might increase in the future.”

However, mining experts warned that the delays in ending the IMA-Aquiline dispute over Navidad project could render the exploration and exploitation of those deposits ineffective, something which concerns the investors. Claps’ report mentions international experts opinions, who say Argentina hesitates on stimulating large-scale mining exploration and exploitation in its territory. That is why international investors aim to exploit Navidad deposits as soon as possible.

Law 5001 which governs in Chubut province, bans “metal mining activity at open air and the use of cyanide in the processes of mining production,” in Chubut’s territory.

Law 5001 was sanctioned a month after March 2003 referendum, in which Chubut’s Esquel people rejected a project of gold exploitation by Canadian Meridian Gold corporation.

According to Chubut’s government, led by Mario Das Neves, the ban provided by Law 5001 is not in force yet, because the law also provided that the Provincial Council of Environment (COPRAM) has to decide the areas of Chubut that would be excluded from the ban. COPRAM failed to take measures about this. Provincial officials consider Law 5001 is not applicable.

The Assembly of Self-Called Neighbors from Esquel does not agree with the position of Chubut’s government on this issue. Claps quotes Humberto Kadomoto, member of the Assembly, who said “Das Neves’ government clearly intends to authorize transnational corporations. The problem of this government is the resulting degree of social concern in the Andean Village and also in the rest of the province.”

Neighbor Alejandro Corbeletto said “they are not going to discuss the issue until after October’s (legislative) elections in Argentina. Meanwhile, there are 20 foreign corporations operating in the province, with a strict low profile. The territory continues to be handed over. The map shows that mining reaches 10% of the province’s surface, and it is increasing. Over 90% of the licenses are granted for gold exploration purposes which reveals the profile of the extraction model that is intended to be imposed here. We receive constant calls from the rural areas, because they enter the lands with machines, regardless of the owner’s authorization. There is a lot of tension about this issue.”

Cyanide processing, promoted by mining corporations, is one of the most profitable techniques, because cyanide extracts 95% of the metals from the rocks. It is also the most polluting one, because besides the risks of working with cyanide, great amounts of rocks are removed in the open air.

 

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