MAC: Mines and Communities

Latin American update

Published by MAC on 2007-02-24

Latin America Update - Edición Latinoamericana

24th February 2007

At almost lightning speed, the Canadian miner, Goldcorp, has shot into the ranks of the world's top gold producers. But, last week, an environmental study released in Honduras revealed dangerous blood levels of lead and arsenic among villagers local to the company's San Martin mine, which has been a target for protests over the past six years.

As this news broke, the Honduran president re-confirmed the moratorium on all new mining projects which his government had introduced in January 2006.

The pending takeover by Zijin mining of Monterrico Metals' massive copper project in northwestern Peru, has triggered a plea by farmers' organisations that the new Chinese owners recognise the gross illegalities and derelictions of the UK operator.


Protests Mount Against Mining Giant

Stephen Leahy *

TORONTO, Feb 24 (Tierramérica) - Dangerous levels of lead and arsenic have been found in the blood of Honduran villagers living downstream from a controversial gold and silver mine owned by Canada's Goldcorp Inc., the world's third largest gold mining firm.

According to the ecologists who organised the study, lead and arsenic levels in the blood were higher than the maximum recommended by international standards (70 ug/dl) in a sample of 10 people who live near the San Martín mine, in San Ignacio, a municipality located in the central Siria Valley.

The study, presented last year and downplayed by the mining industry, is just one more item in the growing file opened in Honduras against the company operating the mine, which has been the target of local and international protests since it opened in 1999.

Although it is operated by Entre Mares, a Honduran company that is a subsidiary of the Canadian Glamis Gold Ltd., it is now under Goldcorp Inc., based in the western Canadian city of Vancouver, which bought out Glamis in November.

That takeover makes Goldcorp the third largest gold producer in the world, with mining concessions throughout the Americas and Australia.

One of the firm's most ambitious projects will be launched in Mexico, in Zacatecas state, for which Goldcorp obtained mining permits in mid-January in an expedited way. At a cost of 882 million dollars and proven and probable reserves totalling an estimated 9.98 billion ounces of gold, Peñasquito would be the country's largest gold mine.

Goldcorp, which proudly proclaims on its website that it is "The world's lowest cost gold producer", maintains several conventional open-pit mines, like San Martín in Honduras, which use a water-based sodium cyanide solution poured over huge piles of ore to separate the gold.

The used cyanide solution is a deadly toxin and has to be carefully stored. This process is in common use, but environmental experts says it consumes huge amounts of fresh water and generates highly toxic by-products, including heavy metals like mercury and arsenic, and can contaminate water sources that are used for human consumption.

The people living in the Siria Valley have long complained about the effects on their health and the water shortages resulting from the San Martín mine, from which Glamis has extracted 529,088 ounces (about 15,000 kg) of gold out of the ground since 2001, worth approximately 412 million dollars.

The most recent studies that detected arsenic in the blood (which can cause serious problems in the gastrointestinal, cardiovascular and nervous systems), were done at the behest of environmental groups, among them the Siria Valley Environmentalist Committee, by Italian activist Flaviano Bianchini, who has conducted studies of this type in several Central American countries.

But Bianchini's tests have come under fire from government officials and from mining executives who say they lack scientific rigor.

The Honduran Ministry of Environment plans to send samples to experts in Colombia to confirm Bianchini's results indicating blood contamination.

"We are studying the case and are awaiting the results from Colombia to take a final decision," Environment Minister Mayra Mejía told Tierramérica.

Aldo Santos, from the Attorney General's Office, stated "There is strong evidence pointing to high contamination in the area."

Goldcorp also owns a similar gold and silver mine in Guatemala, the Marlin, also from Glamis, and located in the municipality of Sipakapa and San Miguel Ixtahuacán. Local protests have left two people dead and many injured.

But Goldcorp denies the accusations. "Goldcorp already operates Marlin and San Martín at North American standards," Jeff Wilhoit, the company's vice-president of investor relations, told Tierramérica.

In the case of the Marlin mine, the study indicating contamination of the Tzalá River "has been refuted and disproved," and the "communities closest to the mine voted in favour of the mine," Wilhoit said.

With respect to San Martín, the executive maintained that the mine has not caused water shortages or contamination: "The water pumped from our wells in no way impacts the water being used from springs or wells outside the project area." And as for charges that waste from the mine had caused health problems in nearby communities, he stated, "Not true. There is a national study that refutes this allegation."

The company also refutes complaints from representatives of communities neighbouring San Martín and Marlin who say they were not consulted about the mines beforehand.

"Goldcorp is very active in working with communities where our mines are located... We contribute immensely to the education, health and safety of those communities, which has been misrepresented by some non-governmental organisations which have their own agendas," Melanie Pilon, director of investor relations, told Tierramérica.

Wilhoit added that in the case of the Marlin mine, "Goldcorp endeavoured to include all interested parties in the consultation process. Particular attention was paid to overcoming the language barrier. All communications were carried out in Spanish and Mam (a local indigenous language)."

Nearly 60 percent of the mining and exploration companies in the world are Canadian. They generate more than 40 billion dollars annually, representing about four percent of Canada's gross domestic product (GDP).

"Canadians are appalled when they find out what some Canadian companies are up to in the South," but few Canadians know what is going on at mine projects in South America or elsewhere due to limited media coverage, says Karyn Keenan, programme officer with the Halifax Initiative, a coalition of Canadian environmental and human rights NGOs.

But little by little, media attention has grown, especially recently, when people from Latin America affected by mines appeared in 2006 at a series of public forums about the corporate social responsibility of Canada's mining, oil and gas sectors.

For the first time, Canadian government officials had direct contact with the people who have been impacted by Canadian companies, Keenan said.

Activists have long claimed that the inability or unwillingness of local governments to enforce international human rights and environmental standards should not give Canadian companies license to ignore these standards.

An official report on regulating the sector's out-of-country operations will go before the Canadian government shortly. The report is "unprecedented in Canadian history," says Keenan, because it represents a consensus between NGOs, mining industry and government officials.

"Industry doesn't want strong, binding Canadian laws on their operations overseas, but there are some who know they need to do more than publish codes of ethics on their websites," she added.

Although the content of the report remains secret, it is expected to recommend that an independent dispute mechanism and ombudsman office be established to investigate complaints and conduct audits of Canadian mining, oil and gas operations abroad.

Whether the current conservative Canadian government will act on the report's recommendations remains to be seen.

(*With reporting by Thelma Mejía from Honduras. Originally published by Latin American newspapers that are part of the Tierramérica network. Tierramérica is a specialised news service produced by IPS with the backing of the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Environment Programme.)

Govt. rejects lobby for new mining concessions


21st February 2007

The Honduran government has once again rejected the mining industry's requests to grant fresh concessions to companies, Santos Carvajal, the president of Honduras' national mining association, ANMH, told BNamericas.

Carvajal and other industry players met with government officials this week to lobby for the issue of concessions, only to learn that the executive branch plans to uphold a 2004 decree prohibiting the granting of new metallic mining concessions.

In 2005, congress announced it would search for a "sustainable" way to allow metallic mining through law reforms. But in January 2006, the new president, Manuel Zelaya from Honduras' liberal party (PLH), said in his inaugural address that there would be no more mining concessions, leaving only the already established mines to operate.

"I do not want to see more permits for open-pit mines in Honduras," international press quoted Zelaya as saying in the speech. "Not one more until we have the guarantees needed for the conservation and preservation of our natural wealth."

According to Carvajal, the industry is in a state of atrophy due to governmental inaction. "The government hasn't made it clear if they will allow mining in the future or not. There is no security for investments in mining, and without new concessions the four companies can't even continue to explore."

"We miners say that mining has environmental impacts, its undeniable," Carvajal added. "But the answer is not to prohibit exploration, rather to logically create methods to control the negative impacts and avoid damage."

The real tragedy, according to the ANMH president, is that Honduras has the highest mining potential of all the Central American countries.

Meanwhile, a debate is underway in congress to reform 52 of the 102 articles of the country's mining law, including community benefits.

In theory, municipalities would take part in the granting of permits. The Honduran municipal association (AMHON) must be in consensus with any reforms made to the mining law since it covers all national territory, Arnoldo Avilés, chairman of the congressional committee discussing the reforms, said previously.

"But there won't be any new investments," Carvajal said.

There are currently 5,000 people employed directly by the mining industry, which according to Carvajal means some 30,000 Hondurans depend on mining.

Producing mines in the country are few: Toronto-based Yamana Gold's (TSX: YRI) 70,000oz/y San Andrés gold mine, and US miner Glamis Gold's (TSX: GLG) San Martín gold mine, which churned out 14,981oz in the first quarter of 2006.

Other operations include Breakwater Resources' (TSX: BWR) El Mochito zinc-lead mine in Santa Barbara department, and local miner Cerros del Sur's El Corpus gold mine in Choluteca department.

The companies pay some US$200,000 annually in taxes to the federal government, according to Carvajal.


Piura (Peru), 17 February 2007

Xiamen C &D
Zijin Tongguan
Zijin Mining Group Co. Ltd.

With the present document, the representatives of the Farmer Communities, Farmer "Rondas", youth and environmental organizations, local authorities and the general population, address you about the violations of national and international law regulations and the damages caused to the environment by the mining company Minera Majaz S.A., a subsidiary of the British company Monterrico Metals plc.

1. Minera Majaz Company, subsidiary of British Monterrico Metals plc., is operating illegally in the country.

Minera Majaz has generated a serious social conflict with the Farmer Communities of Yanta and Segunda y Cajas of the Provinces of Ayabaca and Huancabamba in the Region of Piura, Peru, by its intention of imposing mining exploitation in the territory of the respective communities, without implementing the authorizations demanded by Law. The National Ombudsman of the Republic of Peru (Defensoría del Pueblo de la República del Perú) carried out an investigation into the mining exploration authorization granted by the Ministry of Energy and Mining to Minera Majaz S.A., and, in its report N° 001-2006/ASPMA-MA, pages 17 and 18, recommends that the Ministry of Energy and Mining, in order to authorize the execution of exploration activities, also takes into account the "social aspect". This implies, as a priority, verifying the proper obtaining of the first agreements between the company and the owner, one of which concerns authorization over the surface land use.

Regarding this, the agreement should observe minimum formalities, such as the legalized signatures of the mining company owner and the surface land owner, and a clear and legible authorization for the use of all or part of the land, according to article 11 of Law N° 26505, Peruvian Farmer Communities' Law. This obliges having the approval of two thirds of the members of the Community Assembly. None of these provisions have ever been observed by Minera Majaz.

2. Minera Majaz assaults on biodiversity and the environment.

The Rio Blanco copper project, located in forest land at an average altitude of between 2,000 and 3,000 metres above sea level, including named cloud forests, in the territory of the Farmer Communities of Yanta and Segunda y Cajas in the Provinces of Ayabaca and Huancabamba, Piura Region, Peru, is affecting the springs of the Quiroz and Chinchipe river basins.

The granting of metallic mining concessions in these delicate river basin-spring ecosystems poses a serious threat to their existence, and means the beginning of severe processes of desertification over vast agroecological areas. Various institutions, such as the Binational Catamayo-Chira Project in its Catamayo and Chira rivers' basin environmental study, have pointed these natural areas as in need of protection. Similarly, the National System of State Protected Natural Areas (Sistema Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas por el estado - SINANPE) has integrated them as part of the Prioritized Areas for Conservation in the Master Plan of the National Institute for Natural Resources (Instituto Nacional de Recursos Naturales – INRENA). The protection of this basin is of strategic importance, being the only water source in Peruvian territory within the Binational Peru-Ecuador basin.

For the above-mentioned reasons we demand that your companies request additional information before proceeding to take on economic commitments. For our part we are at your disposition to facilitate all additional information you require.

Yours sincerely, etc.


Santiago del Estero: Demonstrators Blockade Highway Because of Mine Pollution in Río Hondo River

14th February 2007

Residents of Santiago del Estero province, Argentina, today blockaded transit on the National Route 9, near the border of the neighboring province of Tucumán, demanding an end to pollution affecting the waters that empty into the Río Hondo river reservoir. The protest was set up by surprise, a day earlier than had been announced, and police from both provinces and hundreds of vehicles and local authorities were caught in the blockade.

The demonstrators, among them neighbours of Río Hondo and environmental groups from the province, demanded solutions to the severe contamination which the reservoir has suffered. They complained of a lack of resolution on the part of the national Secretary of Environment, although a petition had been delivered last December regarding the impact of industrial wastes on the reservoir and the rivers Dulce and Salí.

The Public Ombudsperson of the province of Santiago del Estero, Darío Alarcón, revealed some days earlier that a technical report of the National Commission of Atomic Energy (CNEA) determined that the waters of the Río Hondo dam, its tributaries, and rivers in some parts of Tucumán contain heavy metals above normal levels. According to the report, traces of selenium, arsenic, lead, mercury, zinc, cobalt, molybdenum, copper, silver, nickel and magnesium, among other elements, have been detected.

The Federation of Non Governmental Organizations of Tucumán, which is supporting the demands of the Santiagueños, attributes the presence of these metals to the mining activities of the Bajo La Alumbrera open pit copper/gold mine. This multinational mining company is carrying out operations in neighboring Catamarca province, but the minerals extracted are transported, by pipeline, to Tucumán, where an initial treatment is made before transporting them finally by train to a shipping port in the province of Santa Fe.

Confirmation That Mine Has Contaminated Water Sources in the North
By Julio Rodríguez, Santiago del Estero, Argentina, 8 February 2007

Studies carried out in waters of dammed portions of the river Río Hondo have provided evidence that the basin of the Salí - Dulce rivers is contaminated by wastes emitted by the Bajo La Alumbrera mine.

"Studies carried out by the National Commission of Atomic Energy (CNEA) and the Federation of Non Governmental Environmental Organizations of Tucuman provience are a call for attention. The findings of contamination, in this case, of sources of drinking water, confirms previous studies carried out in the reservoir of the Río Hondo river and in lake Mar Chiquita," said the Public Ombudsperson of Santiago del Estero, Darío Alarcón to Clarin newspaper. The official has filed legal complaints about the process of contamination of the river basin and the Río Hondo reservoir. Now he is filing complaints against the mining company and other Tucumán companies in Federal courts.

A recent report by the company responsible for the hydroelectric plant of Las Termas of Río Hondo "demonstrates the increasing nature of the contamination of the basin, in its higher, lower and middle reaches, showing growing evidence of heavy metals such as lead, cadmium and other elements," added the official.

At the same time, Raúl Mentz, director of Provincial Relations of Minera Alumbrera, explained to the Clarín that the mineral ore concentrate which is transported by a mineral pipeline "consists of 28% copper, .0025% gold, .0006% silver, 28% iron pyrite, 32% sulfur, 2% aluminum, 8% silica, and some 2% which we call remains or traces. There is no cobalt nor strontium like we are accused." Mentz admits that wastewater effluents are discharged into the DP2 chanell in Tucumán, but that "they do not enter into the Salí-Dulce basin, but yes, they reach the reservoir of the river Río Hondo," although in levels that are acceptable or normal for non-toxic minerals.

The multinational company Xstrata is carrying out the mining operations in this largest and most important mine in Argentina, and has been under question by environmentalist organizations for some time.


Gobierno rechaza presión por nuevas concesiones mineras

BN Americas ,21 Febrero 2007, por Nicholas Parkinson

El Gobierno de Honduras rechazó nuevamente las solicitudes de la industria minera para otorgar nuevas concesiones a las empresas, dijo a BNamericas Santos Carvajal, presidente de la Asociación Nacional de Minería de Honduras (ANMH).

Carvajal y otros actores de la industria se reunieron esta semana con autoridades de gobierno para abordar el tema de las concesiones, aunque el único resultado fue que el Poder Ejecutivo pretende mantener un decreto del 2004 que prohíbe otorgar nuevas concesiones de minería metálica.

En el 2005, el Congreso anunció que buscaría una manera sostenible de permitir la minería metálica a través de reformas legislativas. Pero en enero del 2006, el nuevo presidente, Manuel Zelaya, del Partido Liberal de Honduras (PLH), señaló en su primer discurso que no habría más concesiones mineras y que solo seguirían operando las minas ya establecidas.

"No quiero más permisos de explotación de minas de cielo abierto en Honduras", informó la prensa internacional citando a Zelaya. "Ninguna más, mientras no se nos presenten las garantías para la conservación y la preservación de nuestras riquezas naturales".

Según Carvajal, la industria se encuentra en un estado de atrofia debido a la inactividad del gobierno. "El gobierno no ha tomado una posición política que determine si se va a hacer o no minería en el país. No existe seguridad para la inversión. Si no otorgan más concesiones, no hay futuro en desarrollo de minas".

"Los mineros decimos que la minería causa impacto en el medio ambiente, innegable", agregó. "El asunto es que no se logra nada prohibiendo la explotación minera, sino que lo lógico sería crear medidas de control de impactos negativos. Así se evitan los daños".

La verdadera tragedia, a juicio del presidente de la ANMH, es que Honduras tiene el mayor potencial minero entre todos los países centroamericanos.

Entretanto, el Congreso se encuentra debatiendo la posible reforma de 52 de los 102 artículos de la ley de minería del país, dentro de los cuales se incluyen los beneficios de la comunidad.

En teoría, los municipios participarían en el proceso de entrega de los permisos. La Asociación de Municipios de Honduras (AMHON) debe estar de acuerdo con cualquier reforma que se haga a la ley de minería dado que abarca todo el territorio nacional, señaló anteriormente Arnoldo Avilés, presidente de la comisión dictaminadora.

"Nuevas inversiones no habrá", afirmó Carvajal.

Actualmente hay 5.000 personas con empleos directos en la industria, lo cual a juicio de Carvajal significa que cerca de 30.000 hondureños dependen de la minería.

En el país solo producen la mina de oro San Andrés de la empresa con sede en Toronto Yamana Gold, con 70.000oz/a, y la mina de oro San Martín de la empresa estadounidense Glamis Gold, que produjo 14.981oz en el primer trimestre del 2006.

Otras operaciones incluyen la mina de zinc y plomo El Mochito de Breakwater Resources (TSX: BWR), en el departamento de Santa Bárbara, y la mina de oro El Corpus que la firma local Cerros del Sur tiene en el departamento de Choluteca.

Las empresas pagan cerca de US$200.000 al año en impuestos al gobierno, según Carvajal.


Piura, 17 de febrero de 2007

Zijin Tongguan.
Zijin Mining Group Co. Ltd.
Xiamen C/D

Por la presente los representantes de las Comunidades Campesinas, Rondas Campesinas, organizaciones juveniles, medioambientales, autoridades locales y población en general, nos dirigimos a Uds para informar el incumplimiento de las normativas legales nacionales e internacionales y los daños al medio ambiente, que viene cometiendo la empresa Minera Majaz S.A., subsidiaria de la empresa inglesa Monterrico Metals plc.

1. La Empresa Minera Majaz, subsidiaria de la empresa inglesa Monterrico Metals plc., opera ilegalmente en el país.

La Empresa Minera Majaz, ha generado un grave conflicto social con las comunidades Campesinas de Yanta y Segunda y Cajas de las Provincias de Ayabaca y Huancabamba de la Región Piura – Perú, por la pretensión de imponer la explotación minera en territorio de las referidas comunidades, sin contar con las autorizaciones que la Ley exige. La Defensoría del Pueblo de la República del Perú realizó una investigación sobre la autorización de exploración minera que otorgó el Ministerio de Energía y Minas a la empresa Minera Majaz S.A y en su informe Nº 001-2006/ASPMA-MA, páginas 17 y 18 recomienda que el Ministerio de Energía y Minas, para autorizar la ejecución de actividades de exploración, también tome en cuenta el "aspecto social", y ello implica, de manera prioritaria verificar la adecuada obtención de los primeros acuerdos entre empresa y propietario, uno de los cuales es obtener la autorización de uso del terreno superficial.

Al respecto, el acuerdo debería contener formalidades mínimas como firmas legalizadas del titular minero y del titular del terreno superficial. Así como una redacción clara y legible que demuestre la autorización del uso de todo o parte del terreno, de acuerdo a lo normado en el artí#### 11 de la Ley Nº 26505, Ley de Comunidades Campesinas del Perú, que obliga a contar con la aprobación de los dos tercios de los miembros de la Asamblea Comunal. Ninguna de estas consideraciones ha sido cumplida en momento alguno por la empresa Minera Majaz.

2. La Empresa Minera Majaz, atenta contra la biodiversidad y el Medio Ambiente.

El proyecto cuprífero Rio Blanco se encuentra ubicado en terreno boscoso a una altitud media entre los 2,000 a 3,000 metros de altura, denominados Bosques de Neblina en los terrenos de propiedad de las Comunidades Campesinas de Yanta y Segunda y Cajas en las provincias de Ayabaca y Huancabamba, Región Piura – Perú, afectando las nacientes de las cuencas de los ríos Quiroz y Chinchipe.

El otorgamiento de concesiones minero-metálicas en estos delicados ecosistemas de nacientes de cuencas, constituyen una seria amenaza a su existencia y significan el inicio de severos procesos de desertificación en extensas zonas agroecológicas. Diversas instituciones como el proyecto Binacional Catamayo-Chira, en su estudio ambiental de la cuenca de los rios Catamayo y Chira, la ha señalado como área natural que requiere ser protegida; así también, el Sistema Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas por el estado (SINANPE), la ha integrado como parte de las Áreas Priorizadas para la Conservación en el Plan Director del Instituto Nacional de Recursos Naturales (INRENA). La protección de esta cuenca es de carácter estratégico por representar la única fuente de agua en territorio peruano dentro de la Cuenca Binacional Perú – Ecuador.

Por las razones expuestas invocamos a vuestra representada solicitar mayor información antes de proceder a asumir compromisos económicos. Por nuestra parte estamos a vuestra disposición para facilitarles toda información adicional que Uds. requieran.



Santiago del Estero: manifestantes cortan una ruta por la contaminación en Río Hondo

Pobladores del norte de Santiago del Estero cortaron hoy el tránsito sobre la ruta nacional 9, cerca del límite con Tucumán, en reclamo de una solución a la contaminación que afecta a los ríos que desembocan en el embalse de Río Hondo.

La protesta se instaló cerca de los puestos de las policías camineras de ambas provincias un día antes de la fecha anunciada para la manifestación, con lo cual cientos de vehículos y las autoridades locales fueron sorprendidas por la medida.

Los manifestantes, entre vecinos de Río Hondo y grupos ambientalistas de la provincia, reclaman soluciones a la fuerte contaminación que sufre el embalse. Se quejan por la falta de resolución por parte de la Secretaría de Medio Ambiente nacional a un petitorio que elevaron en diciembre pasado por el impacto en el embalse de los desechos industriales que transportan hasta allí los ríos Dulce y Salí.

El defensor del Pueblo santiagueño, Darío Alarcón, reveló días atrás que en un informe técnicos de la Comisión Nacional de Energía Atómica (CNEA) determinaron que las agua del embalse de Río Hondo, sus afluentes y los ríos de algunas localidades tucumanas contienen metales pesados por encima de los niveles normales. Según el informe, se encontraron vestigios de selenio, arsénico, plomo, mercurio, zinc, cobalto, molibdeno, cobre, plata, níquel y manganeso, entre otros elementos.

La Federación de Organizaciones Ambientalistas No Gubernamentales de Tucumán, que apoya los reclamos santiagueños, atribuye la presencia de metales a la actividad de la minera Bajo La Alumbrera. Esa empresa multinacional se encuentra en Catamarca, aunque a través de un mineraloducto transporta restos del material extraído hasta Tucumán, donde le da un tratamiento primario antes de trasladarlo por ferrocarril a un puerto santafesino.

La compañía sostiene que realiza su actividad "bajo las normas más estrictas de seguridad y en cumplimiento con la normativa ambiental local" y que su política ambiental "se ajusta a las exigencias requeridas por las empresas mineras más prestigiosas a nivel mundial".

La defensoría santiagueña actúa querellante en las causas penales que se llevan adelante en la Justicia Federal de Tucumán por la contaminación ambiental de la cuenca Salí-Dulce. Los informes técnicos de la CNEA fueron agregados como parte de la carga probatoria de las denuncias.

Afirman que una minera contaminaría una fuente de agua potable en el Norte

JUEVES 08 FEB 2007

Estudios realizados en aguas del embalse de Río Hondo dan cuenta de que la cuenca del río Salí-Dulce, está contaminada por efluentes que volcaría la minera Alumbrera. Este resultado fue descartado "absolutamente" por Raúl Mentz, gerente de Asuntos Provinciales de la minera.

"Los estudios aportados por la Comisión Nacional de Energía Atómica a la Federación de Organizaciones Ambientalistas No Gubernamentales de Tucumán constituyen un llamado de atención por cuanto la contaminación, en este caso de fuentes de agua potable, confirma estudios previos realizados en el Embalse de Río Hondo y en Mar Chiquita", dijo a Clarín el defensor del pueblo santiagueño, Darío Alarcón.

El funcionario es quien ha denunciado el proceso de contaminación de la cuenca y del embalse de Río Hondo. Y ya acusó a empresas tucumanas y a la minera ante la Justicia federal tucumana (ver Investigación...).

Estudios en la cuenca, enmarcados en el Programa de Monitoreo Ambiental del Embalse de Río Hondo-Los Quiroga —así como también del análisis de muestras obtenidas en Mar Chiquita en la provincia de Córdoba, por la Universidad Nacional de Córdoba—, indican que en el embalse de Río Hondo "se ha demostrado el incremento sustantivo de concentraciones de plomo, zinc y cadmio".

Un reciente informe de la empresa responsable de la planta Hidroeléctrica de Las Termas de Río Hondo "demuestra el crecimiento de la contaminación de la cuenca, tanto en su curso alto, medio como inferior, observándose la presencia de material pesado, como plomo, cadmio, y de otros elementos", agregó el funcionario.

Alarcón, junto al defensor del Pueblo de Tucumán, Jorge García Mena, se reunieron para analizar el estado de las causas judiciales y los pasos a seguir con las empresas contaminantes.

En tanto, Raúl Mentz, gerente de Asuntos Provinciales de Alumbrera, explicó a Clarín ayer que el concentrado que se transporta por el mineraloducto "tiene 28% de cobre, 0,0025% de oro, 0,0006% de plata, 28% de hierro en forma de pirita, 32% de azufre, 2% de alúmina, 8% de sílice y un 2% que nosotros denominamos resto o trazas. Ahí no hay cobalto o estroncio, como se nos acusa".

Admitió Mentz que se vuelcan efluentes sobre el canal DP 2 (para recolección de efluentes en Tucumán) que "no tocan la cuenca Salí-Dulce, pero sí llegan al embalse de Río Hondo", aunque con valores establecidos o normales de minerales no tóxicos.

"Descartamos absolutamente que contengan (los efluentes) metales pesados o residuos tóxicos porque nuestro proceso no los tiene", agregó Mentz. La empresa multinacional tiene a cargo la explotación del más importante yacimiento minero de la Argentina y hace tiempo que es cuestionada por ambientalistas.

Uno de ellos, el Foro de Ambientalistas Autoconvocados de Las Termas, denunció que el lago se convirtió "en una cloaca a cielo abierto" y que la contaminación es provocada por "los desechos industriales que arrojan empresas tucumanas y catamarqueñas". Los ambientalistas volverán a reunirse hoy en la capital santiagueña para programar nuevos cortes de la ruta que une Santiago con Tucumán. Propondrán un corte de 24 horas para mediados de mes. Desde hace poco más de un año se vienen realizando cortes de ruta para exigir al Gobierno tucumano "urgentes medidas" para frenar la contaminación.


Home | About Us | Companies | Countries | Minerals | Contact Us
© Mines and Communities 2013. Web site by Zippy Info