MAC/20: Mines and Communities

La Mina de Esquel - "Yo no confiarķa en las promesas de Meridian"

Published by MAC on 2003-03-06


No a La Mina de Oro de Esquel

Puerto Madryn - Patagonia Argentina - 6th March 2003

(English Translation below)

La Mina de Esquel - "Yo no confiaría en las promesas de Meridian"

Robert Deurloo ha sido por 10 años Gerente General de la Mina Beartrack, explotada en Salmon City, Idaho, USA, por la Meridian Gold. Es Ingeniero en Mineria de la Colorado School of Mines, con grado de Advanced Business Management en la Universidad de Harvard. Trabajó para Alcoa en Surinam, y fue responsable de diseño y operacion de tres minas de carbon en Wyoming y Montana, todas ellas todavia en operacion. Localizado a traves de Internet, aceptó gustoso conversar vía email sobre las graves consecuencias que sufrirá Esquel si no se toman los recaudos necesarios, y formula graves acusaciones contra sus antiguos empleadores.

Para Robert Deurloo, el costo a largo plazo por las heridas y la polucion que dejara Meridian, sera ampliamente mayor que las ganancias de corto plazo que se puedan obtener de la mina, salvo que se la fuerce a cumplir con estrictisimas medidas de control y recuperación ambiental, mediante altos seguros de caución.

Luis Manuel Claps : Es comparable la mina de Beartrack con el Proyecto Esquel ?

Roberto Deurloo: Cada mina y medio ambiente son únicos, pero hay caracteristicas que son comunes a todas las minas. Beartrack y Esquel son parecidas pues estan situadas en un medio montañoso que es relativamente prístino, y cercano a numerosas fuentes de agua. El agua es el gran problema.

Claps:. El Desquite se halla a 6km de Esquel, a que distancia se halla Beartrack del pueblo?

Deurloo: Beartrack se encuentra a 13 millas (20km) por aire y 34 (55Km) por tierra de Salmon, Idaho, un pueblo de 3000 habitantes.

Claps: Cual fue el impacto que dejó la mina de Beatrack ? Que fue de los salmones del Rio Salmon?

Deurloo: Los salmones en el rio han casi desaparecido, pero mas por otros factores que por la mina. La mina afectara la calidad del agua, pero no creo que haya dañado seriamente al salmón. La mina ha dejado un horrible foso de unos 800 pies (250 m) de profundidad, y afectará la calidad de las corrientes de agua que allí se originen, a menos que una planta purificadora de agua permanente se instale y se mantenga por siempre. El mayor problema no es el cianuro, sino la exposición de la roca que contiene arsénico, mercurio, azufre, etc. Estos elementos se oxidarán y convertirán al agua en ácida. Esto continuará por años y años.

Claps: Qué condiciones se le deberían imponer a Meridian ?

Deurloo :Todos los deshechos deben ser vueltos a la tierra, y deben depositar una fianza tal que asegure que una planta purificadora pueda ser instalada y puesta en funcionamiento en forma continua y permanente desde la finalización de la vida útil del proyecto.

Claps: Si Ud. y su familia vivieran en Esquel, cual sería su posicion fente a la mina? Creería en la promesas de Meridian Gold?

Deurloo: No confiaría en las promesas de Meridian. Sólo les preocupa sus finanzas y no harán nada más que lo que les sea impuesto para proteger el medio ambiente. En USA hay leyes ambientales estrictas y Meridian las peleó todo el tiempo.

Si las cosas en Argentina son mas relajadas, ellos harán sólo lo que se les pida, y probablemente dejarán un gran basurero y una eterna cicatriz cuando se hayan ido. Vuestro hermoso medio ambiente no vale ser sacrificado de por vida por una ganancia de corto plazo de una compañía americana a quien no le importa quienes son uds, y a quienes nunca más volverá a ver.


Links Relacionados:

Portal de la Ciudad de Esquel con abundante información al dia sobre la marcha del proyecto El Desquite.

Robert Moran: "Si se permite la mina en Esquel, será la primera de una larga serie".

No a la minería con cianuro. Campaña de Greenpeace

Volver al Inicio 03/03/2003 Producción: Luis Manuel Claps para MadrynCom

Opiná en el Foro de Discusion Puerto Madryn Web Site ©1996-2003

MadrynCom madryn@madryn.com


Former Meridian boss criticses Esquel project

The following interview is between Robert Deurloo, former general manage of the Beartrack mine, operated by Merdian Gold in the US, and Luis Manuel Claps, an activist in Argentina (Patagonia), involved in the current campaign to prevent the company from mining at Esquel.

Deurloo: I was the General Manager of the Beartrack Mine for 10 years. I would be happy to respond to your questions. I will try to briefly answer your questions, and will be glad to elaborate if you wish further details.

1. Each orebody and environment is unique, but there are certain characteristics which are common to most mines. Beatrack and Esquel are probably similar in that they are in a mountainous environment which is relatively pristine, and close to numerous water sources. Water is the BIGGEST deal.

2 Beartrack is 13 miles by air, and 34 miles by road from Salmon, Idaho which is a town of 3000.

3. The salmon in the river have about disappeared, but it is more from other factors than the mine. The mine will affect water quality, but I don't think it has seriously harmed the salmon. The mine did leave an ugly 800 deep hole in the ground, and will affect the quality of the streams leading from it, unless a permanent water quality purification plant is installed and maintained forever. Cyanide isn't the biggest concern, it is the exposure of rock which contains arsenic, mercury, sulphur etc. These elements begin to oxidize and will turn the water acidic. This goes on for years and years.

4 All waste should be put back into the ground, and they must post a large monetary bond which will insure that a water purification plant can be installed and operated forever.

5 I would not trust Meridian's promises. They are only concerned about their bottom line (financials) and won't do any more than is necessary to protect the environment. In the U.S. there were strict environmental regulations, and Meridian fought them all the way. If things are more lax in Argentina, they will do no more than what is required, and will probably leave an everlasting scar and mess when they leave.

I will be glad to elaborate if you wish further details. Your beautiful environment isn't worth sacrificing forever for a short term gain by an American company who doesn't care who you are, and will never see you again.

First, you have to understand where I am coming from. I was fired by Meridian after a tenure of 9 a half years, so I could be discounted as simply a disgruntled former employee.

My last performance rating was "Outstanding", and I was never given a specific reason for my firing, simply a "reduction in force". Only two of us were "let go" at that time, and it came as a sudden surprise. Edgar Smith performed the termination, and one of the reasons he mentioned for my sudden departure was that the environmental liability due to the acid rock in the North Pit was much greater than I had anticipated when I was permitting the mine.

The cost of dealing with acid drainage escalated during the tenure of the mine, and one of the reasons I was fired was because I didn't anticipate this, and didn't fight the regulators forcefully enough to avoid the raising cost of compliance.

Beartrack was one of the last mines permitted in the U.S. and Brian Kennedy said that he was not going to do business in the U.S. in the future because of the risks and costs of environmental compliance. The U.S. has said no to ruining the environment, so I guess they will go to where they think people are less sophisticated.

The final chapter hasn't been written on the effect of Beartrack on the environment. To date, the water has been re-circulated, and hasn't had to be discharged. When they finally stop rinsing the heap, and the South Pit fills up and starts discharging, then we will see if the runoff meets environmental standards. I doubt it, and if not, they will have to purify the water. As I said before, it is almost impossible to dig a hole in an anomalous orebody, and not effect water quality.

Meridian will say that Esquel will be an underground mine which has less environmental impact. Noranda has the underground Cobalt Mine which is about 20 miles from Beartrack. It operated in the late 40's and 50's. It killed all of the salmon in Panther creek, and the government has forced them to install a water purification plant. They will be obligated to operate it for years and years to come. It is an environmental disaster, and has been designated a "Superfund Site" by the EPA.

Ask Meridian if they can point to one mine in an environment with running water that hasn't effected water quality.

You don't have to compensate Meridian for their loss, they simply must comply with state of the art World Wide standards, which won't allow degradation of the environment. There should be little trace of their presence after they leave. We ask the same of backpackers into the wilderness areas. They should clean up any messes that they make (including piles of toxic waste rock), and post a monetary guarantee that they will install and run a water purification plant to insure the water is as good when they leave, as before they came. Is this too much to ask? That is what they would have to do here in the U.S.. Isn't your country just as, or more beautiful?

I have the names of several other professionals who previously worked at Beartrack, who will substantiate my statements. I've attached some pictures which I took of Beartrack in June of 2002. Feel free to use my name, and statements.

The following links describe one environmental organizations lawsuit against Meridian, and the others describe the problems with the underground Blackbird mine, which is near Beartrack. The government and Noranda have spent over $50 million dollars, and still have a long way to go before it is cleaned up

http://www.wildwhiteclouds.org/miningissue.html http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/HAC/PHA/blackbird/bla_p3.html http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/HAC/pha/bird2/bla_p1.html http://www.epa.gov/superfund/sites/npl/nar1369.htm http://www.epa.gov/r10earth/offices/oec/698bbm.pdf http://www.hcn.org/servlets/hcn.Article?article_id=1233

 

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