MAC: Mines and Communities

Judge Suspends Yamana's Agua Rica Project After Clashes in Andalgala, Argentina

Published by MAC on 2010-02-23
Source: Dow Jones, Reuters, EFE

One of the most controversial mining projects in Argentina, already affected by the economic crisis last year (see, has been halted by a court order after protests and clashes in the town of Andalgalá, Catamarca province.

The judge's decision to order an immediate suspension needs to be understood as a political one, rather than a strictly judicial one. It's obvious aim is to "calm down" the social indignation, and buy time.

The judge's move has already been rejected by local organizations, who are demanding a "ban on open pit mining in Andalgalá department". The violent events have gained space in national media, and are very significant because Catamarca is the first province in which neoliberal mining frame was applied in Argentina (with the opening of the Bajo La Alumbrera copper-gold mine in 1997).

Local organizations have been demanding a referendum, or consulta, over the project for the last four years, a process that could have prevent violent incidents.

Yamana Gold, the Canadian company involved in Agua Rica, is also the owner of another "susended" project in Argentina: the Esquel gold deposit (after its takeover of Meridian Gold in 2007).



Argentine judge halts Yamana mine works due unrest


17 February 2010

BUENOS AIRES - An Argentine judge has halted work at a mining site owned by Canada's Yamana Gold Inc after violence erupted during protests by anti-mining activists, the company said on Wednesday.

Yamana is carrying out drilling works at its copper-gold Agua Rica project in the northwestern province of Catamarca, but it has not yet decided whether to start building the mine.

"There was a ruling by a judge to suspend any work done locally and we are complying with that and we were consulted in advance," said Yamana's investor relations director, Letitia Wong.

"It really is just to ensure safety in the community and the project," she said.

Local media said Judge Guillermo Cerda issued the injunction in an effort to restore calm to the area following the protests this week in which police fired tear gas and rubber bullets and arrested about 50 people.

Yamana acquired Agua Rica when it took over Northern Orion Resources in 2007. The property has proven and probable reserves of 8.7 billion lbs of copper and 5.8 million ounces of gold, according to the company's website.

The site lies close to Xstrata Plc's vast Alumbrera mine, of which Yamana owns a minority stake.

Anti-mining campaigners in the South American country have managed to block several exploration and production projects in recent years, lobbying provincial lawmakers to pass laws limiting or banning mining activity in certain areas. (Reporting by Helen Popper; editing by Jim Marshall)

Mining Project in Argentina Suspended by Court Order


18 February 2010

BUENOS AIRES – An Argentine judge has suspended a mining project that Canada’s Yamana Gold was developing amid protests by local inhabitants, the press reported Wednesday.

Judge Guillermo Cerda said he halted activities at the Agua Rica mine – located near the town of Andalgala, 1,200 kilometers (745 miles) northwest of Buenos Aires – “until further notice.” Gold, silver and molybdenum production at the mine is slated to begin in 2012.

The judge issued his ruling pending a solution to a conflict involving local residents in Andalgala, where tensions ran high Monday when demonstrators tried to halt a mining truck.

According to demonstrators, who say the project will be highly polluting, police used force to break up the protest and some people were injured. “This is an absolutely necessary measure due to what happened on Monday,” the judge said in reference to the suspension of activities at the mine, where construction began last year.

Argentina Judge Suspends Yamana's Mine Project After Clashes

Dow Jones Commodities News Select

17 February 2010

BUENOS AIRES,  -- A judge from Argentina's Catamarca province has indefinitely suspended work on Yamana Gold Inc.'s (AUY) Agua Rica copper-gold-molybdenum mine project following clashes between protesters and police.

Environmentalists have been blocking a road servicing the site since December. Authorities cleared out the protesters and escorted equipment to the site this week, which set off violent clashes on Monday.

The order to suspend work on the mine was issued by local mining judge Guillermo Cerda. Cerda could not immediately be reached for comment, but his office confirmed the ruling.

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