La Rioja, Argentina – July 19, 2012
In less than a month after Argentina’s National Glacier Act was upheld by a Supreme Court ruling rejecting Barrick Gold’s request to suspend it, a Federal Circuit Court in Argentina’s La Rioja Province ruled to uphold an injunction request to suspend Osisko (TSX: OSK) Mining’s operating permits until a proper glacier inventory and impact study can be carried out.
The ruling, published yesterday by Federal Judge Alejandro Flores of La Rioja Province, calls to “suspend compliance with the agreement signed on August 31st, 2011 between EMSE (the State Energy and Mining Company) and Osisko (TSX: OSK) Mining Corporation, (…) in regards to any superficial prospecting, digging, sample taking, excavation, perforation, mineral analysis, activity of any type (…) necessary for the pre-feasibility study of the project.”
Argentina’s first court order freezing a mining project until glacier impacts can be ascertained also states, “the agreement shall be suspended because exploratory activities may be occurring that are damaging public goods (glaciers) that exist in the project’s exclusive zone (…)”
The ruling follows legal action presented by the Municipality of Famatina, where local residents supported by their mayor have strongly opposed the reopening of prospecting at the Famatina gold mining project. Barrick Gold had already been run out by local opposition to the project. Osisko (TSX: OSK) of Canada appeared on the scene last year attempting to take over from Barrick’s earlier operations. The “cryoactivist” (glacier protectionist) non-profit organization, the Center for Human Rights and Environment (CEDHA), published a detailed report recently showing more than 400 glaciers in La Rioja Province and their relative relationship to mining operations, including the Osisko (TSX: OSK) concession at Famatina. CEDHA found some 40 glaciers or rock glaciers (which are covered by rock debris and not visible to most) at or very near Osisko’s Famatina project site (see picture). Osisko (TSX: OSK) has not responded to any of CEDHA’s inquiries about its project or about CEDHA’s findings. A small glacier the size of a football field can have enough water to supply a typical family of four with water for most of its lifetime.
The provincial governor, Beder Herrera, had claimed earlier that there were no glaciers in his province. This statement drove CEDHA to carry out a detailed glacier study for the province – the first ever in La Rioja. CEDHAf ound more than 400 ice bodies including glaciers, rock glaciers, and other perennial ice forms that are protected by Argentina’s National Glacier Act.
CEDHA traveled to La Rioja in April of this year to present findings at a meeting held in the local town of Famatina which was also attended by residents of Chilecito, another nearby local community town which strongly opposes multinational extractive investments in the area. The town Mayor, Ismael Bordagaray attended the presentation and based on CEDHA’s report, decided to present legal action to stop Osisko’s project until a proper glacier inventory could be carried out and until impact studies could guarantee that glaciers would not be affected by Osisko’s prospecting, perforations, road introduction, maintenance or any other mining activity.
The ruling is a severe blow to mining companies like Xstrata Copper (El Pachón, Agua Rica, and Filo Colorado), McEwen (Los Azules), Peregrine (El Altar), Malbex (Del Carmen), NGEX Resources (José María), Anglo American (Cerro Verde) and others that are likely to see similar freezing of their exploratory work until full glacier impact studies are carried out and approved. If these projects are found to impact glaciers, they could be forced to reformulate design or close up all together.
link to verdict: http://center-hre.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/fallo-osisko-glaciares.pdf