April 24, 2013 – Copiapó Chile — A local appellate court in Copiapó Chile rejected a plea from Barrick Gold to reopen the recently suspended Pascua Lama project. Barrick’s flagship gold project on the border between Argentina and Chile was closed earlier this month on a court order in response to Barrick’s systematic violation of Chile’s environmental laws and regulations, in addition to the failure of the company to heed government requests to eliminate practices endngering glaciers, waterways and wetland systems. The closure request was filed with the courts by members of the Diaguita indigenous community.
Local radio stations reported yesterday that judge Antonio Ulloa stated that Barrick Gold’s April 19th appeal of the closure had not offered the court any evidence that it is taking measures to correct environmental degradation to glaciers in the immediate mining area. Barrick Gold had originally proposed dynamiting the Toro 1, Toro 2, and Esperanza glaciers to get at gold deposits underneath ice. That proposal was rejected by the government, and a glacier monitoring plan was established to control Barrick’s impact on local glaciers.
While Barrick Gold states that operations in Argentina are not affected by the Chilean decision to close Pascua Lama, Argentina has recently passed a national glacier and permafrost protection law, which severely undermines the Pascua Lama project. Barrick Gold contested the law in a federal court, but Argentina’s Supreme Court rejected the injunction request stating that the law applies to Barrick.
Barrick Gold states on its website that only seven glaciers exist at the Pascua Lama site, which might be affected by operations at Pascua Lama. However, an upcoming report reveals that over 200 glaciers are currently in Barrick’s impact zone. Overwhelming evidence is surfacing about the deterioration of hundreds of glaciers in the area.