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- Chile:

25 de Mayo de 2013

Chilean Organizations Call Ruling on Barrick s Pascua Lama Project "Dangerous Precedent"

Eleven Chilean organizations, representing groups living downstream of Barrick Gold's Pascua Lama project, speak out against the recent fine and suspension imposed on the company for not going far enough. Barrick Gold faces a record fine of $16.4 million and must halt operations at its project in Chile until it takes measures to prevent water contamination.

- Public Declaration:

Multimillion fine and temporary suspension: A politically correct, media-friendly and socio-environmentally criminal sentence

The sentence by the Chilean Superintendent of the Environment constitutes a dangerous precedent for communities affected by mega-projects, given its disregard for the history of complaints and sanctions against the Pascua Lama project and the voices of organizations that conscious of the inviability of this binational mining project for more than ten years.

For the communities and organizations of the Huasco Valley, which have been complaining about Barrick Gold’s irresponsible operations in our headwaters for years, the Superintendent’s decision was made to suit the transnational mining company, which during the entire process pressured to ensure that it could keep working. This does not negate the rigour or serious nature with which the authority carried out its duties in technical terms, but rather demonstrates how the will of the Chilean state to fail to consider options for local development, to manipulate public opinion as it wishes, and to impose predatory extractivism that preys upon the sources of water and life of our territories.

We are faced with a sentence that recognizes that the title holder “has deliberately failed to comply with a large number of commitments which, it is worth recalling, it took upon itself in order to benefit from the favourable approval of this project” (Free-Standing Resolution No. 024, February 15, 2006). The four months of investigation, instigated by a complaint filed by the company itself in order to limit the sanctions, revealed that the mining company didn’t adequately construct the North Perimeter Channel, which caused two landslides affecting the water supplies and lowlands. Furthermore, following from the inspection into this disaster, it was determined that there were a series of projects that had been the company had committed to in its Environmental Qualifying Resolution (RCA by its initials in Spanish) related to water management that were not constructed, as well as a considerable number that were illegally constructed. Additionally, problems were found in the management of water quality studies and hiding and omission of information (Decree 37). Aggravating all of this, the authority emited provisional measures that the company criminally decided not to fulfill (Resolution 107), demonstrating the company’s ongoing disinterest in the life and health of downstream communities.

However, all of the above, serious as it is, only refers to events verified between December and February 2013, ignoring the history of abuses to the RCA under which the company has been operating, something which we formally asked to be considered. In other words, this sanction does not include the already confirmed impacts on glaciers, road works that have not been built as promised, poor labour conditions, usurpation of waters that was sanctioned in 2007, discharge of waters contaminated with fecal coliforms into the river, which, had they been incorporated, inevitably would have led to the revocation of the Environmental Qualifying Resolution (RCA) and the project’s closure.

As such, this sentence, while being a sign to companies that they should operate better from here on in, suffers from amnesia that leaves in impunity all of the damage that has been caused so far; giving the impression that the new environmental authority is nothing more than a renovated version of that which has allowed the accelerated degradation of our common goods to take place.

For us, the fine that the Superintendent has imposed is insignificant when measured up against the irreparable damages produced in our headwaters. As a result, more than a temporary suspension and fine, what really makes this sentence relevant, is that the state recognizes what we have been saying for ten years: that Barrick is an irresponsible mining company that lies and makes a laughing stock of Chilean institutions, that has regularly and intentionally damaged the environment, and while benefiting from the support of the authorities, represents a threat to glacier and peri-glacier areas and, along with them, to the life and health of thousands of people who live in the Chilean Huasco Valley and in the province of San Juan, Argentina.

The below-signed organizations emphatically defend the right to life and reiterate that we will not rest until we achieve the definitive closure of this destructive Pascua Lama project.


Asamblea por el Agua del Huasco Alto

Comité Ecológico y Cultural Esperanza de Vida

Comunidad Diaguita Patay Co

Consejo de Defensa del Valle del Huasco

Grupo Ecológico Atacama Limpio

Pastoral Salvaguarda de la Creación

Comisión Agua y Vida. Iglesia Evangélica Presbiteriana, Chigüinto

Unidos por el Agua, Conay

Pajareteros Alto del Carmen

Sindicato de la Construcción, Provincia Huasco

Observatorio Latinoamericano de Conflictos Ambientales, OLCA

Translated from original in Spanish available here.





Minería a gran escala / Destrucción de fuentes de agua / Desastre ambiental / Contaminación del agua / Pascua-Lama /

Proyecto Pascua-Lama:

SEA Atacama realiza visita técnica por EIA “Modificación Fase de Cierre Pascua Lama” (23/02/2024)

Dirección General de Aguas investiga denuncia sobre contaminación de ríos por proyecto minero Pascua Lama (17/02/2023)

Demanda colectiva contra Barrick Gold por dar falsas declaraciones medioambientales (14/01/2023)

Pascua Lama: Corte Suprema rechaza recurso de casación y confirma fallo de Tribunal Ambiental que sancionó a proyecto minero en proceso de cierre (14/07/2022)

Maricunga, Pascua Lama y Vizcachitas: Los cuestionados proyectos que Boric omitió en su visita a Canadá (13/06/2022)

Evalúan avances en actividades de cierre de Pascua Lama (25/03/2022)

Comunidad logra fallo histórico de la Corte Suprema: Demuestran que Barrick Gold desobedece cierre de Pascua Lama y se ordena a las autoridades supervisarla de manera efectiva (08/02/2022)

Corte Suprema acusa a Pascua Lama de incumplir el plan de cierre y ordena fiscalización de autoridades (05/02/2022)

Denuncian a minera Barrick Gold por río que sigue contaminado al no cerrar su proyecto Pascua Lama (12/11/2021)

Acusan a Minera Barrick Gold de contaminar río en el cierre de Pascua Lama (02/11/2021)

Chile - Minería a gran escala

Conversatorio “Voces del Salar: Explorando los impactos de la Estrategia Nacional del Litio” (12/07/2024)

Una dignidad que no cabe en el bolsillo empresarial (11/07/2024)

Codelco, Enami y Quiborax: Las empresas que están a la vuelta de la esquina para explotar salares (05/07/2024)

Consejo de Defensa del Estado presenta demanda contra minera Quiborax por daño ambiental al Salar de Surire (03/07/2024)

Momento crucial para comunidades del Norte Grande: Después de 30 años BHP Billiton implementa plan de cierre de Cerro Colorado (03/07/2024)

Localidad “El Sobrante” y cuenca del río Petorca amenazada por proyecto de exploración minera de la empresa Newmont (23/06/2024)

Invitan a Trawün-conversatorio sobre Resistencias frente a la amenaza minera en la Fütawillimapu (19/06/2024)

Conversatorio “Voces del Salar: explorando los impactos de la Estrategia Nacional del Litio” (18/06/2024)

Empresa minera volvió a ingresar proyecto para explotar tierras raras en Penco: Cuenta con cinco tramitaciones ambientales fallidas (11/06/2024)

El fraude al Fisco en el Salar Maricunga (07/06/2024)

Minería a gran escala

­El rostro oculto de Cascabel. No todo lo que brilla es oro. Ecuador (15/06/2024)

Destrucción de fuentes de agua

Sobrevivir a la fiebre del oro blanco: la vida en el “triángulo del litio”. Bolivia (16/03/2024)

Ambientalista chileno solidariza con protesta contra la fábrica de Tesla en Grünheide. Alemania (29/02/2024)

Desastre ambiental

­El rostro oculto de Cascabel. No todo lo que brilla es oro. Ecuador (15/06/2024)

Bajo agua y fuego: el momento Katrina en la política de Brasil. Brasil (24/05/2024)

La megaminería avanza sobre parques nacionales y áreas protegidas de San Juan y La Rioja. Argentina (28/04/2024)

Ver más:
Minería a gran escala / Destrucción de fuentes de agua / Desastre ambiental / Contaminación del agua / Pascua-Lama /