Pascua Lama

Pascua Lama

Pascua-Lama is an open pit mine of gold, silver, copper and other minerals located in the Andes mountains, south of Atacama, straddling the border between Chile and Argentina at an altitude of over 4,500 metres. Toronto-based Barrick Gold, the world's largest gold mining company, is developing the project. Due to its proximity to glaciers, Pascua-Lama has caused controversy and public protest in Chile, including demonstrations and petitions presented to the Chilean government. However, Chile and Argentina have both approved the project, following thorough environmental reviews in both countries.

Pascua-Lama contains estimated deposits of 17 million ounces of gold and 635 million ounces of silver,cite news|url=|title=Gold Mining Project Threatens Andean Glaciers|author=Gustavo González|date=2005-06-25|publisher=Inter Press Service News Agency] with 75 percent of the deposits in Chile and 25 percent in Argentina.cite news|url=|title=Conflict Over Andean Glaciers Heats Up|author=Daniela Estrada|date=2005-11-11|publisher=Inter Press Service News Agency]

Legal background

The project became possible with the adoption by Chile and Argentina of the Mining Integration and Complementation Treaty [cite web | author = The Republics of Chile and Argentina|title = Mining Integration and Complementation Treaty between Chile and Argentina|publisher = [ Chilean Copper Commission] |date = 1997-12-29|url =|accessdate = 2007-07-18 ] , signed by the presidents of Chile and Argentina in 1997 and ratified by their legislatures in 2000. This treaty permits investors to explore and exploit mineral deposits that straddle the border between the two countries.cite news|url=|title="Yes" to Gold Mine, but Don't Touch the Glaciers|author=Daniela Estrada|date=2006-02-15|publisher=Inter Press Service News Agency] In 2000, an appeal was filed with the Chilean Constitutional Court to rule the treaty unconstitutional. Alcayaga, Luna, and Padilla, analyzing the treaty, have concluded that, "both in terms of content and form, [it] contains provisions that violate Chile's constitution".cite news|url=|title=Pascua Lama Gold Mine, a Threat to Sustainability|author=Gustavo González|date=2006-06-05|publisher=Inter Press Service News Agency] cite web|title=Pascua Lama Background|work=Pascua Lama Project|date=2005-04-17|publisher=MiningWatch Canada|url= — this in turn cites cite paper|title=Exile of the Cóndor: Transnational Hegemony on the Border: the Mining Treaty Between Chile and Argentina|author=Moon, Padilla, and Alcayata|publisher=Stgo|date=2004] Nevertheless, nothing came of the lawsuit, and Chile's National Environmental Commission (CONAMA) issued its final approval for the Pascua Lama project on 13 June 2006. [Wolfe, Pamela (2006) "Water conflicts threaten violence on local level: Chile's National Environmental Commission (CONAMA) issued its final approval for the Pascua Lama US$ 1.5-billion, open-pit gold mining operation that once included plans to remove three glaciers" "Water and Waste Water International" 21(3): p.3]

History of the project

The mining project is organized by the Barrick Gold corporation, which plans to invest US$1.5 billion over 20 years in itcite web|url=|title=Barrick responds to Pascua-Lama Chain Email|year=2006|month=June|publisher=Barrick Gold] and projects an annual output of 750,000 ounces of gold and 30 million ounces of silver in the first five years.

Barrick has been planning the project for several years. It performed its first studies of the glaciers in 1991, purchased the Chañarcillo estate at the location via an affiliate (Empresa Nevada) in 1997, and published an environmental impact report in 2000, which was approved by COREMA, the regional environment authority, in 2001.

Barrick's plans for the project have changed over time. In June 2005, Barrick intended to commence building in January 2006, after responding to a questionnaire put to it by CONAMA, Chile's National Environmental Commission. In November 2005, however, the company published a report stating that it had scrapped its original plans, presented in December 2004, for "transplanting" three glaciers in order to gain access to the deposits beneath them, moving them to another glacier with which they were to bond. This change was publicly supported by Fernando González, the chairman of the council of Huasco Valley farmers.

As of september 2008, the construction hasn´t begun yet.

Controversy over the project's economic and environmental consequences

Those protesting the project contend that it will involve the removal of 20 hectares of ice, a volume of 300,000 to 800,000 cubic metres, and that this will cause serious environmental harm. Nevertheless, the EIA and IIA approvals in both Chile and Argentina specifically preclude this from happening, and Barrick has confirmed it has no plans to move any ice or glaciers. To do so would be a violation of the permits granted by the relevant authorities. [cite web|url =|year = 2007|title = Pascua-Lama Update – Questions & Answers|accessdate = 2007-07-23|publisher = Barrick Gold Corporation] Opponents also contend that the project will affect the water supply of the 70,000 farmers in the Huasco valley, releasing cyanide, sulfuric acid (vitriol) and mercury into the valley's rivers, that the company has bought the support of the farmers with "social assistance" and promises of US$60 million for infrastructure work, and that the Mining Integration and Complementation Treaty was adopted under pressure from Barrick. In November 2005, a petition of 18,000 signatures was presented to the Chilean government by the Anti Pascua Lama Front, a coalition of environmentalist groups.

Barrick Gold contends that the project is environmentally friendly in terms of water treatment, and that the project will create 5,500 direct jobs during the mine's construction phase. It contends that underground mining methods are not economically feasible for the mine, only open pit methods. It states that its US$1.5 billion investment "would be directly invested in the Huasco province in Chile and San Juan province in Argentina", that it has "identified more than 600 potential suppliers from Chile’s Region III" in pursuance of its policy of sourcing local goods and services, and that "sustainable development projects have been and will continue to be a priority for funding to the tune of millions of dollars focused in the areas of education, health, infrastructure and agricultural improvement".

Electronic mail chain letter

This project was the subject of an online petition, circulating as a chain letter by electronic mail, imploring the Chilean government to prevent the project from obtaining authorization because of the environmental and social consequences of the mining operation. According to analysis by Snopes, the main point of the petition was valid, but it did contain some misleading passages.cite web|work=Urban Legends Reference Pages|title=Pascua-Lama|url=|date=2006-06-03]

Text of the petition

Here is the chain letter preceded by an approximate English translation

English approximate translation

In San Felix Valley the purest water in Chile runs from 2 rivers, fed by two glaciers. Under the glaciers has been found huge repositories of gold, silver and other minerals. To reach the repositories, it would be necessary to break, to destroy the glaciers by doing two huge holes, one to get the minerals, the other to remove the waste, both big as a mountain. That's among the foolest plan ever conceived in world history.

That project's name is PASCUA LAMA. The company's name is Barrick Gold. The operation is planned by a multi-national company, one of whose members is George Bush, Sr., The Chilean government approved the project which had to start already in 2006. The only reason why it hasn't yet started is that the farmers obtained a work suspension. If they destroy the glaciers, they will not only destroy the source of particularly pure water, but also permanently contaminate the two rivers, so they will be no more suitable for consumption both by people and animals because of cyanide and sulphuric acid (vitriol) employed in extraction process.

Among other things every last gram of gold will go abroad and no earning will be left with the people. With them poisoned water and consequential diseases will be left.

For long have the farmers been fighting for their land, but they have been forbidden to make a TV appeal by a ban from the Ministry of the Interior.

The only hope to stop that project is obtaining International Justice help. That's happening among other things by spreading this email.

Do so (among your friends) in this way:

Please copy this text and paste it into a new message, adding your signature and sending it to your friends.

If you are the 200th person to sign this message, send it to from which it will be sent to the Chilean government.

No to the mine opened in Pascua Lama in the Andes mountains over the border between Chile and Argentina.

We request that the Chilean government not allow the project, to protect the two glaciers, the San Félix and El Tránsito valleys' water purity, the quality of the soil in the Atacama region and the life quality of people that live in those lands.

Thank you for your attention.

Spanish text

En el valle de San Félix, el agua más pura en Chile corre por ríos alimentados por dos glaciares, donde existe el más precioso recurso (agua). Grandísimos depósitos de oro, plata y otros minerales han sido encontrados bajos los glaciares. Para llegar hasta ellos, será necesario quebrar y destruir los glaciares -algo nunca concebido en la historia del mundo- y hacer 2 enormes huecos, cada uno tan grande como una montaña: uno para la extracción y otro para el desecho de la mina. El proyecto se llama PASCUA LAMA. La compañía se llama Barrick Gold. La operación está siendo planeada por una multinacional de la cual es miembro George (H. W.) Bush padre. El gobierno Chileno ha aprobado el proyecto para que empiece este año (2006). La única razón por la cual aún no ha comenzado, es que los campesinos han obtenido un aplazamiento. Si destruyen los glaciares, no solo destruirán la fuente de un agua especialmente pura, sino que contaminarán permanentemente los dos ríos. Como consecuencia, nunca volverán a ser aptos para el consumo por parte de humanos o animales, debido al uso de cianuro y ácido sulfúrico en el proceso de extracción. Hasta el último gramo de oro será enviado a la multinacional en el extranjero y ni uno solo quedará para la gente a quien pertenece esta tierra. A ellos solo les quedará el agua envenenada y las enfermedades consiguientes. Los campesinos llevan bastante tiempo peleando por su tierra, pero no han podido recurrir a la televisión por una prohibición del Ministerio del Interior.

Su única esperanza para frenar este proyecto es obtener ayuda de la justicia internacional. El mundo debe enterarse de lo que está pasando en Chile. El lugar por donde empezar a cambiar el mundo es nuestro lugar.

Circula este mensaje entre tus amigos de esta forma:

Por favor copie este texto y péguenlo en un mensaje nuevo, añadiendo su firma y enviándolo a todas las personas en su archivo de direcciones. Se ruega a la persona número número 200 que reciba este mensaje, mandarlo a para que sea remitido al gobierno Chileno.

No a la mina abierta Pascua Lama en la cordillera andina sobre la Frontera entre Chile-Argentina. Pedimos al gobierno Chileno que no autorice el proyecto Pascua Lama para así proteger la totalidad de dos glaciares, la pureza del agua de los valles de San Félix y El Tránsito, la calidad de la tierra cultivable en la Región de Atacama y la calidad de vida de la gente afectada de la Región. Muchas gracias por su atención.


jacqueline calderón Morales(ZIP code Santiago, Chile)

2. Name Surname (ZIP code Town, Nation)


Barrick response

Barrick published a response countering many of the statements made in the chain letter.


Further reading

* [ Barrick Gold Corp. to Stop Killing Glaciers]

External links

* — an electronic petition

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Pascua Lama — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda 29°19′13″S 70°01′40″O /  29.32028, 70.02778 …   Wikipedia Español

  • Pascua-lama — est le nom d une mine dont la construction devrait débuter en 2009[1]. Elle est située à environ 150 kilomètres au sud est de Vallenar, Chili et à environ 300 kilomètres au nord ouest de San Juan, Argentine. Il s agit d une mine à ciel ouvert… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Pascua Lama — est le nom d une mine dont la construction devrait débuter en 2009[1]. Elle est située à environ 150 kilomètres au sud est de Vallenar, Chili et à environ 300 kilomètres au nord ouest de San Juan, Argentine. Il s agit d une mine à ciel ouvert… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Pascua-Lama — 29.319444444444 70.019166666667 Koordinaten: 29° 19′ 10″ S, 70° 1′ 9″ W …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Lama — La palabra Lama hace referencia a: Contenido 1 Budismo 2 Biología 3 Lugares 4 Lógica Difusa 5 …   Wikipedia Español

  • LII Festival Internacional de la Canción de Viña del Mar — Boletería del Festival en el centro de Viña del Mar. Fecha • Inicio: • Final: 21 de febrero de 2011 …   Wikipedia Español

  • Barrick Gold — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Barrick Gold Corporation es la multinacional minera dedicada a la extracción de oro más grande del mundo, con sede en la ciudad canadiense de Toronto. Mantiene más de 27 minas operativas en Estados Unidos, Canadá,… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Bien común (Economía política) — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Se entiende por bien común un concepto complejo, que abarca o tiene aplicación o relevancia en las áreas de sociología , política, filosofía, Economía, etc Hay dos concepciones generales acerca de bienes: la de la… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Pascualama — 29.319444444444 70.0191666666677Koordinaten: 29° 19′ 10″ S, 70° 1′ 9″ W …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Province de San Juan — Pour les articles homonymes, voir San Juan. Province de San Juan …   Wikipédia en Français