Argentina: anti-mining struggle scores victory

Residents in the northern Argentine town of Famatina celebrated a major victory Nov. 4 after the governor-elect (and current vice-governor) of La Rioja province, Sergio Casas, announced that the Midais mining company's planned gold project in the area would be cancelled. This decision comes weeks after a peaceful protest against the project was met with police repression. Residents fear the project would contaminate the waters of the local Río Blanco. This is the fourth time that Famatina residents have thwarted mining efforts in the province of La Rioja, having successfully defeated advances by major international companies Barrick Gold, Osisko, and Shandong Gold over the past 10 years. Vice-Governor Casas cautiously commented: "The company will go despite its activities not having caused contamination, but we look for a necessary consensus among residents." (Argentina Independent, Nov. 4)

Also Nov. 4, a judge in San Juan province issued an order giving Canadian company Barrick Gold 10 days to restore "normal conditions" following a September cyanide spill at its Veladero mine. The text of the order revealed the results of laboratory analysis commissioned by Barrick confirming the presence of high levels of cyanide in waters of the Río Jáchal—contradicting the company's initial claim of no environmental damage after the incident. (InfoBae, Nov. 4)

  1. Charges against Barrick execs in cyanide spill

    A judge in Argentina formally charged nine current and former Barrick Gold executives for responsibility in last year's cyanide spill at its Veladero mine, local media report. The nine have apparently not been detained, and Barrick said in a statment it is "investigating" the claim. (Bloomberg, InfoBae, March 10)